Switzerland by bike : Q&A

Question : Planning to road cycle from Geneva to Zurich in September. I have 1 week. I need to hire a cycle and plan logistics. Can you help with planning this trip?

Answer : Regarding the possible routes between Geneva and Zurich, you’ll find everything you need on this website (in English !) : https://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/cycling-in-switzerland.html

Get to the map and uncheck all but National Routes : you will have a good view of what’s available. Your choice will then depend on the number of days, your physical condition and more subjective aspects like what you’d like to see of Switzerland.

Quickly said :

– easy option is Mittelland Route (5), of which some sections are shared with Aare Route (8)
– much tougher are Alpine Panorama (4) and Lakes (9) Routes
– another option, also tough, is Herzroute (99, Regional Route)

You may of course switch from one itinerary to another on the way, as they sometimes cross each other. Besides, there are tens of other regional and local cycle routes worth a try.

All these routes are signposted, but although signposting is not bad, it’s not excellent either, so it is not sufficient in itself to always stay on the cycle route – you’ll get lost here and there. The worst consequence being having to ride on a main road with heavy traffic load, which is neither pleasant nor safe. Unfortunately, SwitzerlandMobility doesn’t provide gpx files that can be used in a GPS (except for Herzroute – check it here, in French or German only) or on my own website (in French). This means you’ll have to take along a detailed road map, for general topographical & situation awareness – as none will show any of the cycle routes. If you stay on a single National Route, you can buy the official guide and have all detailed maps, plus accomodation list (in French and German only) : check all available guides and maps here. You can also print maps in advance on SwitzerlandMobility website, provided that you made up your mind regarding the itinerary.

This same website gives a list of accomodation for each route : hotels, youth hostels, campsites, bunkhouses.

All cycle routes are surfaced most of the way, but they occasionally do leave the asphalt. Therefore, I would advise to make sure your tires are either puncture-proof or at least new and strong. I never rented a bicycle in Switzerland so cannot provide much information on the matter. The railway stations rent bicycles and these can sometimes be handed back at another station, check here. And you can also contact SwitzerlandMobility by email.

Swiss train network is extensive and reliable, with hourly trains on most lines, and you can always take your bike along. Some lines require an advanced booking though, among other the Geneva-Neuchâtel-Biel-Basel train. Get a ticket for yourself and another one for the bike before boarding the train, more info here.

On my own website, you can see a map view of all the Swiss routes I published. Some are illustrated with pictures which may help you to make up your mind. (June 2018)