Total tour distance: 168 miles
Daily tour distance: 33 miles
Difficulty: 80 / 100
Experience the essence of Switzerland on a cycling tour from the French-speaking section all the way to the German-speaking part. Yes, this means plenty of cheese (you’ll stop in Gruyères, home of the famed Gruyère cheese) and plenty of chocolate. Trust us, the Swiss have good taste (buds)! You’ll pedal through noted vineyards and famous cheese-producing villages, tour medieval castles and visit Gothic cathedrals, look up at towering mountain peaks and look down at shimmering alpine lakes, and lodge every night in top-rated towns bursting with beautiful views and delicious dining opportunities.
Starts any Friday from April through October.
Friday: Arrival in Geneva
Geneva’s airport and main train station (Gare Cornavin) are only a ten-minute train ride from each other, making it an extremely easy city to access. From the train station, your hotel is a quick trip by foot! If your schedule allows, we highly recommend arriving earlier in the day to have time to explore the city. Visit the Palais des Nations (the European headquarters of the United Nations), gasp at the 12th century Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre, enjoy your first bites of Swiss chocolate, set sail on the sparkling lake, or stroll the beautiful botanical gardens. You won’t find yourself short on things to do!
Saturday: Geneva — Lausanne (Approx. 70 km/44 miles)
The bike portion of your tour begins along the banks of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). Pedaling east on mainly traffic-free roads, you’ll wheel through a chain of sleepy lakeside wine villages before reaching Rolle. Here you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Château de Rolle, a 13th century castle right on the waterfront. Next, you can either board a ferry (with your bikes) for a leisurely cruise to Lausanne, or ride all the way there — the decision is yours. Both options will afford plenty of time to experience Lausanne’s magic. Meshing old with new, Lausanne is part medieval, part cosmopolitan; you’ll find a wealth of five-star attractions including the Lausanne Cathedral, the Château de Vidy (home to the International Olympic Committee) and Ouchy, a lively lakefront nightspot.
Sunday: Lausanne — Gruyères (Approx. 64 km/40 miles)
Continuing east along Lake Geneva’s northern shore, wheel into the picturesque wine region of Lavaux. A cascade of terraced vineyards stretch across 30 kilometers, except where small villages intervene — a sight UNESCO took into consideration when granting the region World Heritage status. Here you’ll have the opportunity to pedal up to Chexbres, “the Balcony of Lake Geneva”, and enjoy postcard-like views. In Vevey you’ll have the chance to test your leg muscles with a ride up to the town of Châtel-Saint-Denis — a 500-meter elevation gain over a 13-kilometer stretch. This climb is only recommended if you’re in top physical condition; otherwise, you can ride Vevey’s funiculaire (cable car) to Mont-Pèlerin and pedal a much easier path into Châtel-Saint-Denis. Indulge in fondue moitié-moitié (Swiss cheese fondue), an area specialty. Be sure to top your water bottles before exiting Châtel-Saint-Denis. Gruyères is an ancient, one-street village noted for its Cheese Museum and the Castle of Gruyères, which some call one of Switzerland’s finest. If you are interested in a chocolate factory or cheese factory visit, we are happy to provide you with details.
Monday: Gruyères — Fribourg (45 km/28 miles)
Take some time to visit (or revisit) Gruyères before embarking once more on your voyage. You’ll follow a northerly path along the western banks of Lac de la Gruyère, pedaling through a Swiss showcase of tiny villages, lush green valleys and jutting mountain peaks. Just as you enter the small town of Le Bry, you can take a small detour to Pont-en-Ogoz, the perfect resting point for stunning panoramic views of the lake and Ogoz Island.From Le Bry, your route will be mostly downhill and a piece of cake (or Swiss cheese)! Eventually you’ll roll into Fribourg, long recognized as one of the Europe’s most beautiful medieval cities. Fountains and flowers adorn Fribourg’s ancient streets. Its historic Old City district features an impressive array of ancient architecture, highlighted by the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, which stretches 76 meters into the sky and boasts a stunning collection of stained glass windows. If your arrival to Fribourg falls within opening hours, we recommend spending a little time at Musée Gutenberg, the Vélo-Club Musée (dedicated to bikes!), or Espace Jean Tinguely — Niki de Saint Phalle.
Tuesday: Fribourg — Thun / Thoune (56 km/35 miles)
The most challenging of your trip begins with three options. To get to the charming village of Schwarzenburg, you can climb high, follow an easier bike route, or take the train. If you want the view from the hills but would prefer a little boost to help with the pedaling, we can offer e-bikes for this trip. From Schwarzenburg, follow a gently rolling route into the breathtaking Bernoise countryside. Prior to reaching the village of Wattenwil, you’ll come across a panoramic viewpoint over Lake Thun (“Lac de Thoune” in French) below. After snapping a few photos, coast down to Thun on the gleaming shoreline. We highly recommend exploring Old Town and the striking 12th century castle before retiring for the night.
Wednesday: Thun – Interlaken (Approx. 33 km/21 miles)
Your final cycling day will bring you to Interlaken along a quiet, traffic-free route with constant views of the lake. Before leaving Thun, feel free to take a lake cruise! You will also have plenty of time for a coffee and/or snack stop in Spiez, an ancient lakeside village. Start considering which activities you’d like to partake in as you head towards Interlaken. Bridging Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, this popular resort town personifies alpine splendor. You can fill your time with just about any activity imaginable! Paraglide, tree climb, or even enjoy a Segway tour. For spectacular views, you can take a cable car (about 8 minutes) to Harder Kulm, or enjoy a longer journey by train (2.5 hrs) to the Jungfraujoch (referred to as “the Top of Europe”). Another incredible sightseeing opportunity from Interlaken includes the Trummelbach Falls (10 gorgeous waterfalls flowing inside of a mountain), just 40 minutes away. Interlaken has it all — mountains, lakes, five-star dining, museums, nightlife — making it the perfect ending place for your bike tour.
After breakfast, depart Interlaken at your convenience. If needed, Interlaken is well serviced by train.
Please note that rates are given as a guideline; based on Euro vs. US$ exchange rate as of 12/10/14.