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Rhine Cycle Route in Switzerland - one of Europe's most picturesque routes

Tuesday 13 February
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It took us just a week to complete our bicycle trip along the Rhine in Switzerland, which stands out as the most breathtaking cycling path we've encountered in Europe to date. The Swiss path's greatest strength lies in its variety. As we followed the Rhine through Switzerland, we were mesmerized by the changing landscapes and picturesque cities, including Chur, Schaffhausen, Stein am Rhein, and Basel, the country's third-largest city. Embarking on a cycling journey along the Rhine is, without a doubt, an excellent idea for a biking vacation in Europe.

The Rhine Cycle Route in Switzerland marks the beginning of EuroVelo 15, an extensive European cycling trail that stretches for over 1200 kilometers to where the Rhine River flows into the North Sea. This journey starts at Andermatt, a charming resort nestled in the Swiss Alps, and continues towards the Oberalp Pass. From this point, close to the Rhine's source, the route follows the river's upper course, known as the Vorderrhein or Anterior Rhine, leading cyclists through the breathtaking Ruinaulta, often referred to as Switzerland's Grand Canyon. After leaving the city of Chur in the Graubünden region, the pathway enters a tranquil phase, winding through a wide valley until it reaches Lake Constance. The journey resumes along the bustling towns of Lake Constance's southern shore, through the scenic town of Stein am Rhein, and past Europe's largest waterfall, culminating in Basel. Despite the official distance being 430 kilometers, we found ourselves covering just shy of 480 kilometers.

Andermatt greeted us with almost entirely clear, blue skies, while the surrounding Ursern Valley was drenched in sunshine. Historically, Andermatt served as a crucial junction for trade routes across the Alps, and today, it acts as a hub for a variety of tourist activities, including hiking, biking, driving, and even rail travel. The town retains a historical charm, with its main street, now restricted from tourist and through traffic, lined with ancient buildings. Noteworthy among these is the so-called Suworow House, which was once the residence of Russian General Alexander Suvorov during his campaign against France in the Second Coalition war of 1799. This historic building is currently home to the Ursern Valley Museum. A short distance away, one can find the quaint Drei Könige & Post hotel, which has been accommodating merchants crossing the Alps for centuries.

Navigating through a storm and taking time to marvel at the Grand Canyon, we reached Chur late in the evening, sadly missing out on experiencing the nightlife of Switzerland's oldest city. The following morning, we ventured to the serene square behind St. Martin's Church, located in front of the Rhaetian Museum. The museum offers traditional exhibits that tell the history of the Graubünden region, alongside intriguingly set-up displays in the basement of the ancient building, showcasing local archaeological treasures. Standing in the square outside the museum, one gets a sense of timeless tranquility. In one corner, a fountain quietly babbles, providing relief to tourists on warm days, who then continue on to the majestic Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dominating the Old Town's skyline.

Shortly after rejoining the Rhine, we encountered one of the most breathtaking segments of our journey. Here, the cycling path hugs the river's edge, skirting the base of the Fläscherberg massif, crowned by the Regitzer Spitz peak. Fläscherberg is cherished by locals for outdoor activities and also doubles as a natural defense outpost for the Swiss army. This spot marks the northernmost boundary of the Graubünden canton, beyond which lies the diminutive principality of Liechtenstein. It presents perhaps the finest chance to capture a memorable photo with the Rhine as a backdrop.

On the subsequent day, we arrived at a welcoming campsite in Buchs, a town we had previously passed through during our Alpine adventure. Much like our last visit, Buchs itself didn't leave a strong impression. Our journey had taken us through Chur, allowed us a lengthier stop in Bad Ragaz, a detour down to Sargans, and a quest to locate the Gonzen mine, leading us to the campsite just as the day was fading. The decision to explore the neighboring town of Werdenberg was thus deferred to the next day. With its castle bathed in the glow of spotlights, Werdenberg promised an ample share of picturesque views for our exploration.

Upon departing Lake Constance, the Rhine progresses towards the North Sea, embracing the quintessential characteristics of a riverside landscape. It is within this setting that Stein am Rhein emerges as arguably the most enchanting town along the route. This town is home to numerous historical edifices recognized as part of Switzerland's national heritage, with a significant concentration around the uneven, inclined market square, dominated by the imposing structure of the town hall at its summit. The unique ambiance that must pervade this picturesque location during the height of the tourist season is something we could only envision.

Schweiz Mobil stands out as an excellent resource for exploring Swiss bike paths, offering a comprehensive website and mobile application that details tourist trails across Switzerland. This includes options for both touring and mountain biking, as well as hiking, rollerblading, and kayaking. In planning our journey, I found great pleasure in navigating through the assortment of cycling paths on the map of Switzerland's bike trails. We have plans to tackle the Lakes Route and the Jura Route in future years. It's worth noting that the site's sidebar menu allows users to filter the map display by types of routes - national routes are denoted by a single digit, regional by two digits, and local by three. Additionally, the site provides recommendations for daily stage lengths and brief overviews of the attractions one can expect to encounter.

Discover more about the Rhine Cycle Route on our website.

And check out my other articles on

- Ciclovia Alpe-Adria - Austria & Italy
- Loire by bike in France