Andermatt is a good base for hikes across the mountain passes, including the St. Gotthard Pass and the Furka Pass. In winter, skiers flock to Gemsstock, Natschen, Oberalp, and Winterhorn. Also in winter the town offers 10 lifts, 5 cable cars, 21km (13 miles) of cross-country trails open November to May, and 56km (35 miles) of downhill runs. Intermediate to advanced skiers are attracted to the resort. Safety devices help protect against snowdrifts and avalanches. Other sporting facilities include a Swiss Ski School, an ice-skating and curling rink, an indoor swimming pool, and squash courts. Sleigh rides are also offered.
South of Andermatt, the St. Gotthard Pass, at 2,109m (6,918 ft.), provides a link between the Grisons and the Valais Alps. It's one of the most stunning and scenic passes in Switzerland, used by merchants and messengers as far back as the early Middle Ages. The road through the pass was built in the 18th and 19th centuries atop a much older footpath; it's still the shortest route between the two watersheds that fall away on either side. A 15km (9-mile) railway tunnel burrows under the peak of the St. Gotthard massif; nearby, the St. Gotthard road tunnel, opened in 1980, is the longest one in the world. There's no toll along the 16km (10-mile) route, which is open year-round. (The road high above it closes during heavy snowfalls.)
If you don't have a car, you can take the postal bus over the pass or the train through the tunnel. The postal bus leaves from Andermatt and goes to Airolo daily between mid-April and mid-September. Departures from Andermatt are at 9:35am and 12:30pm. The last bus back leaves Airolo at 5pm. In winter, the pass is closed and postal buses can't get through, but you could take the train to Göschenen and from there continue by train to Airolo. Trains run through the tunnel frequently, the only way for trains to cross this mountain-pass area. For train information and schedules, call tel. 0900/300-300.
The 32km (20-mile) Furka Pass Road going from Gletsch to Andermatt takes about 2 1/2 hours and is one of the most scenic rides in Europe. Begin the trip at Gletsch at 174m (571 ft.). As you drive along, you'll have panoramic views of the Rhône Glacier, and both the Bernese and Valais Alps. The pass, at 2,392m (7,846 ft.), is the highest shelf of the towering longitudinal furrow, dividing the Swiss Alps from the rail junction at Martigny to the town of Chur. In 1982, a railway tunnel, a stunning feat of modern engineering, opened the pass between the villages of Oberwald and Realp. Going through the barren valley of Garschen and bordering the foothills of Galenstock, a mountain peak, the road comes to the severe Urseren Valley before passing through the villages of Realp, Hospental, and finally Andermatt, where you might want to spend the night.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.