Updated on: May 15, 2024

12 spectacular Postauto rides you’re going to love

0  comments

I don't know if you've ever seen or even heard of Postauto. In case you haven't, let me enlighten you.

Those squeaky yellow buses are as iconic to Switzerland as the Swiss Army Knife. They make up a huge part of the Swiss public transport system and are famous for reaching every last corner of the country. There's no village too remote, no gorge too narrow and no street too steep for them.

To put into perspective just how big Postauto is, let's take a closer look at some numbers. As I explained in my scenic train rides post, the Swiss are big on trains. Our railway tracks add up to roughly 5.200 km, which equals the distance from Ushuaia to São Paulo or from Cairns to Sydney and back.

Postauto is even bigger.

18.322 km in length to be precise. That's almost half the world's circumference. All crammed into a country that makes up only 0.08% of the world's surface.

You get the picture. There are a lot of Postautos roaming our streets.

While they can be seen in cities, they're more frequent in rural areas and mountain villages. Which comes with a nice side effect: Lots of Postauto rides are very scenic.

If you're keen on seeing Switzerland from a different perspective and visiting places you might not come across without a Postauto, this article will provide you the the right inspiration. But before we dive in, here is some general information that goes for every Postauto ride you're about to discover:

  • If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, all rides are fully included and you travel for free.
  • The same goes for all the SBB Day Passes. No extra tickets are required.
  • If you have a Swiss Half Fare Card, you receive a 50% discount on all tickets.
  • Unfortunately, Interrail and Eurail passes aren't accepted on Postauto. So you won't get a discount.
  • ALWAYS check the timetable in the SBB app or on the website to make sure you know your departure times!

1. Palm Express: St. Moritz to Lugano across the Maloja Pass

The Palm Express links two very contrasting landscapes. Departing from St. Moritz, the journey first leads along the shores of Lake Silvaplana and Lake Sils, granting you views over the stunning Engadin glaciers and lakes. Crossing over the very, very curvy Maloja Pass, the journey continues through the Bergell Valley to Italy and finally reaches the city of Lugano with its iconic palm trees. On the way to Lugano, you're treated to stunning views of Lake Como and Lake Lugano.

  • Travel time: 4 hours (St. Moritz - Silvaplana - Maloja - Chiavenna - Menaggio - Gandria - Cassarate (Monte Brè) - Lugano)
  • Schedule: Operating once a day during summer (April to November)
  • Reservation: Free but mandatory online or by phone (+41 848 818 818) until 8:30 am on the day of travel
  • Price one-way ticket without discount: 92 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 631
  • My tip for you: Since you're briefly leaving Switzerland on this trip, make sure you bring your passport or your ID with you.

2. Julier Pass ride: Chur to St. Moritz

This trip starts in Chur, where you'll first travel along the shores of Heidsee and up to Lenzerheide. On this leg, you're accompanied by some breathtaking views of the Albula Valley.

The journey then continues past the regional nature park Ela, onward to Bivio and eventually across the Julier Pass. After passing the Julier Pass, you can see the majestic ice giants around Piz Bernina as you make your way down to St. Moritz.

Postauto operates this route multiple times a day, which means you can get off along the way and explore certain places if you wish. 

  • Travel time: 2 h 42 min (Chur - Churwalden - Lenzerheide - Tiefencastel - Julier - Silvaplana - St. Moritz)
  • Schedule: Operating daily during summer (June to September)
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price one-way ticket without discount: 40 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 182
  • My tip for you: If you enjoy hiking, I recommend getting off in Bivio and selecting one of the hikes on this page. As you can see, these tours all take roughly half a day, so make sure you factor in enough time in organising your onward journey. If you're not into hiking, you can still get off in Bivio, take a stroll and hop on the next Postauto.

3. Steepest Postauto ride: Reichenbach (Kiental) to Griesalp

The Postauto ride between Kiental and Griesalp is a truly special experience. But don't do it if you have a weak stomach, because this ride is incredibly steep and windy. The Postauto navigates through 20 hairpin bends and manoeuvres through roads with gradients of 20 to 28%. You'll be amazed at how precisely the driver navigates the curves. 

  • Travel time: 47 min (Reichenbach im Kandertal - Scharnachtal - Kiental - Pochtenalp - Griesalp)
  • Schedule: Operating daily during summer (May to September)
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price return ticket without discount: 47.60 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 220
  • My tip for you: This trip just cries out for a hike. Once you're at Griesalp, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage, you can take an easy hike back down to Kiental. Along the way, you'll encounter 13 informative stations representing the four elements: earth, fire, water, and air. From a platform, you'll have a direct view of the steep bends of the Postauto route. Additionally, there's a photo spot overlooking Tschingelsee, a climbing wall and a sheltered barbecue area for a picnic break. You finish this hike in Kiental, where you can catch the Postauto back to Reichenbach. Of course, you can also hike up and catch the Postauto back down. 

4. Gotthard Pass ride: Andermatt to Airolo

This journey takes you across one of the most famous Swiss mountain passes: the Gotthard Pass. It's also known as "the King of the Passes" and is the most common connection between the north and the south of Switzerland. Most people never see its top because they bolt through the Gotthard massive either on the world's longest train tunnel or they spend hours stuck in traffic waiting to drive through the highway tunnel.

If you'd like to skip either of these two and travel up and down the windy roads of this beautiful pass, hop on a Postauto. See for yourself where Swiss transport legends were made. 

  • Travel time: 1 h 25 min (Andermatt - Hospental, Dorf - Mätteli - Gotthard Passhöhe - Airolo)
  • Schedule: Operating daily during summer (June to September)
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price one-way ticket without discount: 37 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 110
  • My tip for you: Plan your trip to leave you with enough time to get off at the top of the Gotthard Pass. You can visit the national St. Gotthard museum with its recently opened Sasso Gottardo exhibition while you're there. Or you can opt for the 5-lakes-hike, which takes around 4:30 hours and offers some spectacular mountain and lake views.

5. Nufenen Pass ride: Airolo to Oberwald

The Nufenen Pass with its 2478 metres above sea level is the highest drivable mountain pass in Switzerland. It links the Canton of Ticino in the east with the Canton of Valais in the west. From Airolo to the pass summit, the Postauto overcomes 1300 meters in altitude. On the other side, it descends 1100 meters.

Once you reach the Nufenen Pass, the view towards the west offers glimpses of the Bernese Alps, dominated by the towering Finsteraarhorn at 4274 meters above sea level. To the southwest, you can see the Gries Glacier, the Gries Lake and the Nufenenstock mountain, which reaches 2866 meters above sea level.

  • Travel time: 2 h 10 min (Airolo - Bedretto - Nufenen Passhöhe - Ulrichen - Obergesteln - Oberwald)
  • Schedule: Operating daily during summer (June to September)
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price one-way ticket without discount: 47.20 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 111
  • My tip for you: The village of Airolo lies on the scenic Gotthard Panorama Express route, which has regular trains without seat reservation requirements commuting between Basel, Lucerne or Zurich and Lugano. You can easily combine this scenic Postauto trip with a scenic train ride.

6. Lukmanier Pass ride: Disentis/Mustér to Lukmanier

Leaving Disentis, the Postauto to Lukmanier Pass follows the romantic Medel Valley and climbs up to 1920 metres above sea level. On this scenic ride, you can even catch a glimpse of the Medel Glacier before reaching the top of Lukmanier.

During the trip, you mostly follow the anterior Rhine, which is dammed in "Lai da Sontga Maria" at the Lukmanier Pass. Once you reach the top you can get off and spend some time exploring the area and the lake. 

  • Travel time: 34 min (Disentis/Mustér - Mumpé Medel - Curaglia - Platta - Lukmanier Pass)
  • Schedule: Operating daily during summer (June to September)
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price one-way ticket without discount: 34.40 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 481
  • My tip for you: There's quite a nice hike you can do at Lukmanier Pass called "Lai Blau". It takes roughly 4 hours and you can make it fit perfectly into your schedule since the Postauto drives up and down the pass several times a day.

7. Grimsel and Nufenen Pass ride: Meiringen - Oberwald - Airolo

This beautiful - but also very long - Postauto ride takes you across two mountain passes: Grimsel and Nufenen. Starting in Meiringen, you first reach the Grimsel Pass at 2163 metres above sea level. It connects the Bernese Oberland with the Valais. At the top, you'll see the water reservoir Lake Grimsel. As you continue onward to Nufenen Pass, you'll also get to admire the Gries Glacier and Lake Gries.

  • Travel time: 3 h 30 min (Meiringen - Aare Gorge - Innertkirchen - Grimsel Pass - Oberwald - Obergesteln - Nufenen Pass - Bedretto - Airolo)
  • Schedule: Operating daily during summer (June to October)
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price one-way ticket without discount: 92.60 CHF
  • Postauto Lines: 111 and 161
  • My tip for you: There is only one direct connection per day. However, if you don't mind transferring in Oberwald, you have three daily Postautos to choose from and are free to get off along the way. Also, since this ticket is quite expensive, I recommend looking into a Day Pass or the Swiss Half Fare Card to avoid paying the full fare.

8. Stelvio Panorama Express ride: Müstair to Stilfserjoch and Tirano

The Stelvio Line combines the high-altitude thrills of the Stilfserjoch with the southern charm of Italy all in one journey. Starting in Santa Maria in the Münster Valley, the route ascends to the Umbrail Pass, where you'll be crossing over to Italy.

As the Postauto climbs to its highest stop at Stilfserjoch, you can expect to find yourself surrounded by majestic landscapes and snow-capped mountain peaks. The Stelvio Pass (2757 m.a.s.l) is the second-highest mountain pass in the Alps.

The journey then winds down numerous hairpin turns towards Bormio. The journey finishes in the Italian town of Tirano, located in the upper Valtellina at the gateway to Val Poschiavo, close to the Swiss border. 

  • Travel time: 2 h 55 min (Müstair - Umbrail - Stilfserjoch/Stelvio - Bormio - Tirano)
  • Schedule: Operating daily during summer (June to October, only once a day)
  • Reservation: Free but mandatory online or by phone (+41 848 818 818) until 7:00 pm on the day before travel.
  • Price one-way ticket without discount: 33.80 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 821
  • My tip for you: Make sure to bring your passport or ID with you as you'll be crossing the Swiss/Italian border at Umbrail. Once you're in Tirano, you can jump on the Rhaetian Railways back to the Engadine. Please note that this Posauto rides only once a day, so don't get off along the way in order not to get stuck.

9. Val Sinestra Postauto ride: Scuol to Val Sinestra

This is the perfect day trip if you're in the Engadine. Visit Val Sinestra, which was voted "Valley of the Year" in 2011, and go for a hike at the end of the valley. There's even a suspension bridge trail if you're up for it.

  • Travel time: 35 min (Scuol - Sent - Val Sinestra)
  • Schedule: Operating daily during summer (May to August)
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price return ticket without discount: 23.60 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 925
  • My tip for you: I absolutely love this region. Sent, a village you drive through on this trip is one of my favourite places in Switzerland. We used to come here as a family when I was a kid. On your way back, you can jump off the Postauto, spend some time strolling through this historical village and continue your journey to Scuol once you're ready. I especially love the big, iconic stone houses and the water fountains scattered across the village.

10. Maloja Pass ride: Day trip St. Moritz to Soglio

If you're looking for a scenic day trip from St. Moritz, I highly recommend you hop on the Postauto, travel down the veeeery windy Maloja Pass (try sitting near a window if you tend to get carsick) and travel to Soglio. This picturesque little village close to the Italian border is famous for its natural body and skin care products. But that's not all, of course.

It's also the perfect place to go for a short hike through the forest, have a delicious lunch or a cup of coffee in one of the restaurants and take a stroll through the village. I took my Dad here as a birthday present in 2023 and we both loved it. Although it was a ridiculously long day trip from St. Gallen... If you're based in St. Moritz, you're definitely off to a better start.

  • Travel time: 1 h 26 min (St. Moritz - Promontogno [transfer] - Soglio)
  • Schedule: Operating all year round
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price return ticket without discount: 47.60 CHF
  • Postauto Lines: 4 and 632
  • My tip for you: The Hotel Palazzo Salis, built in the 17th and 18th centuries, is well worth a visit. Even if it's just for a cup of coffee or a delicious dessert. It has been a hotel for over 140 years and is recognised as a landmark in the Bregaglia Valley. Its historical garden is super charming and the perfect spot to take a break from sightseeing or hiking.

11. San Bernardino ride: Chur to Bellinzona

What seems like a very "ordinary" trip to get you from A to B is actually quite the scenic ride. Not only is it the fastest way to travel between Chur and the Canton of Ticino, it's also paired with some pretty impressive views.

After leaving Chur, you'll pass through the Domleschg Valley with its high density of castles, as well as the dramatic Viamala Gorge. Once the climb up to Splügen is complete, you're almost at the portal of the 6.6 km long San Bernardino tunnel. At the end of it, you're well on your way to the sunny Canton of Ticino. The journey continues through the Mesocco Valley and comes to an end in Bellinzona, a city that is famous for its mighty castles.

  • Travel time: 2 h 13 min (Chur - Thusis - Splügen - San Bernardino - Mesocco - Bellinzona)
  • Schedule: Operating all year round
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price one-way ticket without discount: 56 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 171
  • My tip for you: Since this Postauto line has several services per day, you can easily get off along the way and explore the area. Check the timetable to make sure you know when to be ready at the bus stop for your onward journey. Please note that there are express buses that don't stop at every station.

12. Postauto ride to the highest village in Switzerland: Andeer to Juf

Juf is the highest place in Switzerland accessible by Postauto. It lies at 2126 metres above sea level and is also Europe's highest permanently inhabited settlement. Its population is quite small, though. Only 30 people call Juf their home. But who's counting, right? 😉

After leaving Andeer, you first pass through the Roffla Gorge, followed by the Ferrera Valley. During this journey, you get to enjoy beautiful scenery as you climb up to Juf. Spend some time exploring and hiking in Juf before catching the Postauto back down to Andeer.

  • Travel time: 51 min (Andeer, posta - Avers, Juf)
  • Schedule: Operating all year round
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Price return ticket without discount: 34.40 CHF
  • Postauto Line: 552
  • My tip for you: Have you ever seen a marmot? Those cute, alpine animals are native to this region and there's even a Marmot Trail in Juf. On this unique signposted nature trail, you can learn everything there is to know about these cute hibernators. The trail is roughly 3 km long and very easy to walk.

This concludes my list of 12 scenic Postauto rides in Switzerland. I hope it's inspired you to go beyond the beaten tourist track and take trips that the locals do. I'd love to know which ones you've tried so please leave me a note in the comments below.

Related posts

3 SBB Day Passes you need to know about
15 spectacular mountain railways in Switzerland
How to activate and use your Swiss Travel Pass
Leave a Repl​​​​​y

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}