An iconic road to Passo del Sempione in the Swiss Alps

Simplonpass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.005m (6,578ft) above the sea level, located in the canton of Valais, in Switzerland. 

Passo del Sempione

Can you drive through the Simplon Pass?

The road to the summit, also known as Passo del Sempione, is totally paved. It’s called Route 9 (part of the European Route 62).

When was the road through Simplon Pass built?

Located near the Italian border, the pass was used as early as the Stone Age and until the 17th century it was mainly traversed by smugglers and mercenaries. The construction of the road to Simplon Pass began in 1800 and was completed in 1805. The pass itself had been used for centuries as a trade route and for military purposes. However, the construction of a proper road over the pass was initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte, who wanted to travel southward with his cannons, as part of his efforts to improve transportation infrastructure within his empire. The road was a significant engineering achievement of its time and played a crucial role in facilitating trade and travel between Switzerland and Italy. In the 1970s and 1980s, numerous protective galleries and bridges were added.

Is Simplon Pass open?

Set high between the Pennine Alps and the Lepontine Alps, access to the pass is typically open all year round but short term closures are common in winter due to dangerous weather conditions.

Is Simplon Pass difficult?

The road is steep in parts, hitting a 10.7% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. The road is wide and the traffic is not such a nuisance as one might imagine. It is a drive built on the contour of the mountain rather than engineered for expediency. The road curves gently around the mountain's topography, giving drivers some truly wondrous views of the frozen mountain slopes on the Swiss side and the verdant tree-lined valley on the Italian side. In the warmer season, there are numerous cafés and restaurants along the way.

How long is Simplon Pass in Switzerland?

Tucked away on the southern part of the country, the pass is 42.2 km (26.22) miles long, running from Brig to the Italian border. It has been climbed several times in the Giro d’Italia race.

Is Simplon Pass in Switzerland worth it?

Running through an exceptional Alpine environment, it’s one of the most famous and historical mountain passes of the country. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to capture some awe-inspiring memories with your camera, so be sure you have a full charge on your device. The Ganter Bridge, for instance, spans the Ganter Valley, 150 meters above the valley floor at its highest. You can also stop at the Simplon Hospice, a Swiss heritage site of national importance that was founded in the first year of the 19th century under the orders of Napolean Bonaparte.
Pic: rebecca nydegger