Cycling the Stelvio Pass

There are some roads that are simply iconic. You only need to see an image of this amazing road to understand why the Stelvio Pass is one such road.This mountain pass on the border between Italy and Switzerland rises to an elevation of 2757m and twists and turns like no other as it works its way up the seep mountain scenery.

We’ve started this ride in the town of Bormio, which is an excellent base for a few days cycling in the mountains. The route can be ridden in a few ways, either dropping down the Passo Umbrail to Santa Maria and climbing back up the iconic switchbacks of the Stelvio, or dropping down the Stelvio once climbed from Bormio, with a final ascent of the little known but impressive Passo Umbrail. Whichever you choose, it’s a tough day on the bike, which can be shortened by driving to a different start point in order to sut down on the miles. Either way, you’ll have a brilliant ride and have tackled one the greatest road climbs in the world.

Stelvio Pass cycling Route

Photo by Graziano De Maio on Unsplash

Climbing the Stelvio on both sides

This route starts in the beautiful mountain town of Bormio and climbs the Stelvio, then dropping down the Umbrail Pass to Switzerland, before ascending the Stelvio again via the iconic hairpin switchbacks.

Distance and Ascent: 100km and 4256 metres of ascent

Refreshments: Cafe possible at 12km and a selection of cafes available at the summit.

Stelvio Pass

Route

  1. Starting from the mountain town of Bormio follow the Strada del Passo dello Stelvio and start climbing immediately. The road climbs at an average of around 7% with switchbacks starting off at around 8km, where the tunnels of the Alps start to take you through the mountains at around 9km.Take lights and be well lit in the tunnels.
  2. At the junction where the road switchbacks right and starts to head into the higher mountains, stay on this and keep climbing.
    At 14km the real switchbacks begin and the epic day takes on it's legendary leg busting personality. Keep focused and slowly grind it out until 18km when you see a collection of old buildings to your left with a road leading off signed to 'Santa Maria'.
  3. Take this road, the Passo Umbrail which drops through amazing alpine scenery to Switzerland for 14km, crossing roaring streams on stone bridges before you hit the tree line again and swoop around bends to the base.
  4. At Santa Maria turn right onto the SS41 towards Muster.
    The road descends for some time and a chuch tower can be seen ahead just before Glurns. A sign on the right just before Glurns indicates to turn right towards 'Passo Stelvio'-take this right hand road.
  5. It's a more relaxed ride now to the village of Prato Allo Stelvio where you may want refreshments before the final epic ascent of a 25km climb.
    Turn right and simply ride as the road steepens and winds it's way up towards the iconic hairpins.
  6. Tree lined switchbacks begin in earnest after 65km and these rise steeply, eventually opening up to expansive mountain views.
  7. After 25km of relentless climbing the  summit is reached and some well deserved hospitality at the village. Rest a while before enjoying the descent back to Bormio, taking care on the precarious hairpins that still lie ahead.

Note: An easier alternative is to drive up from Bormio and park on the Stelvio summit, descending the Umbrail and riding up from Prato. This route is a mere 62km 😉

Distance and Ascent: 100km and 4194 metres of ascent

Refreshments: Cafe possible at 12km and a selection of cafes available at the summit.

Route

  1. Starting from the mountain town of Bormio follow the Strada del Passo dello Stelvio and start climbing immediately. The road climbs at an average of around 7% with switchbacks starting off at around 8km, where the tunnels of the Alps start to take you through the mountains at around 9km.Take lights and be welllit in the tunnels.
  2. At the junction where the road switchbacks right and starts to head into the higher mountains, stay on this and keep climbing.
  3. At 14km the real switchbacks begin and the epic day takes on it's legendary leg busting personality. Keep focused and slowly grind it out and after 20km of pain you can relax and enjoy the view. At this point you can decide whether or not to descend the Umbrail Pass and climb back via the iconic side of the Stelvio, or take the slightly easier option and finish your days climbing on the Umbrail.
  4. Descend the famous hairpins of cycling photos carefully, descending for 20km to the mountain hamlet of Prato Allo Stevio in the South Tyrol.
  5. In the village turn left sharply onto the SP50 signed to Glorenza and Gurns 7km. Follow this steadily and enjoy a slight break from climbing steeply.
  6. At the juction turn left onto the SS41 signed to Schweiz 9km and the climbing begins again.
  7. At the small village of Santa Maria (67km point), briefly enjoy Swiss hospitality before you take the road on the left, Sassabignhel, which leads to Via Umbrail and the Umbrail Pass, a 14km epic and isolated road climb which has 2km of the middle section on gravel ... yes gravel!
  8. Finally you reach Umbrail and the road of the Stelvio again.
  9. Enjoy the 19km descent on 40 hairpins back to Bormio.

Click below for GPX files

Stelvio Pass both sides

Stelvio & Umbrail Passes