Driving around Switzerland - dangerous roads?

Driving around Switzerland - dangerous roads?

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MHS5680
MHS5680
3 posts
new member
Jul 13, 2017 - 12:04 PM

We will be traveling to Switzerland late August 2017. We will be picking up a rental car upon arriving at Zurich airport. We will be staying in towns around the country during 14 days. What are dangerous roads to avoid between Lucerne to Interlaken area, Interlaken to Montreux, Montreux to Tasch, Tasch to Lugano, Lugano to St. Moritz, St. Moritz to Zurich? Our travel package included rental car so we will have the car the entire 2 weeks.

Lucas
Lucas
7304 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 14, 2017 - 9:09 AM in reply to MHS5680

Hi MHS5680 and welcome to MySwissAlps!

I wouldn't say there are any dangerous roads to avoid in Switzerland. Certainly there are some high mountain passes where a cautious approach is best!

Are you looking to avoid driving over mountain passes? Most towns there is only one road to drive to get there (to Täsch for example) so you can't avoid some. We usually recommend people explore Switzerland by train rather than car (especially if you are concerned about driving over mountain passes).

To help you get an idea of mountain passes and where they are have a look here: https://www.alpen-paesse.ch/en/

Let us know if you have more questions!

Lucas

Last modified on Jul 14, 2017 - 9:09 AM by Lucas
MHS5680
MHS5680
3 posts
new member
Jul 14, 2017 - 12:10 PM

Thank you for your reply. I understand that there may not be many choices and we have driven in mountaineous areas before. However, I have been reading that some Swiss mountain passes may be more "exciting" than others and was inquiring if there were any of those given our itinerary. This would determine if I should make some changes to the planned itinerary.

Arno
Arno
10768 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 15, 2017 - 12:50 PM in reply to MHS5680

Hi MHS5680,

The main thing is to prepare (see our car section for regulations and driving instructions), and just take the trains if you don't feel comfortable doing it. There will be passes on your route, particularly on the below legs, but there are alternatives too:

Tasch to Lugano: there are several routes. If you drive via Italy you only need to cross the Simplon pass which is a doable one for Swiss standards (not too high, 2000 m, and open all year round). But you can also avoid it by taking the car train across the Simplon tunnel from Brig to Iselle. The wonderful route via the Nufenen Pass is more "serious" (2500 m, narrower road). And there are even more options.

Lugano to St. Moritz: again multiple options, and again the route via Italy makes most sense. You'll drive via the Maloja Pass. This is only up, not up and down the mountain as usual. Lots of bends, but doable.

St. Moritz to Zurich: you can avoid passes by taking the car train across the Vereina tunnel. Very nice experience (Brig to Iselle is probably just as nice but I haven't done that one). If you rather drive a pass I'd recommend the Flüela or Julier over the Albula (narrow road).

Don't forget to consider the Swiss Half Fare Card to save on cable cars, cogwheel trains and more for your day trips.

Last modified on Jul 15, 2017 - 12:52 PM by Arno
MHS5680
MHS5680
3 posts
new member
Jul 15, 2017 - 1:42 PM in reply to Arno

Excellent information. Thank you. From St. Moritz to Zurich, we were thinking of driving by Liechtenstein. Is it worth it? If so, what would be the best route (scenic if possible without going over dangerous passes). Also, given our itinerary, are there any small towns in The Black Forest that would be worth a stop?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4758 posts
expert
Jul 16, 2017 - 1:10 AM in reply to MHS5680

Hi MSH5680-

Are you used to driving on the right?

Swiss mountain pass roads are not dangerous, if you are a well trained driver. The Swiss road design and maintenance and driving philosophy is that, if you don't know how to drive, you should stay off the roads. It is your job to be trained and capable. That includes the ability to reverse yourself ( back down to a turnout) if you meet a Post Bus (or someone else...but Postbuses always have the right of way) on a one way stretch of a one lane alpine road when you are going up, and they are going down.

Thus, all of the alpine pass roads that I have driven have had no guard rails in many places where, in the USA, I would have expected them. That is not too much of an issue, unless you are tired and come upon an unusual situation. Your reflexes take over. If you are used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road, that could be a problem.

The most tiring drive I have ever made in scores of years of driving in many countries ( both sides of the road) is over the Klausen pass form Linthal to Altdorf, in cloudy weather, on the outside of the left hand turns for just 35-40 km, which took well over an hour...maybe 90 minutes.

They are not all like that.. the ones you have mentioned are generally much better roads. But, none of them are trivial.

This map can help you visualize them.

map.search.ch/?pos=709360,195744&z=16

Zoom out.

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
10768 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 17, 2017 - 7:40 AM in reply to MHS5680

You're welcome! Liechtenstein is kind of en route so you could take a break there. I don't think it is a must though. It won't be that impressive after your tour across Switzerland. If you have a specific goal there it can of course be done.

I don't know much about the Black Forest, but it's a long drive from Zurich for just a day trip. I would only go there if I had several days to explore the area. And I would preferably do it before my trip to the Alps, not after.

If you have one day to drive from St. Moritz to Zurich I'd recommend to take your time and enjoy things en route. If you have a special purpose in Liechtenstein then that's an option, or you could visit Mount Säntis, or have lunch somewhere near the Walensee (Lake Walen). Or you could drop your car early-ish in Zurich and explore the town.

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