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What is your favorite, most scenic Swiss Alps overpass? St Gottard, Simplon, San Bernardino, others?

What is your favorite, most scenic Swiss Alps overpass? St Gottard, Simplon, San Bernardino, others?

Old Feb 11th, 2008, 07:27 PM
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What is your favorite, most scenic Swiss Alps overpass? St Gottard, Simplon, San Bernardino, others?

Hi, All,

I am helping two friends of mine plan a Swiss itinerary for mid-September 2008. We are trying to decide on the most spectacular mountain passes (3 - 4) to include in a 10-day Switzerland trip, by car.

What's your vote for top 3 or 4?

Many thanks,

-e

PS. St Gotthard, sorry.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 05:35 AM
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 05:50 AM
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Here's a list of Switzerland's best motorcycle passes:

http://media.motosport.ch//files/467...wertung_ch.pdf (in German)
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 06:31 AM
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Shuler,

Thank you very much. It's exactly what I needed. Just as I suspected, Susten ranks higher than the ones I have seen so far.

Best,

-e
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 06:31 AM
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sorry, schuler.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 06:36 AM
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Hi Enroute,

It's a good list but you have to take it with a grain of salt. Some of my favourite passes are Nufenen and Lukmanier. I also love Pragel and Klausen. I've only been over the Splugen once but remember it for it's moonlike atmosphere.

The pass with the most curves is Stilfserjoch, found in Italy on the border of Switzerland.

I think Gotthard is fine but it doesn't rank highest on my list.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 07:44 AM
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One can take a day-long circle drive that will include the Susten, Grimsel and Furka passes.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 07:46 AM
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Ah, an excellent question! We did a 6-day driving tour of the Alps last August and drove the following passes (in Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy), in this order:

1. Gaichtpass
2. Fernpass
3. Brennerpass
4. Jaufenpass
5. Passo di Sella
6. Passo di Pordoi
7. Passo di Campolongo
8. Passo di Gardena
9. Passo di Stelvio
10. Umbrailpass
11. Ofenpass
12. Malojapass
13. Passo del Lucomagno
14. Oberalppass
15. Furkapass
16. Grimselpass
17. Sustenpass
18. Klausenpass

Of these, Stelvio (Stilfserjoch) is perhaps the most famous, if only for the sheer number of hairpin turns, but it isn't in Switzerland and, quite frankly, was not our favorite. The scenery was beautiful but it was difficult to enjoy the driving when you are sharing the road with a million other cars, motorcyclists, and, worst of all, bicyclists who think they own the road. (Part of the problem was that we drove it on a Saturday afternoon in August. You might have a better experience at a less crazy time of year.) The Umbrailpass on the other side of Stelvio (heading back into Switzerland) is purportedly the last remaining unpaved high pass in the Alps. Only a few miles are unpaved and it's fine for passenger cars - a bit off the beaten track and a very nice stretch of road.

We got the inspiration for this trip from an article in Car magazine, and their favorite pass (out of the 20 or so that they drove) was Susten. Unfortunately we were completely fogged in on our last day so we didn't really get to enjoy the drive over Susten and Klausen. I would trust Car's expertise, though.

For the combination of great roads and fabulous scenery, our personal favorites in or very near to Switzerland (I've eliminated the Dolomites since it doesn't fit your question) included the Jaufenpass, Ofenpass, Furkapass, and Grimselpass. The Furka to Grimsel route offers awesome views of the Rhone glacier. There are plenty of places to stop to take in the view, hike, or grab a high Alpine meal. This is also a good route if you are interested in heading into the Berner Oberland for part of your trip, as we did.

Pictures from our trip are posted on Flickr and most of the passes are identified by name (look at 4 & 5 August for the ones I've mentioned as favorites):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hausfra...7602758680766/





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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 08:47 AM
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Thank you all for fabulous info.

Michael, those are currently at the top of the list as my friends are planning to spend 3 nights in Interlaken, then Lucerne before moving down to Lugano via St Gotthard. (I didn't want to bias the ranking with tentative trip details, but it's open-jaw Geneva to Milan, via Lausanne, etc, and Zermatt....)


hausfrau,
Now that's serious Alpine travel. . The picture of Jungfraujoch in the clouds is a masterpiece... as are others. Thanks for sharing.


They may do some hiking. She is a passionate hiker, but he now has a bit of knee trouble, so they are looking for a "high scenic impact", two-hour or so hike, off some spectacular pass. Any suggestions are most welcome.

-e
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 09:26 AM
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Obviously you cannot drive them all. For the Italian - Austrian passes, the Brenner Pass was not all that spectacular.

The Timmelsjoch between Meran and Solden is even a tough hazardous on the Italian side with its unlighted tunnels. The Austrian side is a good but steep road.

In Switzerland there are 4 that I found to be highly spectacular:
Grimsel, Sustern, Furka and Grand St. Bernard.

They are all different.

The Grimsel is rocky and devoid of trees. On top there are viewing and hiking areas.

The Sustern is more wooded with attractions along the way, some command a price to see them.

The Furka is winding and steep, but well engineered. I don't recall many places to stop and view.

The Grand St. Bernard Pass is of course the original home of the famous dogs, a few of which are there for the visitors to see.

The pass itself is populated with commercial buildings, but the view is still good.

If you decide to drive to the old monastery on the crest of the pass, be sure to take the road to Col Grand St. Bernard that turns off just before you enter the toll tunnel.
The drive upward on the Swiss side is remarkably gentle.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 09:33 AM
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I like Brenner pass from Innsbruck through the Dolomites to Venice!
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 09:34 AM
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I personally like the three passes circle Susten-Furka-Grimsel most. Wonderful day trip!

Regarding that list, schuler: I would rank Albula and Bernina higher. I am not particularly impressed with the Flüela - too rough for my taste.

St. Gotthard and San Bernardino were quite disappointing. Ditto Splügen.

Klausen is a very scenic pass also. Great glacier views!
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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I am researching this right now! I don't have answers yet but had to bookmark this thread. When I figure it out I'll post more - including after my trip in May/June.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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The St. Gotthard offers some impressive views. The second and third pictures in this album were taken on the southern side of the St. Gotthard:

http://tinyurl.com/28sbes
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 11:55 AM
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Well, now that I see some interest in Alpine driving tours, I might just get around to posting my trip report! Stay tuned...

I agree that Susten-Furka-Grimsel would be an awesome circle.

enroute, glad you liked the pics! As for hiking...the options are endless. We did all of our hiking in the Dolomites and Berner Oberland. If they are staying in Interlaken, they should consider taking the cog train from Lauterbrunnen up to Kleine Scheidegg, from which there are several fairly flat hiking options with spectacular views of the Eiger, Moench, and Jungfrau and down to Grindelwald. Another personal favorite is to take the chairlift from Kandersteg up to Oeschinensee. It's about a 20 minute walk from the lift to the lake, and then a fairly gentle trail goes around the left side of the lake. It takes maybe 1.5 hours to get to a huette at the far end of the lake where you can get a nice meal before returning by the same route. The glacial lake and surrounding mountain views are incredible and mid-September would be a perfect time to go.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 12:49 PM
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Hausfrau:

I agree with your Stilfserjoch description. When we went over a few years ago, we saw a bicyclist fall over the edge and into the steep, grassy hillside. He was hurt but not seriously.

Enroute: If you decide to do Klausen and Pragel, make sure it's a weekday because Pragel is closed at the weekends.

Great ideas from all. Very enlightening to read other experiences.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 02:41 PM
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Michael, great photos, thank you so much for sharing.

hausfrau,

I feel accomplished . Can't wait for the trip report. It might even encourage others to come out...


Schuler, thanks for all the great advice, and I have to tell you something. When I was in Zurich about 8 years ago, the 3rd Harry Potter book had just come out, and my daughter and I were standing in line at a bookstore at 7:00 AM to get a copy. Right in front of us was an American woman with her daughter. She was a local resident married to a Swiss man. We ended up having breakfast together and I gleaned a great little insight into expatriate life there. We were also interviewed for the Swiss news that day when we got our copies. So, when I read your posts, I always think back to that episode

Bob_Brown, Ingo and others, thank you for great insights. The Susten-Furka-Grimsel circle is becoming an easy choice for this trip. Klausen may be a good option as a slight detour on the way from Lucerne south.

Looking forward to more votes and shared experiences ...


-e

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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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Impressive list of 18! All's well I hope.
 
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