This is our journey to Lake Garda avoiding tolls – with a twist – literally! The twists of course are the numerous hairpin bends on the three mountain passes along this route! Before going into detail, have a read of the “original toll-free route to Lake Garda” post – click here
The quirk to writing about our journey to Lake Garda avoiding tolls is that we are writing as we are travelling. We are documenting the route as we travel. Follow us for the next few days as we write about another way to make your pounds and pence go further!
Day 1 – Yorkshire to the Channel Tunnel via the M1, M25, Dartford River Crossing and the M2. We have prepaid our Dartford River Crossings. As a result, each crossing costs £1.67 instead of £2.50. From Coquelles, a journey of just over eighty miles via Dunkirk and Lille to Belgium. We added eight gallons of diesel near Lille. Our overnight stop was at a motorway service area.
Day 2, from close to the Belgian border via the motorways. Passing Mons, Charleroi and Arlon, before heading south to Luxembourg. Fill the fuel tank to the absolute maximum here – 12 cents per litre less than in France, hence we only add a bit in France, not a tank full! Continue south and back in to France via the A31 toll free motorway. Follow signs for Metz, then Metz Est. This involves using the A4 motorway for a few miles on the free section. Leave the A4 at Metz Est, follow local signs to Chateau Salins. Stay on the D955 through Chateau Salins and towards Saverne. Transit Saverne, head towards Molsheim. From Molsheim, head south, follow the signs towards Selestat and Colmar. Leave the A35 motorway and head towards Markolsheim – this is an easy and traffic free route to Germany. We overnighted at Freiburg.
Day 3 – Freiburg towards Lorrach on the toll-free German motorway. Enter Switzerland and pay for your toll or vignette. Our article about Swiss tolls is here for cars and motorhomes under 3500 kg. Click here for motorhomes over 3500 kg. Lorrach is a much quieter border crossing point than Mulhouse/Basel. There were no queues. From Lorrach, head towards Zurich and then Chur. Leave the motorway just after Chur at the St Moritz sign.
Follow the main road – the “3”, and take the Julier Pass through Bivio and towards St Moritz. Click here to read about our previous trips on the Julier Pass. From St Moritz, head towards Pontresina. Follow the signs to Livigno. A visit to Livigno is the “added bonus” for your journey to Lake Garda avoiding tolls – diesel today is just 74 cents per litre. Fill the tank to the neck. Our 90 litre tank got us safely from Luxembourg to Livvy! Admittedly, the low fuel warning light was on!
Day 4 – another tricky drive along the Forcola di Livigno (Livigno Pass) from Livigno towards the Bernina Pass. At the top of the Forcola, there is a Swiss customs/border post. Our twelve month Swiss tax document was “full”. I asked if a toll pass was required as we were not travelling on the motorway. We were advised that a toll form is required as the Kon-tiki is over 3500 kg. The Swiss toll/tax is required for every day a vehicle over 3500 kg is in Switzerland, not just on the motorway! See here for our Swiss tolls information. Once the paperwork was complete, we were on our way. A motorhome behind us was searched. Remember that Livigno is not part of the EU and thus duty-free allowances are strictly controlled.
From the top of the Livigno Pass it’s a left turn on to the Bernina Pass once again. It’s down hill all the way! The Bernina Pass ends in the beautiful Italian town of Tirano. From Tuirano, bear right and follow the signs to the Passo del Aprica. After clearing the Aprica pass, and transiting the town with the same name, it’s an easy drive, passing Lake Iseo. Head for Brescia and then the BLUE signs for Verona. The SS11 from Brescia to Lake Garda is toll-free. The SS11 is mostly dual carriageway so you make good progress.
Advantages of this journey to Lake Garda avoiding tolls
- Toll free through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Italy
- One Swiss permit/vignette required – validity depends upon date of purchase (vignettes). Lasts up to twelve months for ten days worth of travel for vehicles over 3500 kg.
- Low priced diesel in Luxembourg – 94 cents this trip
- Very low-priced diesel in Livigno – 72 cents per litre
- Duty free shopping in Livigno
- Superb scenery
…and the disadvantages….
- Lots of mountainous driving – this does not suit everyone
- Sixty miles further from Calais than the “regular route”
We have many other toll free routes to read – all tried and tested – click here!