If you are looking for a beautiful, scenic drive, consider your next drive at the San Gotthard Pass in Switzerland.
Also known as the Passo San Gottardo and St Gotthard Pass, the pass is one of the scenic routes in Switzerland that allows you to take instead of the highway. This San Gotthard Pass in Switzerland is one of the main scenic routes to take, as it one of the main routes between the North of the Alps and the South. Leaving Uri Canton on one side and arriving in the Ticino canton on the other.
You’ll be amazed for the scenic route, which is much more enjoyable than the 16.9 kilometre long tunnel instead!
Where Is The San Gotthard Pass in Switzerland?
The scenic passo san gottardo pass is located in the Ticino canton, which you pass to from the Uri canton. This is based in the middle to South area of Switzerland.
It is at elevation 2,106 meters (6,909 ft), so you can already imagine the best views around.
To check if the pass is open during your visit, check the latest up to date information here.
The pass wasn’t used much until the early 13th century
Google Maps address: HH57+48 Airolo
What Can You See Along The Passo San Gottardo Scenic Route?
There are many things you can actually see along the scenic route. Most of these are free, with the scenic road also free to drive on. Here are some of our suggestions:
The Grand Tour of Switzerland sign (if it is there!)
We visited the Gottard Pass in Switzerland during May 2023. During our visit, the location of the Grand Tour of Switzerland sign was actually closed off with a barrier. So you cannot really park in the old area anymore.
You can however still walk over the barrier and enjoy the view – however the sign was not there. This had been removed, so it was not possible to see this.
So we have included this point, just in case it gets put back!
The beautiful landscape
Driving through this area is of course much more exciting and beautiful than being in the San Gotthard tunnel. It has a combination of the mountains, a few lakes (mentioned below), plenty of hiking trails (for if you want to stay longer!) and possible wildlife encounters.
During our visit in May, there was still a bit of snow on the peaks as well as the lakes mostly frozen. It was beautiful to just find a spot to stop at and enjoy the scenery.
Even though there are a few wind turbines here, the overall landscape really is worth the drive. If you love driving, its a road well worth adding to your travel list for enjoying.
The panoramic viewpoint and cafe
The viewpoint here is pretty small but a sweet spot on the route. They have outdoor seating and viewpoint area, where you can look down the valley in the South, as well as to the mountains to the West.
The little cafe (and souvenir shop) is open every day when the pass is open. They have warm drinks, cold drinks and a few snacks you can buy. For example during our May visit, you could buy a hot dog or bratwurst sausage for 6 CHF.
There is parking on both sides of the road, which can fit cars as well as campers and a lorry. We had plenty of parking choice during our visit but we can imagine at busy lunchtime hours it can get quite full here.
Google Maps location: GHPF+6W Airolo
The famous zigzag road Tremola and viewpoint Goethe-Tafel Gotthard
From one of the many viewpoints you can stop at, you can view the Tremola zigzag road. This is viewable best from the following google maps coordinates: HH27+CR Airolo.
You can also choose to drive this route up or down, based on which direction you are travelling on. This is something only cars, motorbikes or cyclists can do from what we could see, with the road very tight and bendy. So definitely not something for those with campers or trailers!
The observation deck Vista sulla Valle Bedretto
We didn’t get a chance to visit the observation deck, but we hear its a great viewpoint for those who have the time to visit. We didn’t spot actually any parking when we drove past however, as there was some construction here, so that was likely why.
However we did see people walking along the hiking route from the Switzerland Sign location to this, so this seemed a possible option if you have time!
Google Maps location: GHPF+6W Airolo
A few little lakes
Just like many other mountainous locations, the Gotthard Pass in Switzerland has a few lakes that you can see, relax at and walk around. They make great photo opportunities to take photos of with the mountains too, such as with the reflections.
- Lago di San Carlo
- Lago della Piazza
- Lago di Lucendro
- Lago de Morti
Sasso San Gottardo Museum
When open, the Museum San Gottardo is an interesting place to visit while driving here. It is a museum fort built into the mountain, which includes tunnels & historical exhibits. The provide tours as well as open for those who want to explore on their own.
Want To Stay The Night At The Gotthard Pass in Switzerland?
We see that this is totally possible! There are a few locations you can sleep at when at the top::
- Hotel Passo San Gottardo – An easy but clean 13th-century building, with rustic rooms with simple furnishings. Perfect for those wanting to stop the night without going over budget.
- Felsenhotel La Claustra – This is a 4 star hotel, build into the mountain and the perfect retreat to stay at. It looks to be very unique and special for those wanting to have a luxurious night. We would love to visit here for a night next time!!
There are also a few locations below the scenic Gotthard Pass if you wish to stay nearby instead of at the top:
- Hotel Forni – An easy hotel with simple rooms, including a casual area for relaxing and a restaurant. Breakfast and parking is complimentary.
- Hotel Garni BB Motta – A hotel with large, clean rooms with decent private bathrooms. Some have balconies with a panoramic view of the Alps from below. It’s an ideal place for a stopover if you want to sleep the night while travelling.
Summary Gotthard Pass
The Gotthard Pass in Switzerland is in our opinion well worth the extra time if you are travelling in the area. The scenic drive is stunning alone, but if you can stay longer and explore, then you’ll enjoy it best. The pass has lots of hiking routes, stunning scenery and a few places to eat and even sleep.
If you have kids or a dog, its a great place for a walk with fresh air too. It’s quite special!