Gotthard Pass, Switzerland

The Gotthard Pass between the Swiss cantons of Uri and Ticino is one of the most important north-south connections in the Alps and offers dreamlike landscapes and breathtaking panoramic views.

The Gotthard Pass in the south of Switzerland connects the canton of Uri with the canton of Ticino. The impressive pass road, opened in 1830, was for a long time the most important north-south crossing in the Alps.


Most traffic now travels through the road tunnel, which was opened in 1980, or by rail through the railway tunnel, which was opened in 1882. The impressive road in a sensational mountain landscape is one of our top 10 sights in Switzerland.

The pass also acts as a weather divide. While the climate in the south in Airolo (Ticino) is mostly warm Mediterranean, the north side in Andermatt (Uri) is usually quite cool, even in summer - here you have the harsh Alpine climate again. In the west, the Gotthard Pass is enclosed by Lago di Lucendro and in the east by Lago della Sella.

The pass road

The north and south ramps were partially rerouted between 1956 and 1977. However, the old Gotthard Pass road is still passable. The road winds its way up the steep mountain in narrow serpentines, offering magnificent landscapes and unforgettable views of the Swiss mountains along the way.

One of the most spectacular highlights is certainly the ride on the old cobbled road that leads through the Tremola Gorge on a breathtaking route. Breakneck serpentines lead up to the top of the pass to Airolo. Motorcyclists should avoid this route in wet weather, however, as the cobblestones are then very slippery.

At the top of the pass, arrivals are greeted by an old hospice, a restaurant and a pass museum.

Tip: The trip over the Gotthard Pass can be ideally combined with a trip over the Furka and Nufenen Passes.

Fort Airolo

Fort Airolo was built between 1886 and 1890, lies at 1,300 metres above sea level and was considered the most modern fortress in Europe until the First World War. It presents itself buried deep in the mountain in the first bends above the village of the same name, Airolo.

The fort had the task of protecting the Gotthard railway, the Gotthard road and the Val Bedretto. Since 1989, Fort Airolo has functioned as a museum with a permanent exhibition. From the outside, the fort still looks as it did when it was opened over 100 years ago.


Railway tunnel of the Gotthard Railway

The railway tunnel was built between 1872 and 1882. The tunnel construction claimed 177 lives at that time - mostly Italian guest workers. A monument by the artist Vincenzo Vela stands in Airolo for the victims of the railway tunnel construction.

On 1 June 2016, a new tunnel was opened, which was then also opened for passenger traffic in December after a long trial operation. With a length of 57 km, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in the world.

Gotthard road tunnel

The road tunnel was built from 1970 to 1980. It is a centrepiece of the European north-south axis and, at 16.7 kilometres, one of the longest road tunnels in Europe. Every year, about five and a half million travellers pass through it.

Related links:

Official website of the Gotthard Pass (Switzerland Tourism)