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Simplon Pass (Passo del Sempione) in Switzerland

One of the most scenic drives in the Alps, featured in Giro d'Italia

Best time: all year round

Simplon Pass (Passo del Sempione)
Simplon Pass (Passo del Sempione)
Simplon Pass (Passo del Sempione)
Simplon Pass (Passo del Sempione)
Simplon Pass (Passo del Sempione)

Simplon Pass (also spelled Simplonpass, Passo del Sempione, or Col du Simplon) is a mountain pass with an elevation of 2,005 m (6,578 ft) between the Pennine and Lepontine Alps in Switzerland. An international Europen Route E62 traverses the pass and links the town of Brig, canton of Valais, Switzerland, with Domodossola, Piedmont, Italy some two hours away from Milan. The asphalted road is generally open all year round, although occasional closures are possible in case of harsh weather conditions or road maintenance.

Simplon Pass has been used by people since the Stone Age. The road dates back to Napoleon times when it was built for military purposes. If you drive to the summit from Domodossola, the ascent is 40 km long with 1,733 m (5686 ft) of elevation gain. From Varzo, you climb for 28 km with an elevation gain of 1,477 m (4846 ft). The road to the pass is asphalted with hairpin bends, sheer drops, switchbacks, and enough blind spots to make any driver nervous. Serpentine twists and turns can be an issue for those with car sickness. However, this drive also provides stunning views of the mountain slopes and verdant tree valleys. Between Simplon Pass and Brig, visitors cross the Ganter Bridge, 150 m above the Ganter Valley.

At the summit of Simplon Pass visitors can see the Hospiz of the Bernardine monks founded in the 19th century. Magnificent views on top include a panorama of the Bernese Alps with the Bietschhorn and snow-covered peaks of Fletschhorn and Weissmies. Stop by Simplon Village to see its traditional Alpine architecture.

Practical info

When is the best time to drive through Simplon Pass?

Late spring to early fall is the ideal season for driving through Simplon Pass, when the weather is generally favorable, and the pass is snow and ice-free. Since mountain weather can be erratic, visitors should be prepared for anything. The road may also be shut due to unfavorable weather. It is crucial to check the weather forecast before embarking on the drive to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Show more

Where is the Ganter Bridge located on Simplon Pass?

The beautiful Ganter Bridge is situated on Simplon Pass, connecting Brig in Switzerland to Domodossola in Italy, perched 150 meters over the Ganter Valley. This bridge provides unparalleled, awe-inspiring views of the surrounding mountainous landscape. Visitors can easily access it on foot or by driving. It is a must-see destination for visitors to the area who have no fear of heights. Show more

What is the distance from Milan to Simplon Pass?

Those planning on traveling should know that Simplon Pass is about 93 miles or 150 kilometers from Milan when travelling by road. Although public transportation alternatives are available, driving is the most convenient method of transportation. Visitors can take a train from Milan to Brig and then take a bus or taxi to Simplon Pass. Depending on the weather and traffic, the drive from Milan takes roughly two hours. Show more

Are hikers allowed to trek through Simplon Pass?

Simplon Pass features a variety of hiking trails with difficulty levels ranging from moderate to advanced, which makes it ideal for hiking enthusiasts. Hikers must be cautious of mountain weather conditions and come prepared with the suitable equipment and provisions. The Stockalperweg walk is one of the most popular trails that leads from Brig to Simplon Village, and the trail that leads to the peak of Breithorn is another popular route for hikers. Show more

Are there any historical sites to visit near Simplon Village?

Simplon Village is an exceptional site for history buffs, with numerous historical landmarks to explore. One of the primary attractions in the area is the Hospice du Simplon built in the 19th century, which was initially designed as a travel rest stop. The village has retained multiple old-fashioned Alpine structures. The Museum Alpines Haus is just one of the local museums that showcases art exhibitions portraying the region's culture and history. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin