Switzerland Tourism has unveiled the latest in its array of tourism offerings: the Grand Tour of Switzerland.
The Grand Tour is a scenic knockout, covering about 2000 kilometres around the country and exposing visitors to five Alpine passes, 22 lakes, two biospheres and 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites and less frequented towns.
The Grand Tour is open in both directions, but Switzerland Tourism recommends clients make the journey clockwise. This is especially useful in cities with one-way streets – and for observing motorway entrances.
The Grand Tour will be officially signposted from next year – and signage is limited to the clockwise direction of travel.
The Grand Tour gives insights into the real Switzerland: the lives, traditions and customs of locals. Routes can be tailored to suit any length of stay and structured according to different interests.
Mark Wettstein, Switzerland Tourism Director Australia and New Zealand, told an industry launch in Sydney that Switzerland was the ideal driving and touring destination, and only about two-thirds the size of Tasmania.
About 64% of arrivals in the country were by car, he said, and many Swiss experiences, like the car ferry ride across Lake Lucerne, were great experiences in their own right.
“Unlike other yearly themes we’ve had in the past, The Grand Tour is a permanent product and brand experience that puts our country’s most valuable assets such as the untouched scenery, diverse cultures, quirky traditions and the public transport system on display and on the radar of travellers,” Wettstein said.
Touring was the mode of travel with the second-highest rate of growth worldwide, he added. (The first is probably cruising.)
Recommended travel period for the Grand Tour of Switzerland is in summer (April to October). The core route is 1643 km. The initial stretch Basel-Neuchâtel is 165 km, the initial stretch Geneva-Saint-George is 53 km and the initial stretch Chiass-Bellinzona is 109 km.
The highest point of the Grand Tour is the Furka Pass, 2429 metres above sea level, while the lowest point is Lake Maggiore, 193 metres above sea level.
With driving time of at least five hours a day, Switzerland Tourism recommends clients plan at least seven days to complete the core route. Depending on travellers’ entry point from the border, they may even need more time. The effective duration depends on whether they speed along or take a leisurely pace to enjoy the many sights along the route.
The Grand Tour of Switzerland route is fundamentally aimed at cars and motorcycles.
Written by Peter Needham