Switzerland has always been on my bucket list, but a trip has never really happened for a variety of reasons. So when I was looking on Viator.com for day trips to take from Milan and saw Switzerland on the list, I jumped at the chance. There are a couple of different tours to pick from but we decided on the Swiss Alps Bernina Express Train Tour from Milan. Some of the other tours include boat rides and a trip to Lake Como, but we were planning on visiting Lake Como later in our trip anyway.
One thing you can expect with Viator Tours is to be on a large comfortable air conditioned bus with huge picture windows. We began our journey from Milan and around the banks of Lake Como before finally crossing over into Switzerland. We were told to bring our passports in case we needed them, they didn’t ask to see ours, but we were told that sometimes they will. After crossing the border the bus began acending the switchback mountain roads. Everyone started taking photos, because it’s incredibly stunning – and it helped take my mind off of the sharp drop offs.
An interesting fact our tour guide told us is that the residents of Switzerland speak the language of their closest border country. I assumed they only spoke French, but not so. Most Swiss people speak either German, French, or Italian.
We then arrived into the town of St. Moritz, the entire town looks like a postcard! We collected our stuff from the bus and got off for some free time to explore the town on our own. Most of the group separated and went their separate ways. We were given radio devices with earbuds so the guide could tell us any needed information while we were away from him, such as hey… your train is leaving! We walked up the cobblestone hill, walking past the beautiful hotel of Badrutt’s Palace where Rolls Royces are parked out front.
Luxury shopping stores line the streets of this tiny town, we passed several restaurants for lunch until I found the perfect one. The charming Sternbrau Cafe drew me in immediately with it’s pretty outdoor patio with flowers, fountains, and big yellow umbrellas to shade the sun. Here we sat, ordered wine and lunch, and took in the town and mountain views. What do you order when your in Switzerland for the day, and probably only getting one meal? Fondue of course! Brian ordered pork cordon blue and I ordered the fondue with steak. I shared my fondue with Brian and we had fun cooking the meat in the sizzling oil and trying the different sauces and sides that came with plate.
After lunch we walked down the hill to the train station and boarded the Bernina Express, known as the little red train. The train has big windows that open so you can easily take photos and feel the fresh mountain air all around you. The air smelled fresh and clean with hints of rain near. The skies varied from sunny to cloudy, and the air got colder so I put on my coat as the train ascended higher.
Along the railway is a mix of picturesque towns combined with mountains and pristine lakes. Waterfalls and streams from melted snow pour below creating sparkling clear lakes of perfection. Along the railway we saw cows and other livestock happily grazing on the fresh cool green grass. Our tour guide told us that Swiss farmers move their cows farther up the mountains to graze in the summer, where the temperature is cooler and the grass is fresher, so their milk tastes better.
Towards the end of our train ride the skies finally gave in to rain, but the views were still just as beautiful. When the rain got strong and started blowing in the train we had to raise the windows up, but when the rain softened everyone happily opened the windows again. I remember decending the mountains and the train was right up against a lake and the rain was falling on the still lake and it was just so incredibly beautiful that I took this picture below so I could remember it.
After the train ended our bus driver was waiting for us, we crossed the border back into Italy and made a short stop in the town of Tirano. In Tirano, have a quick drink, grab a gelato, and visit the Virgin Mary statue, which many people have seen cry and come to life. Once back on the bus we passed hills and vineyards, a storm blew in and it began to rain again, it was actually very pretty seeing the Italian mountains and countryside through the rainy windows.
Eventually the rain stopped and we arrived back in Milan and ventured out for dinner. It was a very long day, you will be tired at the end, but it’s very worth it. Switzerland was gorgeous and we just explored a very small portion of it. I uploaded a video from the train to my Instagram story, that aqua blue water was insane, and not edited. I can’t imagine how gorgeous the entire country is and this has definitely given us a thirst to visit more of it!