With its snow-covered mountain peaks, breathtaking panoramas, unique lakes, you can’t get bored in Switzerland. These incredible landscapes have to be earned though. Your calves will burn and your pulse will race, but you’ll be rewarded by the views around every bend. Crossing the Alps is an experience you’ll never forget.
The North-South Route, Switzerland's National Cycle Route 3, takes you from Basel in the border triangle with Germany and France to Chiasso on the Italian border. You head over the eastern Jura foothills before crossing the Alps via the historic Gotthard Pass. On the way, you ride over gentle hills, through fertile vineyards, steep gorges and on roads carved into the rock above glistening lakes.
Most of the stages are challenging, as you climb several hundred metres a day. However, you also have a few opportunities to shorten the climbs thanks to the railway, which is never far away.
There are several places to stay at each stage, but book in advance. Summer is the best time for this adventure. In addition to warm clothes – the highest point of the trip is at over 2,000 metres (6,500 ft) – don't forget your swimsuit, because a Mediterranean climate awaits you in Ticino.
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Last updated: April 29, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
The first stage of the north-south route begins directly on the banks of the Rhine in the three-country city of Basel. You drive through the old town, then follow the Birs and leave Basel via the green park, where a life-size model of a dinosaur welcomes you.
After almost 20 kilometers you will reach…
After the many vertical meters of the last stage, it is now much flatter and the landscape has changed. More than half of the route now runs in the valley of the Suhre.
The cycle path on the Suhre is extremely idyllic. While the fields to the left and right of the path belong to agriculture, parts of…
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Today's stage is all about Lake Lucerne. The landscape is unique: snow-capped mountains rise up on the shore, the panorama from the impressively built embankments is breathtaking. Even if you almost always cycle along the water, you have a few meters of altitude ahead of you, especially at the end.
Today you have the king's stage ahead of you. It's "only" about 40 kilometers, but it's all uphill. The reward for your efforts are breathtaking views and a landscape like from another world.
The first kilometers from Flüelen are still quite flat. You drive through the narrow valley that the Reuss has…
Today the notorious Gotthard Pass is on the agenda. For thousands of years it has been one of the most important crossings of the Alps and cyclists in particular fear it. Not because the driveway is particularly steep, but the ten kilometers of cobblestone is a borderline experience for some.
That's more or less the difference in altitude, now it's almost all downhill. On today's stage you follow the Ticino, the river that gave the canton its name, for more than 60 kilometers.
The valley is very narrow and it is impressive how the different traffic routes were laid out. The autobahn leads…
You leave Bellinzona on the banks of the Ticino. The ascent to the Monte Ceneri pass begins in Cadenazzo. It goes uphill for a good five kilometers until you have overcome the difference in altitude of 350 meters.
The descent from the admittedly somewhat unspectacular pass is comfortable and not too steep…
The eighth and last stage on the north-south route gives the tour a worthy finale. Of course, the landscape is also enchanting here, but differs greatly from the last stages.
Lake Lugano nestles like a fjord in the mountainous landscape, which has a Mediterranean flair with its cedars, pines and palm…
Bike Touring Collection by Schwarzwald Tourismus
Bike Touring Collection by NORTH STAR PEDALING
Hiking Collection by Peaknik
Road Cycling Collection by Dragon Ride