I made in April this year with my 4×4 motorhome a roadtrip through Switzerland and I hope that with these tips I can help people get there safely and get home safely. Whoever travels through Switzerland by car, camper van of camper better be well prepared. With the exception of the summer months, you can often be faced with surprises here, both on the road and in nature. In this article I therefore give simple but effective and practical tips for preparing a roadtrip through Switzerland. Use it to your advantage!
Table of contents
1. Provide winter tires and snow chains
Just to get straight to the point, one of the most important tips I can give for a roadtrip through Switzerland is strongly recommended to everyone to at least drive with good all-terrain and/or winter tires. Yes, even in the summer! You never know what the weather will do at three kilometers altitude. Don't try to brave the elements with your summer tires, or with winter tires that are almost due for replacement. The roads in Switzerland are good but can be treacherous in high areas.
In addition, it is absolutely wise in the cold months to ensure that you snow chains with you. The weather in Switzerland is difficult to predict and several times I entered a sunny tunnel on one side of the mountain and ended up in heavy snow or rain on the other side. Also, I often woke up in the morning and it snowed a lot during the night, so be warned.
In addition, you will sometimes encounter certain mountain passes that are still completely covered with snow because there are no snow shovels there.
To ensure that your wallet does not have to take a major dent on the road, it is best to do so before departure in the Netherlands. buy snow chains† Everything is more expensive in Switzerland!
Constantly changing weather conditions
To give you an idea of the constantly changing weather conditions in Switzerland I made a short video. I drove in the sun, snow and fog in one afternoon. The images were taken in April, but a few years earlier I had pretty much the same thing in September, at the end of the summer. I also drove a lot on completely snowy roads, but unfortunately I didn't make a video of that. However, there are some photos of it in this article.
2. Speeding fines in Switzerland
You have during your roadtrip through Switzerland probably not in a rush, but I still want to draw attention to this tip. In Switzerland, the fines are much higher than in the Netherlands. Here in the Netherlands people often take quite a bit of risk because you usually get away with it, and the fines are relatively small.
In Switzerland it is different. And you will simply receive any speeding offenses you commit in Switzerland for which you have not been stopped by post The Netherlands receive. The costs for this are not cheap, and anyone who drives more than 25 kilometers per hour risks even a income-related fine.
Recently a Swiss woman got another fine of 175.000 euros (189.550 francs) (source) because she was speeding through a Swiss village at 93 kilometers per hour with her Range Rover. She was allowed 50 there, and so she was driving 43 kilometers per hour too fast. The fine of 175.000 euros was imposed on the basis of her income (she was a millionaire). It is clear that it can be quite expensive if you are not paying attention, even if you are not a millionaire.
Within built-up areas 30/50/60 roads
- Exceeding up to 5 km/h: from CHF 40.
- Exceeding 6 to 10 km/h: from CHF 120.
- Exceeding 11 to 15 km/h: from CHF 250.
- Exceeding 16 to 20 km/h: from CHF 400.
- Exceeding 21 to 24 km/h: from CHF 600.
- Exceeding from 25 km/h: income-related fine.
Outside built-up areas and highways
- Exceeding up to 5 km/h: from CHF 40.
- Exceeding 6 to 10 km/h: from CHF 100.
- Exceeding 11 to 15 km/h: from CHF 160.
- Exceeding 16 to 20 km/h: from CHF 240.
- Exceeding 21 to 25 km/h: from CHF 400.
- Exceeding 26 to 29 km/h: from CHF 600.
- Exceeding from 30 km/h: income-related fine.
- Exceeding up to 5 km/h: from CHF 20.
- Exceeding 6 to 10 km/h: from CHF 60.
- Exceeding 11 to 15 km/h: from CHF 120.
- Exceeding 16 to 20 km/h: from CHF 180.
- Exceeding 21 to 25 km/h: from CHF 260.
- Exceeding 26 to 30 km/h: from CHF 400.
- Exceeding 31 to 34 km/h: from CHF 600.
- Exceeding from 35 km/h: income-related fine.
3. Open or closed mountain passes
Another important one roadtrip tip for Switzerland is to keep an eye on and be aware of road closures. More than once I was suddenly faced with a closed barrier because a certain road was completely closed by heavy snowfall. This can happen in Switzerland and if you are unlucky you will have to drive many kilometers to get to your destination.
Always take snow into account
In addition, it is good to know that in winter many roads and passes are already closed in advance. Driving conditions can be treacherous on passes that remain open, such as the Simplon, Brünig and Julier passes. Expect snow on the road, including in the spring and fall. Even in the summer months, snow can still fall on some mountain passes.
The Swiss government therefore advises you to travel by train to hard-to-reach areas instead of by car. In some cases there are tunnels that remain open, or car trains.
Mountain passes can also temporarily close in heavy weather. This can happen anytime and anywhere, including for passes that are normally open all year round.
Opening season mountain passes
Below is a list of popular passes and their general opening season. Please note: these may therefore differ. For the most recent information on which roads are open or closed, see this website.
- Albula Pass in Graubünden (May to October/November)
- Flüela pass in Graubünden (May to December)
- Furka Pass in Valais (June to October)
- Gotthard Pass in Central Switzerland (June to November)
- Grand-Saint-Bernard pass in Valais (May to October)
- Grimsel Pass in the Bernese Oberland (May to October)
- Julier Pass in Graubünden (all year round)
- Klausen Pass in Central Switzerland (May to October)
- Nufenen Pass in Valais (June to October)
- Oberalp Pass in Graubünden (May to November)
- Ofen Pass in Graubünden (all year round)
- San Bernardino Pass in Grisons (May to October)
- Simplon pass in Valais (all year round)
- Sustenpass in the Bernese Oberland (June to October)
4. Bad weather? Too much snow? Take the train!
Switzerland has an excellent network of trains and other public transport. It is a safe, beautiful and environmentally friendly alternative to traveling by car. Look here for all the details.
Roadtrip type: Many places are not accessible by car, either because there are no cars or because there is no road. Immediately Swiss Half Fare Card so you can save money on tickets for trains and funiculars and get to places that are not accessible by car. With this pass you also get a discount on boat tickets for the Swiss lakes.
5. Download Park4Night and iOverlander
I usually use two apps to find places to stay overnight with the camper: Park4Night en iOverlander† I use these Apps with every roadtrip after someone else tipped it off to me. Make sure you have both Apps installed on your phone beforehand as they will help you a lot in finding facilities, campsites and wild camping spots along the way!
Park4Night is suitable for motorhome drivers of all shapes and sizes. It shows a lot of parking spaces that are suitable for even the larger motorhomes. In addition, you will also find places of interest, camper facilities such as filling water or discharging waste water, and of course campsites.
iOverlander is different and focuses mainly on 4×4 riders, as many of the spots you will find in this app are aimed at those with a terrain-worthy 4×4. iOverlander is almost exclusively for finding camping spots that are often deep in remote nature reserves.
6. Take as many groceries with you as possible
Of course, a tip about saving costs cannot be missing from the list of tips for a roadtrip through Switzerland. It will probably not surprise you, but Switzerland is expensive by Dutch standards. Eating out or having a drink on a terrace can cost you twice as much as in the Netherlands. The groceries are also pricey, about 1,5x the price of what you pay in the Netherlands. So do you want to save costs? Then fill your camper or car with groceries from the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany! After all, you drive through it towards Switzerland.
And let's be honest, a jar of real Calvé peanut butter, frozen whole-wheat bread (if you have a freezer) and real Dutch cheese on the go, who wouldn't want that!?
7. Take high fuel prices into account
I had expected in advance that fuel prices in Switzerland would be higher than in the Netherlands. But what I did not expect is that the diesel would be so very expensive. Diesel is on average much cheaper than petrol in most countries. In Switzerland, however, the situation is different. Because diesel is more polluting than petrol, there are higher taxes on it, which means you pay extra for a liter of diesel in relation to petrol.
In April 2021 I paid on average between 1,80 and 2 euros per liter of diesel. And with all those steep mountain passes, the camper also consumed a lot more than average. I was at the pump almost every day! You pay more per liter and consume more per kilometer on average. This can be quite expensive, so keep this in mind in advance.
8. Flying your drone? Check the rules
During you roadtrip through Switzerland you will regularly come to beautiful places where you can take pictures or film with your drone. If you have a drone, now is the time to launch it into the air. Switzerland is very photogenic and you can fly in many places. Take advantage of that! I made the video below at Lake Brienz and this beautiful place is no exception in Switzerland. In many places in Switzerland you can expect this kind of great panoramic views and make the most beautiful shots with your drone.
There are of course rules for drones in Switzerland, so make sure you follow these rules. To make things easier for you, I've added the latest Switzerland drone rules to the website in this handy PDF that you can also download to your phone or laptop.
These were the practical tips for preparing for a roadtrip through Switzerland. If you still have questions or comments after reading these tips, please leave a comment.