You have decided that you want to discover Switzerland by car and maybe you even want to drive on The Grand Tour of Switzerland. When you have done most of your driving in congested mega cities or on super wide and straight roads, driving on Switzerland's mountain roads can be quite overwhelming. Driving on Swiss mountain roads may seem difficult, but if you follow a few tips you will have a great time! Swiss mountain passes are open subject to snow conditions. They close in fall and open up again in spring. Please always drive carefully and use common sense on top of the following tips.
At the end of this post, you'll also find a video that explains even more!
Disclaimer: I am a local who regularly drives on mountain passes but I am not a driving instructor. Please always be cautious and use common sense.
13 Tips for Driving on Swiss Mountain Roads
1. Be careful with corners, you don't know what's behind them or how narrow they are.
Not possible to see what's coming!
2. Don't just park your car at the side of the road. You may block traffic or someone might run into it.
"No Parking" sign in Switzerland
3. Expect natural obstacles such as rocks, wood or wild animals on the road.
Sign for "Possibly Rocks on Road" in Switzerland
4. Although you may push your car on a straight, remember, you are on a twisty road and you will have to slow down eventually. Breaking is more difficult when you go downhill.
Straight bit on Swiss mountain pass
5. Expect farm animals on the road, as the roads sometimes lead through pastures. You can tell by a metal cow grid built into the road. These grids can be slippery.
6. The roads are shared with cyclists and pedestrians.
Pedestrian may cross from parking to restaurant
7. The mountains are a great place for army training. Don't be afraid, simply follow their instructions.
Swiss Army installation next so Swiss mountain pass
8. Overtaking is the main cause of accidents. The roads are narrow, sometimes the visibility is bad and your VW Sharan with 5 people and a trunk full of luggage is not going to have the performance uphill you expect it to. Better be safe than sorry here.
Overtaking on Swiss mountain pass
9. Sometimes the already narrow roads become narrower, so no two cars fit properly next to each other. You can tell by the white line in the middle being gone all of a sudden. In this case use the zones where you can pass each other. One of you might need to reverse.
10. Although the scenery is wonderful, make sure the driver keeps the eyes on the road, as there is always a chance for a surprise around the next corner.
Surprise: Cyclist on narrow road
11. Racing is illegal in Switzerland. Also try not to be intimidated by the loud and fast car or motorcycle behind you, but simply let them pass.
Motorcyclists love Swiss mountain passes and they love going fast.
12. Road conditions can change quickly, especially when at the beginning and end of season (summer) the roads can have snow or frozen water on them.
Snow melts during the day and might freeze again over night.
13. Respect yourself and each other on Swiss mountain roads.
Zone to cross each other on narrow Swiss mountain pass