The Drive from Zurich to Lugano

Old May 4th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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The Drive from Zurich to Lugano

Mapquest shows the drive about 2.5 hours taking the highways. Anybody taken that drive? What can I expect? Lots of tunnels, places to stop for pictures, coffee, scenery, or just another highway?

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Old May 4th, 2007, 11:09 AM
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Since it pretty much parallels the Gotthard rail line which i've taken several times i'd say it's quite scenic.

And on the map i have it appears the autoroute tunnels under the Simplon Pass (E 35) but i can't tell whether the tunnel is being constructed or is constructed - anyway to add a great dose of thrill and thrilling scenery take the road that goes up and over the Gotthard pass - a serpentine road i once drove and is slow going but picturesque.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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I won't be going that far West as I will be probably coming down the A2 highway. Where exactly is the Gotthard Pass?

I would love to take the scenic route (non-toll road), but it's about 6 hours. We're flying into Zurich about 9am, and I want to get to Lake Como about 3pm, with a stop in Lugano for lunch/sightsee.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 11:51 AM
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Like you, I love the freedom of having a rental car, but the train ride from Zurich to Lugano was pretty incredible, and it might allow you more time to spend in Lugano over lunch. It's a wonderful town and setting.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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It seems the Zurich-Lugano route would have to go via the tunnel under Gotthard Pass (between Andermatt and Airolo) but the old route between these two points goes up and over the pass.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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You can take the old road via Erstfeld up to Goeschenen or you can take the freeway. IMO, it's just as easy to take the autobahn.

At Goeschenen, you'll need to decide if you want to go through the tunnel or over it. Going over it will take you over the devil's bridge (which has a monument honouring the Russians), through Andermatt (which just passed an initative to allow a sheik build a huge golf course next to the town), past Hospenthal and over the pass. It's not the most scenic pass and it's quite cold at the top but if you've never taken a pass, this might be your chance.

Going through the tunnel is long and not scenic, but memorable because it's a long tunnel. Coming out, continue on the autobahn down to Lugano.

Scenic? Definitely, especially on the Urner side of Gotthard.

Traffic jams? Maybe. There was one today. They happen on Fridays (going down) and Sundays (going up) before holidays and during the school holiday.
If there is a traffic jam, take the old road from Fluelen up and over the Gotthard.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 12:41 PM
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Pictures 2 & 3 were taken from the St. Gotthard pass toward the south:

http://www.photoworks.com/share/shar...6DA2BBEB&cb=PW
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Old May 5th, 2007, 05:16 AM
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Michael, nice pictures. Thanks for sharing.

schuler, If I take the A2 and get off at Goeschenen then can I get back on the A2 at Hospenthal? Will that take me over the Gotthard Pass vs. going thru the tunnel? How much time do you estimate it will add onto my trip of 2.5 hours if I just took the A2 straight to Lugano. Would this be a recommended change of pace vs taking the Autobahn? Will that pass/route be open next weekend, actually, Monday the 14th?
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Old May 5th, 2007, 08:00 AM
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The Gotthard Pass opened on May 4.
The Oberalppass opened on April 20.
The Klausen Pass opens on May 11.
Furkapass opens on 16. Mai 2007
Sustenpass opens on 25. Mai 2007

For current info: http://www.ur.ch/de/bd/aft/passoeffnungen-m723/

The route from Goeschenen to Airolo over the Gotthard takes 36 minutes. You get off the A2 at Goeschenen and get on again in Airolo.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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Thanks. Looking at it on a map now, I can see it more clearly.

I'm going to start another thread about lunch in Lugano. Do you think my rental car will be safe in Lugano if we stop for lunch with all the luggage in the car? I'm not sure I'll be able to secure all of it in the trunk. It will be on a Monday.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 10:22 AM
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Budman, Why not train to Lugano---have lunch--and get your car there?
You are better off not mesing with that Gotthard pass with a car in summer. And, I have rented cars in Lugano 3 times and gotten an upgrade each time---from the local VW dealer who is the AE agent. There is a big Burger King right at the main intersection in Lugano--is that what you meant for lunch/
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Old May 5th, 2007, 10:36 AM
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Take the drive over the Gotthard only if the weather allows. You'll be driving past high walls of snow and real winter wonderland. You won't need snow tires.

Otherwise, you've got the Gotthard tunnel if the weather isn't at its best.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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Budman,

Don't have that much to add to what Schuler says.

Aside from the pass (which I have never taken), the most scenic portion of the drive is the "Axenstrasse" which snakes along on a ledge above Lake Lucerne. This is the road on which Grace Kelly had her fatal car accident, however it has been extensively modernized/widened since and is thus far less scenic (portions of the original road are now open to pedestrians and bikers). The Tellsplatte Hotel (www.tellsplatte.ch), just past the town of Sisikon, is probably a good place to stop for coffee with a view. Never actually stopped there myself, however. I think you can also take a short hike down to the lakeside from there.

These pictures give you an idea if what the Axenstrasse used to be like:
http://www.swissfot.ch/swissfotclose...d/6450/03b.htm
http://www.swissfot.ch/swissfotclose...d/6450/04b.htm

As for leaving your car unattended in Lugano with luggage visible to passersby... it's a risk. You can minimize it somewhat by parking in a busy street, but I would always remove any visible posessions from the car when leaving it - this is valid in any larger town anywhere!

Hope this helps,
Andre
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Old May 5th, 2007, 11:37 AM
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Bob, I did look into training to Lugano to pick up the car. The cost was the same, but discounted it because of the price ofa two train tickets to Lugano, and the availability of getting a diesel would be much better in Zurich than Lugano. Since I will be driving around for 2 weeks, I really, really want a diesel.

Thanks Andre, I just might stop there for coffee.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 12:02 PM
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Nice description and pictures of Axenstrasse. They've just built a new tunnel that bypasses Fluelen instead of going through it.

BTW, Grace Kelly died in the countryside of Monaco. Maybe you're thinking of Astrid of Sweden, who died in 1935 in a car accident near Küssnacht.
http://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Astrid_of_Sweden
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Old May 5th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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OMG Schuler, how could I possibly have confused those 2??? Thanks for setting me straight!

Glad to hear that they FINALLY opened the bypass of Flüelen - that crawl through "town" was really getting old.

Andre
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