Swiss Crossing-lite Cycle Tour - Swiss Crossing (lite) - 11 Days
On this magnificent tour across Switzerland, you will stay in 3 and 4-star hotels, all Swiss in character and impressive in their settings. Mornings begin with a wonderful breakfast buffet. Our afternoon picnics are lavish and our evening meals unforgettable 3, 4 and 5 course feasts with wine. Nightly aperitifs will whet your appetite. The tour ends with a catered lakeside barbecue at the United Nations private beach.
We go out of our way to give you a real cultural experience: you'll meet our Swiss friends on your first night in town and keep meeting them every night thereafter. Bring an address book.
Bike Switzerland is located in Carouge, Switzerland. Every day we bike the paths you will be on. Come with us and you'll understand that biking is more than a hobby - it's a personal statement about how you travel and what you value.
We eat and drink very well…no worries there. Weekend cyclists or less-enthusiastic spouses will always be able to opt for a half-day. Non-riding spouses are welcome and provided free train transportation to explore the regions you'll be biking.
Our 21-speed hybrids have 3 chain rings and slick tires: perfect for the paved, gravel and dirt paths that you'll come across. We always travel with a spare bike and a professional mechanic. Prefer your own bike? Our experienced mechanic will assemble it for you when you arrive and take it down again when you leave.
• Evenings out in numerous lakeside villages
• Overnight in a 17th century monastary
• Sleep in a medieval castle
• Day off to hike in the Swiss Jura mountains (guided only)
• Thermal baths in Baden
Day 1: Individual arrival in Geneva
Arrival to tour start. Welcome to Switzerland! You'll have transport from the airport to your hotel in the heart of Geneva. As there are activities planned this day, please plan your arrival before 2 PM.
Once unpacked, walk across the street to the bike workshop and get fit with your high-end, 22-lbs, Swiss-made BMC bicycle. Afterwards, you're on your own to explore Geneva.
Be back by 6 PM to expereince the neighborhood market. Enjoy drinks at the local wine vendors and buy some cheese before going to supper in a neighborhood restaurant.
Overnight in Geneva.
Day 2: Geneva - Morges (37 miles/60 km)
You're on the road! We follow small country roads and vineyard paths to the Canton of Vaud with Lake Geneva always at our side.
You've chosen our "lite" itinerary, and so fewer kilometers means less pedaling and more time to enjoy and explore the unique towns that line our path each day. We pass through the towns of Celigny, Coppet, Nyon, Rolle and St. Prex. They all deserve to be discovered, so stop and take those pictures.
Otherwise consider arriving in Morges early and tour the Swiss military museum housed in a 13th century castle on the lake, or begin your souvenir shopping early at the small boutiques lining Morges' traffic-free streets. Our hotel is in the historic center, so everything is within a 5-minute walk…including the lake.
Overnight in Morges.
Day 3: Morges - Estavayer (40 miles/65 km)
This morning we turn North, away from the Lake Geneva. Unless you choose to do extra miles, today will be your longest day of riding.
We follow the Venoge river through dark forests before reaching the open fields and yet wider plains. We may go off the path a few kilometers and allow ourselves to be mesmerized and cooled down at the gorges of Tine de Conflens where waterfalls and whirlpools spit beads of water at our wheels.
Lunch is on the grounds of the majestic Castle of Sarraz. Bikers can take the castle tour and learn about medieval life, or immerse yourself in equestrian history and its world renown Horse Museum which adjoins the castle.
After lunch we move into the flat and wide open plaines of Orbe with the Jura mountains on our left and the Alps far in the distance on our right. Lake Neuchatel lay ahead and we'll follow its banks to our final destination: Estavayer-le-Lac in the Canton of Fribourg. Once settled in, take time to stroll the narrow streets of this medieval village, have a dip in the waters of the clear blue lake or visit Switzerland's only stuffed frog museum!
Overnight in Estavayer.
Day 4: Estavayer - Murten (30 miles/45 km)
You'll have an easier day today, so take time to enjoy the breakfast of fresh croissants and regional hard cheeses.
Today's itinerary can be adapted according to your interests.
Turing southeast away from the lake, we'll travel through the flowered lowlands to the regional hub of Payerne and its arcaded pedestrian streets. You'll notice the very rich farmland of the Broye valley and although quite flat, the Jura's silhouette is constantly casting shadows over the countryside. This itinerary brings us to the town of Avenches. Once known as Aventicum, it was the most important Roman settlement in all of Switzerland. Its amphitheater is still used for the Opera and Rock festivals held each summer. Or continue following the lake and its marshland to the wine routes of the Vully region. Here you'll bike through the vines and stop as often as you like to sample the numerous varieties of grape that go into these excellent wines that seldom leave the region let alone the country.
Our final destination is the town of Munchenwiler and its castle. Relax next to the pond on the chateau grounds, or coast a few kilometers downhill to Lake Murten and the medieval village of Morat.
Overnight in Murten.
Day 5: Murten - Solothurn (39 miles/63 km)
After a breakfast fit for kings, we leave our castle and head north towards Lake Bienne in the Canton of Berne. You haven't seen the last of the castles, however, the medieval villages of Landeron and Erlach are on our route this morning.
We're now in the center of the "3-lakes region", the site of the 2002 Swiss Expo. The expo organizers, working to develop ecological tourism, invested in new bicycle paths, bridges and the rest areas that you'll encounter on today's ride. You may wonder out loud why there aren't more bikers in this cycling paradise. It will be up to you to spread the word once back home !
Once at the lake, you'll see picturesque vineyard villages huddled and clinging to the high banks. We'll follow the shoreline to the city of Bienne and from there we'll continue east along the Nidau-Buren canal until we meet the Aare river. You'll never be far from the water on this ride !
When we reach Solothurn you'll be able to continue contemplating the Aare from your hotel window which will directly overlook the river. But not for long, Solothurn is a baroque city and its period architecture is unrivaled in Switzerland. Time for a stroll.
Overnight in Solothurn.
Day 6: Hiking in Jura Mountains
Today we take a break from our bikes with a hike in the Jura mountains. We'll start by taking a short train ride to Burgdorf where an historic chairlift will carry us to the top of Weissenstein. This is "Solothurn's mountain" (1400m) and we'll enjoy the panoramic views of the Swiss Plateau and the Alps with a drink at the spa hotel at the top.
From there we'll choose one of the popular circuit trails at Weissenstein for a 2.5 to 3 hike. You'll be back to in Solothurn in the late afternoon. Tonight is your "free night", a chance to get away from the group and explore on your own.
Overnight in Solothurn.
Day 7: Solothurn - Zofingen (28 miles/43 km)
We continue following the slow waters of the Aare today. Our paths will take us past covered wooden bridges, through dark forests alongside a Swiss military disaster training camp !
No large cities on today's ride. We bike through the Canton of Solothurn and into the Canton of Berne through sleepy pastureland and quite villages.
It's in these hidden swathes of Switzerland that you'll notice the small differences that set the Swiss country folk apart. You'll see houses ablaze in potted flowers, mothers strolling with their babies miles from anywhere, old women cutting neat bales of grass with sickle and twine. The Swiss values of family, hard work and beauty through precision are found at every turn in the Aare.
After miles of happy meanderings, we'll find ourselves in the Canton of Aargau and face to face with the Aarburg church and its fortress high above. Feel free to climb the long flights of stairs for a magnificent view, or head south to Zofingen with the others.
You may think Zofingen a quaint town, but be warned: with the population of 10,000, it's officially a city and they're mighty proud of that fact. In any event, its probably unlike any city you've encountered: the streets are spotless, crime is unheard of and there are no cars allowed in the town center. Enjoy.
Overnight in Zofingen.
Day 8: Zofingen - Baden (38 miles/61 km)
The twisting Aare grows more cosmopolitan as we pass through the larger, but little known cities of Olten and Aarau this morning. Olten's majestic municipal tower and wide wooden bridge have long been its icons of modernity, certainly reasons for having made Olten a major train hub back in 1856.
Aarau's streets also deserve a stroll. Founded on a rocky outcropping over 700 years ago, it soon became a city of artisans and has remained so to this day…family run butchers, bakers and candlestick makers still thrive in Switzerland and Aarau has more than its fair share. Time for some shopping ?
The path remains flat and follows the river in the afternoon, and although the Canton of Aargau may be Switzerland's least mountainous canton, it's quite diverse: well-wooded hills alternate with fertile valleys, all of which are watered by the river that you've come to know so well.
One of our own favorite stops is at the church of Konigsfelden at Windisch. The church is widely thought to contain the most beautiful stained glass in all of Switzerland. It's right on our path, so you be the judge.
We leave the Aare shortly after Windisch and overnight in the gorgeous town of Baden. As the name suggests, Baden is famous for its sulfur baths and you'll have plenty of time to soak your legs in the reinvigorating water before going out for supper.
Overnight in Baden.
Day 9: Baden - Fischingen (47 miles/76 km)
Today we offer our riders two possibilities:
1. Bike a longer day of 76 kilometers with approximately 500 meters of climbing.
2. Take your bicycle on the train to Winterthur and bike approximately ½ the distance.
Bikers choosing to bike the whole distance will see how city meets country in the areas outside Zurich. You'll be passing barns and cows and then turn a corner to see city agglomerations far off in the distance. The bike paths offer visitors a firsthand look at how Switzerland seamlessly combines the two ways of life in the densely populated Canton of Zurich.
Bikers deciding to take the train may choose to linger longer in Baden or see the sites of Winterthur, famous for its architectural heritage.
Although in the Canton of Zurich, Winterthur is already considered the far reaches of Switzerland. Once again, you'll find yourself on forested bike paths and may see the occasional deer crossing the path.
Whatever your route, we'll all meet for lunch outside of Winterthur on the quite banks of a forested stream outside of Castle Kybourg. Afterwards, you may choose to hike up the hill to the visit the castle's torture chambers, or continue on to discover the valley of Fischingen in the Canton of Thurgau and its 17th century Benedictine monastery.
Tonight you'll sleep in the monastery and eat down the street at a local Russian restaurant that has somehow found its way into this hidden valley.
Overnight in Fischingen.
Day 10: Fischingen - Arbon (40 miles/64 km)
Our last day of riding begins with a stop in the town of Wil. This former capital of the Princes of St. Gall sits high on a hill and has managed to keep all of its charm despite its diminished importance. The numerous town squares and historic buildings will be difficult to leave, so we'll have a coffee…or two and then we'll have to move on.
We'll be coasting downhill today, through meadows and alpine pastureland through the Canton of Thurgau and onto the Canton of St. Gall. As you've clearly noticed by now, preservation is a priority for the Swiss, so there biking across a 500 year old stone bridge or stopping at an 800-year old castle with moat and drawbridge shouldn't be a surprise. stopping
Passing through some peat bogs and through the meadows you'll get your first view of the vast Lake Constance, the second largest lake in central Europe (after Lake Geneva). It's all downhill now, enjoy the finish.
Once at the lake, we'll celebrate with drinks at the waterfront. Those of you who brought your bathing suits: now's the time !
Day 11: Return to Geneva with visit in Berne
Say goodbye to your trusty 27-speed steed; after a late breakfast it's all-aboard! We'll interrupt our five-hour train trip back to Geneva with a stop-over in the Swiss capital of Berne. You'll be on your own for lunch, sightseeing and shopping. Your last evening in Switzerland will be spent back where it all started: on the shores of lake Geneva for a banquet at the United Nations beach. You'll catch the last of the long summer rays with a tall drink and good food.
Overnight in Geneva.
Day 12: Departure
After breakfast, it's goodbye.
• Premium lodging 11 nights (3- and 4-star hotels)
• Airport transfers/pick-ups in Geneva on arrival day
• All meals (except one lunch and one dinner)
• A high-end, fully-equipped new touring bicycle
• GPS navigation on all bikes
• Support van for luggage (one piece of baggage per rider, limited to 50 pounds/23kg)
• Color maps to keep you on track
• Your own cellphone for the duration of the tour
• Special events (wine tasting, farm breakfasts, bonfire night, etc.)
• Extra day for guided hiking trip
• Return train travel back to Geneva with stop-over in Berne.
• GST (Government Sales Tax)
• Tips & Gratitude
Bike Rentals: Guided
Bikes available on this tour, and included in the tour cost (reserved in advance at the time of booking):
• Hybrid touring bikes Bikes available for rental on this tour (reserved in advance at the time of booking):
• Electrically assisted bike Bikes come equipped with the following at no additional cost:
• handlebar bag
• repair kit
• bottle cage
The bikes will have flat pedals. If you want to bring your own pedals, please bring your own shoes and also the necessary equipment to change the pedals.
If you plan to bring your own seat, please ensure that it has a universal seat post.
Helmets are provided at no extra cost. We recommend that you bring or buy your own helmet for safety and hygiene purposes.