With 1,500km of mountain bike trails, more than 100 cable cars, gondolas and chairlifts and a perfectly integrated network of public transport, Switzerland's Valais region makes the ultimate riding destination
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With 1,500km of mountain bike trails, more than 100 cable cars, gondolas and chairlifts and a perfectly integrated network of public transport, Switzerland’s Valais region makes the ultimate riding destination.
Just a short hop by train from Geneva airport, you can quickly leave behind the stresses of flying and immerse yourself in a spectacular alpine landscape. Vineyards bask in the sun on the lower slopes, giving way to steep forests and high mountain pastures capped with rugged, rocky peaks. Filtering through the picture postcard scenery is an array of riding opportunities. At one end are the flow trails that massage you into a relaxed, zen-like state down the mountain. At the other end are the technical chess puzzles that elevate your senses and demand precision balance, timing and coordination. Somewhere between the two are the feature-laden bike park tracks that dispense powerful shots of adrenaline with every jump and berm – no prescription needed. And not forgetting the natural singletrack that has evolved over centuries from humble peasant paths to ribbons of singletrack perfection. Whatever your skill level, in the Valais there’s something for everyone.
Choosing your adventure couldn’t be easier. Every trail is signposted, every village is connected to either bus, train or cable car, and all of them welcome bikes. You’re never far away from fresh, running water to stay hydrated, and numerous mountain refuges and cafes offer the perfect fuel stops. And if that wasn’t enough, all the best rides have been collated at visitvalais.ch/mountain-bike with maps, travel information, GPS downloads and more. From planning your ride, to getting to the top of the hill, all the heavy lifting has been done for you.
In fact the most difficult part of any trip to the Valais region is deciding where to go. With legendary downhill zones such as Champery and Morgins in the west, the bike parks of Verbier and Crans Montana further east, and the alpine town of Zermatt to the south, it’s a canton with more than its fair share of bucket list resorts. Step off the beaten path and there are hidden gems to discover, such as the beautiful Bike Park Saint Luc and the secret world of the Lötschental valley.
If you yearn for proper adventure, why not try one of the multi-day rides that have been laid out? Staying in traditional village lodgings along the route, you’ll earn every metre of elevation, discover people and places few tourists ever will, and come away with an unforgettable experience that no amount of likes on Instagram will ever match.
With the rising popularity of biking holidays, many hotels are gearing up to accept riders. These ‘bike hotels’ offer secure storage, laundry services and often a bike wash and workshop. Buffet breakfasts are usually hearty affairs with the local birchermuesli providing the perfect fuel for a long day in the saddle. Some hotels provide maps, offer guiding services and even luggage transport if you’re riding from point-to-point.
Talking of guiding services, there are many firms offering their services through the Valais, and for anyone on a tight schedule, their knowledge and experience can really allow you to maximise your ride time as well as tailor the trails to your ability and give you advice and support along the way. Some of the bigger resorts also run bike schools, which like their skiing counterparts, allow you to improve your skills and really tap in to local knowledge.
Finally, if you don’t want the hassle of travelling with your own bike, there are numerous rental shops to choose from. Most offer premium enduro bikes for hire as well as a fleet of e-bikes – something that’s becoming ever more popular across the Alps.
Whatever your skill level, whatever your favourite riding style, whether travelling solo or with friends, the Valais has got you covered. For a short break or an extended stay, one thing’s guaranteed; mountain biking will never be the same again.
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For more information go to visitvalais.ch/mountain-bike
Valais, Switzerland: high-altitude playground tailor-made for mountain biking