Traversing four language regions, five Alpine passes, 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, two biospheres and 22 lakes. The Grand Tour of Switzerland is one exceptional road trip.
I didn’t need a sports star to allude me to the beauty of Switzerland. Yet Roger Federer looks like a fantastic travel companion, and that certainly helps. Roger has presented his own personal favourite route sections to Switzerland as part of a Grand Tour that has all the markings of remarkable road trip.
The magic of beautiful places
The Grand Tour of Switzerland is a 1,643km journey that weaves its way across this mountainous country nestled between Italy, France, Germany, and Austria. Yet Switzerland offers more than merely mountains, precision clocks and chocolate.
With exquisite scenic views and cultural jewels, from palm-lined lakeshores to sparkling glaciers. Medieval villages to buzzing cities. The Grand Tour of Switzerland packs in many sights. And there is even an app to create your own road trip adventure.
Taking in the Swiss rugged landscape, being home to epic lakes and the towering Alps, chic ski resorts and summer hiking trails. It’s littered with picture perfect medieval towns and iconic landmarks including Bern’s Zytglogge clock tower and Lucerne’s wooden Chapel Bridge.
Being landlocked means discovering the country is best by road. Over 50 spectacular spots for photos, 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 5 Alpine passes have been collated into 8 unique stages of a Grand Tour that is an exceptional road trip through Switzerland that will ignite your travel lust and become a ‘must do’ on your bucket list.
Stage 1: Zurich – Appenzell
Starting your drive in the trendy city of Zurich, with its diverse museums, its own food festival and Switzerland’s most vibrant nightlife. Then less than an hour into the Swiss mountains, you’ll continue on to Zurich’s wine country, the thundering Rhine Falls, and the historical book and textile city of St. Gallen before ending up in rural Appenzell.
Stage 2: Appenzell – St. Moritz
From Europe’s smallest town, Werdenberg, to Switzerland’s oldest city, Chur, with its 5000-year history, to more recent 800-year-old Cathedral. Then on to the Salginatobel Bridge before ending up in St. Moritz, famous for its mineral springs and as a summer spa resort destination.
Stage 3: St. Moritz to Lugano
This stage has the most significant change in altitude. From Alpine St. Moritz, at 1,822 metres above sea level, down to the palm tree-lined streets of Lugano, at 270 metres above sea level. Visit the castle of Bellinzona in Ticino, and take the funicular railways from the edge of Lugano to Monte Brè and its little village with its grottos.
Stage 4: Lugano – Zermatt
This is one route made for the adventurous driver. The Tremola Pass snakes its way from Airolo up to the Gotthard Pass. At its most spectacular point, over four kilometres, the road climbs a height of 300 metres in 24 hairpin bends, each with its own name.
Stage 5: Zermatt – Lausanne
This is the stage where it’s time to change the mode of transport. Zermatt sits at the base of the Matterhorn and is also known for being a car-free village. Visitors must leave their car in Täsch and take the train to Zermatt and back to Täsch, where the journey continues by car through Valais to Lake Geneva.
Stage 6: Lausanne – Neuchâtel
Lausanne, the second-largest city on Lake Geneva, combines a dynamic commercial town with the locality of a holiday resort. The town is built on three hills, surrounded by vineyard-covered slopes, with Lake Geneva at its feet. It is hardly surprising that the International Olympic Committee has been based here since 1914. Travel across the Jura mountain range to Le Sentier and Neuchâtel, known as Neuenburg in German, with its rich cultural and architectural past. The Castle and the Collegiate Church (built in the Middle Ages) and The Museum of Art and History in the “Palais des Beaux-Arts” make for an exciting cultural stay.
Stage 7: Neuchâtel – Bern
From Lake Neuchâtel, this route takes you to Lake Murten, Lake Schiffenen, Lake Gruyère, Lake Thun, Lake Brienz and finally along the Aare River to the Swiss capital Bern. With its well-preserved medieval townscape, the Old Town of Bern was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1983. Its quaint old town is framed by the Aare River and offers spectacular views of the Alps. The capital of Switzerland has many charms just waiting to be discovered.
Stage 8: Bern – Zurich
From Bern, travel into the Canton of Uri. This is the location of the well-known Rütli meadow, where the oath marking the alliance of the three original cantons was sworn in 1291. Lucerne, the gateway to central Switzerland, is known for its picturesque covered medieval Chapel Bridge on Lake Lucerne. This route then winds its way back to vibrant Zurich, where your Grand Tour of Switzerland began.
This article was produced with content supplied by My Switzerland and is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter.