Crossing the Swiss Alps by bicycle can be surprisingly easy, thanks to geology (lots of east-west valleys) and infrastructure (an extensive network of well-planned bike routes). Of course, challenging options abound as well.
“You don’t have to be in super-fit shape to take on a Swiss bike tour,” says Jim Johnson, president of BikeToursDirect, which offers 16 tours in Switzerland (among more than 500 tours worldwide). “Those stunning landscapes are really accessible to most riders.”
“Switzerland is the perfect destination to explore by bicycle,” says John Klemme of Bike Switzerland, one of BikeToursDirect’s local operator partners. “The country has built a network of more than 2,000 miles of dedicated bike paths, and routes through river valleys offer the spectacular mountain vistas that bring travelers to Switzerland--but without the lung-busting climbs.”
Electrically-assisted bikes (or e-bikes) are particularly popular in Switzerland and are available for riders seeking an extra boost. Small, nearly undetectable engines give riders a boost by providing up to 150% of their own power with each pedal stroke, helping less fit or confident riders (or those slowed by joint injuries or surgeries) maintain the same pace as their riding companions or get an assist up a challenging slope. Likewise, a dense, dependable and bike-friendly train network is at cyclists’ disposal to help bridge distances.
Popular programs include variations on the Swiss Crossing Bike Tour, offered as guided or self-guided with a choice of difficulty level. Both programs feature overnights in charming lakeside villages and unique accommodations including a refurbished medieval hospital, a restored château, and a working monastery. Classic Swiss cuisine to be sampled includes fondue in a traditional chalet, bratwurst in a beer hall, and hearty farmers meals while touring the countryside.
The Swiss Crossing “Lite” tour program follows the “Mittelland Route” from Geneva near the French border across the entire country to Rorschach, near the German and Austrian borders. Cyclists ride through a river valley with views of the Jura mountain range to one side and the Swiss Alps on the other. There are rolling hills but no significant climbs, and the daily distances are kept to an average of about 35 miles. This is an ideal bike tour for travelers wanting to experience the splendor of mountain landscapes at a leisurely pace. Rental e-bikes are available on this and the more challenging version of this bike tour.
The Locarno and Lake Maggiore bike tour takes travelers on daily loop rides from a single hotel and through the “Swiss Riviera” along the Italian border. Palm trees and endless mountainside vineyards set the Italian-speaking Ticino region distinctly apart from the French- and German-speaking areas. By contrast, the Aar Cycle Route tour follows a leisurely itinerary along the Aar River from the popular destination city of Interlaken and through the capital city of Bern, ending at Lake Constance. Another great option, the Constance - Zurich - Interlaken tour, winds its way around many picturesque lakes and presents riders with postcard-perfect vistas along each mile.
Cyclists wanting a true challenge should consider the Tour of Mont Blanc, a mountain bike tour that travels a loop around the full 165-mile (265-km) base of the massive mountain, passing through three countries.These tours are among the 16 bicycle tours in (or with routes through) Switzerland currently offered by BikeToursDirect.
BikeToursDirect serves as a central resource for bicycle tours worldwide, representing 125 tour companies with over 500 tours in 71 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. BikeToursDirect offers a variety of resources to help travelers search for and choose tours and handles the entire booking and payment process. Learn more at www.biketours.com.