Motoring tradition

St. Moritz
Automobile Weeks

In the 10th referendum held in 1925, Graubünden was the last canton to permit cars to drive in Rhaetia. Just four years later St. Moritz organised the first International Automobile Week.

It included a rally from various European locations to St. Moritz, a "Kilomètre lancé" on the Shell Road between Samedan and Pontresina, a precision driving contest and, the main event, a mountain race at Bernina. Well-known racing drivers such as Rudolf Caracciola, Hans Stuck, Ernst-Günther Burggaller, Prinz zu Leiningen and Graf Arco-Zinneberg took part in the event. However this mountain race along a loosely gravelled trail couldn’t cut it on the international scene and was cancelled after its second staging in 1930. Today the Alpine city’s automotive tradition lives on in the form of annual high-profile meets like the British Classic Car Meeting St. Moritz, Bernina Gran TurismoPassione Engadina or the WinterRaid, as well as the St. Moritz Automobile Club

Suggested trips

Alpine passes
to St. Moritz

Classic and vintage cars are more popular than ever. They are desirable collector’s items, good investments and above all incredibly fun to drive. Particularly when crossing an Alpine pass. Allow us to introduce six Alpine passes that lead to St. Moritz.

There are plenty of good reasons for getting yourself a vintage car. Firstly, classic cars are simply a pleasure to drive. Or you might want to stand out from the crowd of more uniform modern cars. Then there’s the charm factor – after all, vintage models almost always retain their own special charisma or vibe. Nowadays, classic cars are also seen increasingly as a safe investment. And last but not least, your decision to take a trip back in time is likely to be influenced by where you live. Generally speaking, the more rural the area, the closer your emotional connection to your car. And if you’re surrounded by pristine nature and winding roads, you’re in a prime location for vintage car trips.

Release the clutch, let it slide and gently put your foot down to produce a satisfying "brrrrmmm" followed by a "gurgle-gurgle" from beneath the hood. If you’ve ever driven a classic car over an Alpine pass, you’ll know just what we’re talking about. Many pass roads through the Alps are perfect for an enjoyable excursion to the clouds. In the Upper Engadin there are six, which are described briefly below. Toot toot!

Albula Pass (2,312 m)

The Albula Pass links Engadin at La Punt with the Hinterrhein valley at Thusis. From La Punt, the road winds its way towards the top of the pass. There’s nothing quite like cruising along this route behind the wheel of a high-powered classic car. The western part of the pass follows the famous Albula railway line, which includes numerous bends, spiral tunnels and bridges.

Bernina Pass (2,328 m)

The first "International St. Moritz Automobile Week" was held way back in 1929. The undisputed highlight of the event was the mountain race from Poschiavo over the Bernina Pass. And rightly so. The Bernina is one of the most spectacular Swiss mountain passes and joins the Upper Engadin with the Veltlin valley in Italy. While you’re high up in the mountains, we recommend stopping by Ristorante Cambrena for a big bowl of pizzoccheri.

Flüela Pass (2,383 m)

The Flüela Pass connects Davos with the Engadin region. It doesn’t have many tight winding roads, but instead lots of nice long straights. Before the Vereina tunnel was completed, the pass was kept clear all year round, but since 1999 it has been closed in winter. The upper sections are dominated by barren high mountain ranges, further below the route takes you through pine forests.

Julier Pass (2,284 m)

A wonderfully flowing Alpine pass that is incredibly enjoyable to drive along. If you cross the Julier Pass from the north towards the Upper Engadin, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking view of Lake Silvaplana. These days the Julier is the main northern access point to the Engadin region, so it is open all year round and the roads are well maintained. 

Maloja Pass (1,815 m)

The Maloja Pass provides an attractive contrast to the St. Moritz landscape. It takes just 45 minutes to travel from the high Alpine Engadin climate at 1,800 metres above sea level to the sunny Italian town of Chiavenna below. In between there are the Upper Engadin lakes, a decrease in altitude of 1,500 metres, plenty of gloriously serpentine roads and a good 10 degree incline. After you arrive, we recommend stopping by a traditional crotto for a bite to eat. 

Ofen Pass (2,149 m)

Starting in Zernez, this route crosses the well-built Ofen Pass road north of the Swiss National Park and reaches the top of the pass after 19 km, just outside the park. Vintage car enthusiasts can look forward to wonderful natural scenery, particularly in autumn. Perfect for a customs-free trip to Livigno in Italy, or to Vinschgau for the apple harvest.