When the full moon turns night into day, that is when the magic happens in Engadin and St. Moritz. My blogger friend Milos and I had the opportunity to go on a moon-lit trip with the Rhaetian Railway, experiencing a magical ride up to Alp Grüm, where a glacier fondue is served at an altitude of 2,091 metres (6,860ft) above sea level. On the return journey to St. Moritz, the lights in the train are switched off, and passengers ride to the sounds of classical music, serenaded by the sublime views.
Full-Moon Ride up to Alp Grüm
Climb the Bernina Line from St. Moritz by the light of the full moon. Your tour guide will welcome you personally on board the panoramic car and serve a welcome drink at your reserved seat.
Everything is illuminated: the special night-time trip starts in St. Moritz and continues on past the eternal ice of the Morteratsch Glacier and Lago Bianco all the way to Alp Grüm.
At the Ristorante Albergo Alp Grüm at 2,091 metres above sea level, your host will serve a fine glacier fondue. As twilight sets in, the full moon rises in the sky over Graubünden. On the return journey the lights on the train go out. Classical music plays. The Valtellina wine tastes twice as good.
Pricing for the train ride: 87.00 CHF, which is actually pretty fair, in my opinion
What is included? Trip on the observation car, 2nd class, welcome drinks in Alp Grüm followed by a 3-course dinner (Salad, Glacier Fondue, Sorbet). Drinks are to be paid separately.
Highlights on the ride
The full moon turns the white mountain scenery around the Bernina Range into a mystical landscape. When the lights on board the train are dimmed, a magical mood arises.
The view from here is unforgettable: the Palü Glacier, Bernina Range, Bergamasque Alps and all Valposchiavo. On the sunny terrace of the Restaurant Alp Grüm, the owner serves genuine pizzocheri – the legendary buckwheat noodles – made to his own special recipe.
The highest point on the RhB is situated 2,253 metres above sea level. The watershed between Lago Bianco and Lej Nair is also the language frontier between the Romansh-speaking Engadine and the Italian-speaking Valposchiavo. The Bistro Albergo at the railway station was renovated in 2013 and serves tasty snacks at teatime.
Albula/Bernina UNESCO World Heritage route
The Albula and Bernina section of track is a masterpiece in terms of civil engineering and routing. Landscape and railway blend into one: in wide radiuses, ingenious man-made structures punctuate rugged valleys. The Landwasser Viaduct, the helical tunnels between Bergün and Preda and the Brusio Circular Viaduct all stand testimony to the early, pioneering days of the railway.
About Rhaetian Railway
Giddying viaducts, twisting tunnels and other spectacular feats of engineering all blend harmoniously into the wild and rugged landscape along the 122 beautiful kilometres of the Rhaetian Railway’s Albula-Bernina line. Along its way from Thusis via St. Moritz to Tirano, the line leads past 20 municipalities, through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges – including the highlight, the world-famous Landwasser Viaduct near Filisur, an elegant curved structure of dark limestone 65 metres tall. At the line’s steepest point, trains conquer a gradient of 7 per cent without the benefit of cog traction. In 2008, UNESCO added the “Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina landscape” to its list of World Heritage Sites, making the Rhaetian Railway only the third in the world judged to be of “outstanding universal value”.
About the Swiss Travel Pass
Exploring Switzerland has never been so easy! The Swiss Travel Pass is your all-in-one ticket to travel by rail, road and waterway throughout the whole of Switzerland.
Advantages at a glance.
- Free travel by train, bus and boat
- Free travel on premium panorama trains (seat reservation required and/or surcharges apply)
- Free use of public transportation in more than 90 urban areas
- Free admission to over 500 museums
- Including mountain excursions to: Rigi, Schilthorn and Stanserhorn
- Up to 50 % discount on many other mountain excursions
- Children between 6 and 16 years of age who are accompanied by at least one parent (holding a valid STS ticket) travel free of charge with the complimentary Swiss Family Card
- Children under 6 years of age who are accompanied by a holder of a valid STS ticket travel free of charge
- The Swiss Travel Pass and the Swiss Travel Pass Youth are available as print@home versions
- Only persons domiciled outside Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein are entitled to purchase this ticket
Validity: 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days.
For those of you who like it more flexible, check out the Swiss Travel Pass Flex. It Combines scope and services of the Swiss Travel Pass with the advantage of increased flexibility. Valid: on 3, 4, 8, or 15 freely selectable days within one month.
My opinion: The special full moon ride itself is VERY touristy, crowded and noisy, and very popular among „older“ tourists. BUT the views are spectacular. A visit to Alp Grüm is surely something that I would like to do again with my whole family! If you get a chance, schedule in a stop at Alp Grüm during one of your trips along the Bernina Pass.
photo credits: Rhaetian Railway (Erik Süssking), Swiss Travel Systems, MySwitzerland (Christof Sonderegger)