Autumn is coming so there is still time to plan a bicycle trip in Switzerland. Whether you’re an avid cyclist, a family with children or just mastering the art of biking, the group Swiss Mobility / Veloland has designed a trail for you. And because the train system in Switzerland supports bicycles, you can start your holiday by cycling directly from your house to the train station and begin your trip anywhere in Switzerland.
Swiss Mobility-Veloland has set up 9 national routes that crisscross the cantons as well as hundreds of regional and local trails. The national routes are 7-9 day itineraries designated as easy, medium and difficult. These can be mixed and matched since the routes tend to cross each other. For example, this past summer my husband and I combined two days of the Jura trail #7, which led us through Cantons Jura, Basel Land and Basel Stadt with two days of the Mittelland trail #5, which led us through Basel Land, Solothurn, Bern and Neuchâtel. When we weren’t on dedicated bicycle trails, we were on forest, agricultural and secondary roads that rarely saw cars.
Swiss Mobility can be viewed on your computer or downloaded free onto your smartphone. I paid a one-year CHF 35 upgrade which allows me to design my route on-line and download it to both my Garmin GPS and my husband’s smartphone. We can track our progress as we go. The trails are very well marked so you don’t really need to follow yourself on a map; however, when you enter cities one can easily lose the trail because of distractions like architecture, people and cars.
Using the Swiss train system on your bike trip is a bonus. If you want to avoid a city or a steep mountain pass just hop on a train. Keep in mind:
- The bike wagon is at the front and/or back of the train.
- You have to purchase a bicycle ticket which is the same price as your personal ticket up to CHF 12 (demi-tarif)/CHF 15 (full price), which is the price of a bicycle day pass.
- If you are traveling on an ICN train from March to October (check exact dates), you have to reserve a bicycle space which unfortunately costs CHF 5.
In addition to developing the Swiss bike trails, Swiss Mobility has other services including accommodation, bike rental and luggage delivery packages; as well as hiking, canoeing, mountain biking and skating trails.
I have to admit I was nervous embarking on my first bicycle vacation but now I am hooked. I will be on those trails again next summer exploring the Eastern part of the country. I might even get our children to join.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/