Fatbiking is the new trend in the Swiss winter resorts. It was invented in Alaska, and it didn’t take long before it arrived in the Alps. It’s the perfect activity for all those who can’t stand still for a moment, and find skiing to be a bit too vanilla for their liking.
Whether you’re traveling with your bike with fat winter tires, or want to rent one, the Swiss resorts won’t disappoint. From the Engadine Valley to Valais – here are the best destinations for fatbiking in Switzerland!
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Why Try Fatbiking in Switzerland?
You should try fatbiking in Switzerland because the country has some spectacular routes. The mountain terrain is ideal for mountain biking and hiking, and many of those trails become fatbiking routes in the winter.
Whether you prefer rushing downhill or cycling over longer stretches of flat terrain, Switzerland won’t disappoint. The country’s landscapes are also home to many mountain biking playgrounds with circular routes, steep descents, and thrilling jumps.
Best Fatbiking Destinations in Switzerland
I’ve convinced you that you should go fatbiking in Switzerland – but where? Below are some of my favorite destinations for winter biking in the Alpine country!
Gstaad & Zweisimmen
Nestled in the Bernese Oberland, Gstaad and Zweisimmen are two spectacular destinations for winter biking in Switzerland. In Gstaad, fatbiking is best done on existing hiking trails, which are abundant in the region.
Gstaad also hosts the Snow Bike Festival, which is an annual race. Mountain biking professionals and amateurs are welcome to enter the competition and race in one of the world’s best mountain biking areas.
Zweisimmen boasts Sparenmoos, which is a Mecca for mountain bikers. With many circular and downhill routes, you could spend hours here riding and having the time of your life. One of the most popular routes is the panoramic loop from Hüsliberg to Schiltenegg.
Zermatt is one of the best winter resorts in Switzerland and that’s because it offers a wide variety of things to do. While most people come to Zermatt for skiing, its winter hiking, snowshoeing, and fatbiking trails are also worthy reasons to visit the resort.
Fatbiking in Zermatt is possible on the winter hiking routes and some mountain biking routes. Feel free to explore the area on your own; there are countless trails accessible by bike and public transport from the village, and no matter in which direction you head, you will not be disappointed.
It’s also possible to go on guided fatbiking tours at night. This is a good option if you’re not confident riding on your own, or are unsure which routes to explore.
Villars is a great destination for fatbiking because the village has dedicated fatbiking routes. Situated in the mountains southeast of Lake Geneva, this stunning Swiss village offers an entire slope just for fatbiking.
A 7-kilometer route between Bretaye and Villars is heaps of fun on winter bikes, with a downhill descent and several thrilling jumps. It’s even suitable for people who have never ridden a fatbike before. Fatbiking lessons are also available at Villars, making it one of the best destinations for newbies to winter biking in Switzerland.
In addition to this slope, fatbiking is also possible on existing hiking and mountain biking routes, provided that the conditions allow it.
Set in the Ursern Valley of the Swiss Alps, Andermatt is the perfect playground for all sorts of summer and winter adventures. The surroundings of the village are perfect for fatbiking rides, and many of the existing routes are safe for winter cycling.
It’s even possible to take lessons and go on guided fatbiking tours in Andermatt. Experienced instructors will take you on the best routes near the village, which are tailored to your skills. In other words, the routes near Andermatt range in difficulty from easy to challenging, so there’s truly something for everyone.
Melchsee-Frutt is a resort village in the mountains of Obwalden canton featuring stunning landscapes and excellent hiking routes. One of the hiking routes in the village doubles as a fatbiking trail. The bad news is that it’s the only route that allows for fatbiking, the good news is that it’s a long route of 9 kilometers total.
The ascent is somewhat steep if you’re doing the route from Melchsee-Frutt to Tannalp, but then it’s an awesome downhill descent on your way back. It’s possible to rent fatbikes in the village, but only if you reserve them in advance. Also, every Thursday after 6:45 PM, the toboggan run to Stöckalp opens to fatbikers.
Fatbiking has increased in popularity in Davos Klosters, one of the most popular winter resorts in Switzerland. Countless people come here every year to enjoy skiing, winter hiking, and sledding, and in recent years the array of activities has expanded to include fatbiking.
The downhill tour from Pischa is the most exciting fatbiking route near Davos Klosters. It is even possible to go on an E-Fatbike Tour from Davos, which is perfect for beginners. You’ll get the hang of controlling the bike on the snowy terrain, but because it’s an e-bike, it will be much easier.
With several dozens of trails suitable for fatbiking, Obergoms is one of the best destinations in Switzerland for winter riding. So, head to the Valais canton if winter biking is an activity you enjoy and want to do for days.
It’s allowed to ride fatbikes on all the hiking routes in the municipality, but not on the cross-country ski routes. The available routes range from easy loops that are only 3-4 kilometers, to epic trails more than 80 kilometers long.
And there’s a great 20-kilometer trail that’s the perfect ground between an hour’s ride and a multi-day adventure. But, whether you want to explore multiple shorter fatbiking routes in an afternoon, or embark upon an adventure that takes several days, Obergoms is the destination for you.
Famous for its horse races as much as all the glitz and glamour, St. Moritz is one of the best winter resorts in Switzerland. It offers excellent skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, winter hiking, and now even fatbiking.
The entire Engadine Valley is full of excellent fatbiking trails that will keep you outdoors for hours at a time. St. Moritz and Pontresina both offer several fatbike rental stores.
In the Engadine Valley, you’re allowed to ride the fatbike on all the designated hiking trails. It’s not allowed to go fatbiking on cross-country trails, but don’t worry – there are plenty of kilometers of hiking trails to keep you busy for days.
Essential Gear and Clothing
Appropriate gear and clothing are key for winter biking to be truly enjoyable. And that means taking into consideration all scenarios, even the ones that aren’t that likely to happen. By that, I mean falls which would get your standard clothing drenched.
Here’s a rough list of the gear that I usually wear for winter biking:
- Winter biking helmet
- Warm winter shoes
- Waterproof jacket
- Warm base layers (I prefer wool because it’s breathable and a good insulator)
- Cycling goggles (they are necessary because of the wind)
- Balaclava (offers more protection than a scarf and is lighter)
- Cycling backpack
- Bike light (if I want to continue biking when it gets dark)
- Water (so you don’t have to stop for water anywhere along the way)
Also, I always bring an extra pair of socks and a T-shirt just to be on the safe side. I try to be as minimalist as possible with the items in my backpack, simply because I don’t want to extra weight to slow me down.
Map Guide to the Best Fatbiking Destinations in Switzerland
Winter biking is an activity that will give you an adrenaline rush, but it’s also safe for the most part. If you take all the precautions, it can be extremely enjoyable and pose no dangers to you or those around you.
- Check conditions before biking
The weather in the Swiss mountains changes rapidly and trails that were accessible one day might be closed the next. Check the conditions before you get on your bike, to ensure that the trails you want to ride on are still accessible and safe on the day.
- Watch out for hikers
Many winter biking trails in Switzerland are also hiking trails. Watch out for other people on the trail to avoid nasty collisions.
- Always wear a helmet and goggles
The helmet might just save your life. Goggles protect your eyes from the wind; when it’s cold and very windy, your eyes start to water, which ultimately impacts your vision.
- Bring a bike light and an LED light for your backpack
The bike light is there to help you see the trail in front of you if you’re still biking when it’s dark. Mount the LED light on your backpack so others can notice you more easily.
- Adapt your riding to the area
Stay aware of your surroundings and adapt to them as needed. Go slower if necessary, avoid jumps if they look unsafe, and seek shelter in case of heavy snowfall or rain.
Courtesy of Patrick Strahm for the image header.