The Tour of the Bernina

9 day tour in Switzerland and Italy and Tour of Italy's Valmalenco

By Gillian Price

Guidebook describing a 9-stage (119km) route around the Piz Bernina massif in the Alps on the Swiss-Italian border near St Moritz, and the 8-stage (94km) Alta Via Valmalenco exploring the Valmalenco valley, in the shadow of Monte Disgrazia. The Tour of the Bernina is suitable for first-time trekkers but the Alta Via needs some experience.



Late June to late September.


In Switzerland: St Moritz, Sils Maria, Pontresina, Maloja, Bernina Pass, Poschiavo In Italy: Sondrio, Chiareggio, Chiesa in Valmalenco


While no glacier crossings are involved on these treks, some basic alpine walking experience is recommended. Clear paths and old mule tracks are followed for the most part, along with routes over rough rocky terrain, and snow cover is to be expected early in the season.
Must See

Must See

Awesome glaciers from Val Roseg, Rifugio Del Grande and Rifugio Marinelli in Valmalenco, and the Diavolezza belvedere. The Bernina Express train between Tirano and St Moritz experiences fantastic views and can be used to access the Bernina trek. Spectacular peaks en route include 4049m Piz Bernina, 3937m Piz Roseg, 3678m Monte Disgrazia, 3323m Pizzo Scalino.
5 Mar 2015
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
  • Overview

    This guidebook explores two treks in the Bernina region of the Swiss-Italian Alps. The Tour of the Bernina is an 9-stage trek circling the Piz Bernina massif, 119km long and suitable for beginner trekkers. Also included in this guide is the 8-stage Alta Via Valmalenco just to the south of the Bernina. Although shorter, at 94km long, this is a more challenging route suitable for trekkers with more experience.

    Whether skirting above St. Moritz and below snow-capped giants on the Tour of the Bernina, or climbing over wild, high passes and through isolated mountains in the Italian Valmalenco by Monte Disgrazia, the treks offer incredible experiences. Both feature spectacular peaks towering over snow fields and perfect alpine pastures, with accommodation in comfortable alpine guesthouses and high altitude huts.

    This guide contains detailed route descriptions in combination with plenty of background and practical information.

  • Contents

    The Tour of the Bernina
    The Alta Via Valmalenco
    About glaciers
    Plants and flowers
    Getting there
    Getting around
    Tourist information
    When to go
    Food and drink
    What to take
    Waymarking and maps
    Dos and don’ts
    Using this guide
    The Tour of the Bernina
    Stage 1 Pontresina to Fuorcla Surlej
    Stage 2 Fuorcla Surlej to Maloja
    Stage 3 Maloja to Rifugio Longoni
    Stage 3A Maloja to Chiareggio
    Stage 3B Chiareggio to Rifugio Longoni
    Stage 4 Rifugio Longoni to Lago Palù
    Stage 5 Lago Palù to Rifugio Carate Brianza
    Stage 6 Rifugio Carate Brianza to Rifugio Bignami
    Stage 7 Rifugio Bignami to Cavaglia
    Stage 7A Rifugio Bignami to Selva
    Stage 7B Selva to Cavaglia
    Stage 8 Cavaglia to Berghaus Diavolezza
    Stage 8A Cavaglia to Ospizio Bernina
    Stage 8B Ospizio Bernina to Berghaus Diavolezza
    Stage 9 Berghaus Diavolezza to Pontresina
    The Alta Via Valmalenco
    Stage 1 Torre di Santa Maria to Rifugio Bosio Galli
    Stage 2 Rifugio Bosio Galli to Rifugio Ventina/Rifugio Gerli-Porro
    Stage 3 Rifugio Ventina/Rifugio Gerli-Porro to Chiareggio
    Stage 4 Chiareggio to Lago Palù
    Stage 5 Lago Palù to Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri
    Stage 6 Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri to Rifugio Bignami
    Stage 7 Rifugio Bignami to Rifugio Cristina
    Stage 8 Rifugio Cristina to Caspoggio

    Appendix A Glossary
    Appendix B Accommodation

  • Updates
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    September 2016

    Tour of the Bernina
    end Stage 1 Fuorcla Surlej has accommodation from mid-July to end August. NB Reservation essential!

    Stage 7A descent should be 1300m

    Tour of the Bernina
    Stage 2- Val Fex to Isola variant
    The upper part of the descent path from Marmore towards Curtins has been closed because of a rockfall.
    As a result instead of 'Keep R at the junction' take the official diverted path L of the junction which goes slightly higher above and parallel to the original route and then descends to rejoin it further along. Path is shown on the Kompass map.

    Alta Via Della Valmalenco
    Stage 1
    Rifugio Cometti Grandi is closed for the time being

    Stage 2
    Rifugio Gerli-Porlo is CAI

    Stage 3
    Suggestion: Stay at Rifugio Tartaglione Crispo so that you can complete the high level loop via Rifugio del Grande Camerini pack-free.

    Stage 4
    The popular Rifugio Lagu Palu may be pre-booked by large groups at weekends. Excellent alternative accommodation is available at Rifugio Motta on the opposite side of the lake. Allow one hour to walk to it. Tel 0342451406 or cell 3403368496

    (Thanks to David Hasell and Gustav Dobrzynski)

    September 2015

    Bernina Tour, Stage 1: the rifugio at Fuorcla Surlej is reportedly no longer offering accommodation

    (Thanks to John Atherton)

    Appendix B

    The Tour of the Bernina
    Stage 2
    Hotel Silserhof is in Sils Maria
    Sporthotel and Chesa Alpina are in Maloja

    Stage 3
    Hotel Genziana and Hotel Chiareggio are in Chiareggio

    Stage 5
    Fior di Roccia and Edelweiss are in Franscia

    The Alta Via Valmalenco
    Stage 8
    Hotels: Fior di Monte is at Caspoggio while Chalet Rezia and Miravalle are at Chiesa in Valmalenco.
    nb please remove 'CAS, open etc' from last two hotel listings.

  • Reviews
    ​This guidebook is highly recommended... just what you need.

    The instructions are very clear... I was pleased to read at one point: "Don't take the apparent shortcut... It is nothing of the sort". I have been caught out like that in the Alps.

    The Cicerone guides have a high reputation and Gillian Price is an experienced writer for them. This is her tenth. It seems to be to be just what you need, and all with waterproof covers, small enough for a pocket.

    Fell and Rock Club Journal.

    This guide book is heartily recommended. If you have never been on this sort of expedition it would be an excellent introduction. If you have been, well these routes look very enjoyable.

    The actual guiding seems to be very precise; short of walking out the routes I cannot guarantee that there are no confusing moments, but the instructions are very clear about where to fork left, which turnings not to take and so on. I was pleased to read at one point: ‘Don’t take the apparent short cut…It is nothing of the sort.’ I have been caught out like that in the Alps. 

    The Cicerone guides have a high reputation, and Gillian Price is an experienced writer for them. This is her tenth. It seems to me to be just what you need, and all with waterproof covers, small enough for a pocket. It is full of attractive photos too, and snippets of historical and local detail. The first section of the book is a substantial introduction to Alpine walking, which is thoroughly practical and worth reading with care. As well as interesting sections about geology and natural history there is a good kit list, a section on ‘Procedure for Refuges’ and a well-thought out list of Dos and Don’ts.

    This book is first class of its sort. It should inspire folk to go. And then, when they do, it should see that they have a safe and enjoyable time.

    The Fell and Rock Journal, 2016

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Price Gillian

Gillian Price

Gillian Price has trekked throughout Asia and the Himalayas, but now lives in Venice and is exploring the mountains and flatter bits of Italy. Starting in the Italian Dolomites, Gillian has written outstanding Cicerone guides to walking all over Italy as well as Corsica and Corfu. An adamant promoter of public transport to minimise environmental impact, Gillian belongs to Mountain Wilderness and is an active member of the Venice branch of CAI, the Italian Alpine Club.

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