3 North-South Route
3 North-South Route

Cycling in Switzerland

etappe-01649

North-South Route

Stage 5, Andermatt–Airolo

Route report
40 photos

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etappe-01649

North-South Route

The Gotthard Pass: an Alpine transit route of European importance. On horseback, by rail or car or on a bike: everyone is heading south! The Gotthard Hospice, an intercultural icon, is also a venue for fans of bratwurst sausage, amateur photographers and motorbike aficionados.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote about this region: "Of all the regions I know, this is the loveliest and most interesting." Would he still have the same view now, given the bumper-to-bumper traffic that thunders over the Gotthard every day? Alfred Escher, the politician, captain of industry and rail entrepreneur, initially favoured an Alpine transit route at the Lukmanier Pass, but then he changed his mind and backed the Gotthard project. The railway line through the Gotthard Tunnel was finally opened in 1882. Many lives were claimed by illness or accidents during the work on – and inside – the mountain. The Gotthard Axis, as it is known, now combines a railway line and a motorway.

A tower dating from the 13th century stands in Hospental, an old village on the Gotthard road. These are the remains of the seat of the "Nobles of Hospental". Alpine passes can be spotted in all directions, and you have to work out which is the Gotthard, Oberalp or Furka. On reaching the first bend on the Gotthard Pass, you'll have a fabulous view of Urseren Valley and the majestic mountain world. With a little luck, you'll see a marmot. After climbing almost 500 meters, you finally reach the border between Uri and Ticino cantons at the Gotthard-Reuss river. The cantonal border is a little special here because it marks the start of the old Gotthard Pass. Nowadays, the "Tremola" is more or less an icon among mountain passes. "Tremare" means "tremble", and you'll certainly feel yourself trembling as you ride over countless rough cobblestones. The legendary Paris-Roubaix cycle race seems like child's play by comparison, and all amateur cyclists with any ambition should "do" the Tremola at least once in their lives.

There are various reasons for cycling over the old Gotthard route. For example, because of the aforementioned cobblestones. Where else can you still see anything like them? If you're lucky, you'll also see the legendary Gotthard Stagecoach on the pass: it can be hired, together with its team of horses. The coach trip from Andermatt over the Gotthard to Airolo is like a journey into the past. At the Gotthard Pass (2,106 m.a.s.l.), you can visit the "Museo Sasso San Gottardo" to discover its history. The building that houses the museum dates from 1834 (open daily, 9 am-6 pm). The Tremola is also open on the southern side, unless the pass is closed due to winter conditions. There are some jolts and bumps on the descent, but life is wonderful as you ride along behind the stagecoach in the sunshine, with the wind whistling and the birds chirruping! Now your journey continues down to Airolo in the "Alto Ticino".
The Gotthard Pass: an Alpine transit route of European importance. On horseback, by rail or car or on a bike: everyone is heading south! The Gotthard Hospice, an intercultural icon, is also a venue for fans of bratwurst sausage, amateur photographers and motorbike aficionados.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote about this region: "Of all the regions I know, this is the loveliest and most interesting." Would he still have the same view now, given the bumper-to-bumper traffic that thunders over the Gotthard every day? Alfred Escher, the politician, captain of industry and rail entrepreneur, initially favoured an Alpine transit route at the Lukmanier Pass, but then he changed his mind and backed the Gotthard project. The railway line through the Gotthard Tunnel was finally opened in 1882. Many lives were claimed by illness or accidents during the work on – and inside – the mountain. The Gotthard Axis, as it is known, now combines a railway line and a motorway.

A tower dating from the 13th century stands in Hospental, an old village on the Gotthard road. These are the remains of the seat of the "Nobles of Hospental". Alpine passes can be spotted in all directions, and you have to work out which is the Gotthard, Oberalp or Furka. On reaching the first bend on the Gotthard Pass, you'll have a fabulous view of Urseren Valley and the majestic mountain world. With a little luck, you'll see a marmot. After climbing almost 500 meters, you finally reach the border between Uri and Ticino cantons at the Gotthard-Reuss river. The cantonal border is a little special here because it marks the start of the old Gotthard Pass. Nowadays, the "Tremola" is more or less an icon among mountain passes. "Tremare" means "tremble", and you'll certainly feel yourself trembling as you ride over countless rough cobblestones. The legendary Paris-Roubaix cycle race seems like child's play by comparison, and all amateur cyclists with any ambition should "do" the Tremola at least once in their lives.

There are various reasons for cycling over the old Gotthard route. For example, because of the aforementioned cobblestones. Where else can you still see anything like them? If you're lucky, you'll also see the legendary Gotthard Stagecoach on the pass: it can be hired, together with its team of horses. The coach trip from Andermatt over the Gotthard to Airolo is like a journey into the past. At the Gotthard Pass (2,106 m.a.s.l.), you can visit the "Museo Sasso San Gottardo" to discover its history. The building that houses the museum dates from 1834 (open daily, 9 am-6 pm). The Tremola is also open on the southern side, unless the pass is closed due to winter conditions. There are some jolts and bumps on the descent, but life is wonderful as you ride along behind the stagecoach in the sunshine, with the wind whistling and the birds chirruping! Now your journey continues down to Airolo in the "Alto Ticino".
26 km
Asphalted: 26 km
Natural surface: 0 km
680 m | 950 m
medium

Arrival | return travel

Arrival / return travel Andermatt
SBB Timetable Show stop and route on map

Season

Season
Please note: Gotthardpass open from approx. May to October. Info Tel 163.

More …

Surface/foundation
Beware: cobblestones on old pass road between St. Gotthard Pass head and Airolo, choose new Gotthard road for descent on bikes with no suspension.
Transport Gotthard Tunnel
32
Transport Gotthard Tunnel
Rail, bus, boat recommendation
Göschenen, Bahnhof–Airolo
or
Airolo–Göschenen, Bahnhof
Reason: metres in height saved Göschenen–Airolo 1000m, Airolo–Göschenen 930m.
SBB Timetable
Ascent Gotthardpass
33
Ascent Gotthardpass
Rail, bus, boat recommendation
Erstfeld–Airolo
or
Biasca–Göschenen, Bahnhof
Reason: metres in height saved Erstfeld–Airolo 1650m, Biasca–Göschenen 1800m.
SBB Timetable

Arrival | return travel

Arrival / return travel Airolo
SBB Timetable Show stop and route on map

Services

Accommodation

The River House
The River House
Andermatt
Hotel 3 Könige & Post
Hotel 3 Könige & Post
Andermatt
Pension zum Turm, Urner Ski- und Wanderheim
Pension zum Turm, Urner Ski- und Wanderheim
Hospental
Casa Arcobaleno
Casa Arcobaleno
Airolo
B&B Motta
B&B Motta
Airolo
B&B Gottardo
B&B Gottardo
Airolo
Hotel Forni
Hotel Forni
Airolo
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Bookable offers

3 North-South Route Basel-Chiasso
3 North-South Route Basel-Chiasso
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Places

Andermatt
Andermatt
Göschenen
Göschenen
Airolo
Airolo
Gotthardpass
Gotthardpass
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Places of interest

Eldorado of cable cars: Gemsstock
Eldorado of cable cars: Gemsstock
Monument of Suworow
Monument of Suworow
The diabolic and wild Schöllenenschlucht
The diabolic and wild Schöllenenschlucht
Waterworld Göschenen
Waterworld Göschenen
Airolo, Ressiga–Madrano
Airolo, Ressiga–Madrano
Cheese factory Gottardo
Cheese factory Gottardo
Gotthard Pass trade route
Gotthard Pass trade route
Malle-poste historique
Malle-poste historique
Tremola road (Val Tremola)
Tremola road (Val Tremola)
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Signalization

Signalization
For cycling, follow the logo indicated on the red signposts. Take a printout of our web map on your tour for safety's sake.
Signalization

Travel reports