The Tour de Suisse may be over, with Richie Porte happily snuggled in the winner’s yellow jersey, but our series exploring the amazing cycling on offer through Switzerland has one final stage to go.
We’ve teamed up with Switzerland Tourism to show you the best cycling locations the country has to offer, and this week it’s the turn of the region around Davos-Klosters and we think you’ll agree, these two Alpine towns connected by scenic switchbacks and mountain passes are a haven for all types of cyclist.
In the heart of the Alps
Lying in the centre of the most-famous European mountain chain, both Davos and Klosters lie on the multicultural confluence of Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. With the silent and foreboding sentinel of the Matterhorn looming over Davos, this area of Switzerland is characterised by its high peaks, snow-capped mountain passes and vertigo-inducing, switchback-riddled descents. In other words, it’s the perfect playground for any two-wheeled machine.
Taming the trail
One of the most attractive mountain biking destinations within the wider Grisons, Davos-Klosters offers an abundance of trails that will leave every rider, from beginner to seasoned veteran, yearning for more.
Whether on the recognised trail, guided tour, or off the beaten track, all routes from the town of Davos to Klosters are well marked with a new adventure waiting around every corner. The Alps Epic Trail Davos is the crowning jewel of the region, the longest single track in Switzerland and a designated IMBA Epic Trail. If elevation gain and enduro riding are more your thing, the Bahnen Tour offers a thrilling adventure with more than 10,000m of raw, Alpine climbing. The area is also home to a collection of designated bike parks full of outdoor tracks to hone your trail-blazing skills and let off some steam after an adrenaline-fuelled day on the mountainside. The Pumptrack Jenaz is a particular highlight, the weatherproof pump track perfect for building speed and momentum without having to step on the pedals.
The fabled Prättigau
Davos-Klosters falls within the idyllic Prättigau region, a close and friendly neighbour to the adjacent Dolomites. Characterised by its white limestone cliff faces, vast expanses of mountain meadows and crystal clear corrie lakes, the Prättigau region is as beautiful as its trails are calm and serene.
The Panorama Ride Prättigau is one of the most scenic bike tours in the whole of Switzerland. Divided into four stages, the singletrack trail takes you on a tour of some of the region’s most famous mountain peaks, the Schesaplana, Kanzelkoepfe, Drusenfluh and Sulzfluh all keeping a watchful eye on your riding party. Split across four days for beginners, or conquered in as little as one for the most hardcore, the Panorama Ride Prättigau can be gentle and serene in places, but challenging and unforgiving in others. Long rapid descents into the valleys after the tough mountain climbs gift riders with a well-earned reward for their earlier exertions. The Duranna area is one such resting point, pockmarked with dreamy mountain lakes and rustic alpine huts.
Ride like the pros
At the start line of each edition of the Tour de Suisse, a whisper runs throughout the peloton – talk of the infamous Albula and Flüela passes – each and every rider crossing their fingers that they won’t encounter them. Unlucky for them, the passes are included in almost every edition of the race, silent and foreboding roads to nowhere that offer holidaying roadies a once in a lifetime experience.
The town of Davos has staged the Tour de Suisse no less than 12 times, which is more than any other Swiss mountain resort. The ascent to the Albula pass (2,312m above sea level) is an unforgiving one, the descent snaking its way down to the foot of the Flüela pass (2,383m above sea level), a climb that packs a punch in its early ramps before narrowing and slithering its way around the mountainside as you near the summit.
A foray into the gentler side valleys offers an immersion into wild, green nature, a stark contrast to the desolate snow covered summits of Albula and Flüela. A number of road bike tours are offered in these valley areas, taking you through the historic, Walser settlements and up to the tiny village of Davos Monstein. Once there, the village’s microbrewery provides a unique and refreshing welcome treat after a long day in the saddle. As the tour snakes its way from valley to valley, you’ll complete a round trip of Davos, sampling both its scenic and culinary delights. On this route, you’ll find the Walserhuus Restaurant an ideal spot to refuel, home to delectable regional cuisine.
The sun tour route offers riders an opportunity to experience this beautiful region of Switzerland at a gentle pace, riding out from the town of Klosters, through Saas and Küblis, and up the gradual ascent to the historic centre of Luzein and the sun terrace of St.Antoenien. The area lies just 1450m above sea level and conveys a homely, rustic atmosphere with its 500-year-old church and traditional Swiss houses. One more climb up to Berghaus Alpenrösli (1775m above sea level) then gives riders the opportunity to gaze across the whole valley with its beautiful mountain lake, Partnun, offering a perfect pit-stop and prime photo opportunity.
Convenience is key
Transport across Alpine peaks has never been easier. Davos-Klosters covers all bases with cable cars from valley bottoms to the highest peaks, numerous bike shuttle points and the cycle-friendly Rhaetian railway. So, while some may choose to haul themselves over mountain pass after mountain pass, not everybody has to, especially those after a more gentle adventure around this scenic Alpine region.
As well as a wealth of transport links, the Davos-Klosters area is also rich in bike rental shops full of staff ready to assist with any mechanical queries, as well as advise on the best local trails and road routes. Nine recommended stores can be found from Davos to Klosters, offering anything from beginner mountain bikes, to top-end road machines – one of them Ivans Velosport, a registered Specialized Concept Store.
Eat, drink, sleep repeat
No Alpine tour is complete without a taster of the local cuisine, and Davos and Klosters offering some of the finest in the country. The region is renowned for its meats and cheeses, as well as artisan pizzas, its proximity to Italy helping in this department.
High up in the mountain passes, temperatures can plummet, and you may find yourself taking refuge in one of the numerous mountain restaurants throughout the region. Nothing quite warms the belly like a hot, aromatic glühwein – this region’s take on Austrian mulled wine – its light buzz helping to kick your extremities back into action.
The region-renowned Madrisahof Bergrestaurant in the heart of Klosters is a perfect location for a post-ride, evening meal. A designated cheese and meat room, with sunlit terraces ensconced in a heavy tobacco smoke and staff members dressed in traditional Dirndl costume, the Madrisahof serves as an immersive cultural experience, a place brimming with rustic charm.
After a long day of riding and a glutinous evening gorging on all the local, culinary delights, nothing sings sweeter than a homely place to rest one’s head. The popular 4-star Grischa-Das Hotel is designed with cycle tourists at its heart, offering three guided tours a week, isotonic drinks, in-room snacks, a complementary bike backpack and staff more than eager to flood you with the best cycling advice. Not to mention they also have five on-site restaurants, making this is a place that you’ll never want to leave.