Is Switzerland secretly flat? The new cycling guide Flat Switzerland by Katrin Gygax answers the question with a resounding “Yes!”
After 13 years of touring Switzerland on her bike, writer and photographer Katrin Gygax shares her favorite flat routes in this informative and witty guide to relaxed cycling.
Flat Switzerland is the ultimate Switzerland cycling guide
From flowery flatliners to refreshing river routes, Flat Switzerland includes no less than 33 unique bicycle itineraries. Most suggestions follow Switzerland’s official national routes marked with red way signs. Katrin has added numerous scenic detours on country roads, too. Or shortcuts to avoid climbs and stay with the book's theme.
Each route works on its own as described in Flat Switzerland. But several of the itineraries can be combined for a multi-day “Tour de Suisse” experience. For instance, one “enhanced” route leads from Aarau all the way to Yverdon-les-Bains. Good to know: these bicycle routes are easy to follow and are suitable for families.
Since the author is also a seasoned train aficionado, each route cleverly starts and ends at a Swiss train station. Katrin includes advice on bike rentals or bicycle transportation by train. And detailed descriptions of each route, overview maps, and links to online GPX/KML tracks.
Some clues are touristic, including highlights along the way, unmissable local delicacies, and lakeside campgrounds. A refreshing bonus: lots of ponds, rivers, lakes, and public outdoor pools. In the introduction, the author covers important safety topics that are helpful for anyone new to Switzerland. These include how to cycle roundabouts or how to make a proper bonfire.
Flat Switzerland is as much a guide as it is a non-fiction travel book. In fact, one could read it from beginning to the end and learn a lot - without ever tracing the routes on a bicycle.
Five family-friendly cycling routes in Switzerland:
Vineyards along quiet lakes 🍇
Route 7: Biel to Neuchâtel
Glide along the lakeshore, stop and enjoy the sparkling blue water from one of the many lakeside parks and benches. Look up the hill for a view of the vineyards and historical villas along the lake’s slopes. Slow down past properties with their own waterfront lawns and docks - and dream about spending an entire summer here. This route is ideal for kids above the age of 12.
Sights: mansions and vineyards, Biel and Neuchâtel old towns, Cité du Temps watch museum in Biel
Food stops: cafés, restaurants, fire pit, picnic areas
Specialties: wine, watches, Tête de Moine, Damassine and absinthe, lake fish (perch, pike, pollan)
Swimming: Strandbad and Strandboden Biel; small parks in Twann, Ligerz and La Neuveville; Piscine du Landeron in Le Landeron; Plage du Vieux Port in Hauterive
Hotels: mid-range, business hotels, historical inns and stylish boutiques in Biel and Neuchâtel
Distance: 34.30 km
Elevation gain: 1 m
Ascent: 219 m
Descent: 218 m
Basking in the Engadine sun☀️
Route 32: Samedan Circle
The beauty of the Engadine Valley lies in its clear, crisp light and magnificent mountains. The historic village of Bever, with its traditionally painted patrician houses, is a highlight of this route. This is Graubünden at its best. Take a stroll through its beautiful lanes and stop at one of the cycling-friendly restaurants.
Sights: Bever, Muottas Muragl, San Gian Church, Chesa Planta
Food stops: cafés, restaurants, picnic areas
Specialties: Bündner Nusstorte, Engadiner Torte, Bündnerfleisch, Capuns, Pizokel
Swimming: Mineralbad & Spa Samedan, Lej da Staz, Ovaverva Pool Spa & Sports Centre St. Moritz
Distance: 36.76 km
Elevation gain: 0 m
Ascent: 380 m
Descent: 380 m
Three countries and a Rhine float 🇨🇭 🇩🇪 🇫🇷
Route 28: Basel Circle
This international cycling route is excellent for kids (or your own inner child). In just a few hours, it takes you through three countries: Switzerland, Germany, and France. From the city center to an industrial area, riverside, countryside, and back. Route 28 is a great way to get a look at the scope of a significant Rhine harbor. Don’t forget to bring your passport or ID card.
Sights: Kunstmuseum Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Museum Tinguely, VitraHaus Showroom
Food stops: cafés, restaurants (international cuisine), fire pit, picnic areas
Specialties: Uussteller sausage, Anisbrot anise cookie, Magenbrot gingerbread with chocolate, Mässmogge candies
Swimming: the Rhine, Laguna Badeland in Weil, Parc des Eaux Vives in Huningue
Distance: 32.48 km
Elevation gain: 0 m
Ascent: 182 m
Descent: 182 m
Dolce far niente in the summer alpine sun 💦
Route 22: Bellinzona to Locarno via Ascona
Cruise along the Ticino river to Lago Maggiore, and have a picnic lunch in one of the many lakeside parks or a typical grotto restaurant. Locarno and Ascona are prime swimming destinations, with extravagant facilities for all kinds of water sports or a quiet afternoon with a book under a tree. Enjoy a delicious gelato from one of the many vendors along the lake.
Sights: Bellinzona castles, Madonna del Sasso, Locarno old town, Ascona pedestrian area
Food stops: cafés, grotto restaurants, picnic areas
Specialties: coppa, lardo, pancetta, loto rice, polenta
Swimming: Lido Locarno, Lido Ascona
Distance: 33.77 km
Elevation gain: -36 m
Ascent: 157 m
Descent: 193 m
Through forests and meadows to Lake Thun 🌲
Route 18: Kandersteg to Spiez
Zip down the Kander Valley and through its scenic forests, with the impressive Bernese Alps to the left and right of you. Postcard villages dot this open, vibrant local and international tourist destination. If you have time, take a gondola to one of the mountains for gorgeous alpine views.
Sights: Kandersteg, Oeschinensee, Blausee, Reichenbach i. K., Spiez lakeside and Schloss Spiez MuseumFood stops: cafés, restaurants, picnic areas
Specialties: Hobelkäse cheese, Streusel cake, Blauer Kuchen puff pastries, Murmeli-Kräutersalbe lotion in Frutigen, Riesling-Sylvaner, Rosé and Pinot Noir wines in Spiez
Swimming: Schwimm- und Spielbad Kandersteg, Freibad Frutigen, Frei- und Seebad Spiez, Lake Thun
Hotels: mid-range, historical hotels and B&Bs, plus chalets in Kandersteg, a small resort at Blausee, and premium hotels in Spiez
Distance: 31.47 km
Elevation gain: -542 m
Ascent: 269 m
Descent: 811 m
- 33 unique cycling routes in Switzerland, covering all regions
- Illustrated maps, GPX coordinates
- Hardback, English, 235 pages
"This book hits the zeitgeist. It's slow traveling at its best."