I know that ULTIMATE is a pretty strong word, but I am pretty sure (hand on my heart), that you are going to love this Swiss mountain passes adventure.
Now, Switzerland has a lot of mountain passes. A lot. If you would start to count the ones you can cross not just with a car, but on foot as well – there are probably more than a hundred (not all mountain passes are reachable by car).
There are even some mountain passes which are higher than 2500 meters! That is stunning!
But this time, let’s talk about the ultimate adventure which you can do in one day! You can visit four amazing mountain passes in just one day. They are pretty close to each other, so you won’t have to travel from one to another for hours.
I have written an article about each of them (if you want to visit just one): how to get there, what to do, what to expect and so on. The ultimate adventure consists of these mountain passes:
In my opinion these are probably the best swiss mountain passes.
Swiss mountain passes opening dates
The mountain passes I recommend you to do in this adventure vary in elevation from 2100 to over 2400 meters, so it is impossible to keep them open all the time. They are usually closed All winter, early/mid Spring and in late autumn. The best time to visit them is, of course, summer. Then they are all for sure open, all restaurants on them are open, everything should work out just fine.
In spring and autumn, they are usually open, but it can happen that one of them or two of them are closed and all the adventure crashes. Don’t get me wrong, to visit just one of them is a great experience, but we are looking here for an ultimate adventure 🙂
To check the exact weather conditions it is always nice to look up the swiss webcams, so you can see exactly how it looks on the day you are going there. In the search bar just put the mountain pass name and webcams will appear.
Where to start mountain passes adventure?
Ok, so first of all, if you want to do it in one day, you will need a car. Three of these mountain passes are reachable just by bus (no train) and just Oberalp Pass has a train connection, so to do it with public transport can be hectic or even impossible.
If you have a car – great, if you land in Zürich, Basel, Geneva – rent it, you won’t regret it, and in the long run, it will be even cheaper than going everywhere with trains, buses, back and forth and so on. If you want to see as much as possible in one day in Switzerland, car is a very good choice.
Ok, so your first destination where you go should be: Grimsel Pass.
It is a great starting point for all the mountain passes adventure.
Grimsel Pass is about 180 km from Basel, 130 km from Zürich and 275 km From Geneva, so for a good road trip get some food, water, coffee and just enjoy the views around.
Once you reach Guttannen village, the drive up begins, but it is just 15-20 minutes to the top. You will be surprised how beautiful it is there: these rocks are majestic, don’t forget to stop by Grimsel Hospiz to make some nice pictures of surroundings: lakes, dams, mountains, peaks, waterfall. It’s a worth stopping place.
Once you reach the top, a beautiful lake opens up, so jump out of the car and explore a bit, make pictures and I highly recommend drinking a cup of coffee in the restaurant up there: just enjoy the views, mountains, not that often you see such a crystal clear lake and white peaks in the background. It’s a perfect place to rest a bit.
I would not take the full dinner meal here as you have three more mountain passes to visit, so better to eat on the third or fourth 🙂 Just be sharp and full of energy as there are much more to see. After you finish your coffee, let’s go to the second mountain pass.
Grimsel Pass – Furka Pass
Now, to reach Furka Pass from Grimsel Pass is very very easy, just continue further on: you will go down for a while, so don’t rush and keep a low gear 🙂 Once you reach Gletch settlement, go to the left and you will be in the right direction to reach the Furka Pass.
The road up to Furka Pass is even more exciting than to Grimsel Pass, you even wonder sometimes how they built road up there. The whole trip from Grimsel Pass to Furka Pass should take you about 25 minutes.
On the way to the top, you must stop by Belvedere Hotel, it is an iconic Swiss Alps hotel. It is closed, but looks amaaazing. Right next to it there’s a parking lot, so don’t worry. Make hundreds of Insta pictures for your profile.
As well, in this parking lot, there’s a souvenir shop and entrance to the Rhone glacier. If you think you have time, visit it. Climate change is beating this glacier, but it is still there, still huge.
Now, you may be surprised, but next to Belvedere Hotel, it’s not the highest point of Furka Pass, it’s a bit further, so you must drive couple of minutes more. There will be signs there the top spot is and there the new valley opens up – it looks to Andermatt, Reus river is seen below.
On the top of Furka Pass there are now restaurants, but the next ones are pretty close, so if you want to grab a coffee or something else, it’s a perfect opportunity, but I would wait a bit longer.
Furka Pass – Gotthard Pass
So to get to Gotthard Pass just continue further. Once again, you are going down 🙂 Once you reach Hospental, on the round about, choose the right direction and here you start your climb up Gotthard Pass.
From Furka Pass to Gotthard Pass is about 40 minutes drive with a pretty cool mountain tunnels on the road.
Gotthard Pass has a lot of stuff up there: hotels, restaurants and even a museum. If you are a history nerd, visit it, it’s very nice.
So now, I think, it’s the perfect place to have a dinner. You have already visited three mountain passes, one left, it’s time to relax, take swiss fondue, and breath in the mountains.
I would like to mention that all the mountain passes offers amazing hiking opportunities, but as we want to visit all 4 in one day, there’s not really much time to spare, but still, if you feel like hiking a bit, you can do it on any of mountain passes. You may choose some short destinations which are 20-30 minutes from you.
Once your belly is full, pack your things and let’s go to Oberalp Pass!
Gotthard Pass – Oberalp Pass
This time, you have to take the same road back to Hospental (to that round about). Once you reach it, turn right.
On your way, you are going to cross Andermatt: a sweet Swiss Alps village/ski resort. It has it all: skiing resort, hotels, shops, many restaurants, train station, it is a very well connected small village.
You will have to cross it all and hit the road up to Oberalp Pass.
From Gotthard Pass to Oberalp Pass it’s just about 35 minutes.
Oberalp Pass as well has restaurants, train station and even a light house! Walk to the other side of Oberalp Pass to see the next valleys which takes you to Disentis, Lukmanierpass, Chur and many other places.
This is your final destination and depending on how late it is now, you can hike around, say hello to the cows, make some pictures.
If you have to go back to Zürich, you may go back to Andermatt and then to highway, that would be the fastest way back, but if you have more time and still feel a need for adventure, you can hit Chur direction and do a big lap back to Zürich.
If I would have just one day in Switzerland and would like to see as much mountains as I can, that would definitely be my choice.
Simply jump into the car, go in the amazing Swiss Alps and explore. Mountain passes are extremely nice choice as you get the full Alpine drive thrill. You are going to get a lot of serpentine experience up there.
The whole adventure should take you around 6-8 hours, so even when you are finished, you will still have some power to explore Zürich, Basel, Geneva or any other city you are going to stay.
If you have any questions regarding this Swiss mountain passes adventure, please let me know, I will do my best to help.
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