Swiss traffic forecast: Drivers to face major traffic jams during May holidays

Swiss traffic forecast: Drivers to face major traffic jams during May holidays

With the whole of Switzerland set to indulge in public holidays in the next few weeks, experts have warned of heavy traffic jams during both the Ascension and Pentecost weekends. Here’s what drivers and other travellers need to know:

Heavy traffic expected in Switzerland in mid-May

In a statement, Touring Club Switzerland (TCS) announced that it expects heavy traffic jams on Swiss roads and motorways during the weekends of Ascension (May 9 to 12) and Pentecost (May 18 to 20) in 2024. With destinations in Ticino and Italy remaining some of the most popular places to visit in Switzerland in spring, the traffic is expected to be heaviest on the main artery through the mountains: the Gotthard.

Indeed, TCS noted that traffic jams in and around the tunnel have continued to get worse in recent years. Data from the Federal Roads Office found that 22.745 vehicles passed through the Gotthard on Ascension Day last year, 22 percent more than the annual daily average of 18.554. Even more drivers passed through the tunnel on Ascension Sunday (24.805), while numbers peaked on Pentecost Sunday when 27.863 vehicles passed through.

Delays of more than three hours expected at Gotthard

Therefore, traffic jams up to 20 kilometres long are expected near the Gotthard Road Tunnel on May 9, 12 and 20. At the very peak of the jams, drivers are advised to add between two and three and a half hours to their journey times. 

Other roads through the mountains - San Bernardino, Mont-Blanc Tunnel, Grand-Saint-Bernard Tunnel are also expected to be “very busy”, noted TCS spokesperson Laurent Pignot. Southbound traffic is forecast to be heaviest at the beginning of both weekends, while the roads heading north are set to be busiest on May 12 and 20. 

How can I avoid the holiday traffic in Switzerland?

To avoid the worst traffic jams over Ascension and Pentecost, Pignot advised drivers to leave very early in the morning, very late at night or even before the holidays begin. It is also best to regularly check navigation apps and systems for alternative routes.

With the roads expected to be busy no matter what time you try, there is also wisdom in ditching the car entirely. Swiss Federal Railways announced back in April that it was significantly expanding the number of public transport services between northern cities and Ticino during both weekends. For those who need a car, the Lötschberg (Kandersteg - Goppenstein) and Simplon (Brig - Iselle) car trains are also a good way to avoid the jams.

Thumb image credit: Stefano Ember /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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