The most scenic routes across the Alps: Fourka, Grimsel, San Bernardino – these and many other passes in the Swiss Alps are regularly included in the lists of the most beautiful roads in the world. Filmmakers come here to shoot exciting chase scenes, and motorists dream of testing their abilities here. This guide will help you choose one of the scenic routes through mountain passes, ice-covered crystal lakes, small villages, and ancient cities. Before leaving, do not forget to check the status of the roads: due to weather conditions, the passes are periodically closed.
This is one of the most famous passes in the Alps. It is famous for its sharp bends and incredible views of snow-capped peaks and rivers. Stop on the south side of Susten for a couple of photos of the Stein Glacier. After leaving the pass, continue along Route 11. You will soon arrive in Nessenthal, where you need to park your car, take the funicular and go up to the Trift Bridge. Until recently, tourists crossed the gorge to the Trift hut right along the glacier of the same name, but due to global warming, the glacier began to melt at an incredible speed. In 2004, the Trift suspension bridge was opened here, along which travelers now get to the other side of the gorge. Thrift sits 100 m above the lake of the same name and is 170 m long, making it the longest suspension bridge in the Swiss Alps. On the other side of the bridge, interesting walks along the snow-capped peaks begin. The trip is best undertaken from June to October when the Trift Bridge and Susten Pass are open.
Saint Gotthard is one of the most spectacular passes in the Alps. The countless number of corners, each with a new view, is great fun for the experienced motorist.
A winding pass that can be reached via Route 19 from Andermatt, the largest village in the Ursern Valley and a popular ski resort. This pass has repeatedly hit the top of the most scenic roads, mainly due to the incredible view of the lake of the same name. After crossing the pass along the same Route 19 via Disentis and Laax, you will reach one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland – Kerastase. This turquoise transparent lake is surrounded by untouched nature. Water comes from underground sources – hence the crystal purity. The lake is not deep and is well warmed by the sun, so it is ideal for swimming on warm summer days.
Altdorf is the central city of the canton of Uri. According to legend, here Wilhelm Tell, the famous shooter, and fighter for the independence of Switzerland, shot down an apple from the head of his own son with an arrow. In honor of this event, at the end of the 19th century, a monument was erected in the city – an impressive-looking bronze sculpture, which is also interesting to look at. But apart from historical sights, Altdorf has something to see – alpine nature here is incredibly beautifully combined with ancient architecture. Located among the mountains on the shores of Lake Lucerne, which does not freeze even in winter, this is one of the most picturesque cities in the country. From here, take Route 17 towards the Clausen Pass. It will be a good test of your driving ability: Clausen has about 100 corners. Continue along Route 17 until you reach the town of Linthal. Park your car here and head to the ski lift that will take you to Braunwald village. Cars are banned in Braunwald, gingerbread houses are covered in white fluffy snow, and hiking trails lead to unique natural attractions. For example, to the mountain peaks and the Berglishtuber waterfall, the views of which are breathtaking. Before the trip, check to see if the pass is open.
This pass is located on the very border with Italy and is famous not only for its sharp turns and unforgettable views of the Alps. It was here that, in the Middle Ages, they began to breed a dog of the same name – St. Bernards. In Switzerland, these dogs are treated with special respect: they saved a huge number of people, helping in the search for those missing after the avalanches. There is even a St. Bernard kennel preserved here, where you can play with puppies.
This is a very popular route that includes three passes at once – Fourka, Grimsel, and Susten. From Andermatt follow signs for Fourka. This is perhaps the most famous pass in Switzerland. Top Gear magazine named it one of the best roads for motorists. An incredible view of the mountains and valleys opens up from a height of 2.429 m. From here the road leads down towards the Grimsel Pass-through Oberwald, a friendly little Alpine town. If you find the descent of Fourka too difficult, this is a great place to take a break. Then follow through the Grimsel pass. It runs through a wooded area, and on the sides offer views of picturesque lakes and waterfalls. There is another pass nearby, Susten. You can get to it through the town of Meiringen. Its main attraction is the Reichenbach Falls, the place of Sherlock Holmes’s “death”. From Meiringen to Susten, the road takes you across 25 bridges, each with breathtaking views of the Alps. Near the pass is the famous Steingletscher – a mass of ice sandwiched in a gorge that reaches four kilometers in length. It is also worth stopping here for a short excursion.
From charming Brig, with its cozy gingerbread houses and cafes, take Highway 9 towards Simplon Pass. The history of the city is inextricably linked with the pass – through it, communication with the Roman Empire was carried out. Under Napoleon, the pass was expanded to its present size. From Brig, the road leads up towards Simplon. Halfway through the Gunter Bridge, you will cross the valley of the same name. This elegant and modern bridge, 2005 m high, was built to commemorate the Second World War. The pass then descends into the wide Krambach Valley, and from here the road leads to the village of Simon, located in an idyllic, snow-covered alpine meadow and surrounded by mountains. Enjoy the fresh frosty air and sip on a glass of fresh milk. The pass is usually open in winter, but it is better to check the status of the roads.
Lugano is the largest city in the Italian canton of Ticino. In winter, it is especially interesting to walk past snow-covered palms and Lake Lugano, which is barely covered with ice. The influence of neighboring Italy can be traced to the cuisine of local restaurants, where you can stop for breakfast or lunch. From Lugano, take the A13 motorway towards Bellinzona, another Italian town. After looking at the medieval castles, follow the same road towards the San Bernardino Pass. It starts at the village of the same name. If you are a nature lover and connoisseur, stop here to stroll between the snow-covered pine trees and admire the unique nature. San Bernardino is one of the easiest Alpine passes. Both sides offer views of waterfalls and impressive cliffs. After the pass, follow the same road to Mount Beverin with the park of the same name, which spreads over 300 sq. km of the area. You can start a scenic winter walk at the village of Tuzi. The San Bernardino Pass is closed from November until spring until the snow melts.
The route through the mountains from one picture lake to another begins in Lucerne, on the shores of the lake of the same name, and follows to Brienz through the Brunig pass. On the way to the pass, you will pass two more beautiful lakes – Sarnen and Lungern. After many turns, the border of the canton of Oberwald will be left behind and you will arrive in the canton of Bern. Ahead is the town of Brienz on the shores of a snow-covered lake. You can’t think of a more romantic place.
Fourka Pass has appeared in Bond films, and for a reason: its sharp turns lead to the Rhone Glacier. Even from the road, the view of the glacier is unforgettable, but still, it is better to stop here to visit the ice cave. After overcoming the pass, follow the same road towards Brig. Stop in this gingerbread town for lunch or a cup of coffee and stroll through its ancient streets. It is best to check if the pass is open before traveling. If not, you can cross it through the tunnel on a special train that transports cars under the pass.