This 812 km road trip traverses the Swiss Alps from east to west and is based on the 'Grand Tour of Switzerland', a route linking the main attractions in Switzerland. We chose Appenzell (German Switzerland) as our starting point and drove the route via Lugano (Italian Switzerland) towards Lausanne (French Switzerland). The romantic Alpine meadows soon give way to impressive mountain passes and majestic Alps. The route ends on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) amid art, culture and wine estates. Truly experiencing this road trip is many times better than all the stories and reports you will ever read about Switzerland. Along the way, you will discover a land of order and cleanliness and of well-maintained campsites, camper van sites and accommodation. Life in Switzerland is more expensive than in, say, France but you get a lot of quality and comfort in return.
Highlights along the way include the many impressive Alpine panoramas, the Swiss National Park, the signposted mountain walks, Bellinzona and Lake Lugano, the Furka and St Gotthard passes, Zermatt and the Matterhorn, the Aletsch Glacier and the Swiss Riviera at Montreux.
- Perfect travel companion if you want to explore the Swiss Alps by mobile home, car or motorbike
- Clearly organised into 4 stages with 37 places of interest, travel tips, 21 hiking routes, local tourism services and places to stay (55 campsites and 20 motorhome sites)
- Available as PDF (travel guide 44 pages) in attractive design, illustrated with inspiring texts and high-quality photography
- Includes interactive map for PC, tablet or smartphone so you have all information at hand en route
- Includes GPX-file so you can download the entire route onto your GPS
Some highlights on this road trip
Appenzell - Sankt-Moritz
Start town Appenzell is set in a unique hilly landscape. This charming car-free town with colourfully painted houses is home to the world-famous Appenzell cheese and is also known for its herbal bitters. Beyond Appenzell, we drive to the Alpstein massif where a trip to the Säntis (2504 m) via Swägalp is worthwhile. You will be rewarded with a magical panorama and views over six countries.
After your first encounter with the Alps, you will drive through vast and pristine rural areas to Maienfeld, better known as 'Heidiland'. The setting of this romantic Alpine world was the inspiration for the world-famous story about the cheerful orphan girl Heidi. Before arriving in the fashionable ski town of St Moritz, consider a stop in Chur (Switzerland's oldest city), at the (only) Swiss National Park or at the monastery of Müstair.
At the terminus of this stage, exclusive St. Moritz awaits with its extensive hiking and biking offer, medicinal springs, turquoise mountain lakes, luxury spas and swimming pools including an outdoor pool with mountain views.
Sankt-Moritz - Lugano
From St Moritz, we follow the contours of the Italian border, with the Alps on our left. This delightful stretch of road trip does not bore you for a single moment. This stretch of the route includes the San Bernardino Pass, one of Europe's most important mountain passes. You can choose the route over the mountain pass here or the 7 km long tunnel under the pass.
Just before Locarno is the medieval town of Bellinzona, said by connoisseurs to be the most Italian town in Switzerland. You will find 3 fortified castles (the 'Tre Castelli') that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Just outside Bellinzona is the spectacular Carasc Tibetan suspension bridge, at 270 metres long and 130 metres high, the longest suspension bridge in Switzerland.
In Lugano, you'll find a town with southern flair in a bay near the north shore of Lake Lugano. The city centre with Mediterranean-style squares, palm-lined promenades and numerous parks with subtropical plants invite you to 'dolce far niente', blissful idleness and enjoyment. The city's Italian character can be recognised in its piazzas, stepped streets and narrow, winding alleys.
Lugano - Zermatt
After Lugano, we continue through the scenic Blenio Valley towards the Gotthard Pass. This lies at an altitude of 2,100 metres and is also called "the longest monument in Switzerland". This is a road for true car enthusiasts, a unique piece of scenery that is perfect to tackle by motorhome as well as car or motorbike.
After this piece of natural beauty, we set course for Zermatt. Before we reach the Rhone valley in Brig, however, we still have to cross the Furka pass, at 2929 m the highest alpine pass on this road trip. An alternative to the many curves is the Furkapas tunnel by car train. The end point of this part of the road trip in Switzerland is the town of Täsch, 6 km from Zermatt. You won't get any further with your own vehicle as Zermatt is car-free and only accessible by train. Zermatt is literally at the foot of the Matterhorn. If you walk out of the train station and turn right into the main street, at the end of the street you come face to face with this wondrous piece of nature at 4478 metres high. In terms of mountains or Alps, Zermatt is the highlight of this road trip. The village is surrounded by Switzerland's 10 highest mountains, all of which are four-thousanders.
Zermatt - Lausanne
The last part of this road trip, through the canton of Wallis to Lausanne on Lake Geneva, remains spectacular. What a particularly beautiful country Switzerland is. If you still want to reminisce about the Alpine giants, you will find plenty of panoramas to do so in the wide area around Sierre, such as Crans Montana, Val D'Anniviers, Grimentz or the Barrage de la Grande Dixence (the largest gravity-fed dam in the world) where you have a spectacular view of the Swiss Alps at Lac des Dix. At Glacier 3000, the summit of the Les Diablerets mountain massif, you have a unique view of 24 Alpine giants over 4,000 metres high. A 'high-quality' end to this road trip along the Swiss Alps!
In Montreux, we come to Lake Lausanne (Lac Léman), the largest lake in the Alps, a city where a lot of famous artists (including Charlie Chaplin and Freddie Mercury) lived. Lausanne is a worthy endpoint of this stunning tour and definitely deserves a stop. The hills around the northern side of the lake are dotted with vineyards and wine estates. High time to toast to a wonderful time in the Swiss Alps. Tchintchin!