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Via Albula - Bernina: Thusis to Tirano 60

Via Albula/Bernina: Walking along the Rhaetian Railway

Overview

The hiking trail along the UNESCO World Heritage section of the Rhaetian Railway runs as close as possible to the Albula and Bernina railway line. It provides stunning views of the beautiful Alpine scenery. The first part of the trail takes you to Thusis and Albula Valley and the Upper Engadine’s major town St Moritz at about 1800 m. Continue from the Bernina Pass to Val Poschiavo and end your trip at Tirano in Italy. Spectacular bridges, viaducts and tunnels set in wild natural Alpine surroundings, numerous landscape gems and the assurance of being able to hop on the train at any time – this 8-day self guided walking tour, although graded moderate, is, in fact, suitable for hikers of all ages.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Thusis

Welcome to Thusis, the departure point of the Albula Railway. Thusis lies at the northern entrance to the spectacular Viamala gorge on the Hinterrhein river.

Day 2: Thusis – Tiefencaste | 20 km

After hearty breakfast, the trail leads you from Domleschg to the Schinschlucht gorge. The climb to the hamlet of Muldain is rewarded with magnificent views. The highlight of the walk is the views of Solis viaduct, the single track eleven-arched limestone railway. Visit St. Peters church in Mistail, built around 800 AD at the time of Charlemagne and one of the oldest religious buildings in Switzerland.

  • Walking for the day: 6 hours, 20 km ↑925 m ↓770 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Albula und Julier*** (Tiefencastel) or similar

Day 3: Tiefencastel – Bergün | 21 km

Walk to the impressive Landwasser viaduct, constructed between 1901 and 1902. With its 65m high pillars, tapering towards the top, it is one of the most elegant bridge constructions. Continue past Filisur with its historic village centre. Pass the Tanzenden Hexen von Bellaluna (the dancing witches of Bellaluna) up to the well-kept, historic railway station at Stugl. Soon you will reach Bergün with its Engadin houses, a mecca for railway enthusiasts.

  • Walking for the day: 6 hours, 21 km ↑1035 m ↓530 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Albula und Julier*** (Tiefencastel) or similar

Day 4: Bergün – Spinas – St Moritz | 18 km

Today’s hike leads past the crystal-clear Palpuognasee lake, over Weissenstein Alp or Crap Alv up to the Fuorcla Crap Alv (2466 m) and steeply down into Val Bever to the idyllic Spinas. From here by train to St Moritz.

  • Walking for the day: 6 hours, 18 km ↑1320 m ↓880 m + train ride: Spinas – St Moritz
  • Accommodation: Randolins Berghotel*** (St Moritz) or similar

Day 5: St Moritz – Morteratsch – Bernina Pass – Alp Grüm | 16 km

Take the train to Morteratsch. Your walk starts through the moorland and alpine pastures to the Bernina pass. Walk through the Stazerwald forest, Pontresina, the Morteratsch glacier world, Lago Bianco-Lej Nair watershed and Graubunden’s highest mountain. Pass the white glacier waters of Lago Bianco, to reach the fantastic vantage point of Sassal Mason with views of Piz Palü, its glacier seeming almost close enough to touch, the heart-shaped Lagh da Palü, Alp Grüm and Val Poschiavo.

  • Walking for the day: 4.5 hours, 16 km ↑680 m ↓435 m + train ride: St. Moritz – Morteratsch
  • Accommodation: Family Hotel Alp Grüm (Alp Grüm) or similar

Day 6: Alp Grüm – Poschiavo | 10 km

From the Alp Grüm station, thanks mainly to the 180° curve immediately to the south, there are far-reaching views of the Palü Glacier, Lago Palu and the Puschlav. Just like the Rhaetian Railway, the hiking trail winds down the slope to the Poschiavo valley.

  • Walking for the day: 3 hours, 10 km ↑30 m ↓1155 m
  • Accommodation: Family Hotel Suisse (Poschiavo) or similar

Day 7: Poschiavo – Tirano | 19 km

Your last walking day will take you to the massive spiral Brusio viaduct. The varied route leads through orchards, chestnut groves and vineyards to Italy. S. Perpetua in Tirano gives an excellent overview of the Mediterranean landscape and the town with its venerable palazzi.

  • Walking for the day: 4.5 hours, 19 km ↑380 m ↓950 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Stelvio*** (Tirano) or similar

Day 8: Departure

Return home or individual stay extension.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in nice 3-star, and small family-run hotels, in double or twin private en-suite rooms. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Accommodation is on a bed & breakfast basis. Picnic lunches are optional at an additional charge and can be ordered locally. You can have dinner at your hotel or the restaurants in the villages.

Difficulty & terrain

The tour is graded moderate but it is very easy to shorten the longer legs and hop on the train. Some of the trails lead over narrow and rocky paths. Sure-footedness for the descent to Val Bever and good physical condition are mandatory (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from mid-June till end-September. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

In summer, temperatures are mild during the day, but it can become very cool, or even cold, at night. Even though the mountain sun increases the feeling of heat, the temperature never reaches very high values. Generally, it reaches up to 25°C (77°F) on the warmest days of the year.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice on Switzerland and Italy.

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By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Zurich (ZRH).

By train or bus
  • By train: It takes approx. 3 hours to travel from Zurich Airport to Thusis. There are normally 45+ trains per day travelling from Zurich Airport to Thusis and tickets start from €18 pp when pre-booked. For more information, please visit Rhaetian Railway and SBB or use the Omio planner above.
  • Parking: Parking in Thusis, CHF 30 per week, payable on the spot.
  • Return travel by train from Tirano to Thusis: Included in your train pass.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 overnight stays with breakfast
  • Luggage transfer on all walking days (one piece of luggage per person, max 20 kg)
  • Railway pass Thusis – Tirano 2. class (valid for all regular train connections along the way)
  • Transfer back to Thusis, included in the train pass
  • Entrance to the Albula museum in Bergün
  • Detailed route notes (1 x per room) & GPS tracks
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Additional nights in Thusis and Tirano are available upon request

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