Why not experience postcard-perfect views in real life instead of just sending them? The Lakes Route takes you on a wonderful journey across Switzerland, revealing fantastic mountain and lake scenery that looks just like postcards. However, with mountain passes to climb to get to the panoramas, this route is a challenge. Pack enough ambition, muscle power, and a camera, and you have found yourself the perfect route.
You will discover 13 of Switzerland’s stunning lakes on this journey. From Lake Geneva in the west, you ride to the magnificent lakes of Thun, Brienz, and Lucerne, with countless small lakes, ponds, and pools in between. Your journey begins in Montreux, a pretty town on the edge of Lake Geneva. You will explore many other wonderful towns nestled amongst the foothills of the Alps such as Interlaken, Lucerne, and Sargans. After riding 325 miles (524 km) and climbing almost 17,000 feet (5,200 m) across 10 stages, you will reach the town of Rorschach on Lake Constance, marking the end of your journey.
You’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy delicious regional dishes and a refreshing break en route. There are also plenty of kiosks and fountains to keep you hydrated, especially during summer. It is still a good idea to carry some snacks and water with you though. You’ll also find comfortable accommodation in or close to the stage destinations. I’ve provided information in the stage descriptions, including where to find budget-friendly campsites.
If you find the distances too long or if the mountains are too high, there are options to shorten some of the stages by taking a cable car, train, bus, or boat. Swiss public transport is well-adapted to bikes, so you will be able to bring your bike with you. Bear in mind that if you are riding as a bigger group, you may need to book transport in advance. You may want to consider the Swiss Travel Pass, depending on how often you plan to use transport.
The Lakes Route is waymarked throughout with the number 9. The route also meets other great bike tours if you want to explore different rides. For example, the Rhon Route crosses your path between Montreux and Vevey on Lake Geneva before heading into France and towards the Mediterranean (komoot.de/collection/919849 and komoot.de/collection/453). You will also find the Rhine Cycle Path on the shores of Lake Constance (komoot.de/collection/210).
The starting point of the lakes route is in Montreux on Lake Geneva - the famous city, whose historic casino brand in 1971 inspired the band Deep Purple to the song "Smoke on the Water". You can easily travel by train, which runs to Montreux regularly via Lausanne from Geneva or Zurich.Before you go into the mountains, the path leads you for a few kilometers along the shores of Lake Geneva - perfect for getting a little bit used and warming up for the first mountain stage that follows shortly afterwards.In Vevey you now turn off the lakeshore and follow the course of the Veveyse straight into the mountains. The climb is not entirely without, it has to be mastered a full 500 meters in altitude. You will be rewarded with plenty of great views of Lake Geneva and its surrounding wineries, and once you have reached the top, you will drive comfortably on the plateau of Châtel-Saint-Denis to your destination in Bulle for the rest of the day.Here on the high plateau you are already in the land of the Gruyère. So take your time and stop to taste some of this world-famous cheese - by the way, it is more commonly known as the Gruyère. Together with a little freshly baked bread, this results in a good snack for a leisurely break on the roadside.
In Bulle you can think about whether you would like to add two more lakes to your cycle tour: Lake Gruyère and Lac de Montsalvens, both in the west of Bulle. For this you leave the lakes route in Bulle and drive to Morlon north of the "Forêt de Bouleyres". Morlon is just before the shore of Lake Geyerzersee, where you can take a short, refreshing break on the beach at the "Presqu'île de Morlon".To get to the second lake, follow the Alpine panorama route from Morlon to the southeast and from Broc the Saanenland-Freiburgerland bike path further east. A short stop on the west bank of the "Lac de Montsalvens" is particularly worthwhile because of the great mountain panorama, but do not take too much time, because to get back on the lake route you have to drive back south over Broc. That takes time and the entire route of the day is still waiting for you with over 45 kilometers and 720 vertical meters.It would also be a shame if you had to rush to visit the picturesque town of Gruyères afterwards - yes, you read that right, this is where the famous cheese comes from. In addition to the well-known, delicious milk products, Gruyères also offers a lot more: You should not miss a visit to the castle complex with its fantastic panoramic view of the country.From Gruyères, you follow the Sarine southwards over the Lac de Lessoc and work your way up, interrupted by short refreshing descents, meter by meter up the mountain. A short time later you can add another lake to your list, the "Lac du Vernex". It is roughly 20 kilometers and 300 vertical meters to your destination in Gstaad, so it is worth taking a short break on the lakeshore with a good piece of cheese to recharge your batteries for the final sprint.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Shortly after Gstaad you can expect a moderate but demanding climb up to Saanenmöser on today's stage. Then the time has come and you can finally benefit a little from the mountain rides of the past few days. Until the end of the day you first follow the Little Simme at the edge of its valley and a little later, from Zweisimmen then the Simme.Although it is generally downhill throughout the day, the Swiss mountains somehow still manage to get around 670 meters of altitude on the way. So plan your strength well. The Simmental farmhouses will certainly catch your eye on the way. The richly decorated wooden houses with floral decorations are among the most beautiful buildings in Europe. The oldest of them date from the 16th century.When you arrive in Spiez, you can already see the wonderful panorama of Lake Thun from the heights, nestled between lush green hills on one side and rugged mountain backdrops on the other. Stop for a moment and enjoy your arrival with this fantastic view.
Today is all about the Aare, which first flows through Lake Thun, then Lake Brienz and also accompanies you to Meiringen, your destination. It is no coincidence that the lake route shares the cycle path with the Aare route today.As soon as you let your gaze wander from the beautiful view over the clear water to the heights, you will find that there are completely different companions at your side on today's route. In the south they are majestically enthroned over the sky-blue water, the famous peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. It is clear that this will be a royal day along the lakes route today.In Interlaken you cross the narrow valley that separates Lake Thun from Lake Brienz and are rewarded again with great panoramas and viewpoints along the route. However, two decent climbs can be mastered here, because the shores of Lake Brienz are unfortunately not as flat as on Lake Thun.Iseltwald is therefore happy to invite you to take a long break halfway along the lake shore, even with picturesque views it is not stingy. So you already have a great view of the idyllic Seeburg Castle above the village, down in the village you can enjoy it even more.Then it goes up a second time. Alternatively, you can also make do with the riverside route, but with a little more gravel it is more for mountain bikes. It is also worthwhile to take the ascent for other reasons, because besides a great viewpoint with a barbecue area, the impressive Giesbach Falls await you at the end, which plunge down 400 meters to the lake in 14 steps.Then the route becomes more comfortable again and your destination is not far away either. At the Meiringen airfield you can wave at the Oltschibachfall, which falls more than 300 meters below the surface, or stop by the pilots of the Swiss aviation weapon for a landing drink at the air club, then you have reached your destination. If you still have some energy left in Meiringen, you can work out with a little hike to the Alpbach Falls or - if you don't have as much energy - you can simply visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
From Meiringen, the alleged inventor city of the famous confectionery "Meringes" it goes a good way up to the Hasliberg. Perhaps you have stocked up with enough of these sugared pieces of egg snow in Meiringen, so the breaks on the way up can be made a little sweeter.Once on the mountain, the ascent rewards you with a great view of the Wetterhorn massif in the south, while a short time later a fantastic view of the Lungernsee awaits you at the Brünig Pass. Between the mountain chapel and the kiosk, it is worth stretching out your legs a bit and breathing fresh alpine air and new energy.Behind the Lungernsee, the Sarnersee, which is about 200 meters below, is waiting for your passage on its northwest bank, but you will have one of the most spectacular views at the lake at your destination in Sarnen. In view of the day, it is worth covering the few extra meters of altitude before you continue your journey the next day along the Sarner Aa valley and thus away from the lake: the parish church of St. Peter and Paul in the foreground and the majestic peaks at the back the Uri and Bernese Alps - Swiss postcards are made here.
Today's stage is a little more gracious and no longer sends you up to mountains as high as the average over the past few days. From Sarnen you follow the Sarner Aaa to the Alpnachersee, on the north bank of which you circle the Lopper, a foothill of the 2,128 meter high Pilatus, to which the steepest cogwheel railway in the world leads from Alpnachstad.At Stansstad the Alpnachersee merges into Lake Lucerne and the north flank of the Lopper towers mightily and steeply over the bike path, which for the most part runs alongside a main road, but is very well delimited from it, so that nothing stands in the way of a short stop at the edge of the path should stand. Just looking at the steep front of the Lopper is sometimes hampered by the freeway running above you - well, there really isn't much space for road construction here.You will enjoy driving around Lake Lucerne on its west bank until you reach one of the most beautiful and popular of all Swiss cities in Lucerne. This is the social and cultural center of Central Switzerland, so treat yourself to an extensive break to tour the city.However, keep in mind that you have half of the day's stage ahead of you as far as Zug. With the Villettepark and the seaside resort Brüggli on Lake Zug, there are also a few nice ways to end the day in a very cozy way.
Today it is uphill again, which is not surprising, because between the many lakes that you visit on this route, there must be a few mountains somewhere. Around 600 meters of altitude await you in the first 30 kilometers, before things get a little more leisurely on the Rothenthurm high moor.Shortly after Baar you turn into the deeply incised Lorzentobel, which the Lorze, coming from the Ägerisee, has washed into the landscape here. It is quite clear that a visit to the 6,000-year-old Höllgrotten caves, which with their fairytale-like, sometimes demonic-looking limestone formations, should enchant visitors every day, should not be missed.You will visit Aegerisee a little later on its north-west bank, where most of the time you will be accompanied by a busy main road, but fortunately it is quite flat, which is why you should make good progress. One or the other bathing spot can also be found on the way, so you can refresh yourself again before going up to the bog.Once at the top, an impressive nature reserve awaits you and in the middle a nice parlor for a cozy break. For a few kilometers you join the beavers who will lead you to their meeting with the alp. You follow this for a short distance upstream and you have already reached your destination, the pilgrimage town of Einsiedeln.
Just a short dangle to the imposing baroque monastery Einsiedeln at the end of the town and you are at Sihlsee, which you cross on the 1,000-meter-long Willerzeller Viaduct. Too bad that there are no stopping options here, so you have to pay more attention to traffic during the crossing than to the beautiful view.You follow the Sihltal to the Teufelsbrücke, from where it now goes a little way up the mountain to just before the Etzel pass. But you leave it on the right and prefer to approach the mountain from its left flank. That gives you a few extra meters in altitude, but also one of the most fantastic views of Lake Zurich a short time later.The descent down to Pfäffikon is fast - enjoy it, the next two days will be rather flat. Over to Rapperswil it goes again on the lake dam, this time a little more comfortable and with the islets Ufenau and Lützelau on your left.In Rapperswil you have already completed half of the day's stage and can look forward to an enjoyable stretch of the riverside path on the Obersee, before you roll relaxed towards the destination in Ziegelbrücke / Niederurnen through the Lintebene. Here is the official end of the stage, but there are only a few accommodation options. Better you drive a little further to the lake shore at Walensee. Here you will find various hotels in Weesen or a campsite to the south on Gäsi Strand.
From Weesen you drive to the southern bank of the Walensee, where a beautiful bike path awaits you. To your right, the mighty foothills of the Mürtschenstock tower above you in the form of huge rock faces, almost as if they were about to fall into the water at any moment. On the left, on the other hand, the imposing Churfirsten towers over the lake and are a no less impressive natural spectacle. A delimited cycle path on the edge of the busy main road makes it possible to cycle along here somewhat calmly. Later he says goodbye to the road, but it gets a little hilly.From Murg, the bike path on the bank is unfortunately closed - luckily, however, only on weekends. If you still want to save yourself the drive along the road under all circumstances and there is a lot going on on the riverside path, it is best to briefly inquire with the locals and drive a little more carefully, then it should be fine.At the Walenstadt lido there is probably one of the most fantastic places to enjoy a romantic sunset, as the sun sets directly over the end of Lake Walen, embedded in the Churfirsten and Mürtschenstocks. Unfortunately, it is still 25 kilometers from here to your destination in Buchs. So if you don't want to spend the night in Walenstadt or Sargans by chance, move the "Sundowner" to another time.
You have been in the Rhine Valley since Sargans and will not leave it quickly until you reach your destination on Lake Constance. You start leisurely in Buchs and while you are still looking in vain for the city limits, you suddenly find yourself in a completely different one, namely Werdenberg. Although it only has around 60 inhabitants, it can at least attest to its historical city law, which makes it the smallest city in Switzerland and therefore something very special. The idyllic castle on the lake and the medieval town center should only be mentioned in passing.On the way to Lake Constance, today's route takes you through various reed landscapes and past many small lakes. Not only once will you have the opportunity to use viewing platforms or even towers to get a little out of the way of the local wildlife. Where the Rhine flows into Lake Constance, the largest freshwater delta in Europe awaits you with around 600 different plant and over 300 bird species. You don't just cross the Swiss-Austrian border on your way there.Last but not least, the Old Rhine leads you a little way to the lake shore in Staad and less than four kilometers later you have reached your destination. At the Rorschacher train station several trains a day wait for you to take you to your starting point or back to your home. If no one is there, you can still take a leisurely stroll around the lake.