Biking in Switzerland

Eastern Switzerland

The best place from which to tackle the high passes of southeastern Switzerland is the town of St. Moritz. Snugly settled in the Engadin Valley, St. Moritz (and nearby Ponestrina) is Switzerland's most famous alpine resort town. Once host to two Winter Olympic Games (1928 and 1948) and still a jet-setter's winter holiday destination, the high average of 322 sunny days a year draws in all types eager to take advantage of nearby winter sports resources, therapeutic mineral springs, horse racing, polo . . . and, of course, biking.

There is no easily recognized series of rides here as there is around Andermatt. However, for the ambitious, there are three gripping two-day loops (or very long one-day marathons) that take in some of the area's best high roads.

The first heads north to Davos—another famous winter mecca—taking on the Flela and Albula (or Julier) Passes along the way. The second heads west, dipping briefly into Italy for the climb over the Splugen Pass, tackling the Julier (or Albula) on the return. One variation of this ride continues west to Lago di Maggiore via the San Bernardino Pass. The third ride—and the most challenging—pushes east over the Fuorn and Umbrail Passes, and returns by way of the Bernina Pass. The truly brave can extend this ride to take on some of Italy's most famous gut-busters: the Stelvio and the Gavia.

Whatever you choose to do, remember to keep your eyes and ears open. The scenery is breathtaking. That strange language you hear just might be Switzerland's fourth and rarely spoken official tongue, called Romansch. And if the culture feels old—perhaps that's because the nearby city of Chur is Switzerland's oldest, dating back to 2500 B.C.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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