Switzerland is widely regarded as a cyclist’s paradise, and we were itching to grab our bikes to ride around one of Europe’s most beautiful countries. The moment we started our Swiss Biking tour, it was easy to see why the country is beloved by adventurers around the world. For thrill-seekers and nature lovers looking for an unforgettable European vacation, a cycling tour in Switzerland should rank high on the list.
From its unbelievable mountain vistas to peaceful countryside, every corner of Switzerland feels like you’re inside a postcard. To accommodate cyclists, there are interlinked biking routes that crisscross Switzerland’s dramatic landscapes. With so many jaw-dropping sights around the country, the hardest part is choosing where to begin your bike tour.
If you’re unsure how to start planning your cycling holiday in Switzerland, we’ll go over all the details you need for an exciting trip. From riding preparations to transport tips, we’ll go over everything we learned while biking around this magical country. Read on to find out why we think cycling is the best way to vacation in Switzerland.
How to plan a Swiss Biking tour?
Get ready to ride through breathtaking alpine scenery, along pristine lakes and rivers, fertile valleys, and picturesque villages. A cycling tour is an exciting way to wander the Swiss countryside and capture the country’s beauty. Despite its mountainous terrain, Switzerland has incredible biking infrastructure and national routes suitable for all levels.
Swiss biking routes link together and help you discover some of Europe’s best mountain landscapes. Depending on your preference, cycling holidays in Switzerland can seriously test your stamina or combine scenic train rides to remote locations. Whether you wish to explore specific regions or race across the whole country, we’ve got you covered to plan the holiday right for you.
Get ready to face some slopes
Unless you’re familiar with high-altitude trails, Swiss biking routes will be a challenging endeavor. You’ll be riding over 2,000 meters above sea level, face steep ascents and descents, and encounter technical terrain. Don’t think you’ll be able to breeze across the country without doing some training beforehand. Start preparing for your bike tour at least three months before departure to build up your strength and endurance.
Find the Swiss biking route for you
Switzerland has 9 national cycling routes of varying lengths, scenery, and difficulty level. Before you start biking in Switzerland, you need to study each route to arrange the best itinerary for you. The last thing you want to do is attempt a route that’s too challenging or miss sights on your bucket list.
If you’re a beginner, you may want to skip routes that are listed as difficult and tackle easier terrain. You’ll also notice that there is a wide range of ascent and descent for each route. It’s possible to face national routes with total ascent and descent ranging from 2,600 meters to 9,300 meters. For an enjoyable experience, make sure you select the routes suitable to your fitness level.
Another thing to keep in mind is the number of days you have available to cycle around Switzerland. Do you only have a few days for your Swiss biking tour, or have you set aside several weeks for your biking adventure? If time is limited, we recommend selecting the routes that include the scenery you’re looking forward to most. From glacial lakes and rushing streams to epic mountain passes and tranquil farmlands, pick the routes that explore your preferred regions.
Plan days of rest
Switzerland’s cycling routes are divided into stages since they each span hundreds of kilometers. To appreciate the gorgeous landscape, we recommend finding a few places you wish to explore more. You can rehydrate, stretch your legs, or take a light hike before hopping on your bike again.
Check your bike
The last thing you want on your cycling holiday is a damaged bike, and you should frequently inspect your ride. Before you go to sleep each night, do a routine maintenance check to ensure you won’t encounter mechanical issues while on your route. Catching a minor problem before it causes damage to your bike will save time and money on your trip.
Pack everything you need for your Swiss biking tour
From your travel documents to spare bike parts, don’t hit the road until you’ve gone through your list of essentials. Forgetting important items that you must have can be detrimental to remaining on schedule. Before you begin cycling around Switzerland, check off everything on your list. Perform this same check every single morning to ensure you never leave anything behind.
If you need suggestions on what to pack, refer to our bike packing list for items we took on our cycling tour.
Where to stay when biking in Switzerland
When you’re traveling across Switzerland, you want to have a smart game plan when organizing your accommodations. Switzerland is often rated as the world’s most expensive country to visit, and many intrepid travelers skip it altogether. Although it certainly takes frugal budgeting, biking in Switzerland is possible when funds are limited.
Here’s a breakdown of the accommodations we recommend for your Switzerland cycling holiday.
- Camping was the best option for our Swiss biking tour, and we think it’s the best value for anyone biking around Switzerland.
- Campsites are well-equipped and efficiently managed to provide an affordable place to rest your head for the night. Camping in Switzerland is pricey compared to other countries, but it beats the cost of hotels. Just be aware that you may have to reserve a campsite in advance during the high season.
- There are hundreds of official campsites in Switzerland, and you’ll find many in scenic locations. Some will place you beside sparkling lakes, while others offer gorgeous views of the Swiss Alps. You can also sleep at campsites near train stations if you plan on catching a train early the next morning.
- Similar to other European countries, wild camping is strictly regulated in Switzerland. Wild camping is only allowed in the mountains above the treeline, and you won’t be in those areas often during your Swiss biking tour. Rules for wild camping vary by canton (district), and you can learn more about camping regulations here.
- If camping isn’t your style, you also have the option of hotels and hostels within cities and towns. This won’t be as adventurous as camping and will cost more but can provide a comfortable night’s sleep.
Why we loved cycling in Switzerland
We love active vacations and our cycling holiday in Switzerland offered a mix of everything. Our trip had breathtaking scenery around every turn, exciting thrills, and wasn’t difficult to plan. Although this only scratches the surface, here are the top reasons why we think cycling is the best way to explore Switzerland.
- Cycling routes are easy to navigate since they each have plenty of signage to point you in the right direction. Once you figure out which route to follow, just follow the signs.
- You don’t have to share many routes with cars, and the paths are well-managed for a smooth ride.
- There are grocery stores everywhere, and this helps lighten your load while cycling. Having to carry lots of foods and drinks will make your bike heavier and more difficult to cycle.
- The landscape diversity in Switzerland is off the charts, and we loved every second of it. Our Swiss biking adventure took us to evergreen forests, snow-capped peaks, alpine lakes, gushing waterfalls, peaceful valleys, and glacial-fed rivers.
- We love sleeping in the outdoors, and the campsites in Switzerland were immaculate. Many sites place you at Mother Nature’s doorstep while offering enough modern facilities to prepare for your next journey.
- Switzerland’s rail network takes you just about anywhere, and you can take your bike on the train (bike ticket required). This helps you avoid having to buy a mountain pass to enjoy an exhilarating ride down the slope!
Tips from our experience
We had an amazing journey cycling around Switzerland, and we learned tons of valuable info to make the next trip even better. From travel advice to ways of saving money, here are some extra tips to take your Switzerland bike tour to the next level.
- Don’t be ashamed to ride the train when you need a lift up the mountain. Trust us, climbing up a ski slope on your bike isn’t much fun. Going downhill is an exhilarating rush!
- You’ll save tons of money by packing a tent and camping. It’s no secret that Switzerland is one of the world’s most expensive countries. Accommodation costs can add up and sleeping beneath the stars will let you spend money elsewhere.
- If you plan on riding the train a lot, the half fare pass will save you a lot of money on tickets. The pass costs 100 CHF (about $109, €93, £85) and is valid for a year. You get a 50% discount on all train tickets and even some gondolas near beautiful hiking trails. Since the trains are incredibly expensive, you’ll save a fortune with just a few rides.
- Whichever cycling route you choose, make sure to follow the path the entire time. This makes navigating the best cycling path much easier and helps you avoid car lanes.
- Fill up your water bottle at a fountain every chance you get. It’s important to stay hydrated at higher altitudes, and Switzerland’s water tastes fantastic.
- When you’re selecting the routes for your Swiss biking trip, check the elevation in addition to the distance. Cycling paths at higher altitudes will be more challenging than ones closer to sea level.
- Use the Switzerland Mobility App to plan your trip. You’ll find all the national routes listed there with their total ascent and descent.
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We love to hear from you
Thanks for checking out our Swiss biking guide for a cycling holiday in Switzerland. Hopefully, this has provided the information you need to plan your adventurous itinerary biking through this beautiful country. If you have cycling experiences in Switzerland, or if you have a question, please leave a comment below.
Don’t forget to check out our destination pages for other ideas when you visit Switzerland and other spectacular locations around the world. For more travel tips and inspiration, check out more of our travel tips.