July 7 – 14 (8 days)
September 24 – October 1 (8 days)
My “Essential Alps” tour is geared towards those riders looking for a shorter tour that includes the best of the “Must Ride” routes and passes. This tour includes the routes, passes and places that I would personally ride if I only had 8 days and wanted to maximize my time with the best variety of great riding. Most Alpine motorcycle experts, including John Hermann (“King of the Alps”) consider the Andermatt region in Switzerland and the Dolomites of Italy to be the “must ride” roads of the Alps. So this tour is anchored by Andermatt on one end and Dolomite World Cup town of Corvara im Badia at the other end. In between these two motorcycling Mecca’s we gorge on three of the highest passes in the Alps including the famous switchback laden Passo di Stelvio, the wild and beautiful Passo di Gavia and the Umbrail pass. We include wonderful 1-lane back-country passes like Pragel and Wurzjoch as well as higher speed sweepers like the Oberalp and Bernina.
In this one Essential Alps tour you get to see the outstanding roads, the spectacular passes, the picture-perfect scenery and the culture that embody the best of the Alps and make it the top “Must Ride” motorcycle destination that is the Alps. You enjoy the magnificence of the Swiss Alps, the more up close and personal feel of the Dolomites, and the spectacular high passes of Stelvio and Gavia. You get an expansive, must ride Alpine tour in a condensed easy-to-schedule time frame. This tour really is all about the riding.
|DURATION:||8 Riding Days|
|DISTANCE:||200 kms – 350 kms per day (120 miles – 210 miles) – Asphalt roads|
|DIFFICULTY:||4 out 5 stars|
|COUNTRIES VISITED:||Switzerland, Austria, and Italy|
|LAYOVER DAYS:||1 – Corvara, 1 Pontresina = 2 Total (Can ride every day or rest)|
|ACCOMODATIONS:||2 to 4 star hotels – family run Alpine style|
|MINIMUM # OF RIDERS:||5|
ALPS SELECT Swiss/Italian Loop
- Day 1 – Thun (S)
- Day 2 – Shruns (A)
- Day 3 – Corvara (I)
- Day 4 – Corvara (I)
- Day 5 – Pontresina (S)
- Day 6 – Pontresina (S)
- Day 7 – Andermatt (S)
- Day 8 – Thun (S)
- Day 1 – Motorcycle pick-up, local ride to include Schallenberg, Glaubenberg, Brunig, Gurnigel
- Day 2 – Susten, Klausen, Pragel, Filzbach, Furkajoch
- Day 3 – Silvretta, Bielerhohe, Timmelsjoch, Jaufen, Wurtzjoch, Valparola
- Day 4 – di Falzarego, di Giau, di Fedaia, di Pordoi, di Sella, di Gardena
- Day 5 – Umbrail, di Eira, di Foscagno, Forcola di Livigno
- Day 6 – Mortirolo, Aprica, Gavia, Stelvio, Bernina
- Day 7 – Maloja, Splugen, San Bernardino, Gottard
- Day 8 – Oberalp, Susten, Furka, Grimsel
MOTO-CHARLIE reserves the right to alter the exact route at his discretion.
This tour focuses on two main areas with some spectacular riding in between. The first area focuses on central and eastern Switzerland, including the Andermatt area (6 great passes), the high classic passes north of St. Moritz and the lesser traveled passes near our tour base in Thun. In between Andermatt and the Dolomites we ride the quintessential standards like Stelvio, Gavia and the Timmelsjoch, all in the top ten highest alpine passes. We then head east for three days in the Dolomites (my favorite area by a whisker) with their unique look, great twisty roads and multitude of passes. The Dolomites are biker favorites because of their density of high, twisty passes, variety of pass types and that unique combination of German and Italian culture. It a very special place.
Most people like to arrive at least a day ahead of time on Sunday. We usually plan two group rides on Monday to start the tour, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You are welcome to come on both, one, or none of the Monday rides. I’ll be more than glad to help you plan whatever alternate Monday activity might be of interest to you.
- Day 1 – Pick up the motorcycle. There are many wonderful sites to see in the immediate area, either by motorcycle or public transportation. Go visit the neat town of Interlaken located between the Thun See (“See” is the German word for lake) and the Brienzer See or take in Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald and gaze upon the Eiger. You’re welcome to join me for a morning and/or afternoon loop ride to get used to the bike, the roads and each other . In the evening please feel to join the other tour members for a group dinner or head off on your own for a quiet, private meal. It’s all your choice.
- Day 2 – Today is a blend of smaller one-lane passes and back-country roads complimented by high, sweeping passes like the Susten and Klausen. We have a wonderful lakeside lunch before continuing our journey along the high Filzbach road with it’s own a great lake view and then on into Austria to ride the Furkajoch before reaching our welcoming hotel in Schruns.
- Day 3 – Every day provides options and today’s no different. We can either continue along the road from Schruns to the Silvretta Strasses (high alps road) and the popular Bielerhohe pass at the top. Or, we can take several smaller but equally beautiful and enjoyable Austrian passes as we head towards Imst. Shortly thereafter we arrive at the start of the Timmelsjoch road and turn south towards the Dolomites, still several hours and pass summits away. The Timmelsjoch (#9 highest) is an example of the split personality of many Alps passes. The road on the Austrian side is smooth, wide and gains altitude deceptively before a final quick sprint to the top. The other side descends into Italy with lots of tight turns, switchbacks and a decidedly wilder look. At the bottom we go up and over another favorite pass, the Jaufen. from there we have several route options, all excitedly difficult to chose before we find our way to our Dolomites base in Corvara.
- Day 4 – There are more passes in this area than we will be able to ride. So, we mix it up. Today we ride my favorites including the classic dolomite passes which look like a figure 8 on the map. We’ll also do Passo di Giau, one of my all time favorites and view the gorge at Sottoguda. If the weather is good we can enjoy a mountain hut lunch via cable car at more than 2,700 meters with spectacular 360 degree views of the Dolomites. I never, ever get tired of these mountains.
- Day 5 – Today we work our way back west riding some more memorable Dolomite passes before we are seamlessly transported into the Tyrolean region. Highlights here include one of the more open high speed passes, the Ofen with its copious sweepers, wide angle switchbacks and excellent road surface (usually). There’s also the Forcola di Livigno and an even more open sweeper pass in the high iconic Bernina pass, which gives us an adrenaline rush on our way down to our next 2 night stay in Pontresina.
- Day 6 – The previous 5 days were a warm up for the highest and wildest passes on the tour. We go back over the Bernina and this time we ride all the way to the bottom in Tirano. We then head east to the base of the Gavia Pass (#7). This is one of my personal top 3 favorites. I love the challenging ride, the wild topography and the overall feel. It really makes you feel like you’ve been challenged by nature and found worthy. The south side is tight, often 1-lane and has awesome views as you gain height. There’a great Refugio at the top, at slightly more than 2,600 meters, before heading down the equally enjoyable north side into Bormio. We then head up the spectacular, legendary Stelvio Pass. At 2,758 meters it’s the third highest pass in the Alps. It’s famous for it’s height, its layered switchbacks (nearly 50 per side, and its summer skiing at the top, not to mention the carnival like atmosphere. We spend some time at the top and then work our way down the dozens of switchbacks. At the bottom we head towards Sta Maria, crossing into Switzerland briefly, before heading back up the Umbrail, (#10), which brings us out just below the Stelvio. We head back down the Stelvio again in the opposite direction, which gives you a very different feel. A couple of more hours filled with a couple of more unique Italian passes and we cross back into Switzerland and our hotel in Pontresina.
- Day 7 – Pontresina is a short ride away from St. Moritz. Again we are faced with choices and choices. Do we ride the Abula and Julier, two very different and yet classic Swiss passes? The Abula is reasonably brisk up one side, lunar landscape type riding across the top and then narrower and a little bumpier of the other side with wonderful views the whole way. The Julier is another pristine Swiss pass with wide open road, good pavement and lots of high speed sweepers. It’s a fun road. From there it’s on to the Maljapass, unique because the pass starts at it’s highest point at over 1,800 meters and goes down from there. Next up is the Splugen Pass, another one of those wild and wholly Italian passes. The northwest side is famous for its section of perfectly layered switchbacks – looks like ribbon candy. There’s two more wonderful passes including the Gottard, which leads us into Andermatt for a quintessential Swiss village experience.
- Day 8 – It’s our final run back to Thun. However, we’re in no rush, so stay and play in Switzerland’s premier motorcycle playground. You want fast and smooth, there’s the incomparable Grimsel. Want wild and untamed, plus the unique landscape that the Furka provides, we’ll ride this one for sure. There is also the Nufennen (#11), Germanic Swiss on one side, very Italian on the other. There is LOTS of great riding here, some of the very best in the Alps. We then head back to Thun surrounded by great Swiss mountain scenery. We get back in time to return the motorcycles to the rental shop. Here again as on the first night please feel to join the other tour members for a group dinner or head off on your own for a quiet, private meal. It’s all your choice.
- Tuesday – Fly Home
- The tour dates are shown at the top of this page. Naturally, you are welcome to come sooner. I generally arrive on Friday. If you would like to come sooner, or stay longer, hotel and motorcycle arrangements can readily made to suit your schedule.
- When to book your reservation obviously depends on your schedule. As a rule I suggest at least 3 months in advance of the tour date in order to ensure that you get the motorcycle that you want and to secure a place on the tour. There is a limit of 7 motorcycles or 10 people, whichever comes first, per tour. There are nearly a full line of BMW and Honda motorcycles to choose from. In the case of certain BMW’s there are several bikes of the same models available. In the case of Honda, one of each. If having a specific bike is a high priority for you then please book early.
- The final cut-off date is technically 30 days before the tour starts. At this point there is enough lead-time for any adjustments or cancellations as they relate to our motorcycle supplier and related hotels. If someone contacts me to sign up with less than 30 days to go every effort will be made to accommodate you. The issue will usually be the motorcycle availability.
The cost for this tour at the current exchange rates will be:
- Single rider in a single room
- $3,520 Essential Alps (8 days)
- Passenger sharing a double room
- $1,960 Essential Alps (8 days)
- Couple riding two-up sharing a double room
- $5,480 Essential Alps (8 days)
These cost numbers should cover your direct travel costs including motorcycle rental, all hotels and meals, gas and my fee. For a more complete discussion of the cost of this tour please click here.
5 riders or 7 tour members
Please refer to the “Contact Me” section for my telephone or e-mail address. I am not a paperwork intensive person. So, the process of making a reservation and getting what I need for my records is pretty simple once you contact me.
Feel free to contact me to ask any questions about my tours in particular, or the Alps in general. If I can be of help in any way I’ll be glad to do so.
“Essential Alps” – The tour to pick if time is short and the riding days are long. I’ve put together my personal favorites on this tour. We ride the motorcycling paradise that is the Andermatt region, enjoy the most famous highs of Passo Stelvio and Gavia and partake in the beauty and unmatched riding of the Dolomites. All of this comes with a variety of additional passes, big and small, designed to show you why an Essential Alps ride is on every motorcyclist’s must-do list.