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The best road trips in Switzerland

The best road trips in Switzerland

Switzerland might look small on paper, but with most of its land covered by the Alps Mountains, this small European nation has plenty of steep roads. Everywhere you go, you’re on a twisty road: the roads run along the shores of great lakes and glaciers, mountain passes to fairy-tale medieval castles, and on the high roads, every glorious bend makes you scream to stop and sing with delight.

The perfect finish is the 1,600km (994-mile) Grand Tour of Switzerland, an epic, well-signposted tour of the country that links 12 Unesco World Heritage sites and shows the Alpine nation from its most flattering angles.

Here are the best road trips in Switzerland

Furka step

The best road trip for glaciers and mountain peaks

Obergoms–Andermatt; 35 km

The wows never leave your lips and the Alps never leave your rearview mirror during this amazingly steep, winding ride. You’ll have many moments when you’ll want to stop the car and grab your camera on this trip, from the remote Goms valley in Valais to the Andermatt mountains in Uri.

If you feel like Bond behind the wheel, it’s no coincidence: this road featured in the car chase scene in the 1964 film Goldfinger and reveals 007 to the world.

Appenzell Country Route

The best road trip for rural Switzerland

Appenzell–St Moritz; 200 km (124 miles)

Switzerland’s rural and folk heart beats strongest in the Appenzell region, curling up to Liechtenstein in the country’s northeast. It’s a great unknown region for a road trip, with dairy country giving way to richly frescoed towns. A week? Achievable. Two weeks? It sounds better…

The route passes Mount Säntis (from the summit of which six countries can be seen), the seven undulating limestone peaks of the Churfirsten range and the pretty medieval hamlet of Werdenberg, before crossing tiny but wonderful Liechtenstein, with an essential stop in its capital of top of the castle, Vaduz.

The mountains rise higher and higher as you sail south towards the vine-fringed Maienfeld – the setting of the beloved Swiss children’s book Heidi – and the gorge-spanning Salginatobel Bridge, an engineering feat described as a work of the art.

The peaks of southern Switzerland

The best trip for mountain scenery

Lugano–Zermatt; 264 km (164 miles)

The Alps are your constant companion on this delightful journey through the high mountains of southern Switzerland, which includes both the Gotthard Pass and the Furka Pass. You’ll want to give it at least a week to do it justice.

Start at the end of the route on the shores of Lake Lugano, which heads towards Italy and offers a shot of dolce vita in its café squares and palm-fringed parks. From here, the road heads north to Locarno – another show-stopper, with its botanical gardens and palazzi-filled Renaissance old town – and UNESCO World Heritage Bellinzona, with its trio of medieval hilltop fortresses.

The language switches from Italian to German as you head north into the Alps proper and Airolo at the foot of the Gotthard Pass. This trip is simply too good to rush, so consider time for a break in Andermatt, where great wilderness, high-altitude hiking and sensational alpine scenery await.

Planning tip: Choose at least a week – preferably more for your holiday in Switzerland.

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