If I had to nominate the main reason I keep returning to Switzerland, it would definitely be the scenery. The country is blessed with an abundance of stunning mountains, sparkling lakes, lush meadows and thickly wooded forests. And the best way to experience Switzerland’s natural beauty is by bike or on foot.
Best of all, you don’t have to be a seasoned hiker or a serious cyclist to enjoy the experience. Switzerland offers walking and cycling options for everyone.
To make the most of your stay in Switzerland, do as I do and make your first port of call the local Tourist Information Office. They can provide info on local attractions in the area as well as maps and details on hiking and bike trails.
Hiking in Switzerland
Whether you are just looking for a gentle stroll to a nearby waterfall, a more strenuous hike, or something in between, you’re sure to find a walk to suit. After all, there are over 65,000 kilometres of marked hiking and mountain trails in Switzerland!
I love the alpine meadows that are nestled at the foot of Switzerland’s snow capped Alps and the Jungfrau region provides the perfect setting to follow well-marked paths through meadows coloured by Spring flowers and amongst cows with their bells clanging.
To me, nothing beats sitting in a Swiss field breathing in the fresh mountain air and gazing at the stunning scenery around me. If it means a reasonable walk to get there, no problem. That’s my happy place!
Hikers who are more adventurous (and much fitter) than me head for the Alps with mountains such as the Matterhorn, Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau waiting to be conquered.
It goes without saying that planning and preparation are essential before tackling a hike such as this.
Cycling in Switzerland
Just as hikers are spoilt for choice in Switzerland, so too are cyclists. In many cities and towns it is possible to rent a bike by the hour, or on a half-day and full-day basis, with eBikes becoming more readily available, too.
As well as local bike rental businesses, the company Rent a Bike (Switzerland’s largest) has bikes available to rent from over 200 stations around the country.
My tip: Always check the availability of bicycle helmets if you prefer to wear one as they aren’t compulsory in Switzerland. Most bicycle rental stations have helmets for hire but it’s wise to check in advance.
With 9,000 kilometres of cycling trails across the country, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is which cycle path to choose.
Lake and river paths – of which Switzerland has hundreds – are popular choices with cyclists whether it be a short ride around one of the smaller lakes or a multi-day ride.
One suggested itinerary is the “Lakes Trail by Bike”. Over 8 days, you can ride past 16 lakes from Lake Geneva in the south to Lake Constance in the north.
And, if the going gets too tough, you can always load your bike onto a train to get to your destination.
After a day in the saddle you’ll need somewhere comfy to lay your head but don’t just settle for any accommodation.
Designated Swiss Bike Hotels offer a lockable area for your bike, laundry and bike repair facilities, breakfast, a packed lunch for when you’re on the road plus plenty of tips from like-minded cyclists.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to experience nature at its best in Switzerland be it on two feet or two wheels.
Don’t let your only memories of Switzerland’s picturesque countryside be views through the window of your coach, car or train.
Take a stroll or enjoy a ride in the fresh mountain air and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular mountain panoramas, crystal clear lakes and gushing waterfalls.
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This article is written in conjunction with Switzerland Tourism but all words and opinions are my own.
Top image © djama / Adobe Stock Photo
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