Cycling vacations in Switzerland

If your main impression of Switzerland is that of mountains, mountains, mountains, then it might not strike you as the most obvious destination for a cycling vacation. But while it’s certainly not flat, there are plenty of cycling routes through this sometimes staggeringly beautiful country that don’t require you to slog your way up steep climbs (or get off to push!). In fact, our Switzerland cycling vacations will often provide little more than mild challenge for even leisurely riders, with the snow-capped mountain peaks mostly off in the distance, framing that majestic scenery with which Switzerland is so richly blessed.

Instead, expect to find yourself riding through prestigious lakeside wine regions, chocolate box villages, charming and historic towns with Gothic cathedrals and medieval castles, with tougher gradients frequently offset by train, cable car or lake cruising. In Switzerland it’s all about drinking in those luscious landscapes – exhilaration not exertion. And of course, throughout your tour you’ll be liberally fuelled with mouthwatering Swiss chocolate, and cheese – so much cheese, with the calories falling by the wayside as you ride between 40 and 70km each day.
As Switzerland cycling vacations are largely self guided, your time is essentially your own. Stop off here and there to drink in a view of a mountain reflected in a sparkling Alpine lake or a meadow blooming with wildflowers, without other members of your group wanting to press on; choose where and when you pause for lunch or a refreshing glass of wine, and with the basic infrastructure in place such as accommodation booked ahead of you, as well as comprehensive maps and 24-hour support, take a scenic detour whenever you like. Switzerland’s positively dreamy vistas are there to be explored at your own pace.

You might get your journey underway in cosmopolitan, stylish Geneva on the shore of one of Europe’s most attractive lakes, passing Lausanne, the ‘Olympic capital’ surrounded by vineyards where you can sample fish drawn fresh from the lake (hello, zero food mileage) along with a glass of something special. Routes might take you to Fribourg, considered among the continent’s finest cities with its Vélo-Club Musée (dedicated to bikes), to the resort town of Interlaken in the countryside of the Bernese highlands, and further on to Lake Thun. You might spend a night in medieval, one-street Gruyères – no finer place to tuck into a traditional fondue, before heading up into the Swiss Alps as you continue to the German-speaking village of Gstaad with its charming chalets, finishing back down by the lake in Montreux. Or perhaps another option would be to follow the cycle path ‘Via Rhôna’ along the picturesque bank of the Rhône from Geneva to the Mediterranean beaches of France.

What do cycling vacations in Switzerland entail?

While it’s possible to join a small group cycling tour that primarily focuses on Italy, ducking into Switzerland at Lugano, most cycling vacations in Switzerland are self guided, and follow tailor made itineraries as you ride point to point, staying in a different accommodation every night. On that note, you’ll receive a warm welcome as you pull up each afternoon at guesthouses or small hotels, usually family-run. As Switzerland grapples with increasing tourism revenues while avoiding the ravages of overtourism, staying ‘locally owned’ will not only make your own vacation more enjoyable but ensure you’re directly supporting the people who live in these places.
Your luggage will be transferred between accommodations in advance, enabling you to get by with just a daypack containing the essentials. Other elements of trip organisation include detailed maps, route notes and of course 24-hour support available should you require it. You will be provided with a good-quality hybrid bike on arrival, with E-bikes on offer too should you anticipate the need for a little extra oomph on certain sections! But really for the most part these itineraries are perfectly suited to fairly regular cyclists with a decent level of fitness. Helmets can be supplied, but you may prefer to bring your own with you.

Given the ease of combining with parts of Italy and France, it’s no surprise that multi-country tours are available, which give you an opportunity to sample the differences in culture and cuisine of each country. You can expect to be in the saddle for anywhere between 40km and 70km each day depending on which itinerary you select – some can easily be adapted to family cycling or more leisurely riders. Traffic is usually quite light, at least outside of summer.

Our top Switzerland Vacation

Biking vacation in Italy and Switzerland

Biking vacation in Italy and Switzerland

Cycling with the spectacular scenery of the Italian Lakes

From US $2579 8 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2020: 10 May, 24 May, 21 Jun, 5 Jul, 6 Sep, 20 Sep
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Switzerland or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

When to go

The big advantage of opting for a tailor made trip is that they can operate at any time of year, but most cycling trips in Switzerland stick to between April and October to ensure the best weather. Note that in July and August the daytime temperature can reach 26°C at least, not great for casual riding really, so the shoulder months outside of summer are more refreshing. It also spreads tourism income for the local economy beyond peak season. Most trips last for around a week, but if you’re short on time, there are three-day tours that will suit a long weekend.

Getting there

Most trips begin in Geneva, which is around eight hours by train from London (going by rail can see you produce less than a fifth of the carbon emissions of a flight – see for yourself with Eco Passenger) or 10 hours by car. Both options are far more enjoyable and relaxed than traveling by air.

Highlights of Switzerland cycling

Bruno from our specialist operator Cyclomundo:
“Although some of the locations are stunning (Gruyères) and some places of interest should not be missed (the chocolate factory in Broc), the highlight of our trip is the sheer beauty of the landscape with amazing views over lakes (Geneva and Thun), and mountains (the Alps) while riding in postcard-perfect scenery (the Lavaux vineyards for instance which are a UNESCO site).”
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: tomasz przechlewski] [Intro: photosforyou] [What do cycling vacations in Switzerland entail?: photosforyou] [When to go: Kanton Glarus]
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