Made famous by iconic scenes from the James Bond classic Goldfinger, Furka Pass is an incredibly challenging but exhilarating drive for those fortunate enough to experience it.
The road heading out of Andermatt, towards the western approach of Furka Pass, runs arrow-straight alongside the local commuter railway line. It’s tempting to relax and open things up here but beware: this is a well-known spot for local law enforcement to nab unwary visitors.
Climbing towards the pass, the road becomes increasingly tight and the switchbacks more frequent. This side of Furka is still as originally designed, albeit resurfaced and reasonably well maintained. Be sure to stay alert: small amounts rock debris on the road surface can make things a little slow going at times, and there are no guard rails protecting the steep drop-offs. Despite these challenges, the flow of curves and tight hairpins combined with the stunning view make this section of the approach a rewarding experience.
About half way up you’ll come across the legendary James Bond Goldfinger memorial lookout: a great place to stop for a photo opportunity and to soak up the incredible view down the valley.
As you reach the top of Furka Pass, the classic (but currently closed) Belvedere Hotel dominates the landscape. Here you can pull over, stroll the short distance to the Rhone Glacier and walk through its fabulous ice grotto.
The trip down the more modern western side of Furka is quite a different experience to the journey up. After a few tightly spaced hairpins, the road provides longer stretches of perfect tarmac with plenty of shoulder space and ample opportunities to pass dawdling campervans.
The gradient of this newer section of road is quite mild, allowing a consistent flow of interconnecting kinks broken up by the occasional switchback. With amazing views across the Uri Alps, this really is an absorbing few kilometres behind the wheel.
The hamlet of Gletsch marks the end of Furka Pass but don’t despair; an enviable decision is yours to make. Do you go onward to the thrills of Nufenen Pass, turn right on to the eastern face of Grimsel Pass, or turn around and do Furka all over again, in the other direction?