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Explore Switzerland's cycle network with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Cycle Touring in Switzerland
22 Apr 2008
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
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Cycle Touring in Switzerland

by Neil Forsyth, Judith Forsyth
Book published by Cicerone Press

This guidebook describes nine Swiss National cycle routes including three difficult Alpine Star tours. The numbered National (R) routes are signposted, and include the Jura, Rhone, Rhine, Engadine and Bernese Oberland. Routes range from gentle three day rides to strenuous routes for the experienced cyclist.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
Weight: 330g

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Switzerland is an ideal country for cycling – not only for its spectacular alpine landscape, but because of the extensive network of cycle routes that cover the most scenic areas of the country. This guidebook describes about 5000km of routes in Switzerland, as well as sections in neighbouring Austria, Germany and Italy. The routes range from gentle rides along rivers and lakesides to thigh-busting climbs over passes featured in the Tour de Suisse. The routes are mainly on well-signposted dedicated cycle tracks and quiet roads, and can be linked to form tours of up to several weeks.

All the national and several regional routes are described in this guidebook. In addition, some as yet unmarked and signposted variations are suggested in Central Switzerland, the Berner Oberland, Graubunden in south-eastern Switzerland and in and around Andermatt and The Alpine Star. All of the Swiss National Routes are signposted in both directions and the modifications that are suggested mean that certain routes can be cycled in reverse.

The aim of this guidebook is to offer a weave of routes so that not all east-west routes, for example, are described in the same direction so it’s easier to combine routes into longer tours. Estimated cycle times are based on a leisurely progress on touring bicycles with baggage and no sag wagon, allowing time to smell the flowers and look at the scenery. The grades are the subjective judgements of the authors, ranging from easy to exceedingly strenuous. All routes are suitable for road bikes or touring bikes.

There are routes to cater for all abilities from gentle family rides to much harder 100km trails for the dedicated and experienced cyclists. The easy routes are normally flat or climb imperceptibly and are suitable for families and returning or new cyclists. The moderate routes have stages that are short and climb a maximum of 800m. The more challenging route stages – difficult or strenuous- normally involve between 800 and 1500m climbing. The exceedingly strenuous routes described in the Alpine Star chapter are over 100km long and feature climbs of 3000m. Each individual route is broken down into a series of stages, rather than days. Sometimes it is be possible to cycle two stages in a day.

  • Seasons
    Most alpine passes closed Oct – May. Thunderstorms in August. Spring and autumn recommended.
  • Centres
    Andermatt, Basel, St Margrethen, Romanshorn, Chur, Koblenz, Interlaken.
  • Difficulty
    Routes of 25–60hrs, divided into daily stages, on quiet roads and cycleways (unpaved). Range from flat family rides to climbs of up to 3000m per day. All graded for difficulty.
  • Must See
    Well-signposted cycle routes. Wonderful alpine scenery and stunning views. Visiting the Jura and Engadine. Following the great rivers – the Rhone and Rhine. Cycling down the hills!
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An overview of the routes
How to use this guide
Staying Alive: Safety and route finding
Getting there and getting about
What to take
Food and drink
Notes on the tables
The Routes
1 The Rhône Route, R1
Stage 1 Andermatt – Oberwald
Stage 2 Oberwald – Sierre
Stage 3 Sierre – Montreux
Stage 4 Montreux – Genève
2 The Rhein Route, based on R2
Stage 1 Andermatt – Disentis
Stage 2 Disentis – Chur
Stage 3 Chur – Buchs
Excursion Rund um die Churfirsten (Around the Churfirsten)
Stage 4 Buchs – St Margrethen
Stage 5 St Margrethen – Lindau
Stage 6 Lindau – Konstanz
Stage 7 Konstanz – Gailingen
Stage 8 Gailingen – Koblenz (Hochrhein)
Stage 9 Koblenz (Hochrhein) – Basel
3 The North–South Route, based on R3
Stage 1 Basel – Sursee
Stage 2 Sursee – Gersau
Stage 3 Gersau – Linthal
Stage 4 Linthal – Altdorf
Stage 5 Altdorf – Disentis
Stage 6 Disentis – Bellinzona
Stage 7 Bellinzona
4 The Alpine Panorama Route, R4
Prologue Rorschach or Bregenz – St Margrethen
Stage 1 St Margrethen – Heiden
Stage 2 Heiden – Kaltbrunn/Filzbach
Stage 3 Kaltbrunn – Gersau over the Klausenpass or through the Klöntal Valley
Stage 4 Gersau – Sörenberg
Stage 5 Sörenberg – Burgistein
Stage 6 Burgistein – Fribourg/Bulle
Stage 7 Bulle – Aigle
Epilogue Aigle – Montreux
5 The Mittelland Route, R5
Stage 1 Romanshorn – Winterthur
Stage 2 Winterthur – Aarau
Stage 3 Aarau – Biel/Bienne
Stage 4 Biel/Bienne – Yverdon-les-Bains
Stage 5 Yverdon-les-Bains – Lausanne
6 An Engadine Circuit, and beyond, based on R6
Stage 1 Chur – Chiavenna
Stage 2 Chiavenna – St Moritz
Stage 3 St Moritz – Davos
Stage 4 Davos – Nauders
Stage 5 Nauders – Santa Maria
Stage 6 Santa Maria – Pontresina
Stage 7 Pontresina – Chur
Southern Leg Splügen – Bellinzona
7 The Jura Route, R7
Stage 1 Basel – Courgenay
Stage 2 Courgenay – La Chaux-de-Fonds
Stage 3 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Baulmes
Stage 4 Baulmes – Nyon
8 The Aare Route, based on R8
Stage 1 Koblenz – Brugg
Stage 2 Brugg – Zofingen
Stage 3 Zofingen – Solothurn
Stage 4 Solothurn – Bern
Stage 5 Bern – Interlaken
Stage 6 Interlaken – Meiringen/Brienz
9 The Lakes Route, R9
Stage 1 Montreux – Bulle
Stage 2 Bulle – Gstaad
Stage 3 Gstaad – Interlaken
Stage 4 Interlaken – Giswil
Stage 5 Giswil – Zug
Stage 6 Zug – Filzbach
Stage 7 Filzbach – Buchs
Stage 8 Buchs – Rorschach
10 The Berner Oberland
Route 1 Lauterbrunnen Valley
Route 2 Meiringen/Brienz via Grosse Scheidegg
Route 3 Around Thunersee
Route 4 Wattenwil
Route 5 Luzern
Route 6 Frutigen and Kandersteg
11 The Alpine Star
Tour 1 The Alpine Circuit Gotthard–Nufenen–Furka
Tour 2 The Three Language Tour: Oberalp–Lukmanier–Gotthard
Tour 3 The Alpen Brevet Junior Route
Appendix 1 Useful websites and information sources
Appendix 2 Recommended accommodation
Appendix 3 Glossary of cycling terms
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