Language: German, French, Italian, Romansh
Currency: Swiss franc
Size: 15,940 square miles (41,285 square kilometers) - slightly larger than Maryland
Border countries: Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein
National tourist office: www.myswitzerland.com
At a glance
For such a small country, the incredible variety of Swiss landscapes and cultures is awe-inspiring. The country has four official languages (German, French, Italian, and Romansch), with distinct regions for each language. The German-speaking portion is the largest and encompasses the capital of Bern, financial center Zurich, and many of the famed ski resort areas like Zermatt and Grindelwald.
Traveling across Switzerland, you’ll cross the "Roesti Graben" (literally - "hash-brown ditch"). It’s the imaginary, but very distinct, border between the German- and French-speaking areas. The French-speaking region is home to Geneva and Lausanne, with stunning landscapes along Lake Geneva. Lugano anchors the small Italian-speaking portion of Switzerland, known as the Swiss Riviera with its palm trees and mountain vistas alike. Romansch, a nearly-extinct derivative of Latin, is spoken only in a tiny valley in the Swiss Alps. But Switzerland is fiercely protective of its heritage and varied influences, so it's still counted among the official languages of the country. Across all of the varied landscapes and languages, there remains a distinctly Swiss flavor that sets it apart from its same-language neighbors.
Why cyclists love it
For hardy cyclists, the looming Alps can be a dream challenge to conquer, but they can also be intimidating for those who aren't in Olympic-ready shape. But fear not -- there are Swiss bicycle tours available to accommodate all fitness and interest levels. Switzerland bike tours take advantage of the first-class trails and scenic byways of this spectacular country.
The national pastime of Switzerland is "wandern" (literally "wandering," but more like leisurely hiking in the countryside). The popularity of weekend strolls in the country and the mountains mean there’s an extensive network of trails throughout the country reserved for pedestrians and cyclists. These paths are well maintained (as is everything in Switzerland) and were designed to pass through the most scenic vistas and overlooks. Post roads in the mountains are also popular among cyclists because they’re reserved for the infrequent mail truck traffic. Many bike tours in Switzerland make use of these convenient byways.
Swiss bike tours allow visitors to enjoy not only the gorgeous landscapes, but also to visit the tiny villages that spot the landscapes with traditional wooden farmhouses and church steeples. And all the pedaling will make you feel better about the Swiss chocolate and cheeses you’re sure to enjoy. Top regions Lake Constance This region is home to Europe's third largest lake, Lake Constance, and Europe's most popular cycling route. The lake borders three countries – Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. In this region, you’ll be surrounded by the breathtaking views of a turquoise lake against the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps.
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Lake Constance is home to Europe's most popular cycling route. The lake borders three countries – Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. You'll be surrounded by the breathtaking views of a turquoise lake against the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps.
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From Konstanz on Lake Constance to Interlaken on Lake Thun, this tour will lead you past another 7 lakes. The Rheinfall Waterfall near Schaffhausen, the "Hohle Gasse" in Küssnacht and the Einsiedeln monastery, along with the well preserved cities of Luzern and Zurich are the highlights of this tour.
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On the most popular cycle route in Europe, you'll bike around the entire lake and get to know three countries. The main highlights are the medieval towns of Konstanz, Stein, Meersburg and Lindau.
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The Inn-bicycle path leads through outstanding landscapes: the wide Hochtal (valley) of the Oberengadin merges into the big forests of the Swiss National Park. Suddenly the scenery changes: the Austrian Bundesland Tyrol welcomes the bikers with warm hospitality.
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You will stay in 3 and 4 star hotels, all Swiss in character and magnificent in their setting. Mornings begin with a wonderful breakfast buffet. Our afternoon picnics are lavish and our evening meals unforgettable: 3 and 4 course feasts with wine.
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