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Graubünden’s Rhätische Bahn (RhB) has one of the most scenic train networks in the world and, to take advantage, a host of all-in package deals exist which enable you to experience the most dramatic journeys without worrying about where to eat during the trip or booking hotels at either end. The classiest of these runs over a single weekend in mid-July, taking in a vintage Orient Express train from Zürich to Lugano, and continuing the next day on the Bernina Express train from Lugano to Chur via Tirano (or the whole route in reverse); included in the Fr.510 fare are all train tickets, B&B in an upmarket hotel in Lugano, meals on board the Orient Express, a lunch in Tirano, plus a return ticket to Zürich from anywhere in Switzerland. The Bernina Express route from Chur, Davos or St Moritz to Lugano (or reverse), with two nights’ B&B (one in your Graubünden starting-point city and one in Lugano) plus a return ticket from anywhere in Switzerland costs Fr.330. Fr.279 buys you a reservation on the classic Glacier Express from Chur or St Moritz to Zermatt, with one night’s B&B (either in St Moritz or Zermatt). The RhB also runs its own Pullman coaches on various scenic full-day routes, on selected days in summer only (June–Sept) – from Chur/St Moritz to Tirano and back (Fr.136/98); St Moritz to Scuol and back (Fr.98); a circular trip to and from Chur via Davos (Fr.98); and from Chur over the Albula Pass to St Moritz and back (Fr.113). The same routes in ordinary carriages but pulled by steam-engines cost roughly half. Finally, the Rail Rider is a roofless train completely open to the elements, which shuttles the forty minutes between Filisur and Preda on the dramatic Albula route two or three times daily on weekends in July and August (Fr.15/25 one-way/return; no reservation needed). Needless to say, you can travel on ordinary scheduled trains covering all these routes for much less than these all-in prices; seats in standard, non-panoramic carriages on all RhB trains are free to InterRail, Eurail and Swiss Pass holders (except Glacier Express trains between Disentis/Mustér and Brig, which are free to Swiss Pass holders but full price to Eurailers and InterRailers).
Gilt-edged packages aside, if you’re planning to cover a lot of ground independently, Graubünden – more than most Swiss cantons – merits renting a car. Buses penetrate to the most remote valleys and hamlets, but often only every two hours or so, and journeys can be long and tortuous. Because of the mountainous nature of the terrain, train coverage is less than universal, and long-distance cycling routes tend to trace the main valleys only or require you to tackle steep gradients. Your own car lets you explore to your heart’s content, and investigate outlying corners such as Val Bregaglia or the Lower Engadine that might otherwise take up a full and frustrating day on the bus.
If you do opt for public transport, you’d do well to take advantage of the Regional Pass. It costs Fr.140/105 for fifteen/seven days, and covers unlimited journeys over five/three days on all RhB trains, the SBB line between Chur and Bad Ragaz, and the RhB bus between Tirano and Lugano, with half-price reductions on these lines the rest of the time. All postbuses, most cable-cars and funiculars, the Furka–Oberalp line between Disentis/Mustér and Brig, and Davos city buses are half-price throughout the pass’s validity. The Regional Pass Plus, for Fr.190/135, gives free unlimited journeys on all trains, buses, cable-cars and funiculars throughout the canton for five/three days as above, with half-price the rest of the time, and the Furka–Oberalp trains and Davos city buses half-price the whole time. Both are only issued between May and October, and are available from train stations in the region. For more information, contact Rhätische Bahn, Bahnhofstrasse 25, CH-7002 Chur (081/254 91 04, fax 254 91 05, email@example.com, www.rhb.ch).
For complete information on travel and package deals throughout the whole canton, contact the Graubünden Tourist Office. They have administrative offices at Alexanderstrasse 24, CH-7001 Chur (081/254 24 24, fax 254 24 00, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.graubuenden.ch).
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