Switzerland: Rhine Valley & Lake Constance Skating Adventure

September 1 - 7, 2021

Swiss cities remind me of the kid at high school who’s great at sports, has perfect hair, the best girlfriend, and the teachers all love him.

Rick Steves
2021 Dates Pending – Dates to be determined by our alumni

Switzerland is the only country in the world we know of that has designated and marked inline skating routes. This not only show’s the country’s dedication to inline skating but it also means you won’t need a map or directions to skate the routes.

This brand new inline skating tour includes two distinct areas of Switzerland – the Rhine Valley and Lake Constance. The Alpine Rhine Valley, known locally as the Alpenrhein, is the lush farming land that runs alongside the Rhine River on its way down from its source in the Alps. The area is mostly flat, slightly downhill in the direction we are skating, and scenic with granite mountains on both sides of the valley.

Lake Constance, or the Bodensee, sits in the middle of three countries, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, with Liechtenstein right across the Rhine River. We can practically throw a stone to the other three countries and even venture slightly over the border to spend a night in the capital of Liechtenstein!

In fact, one of the great things about Switzerland is that it is so international. The country has four official languages (German, French, Italian, and Romansch) and this is reflected in the Swiss attitudes and cuisine. The food is upscale, the hotels are clean and well run, and the people are extremely hospitable.

But it is the skating that makes this tour what it is. We use one designated national skating route and three regional ones, picking and choosing the best options. The paths are mostly flat, almost entirely car-free or with very few cars, and generally smooth pavement. Plus, the routes use rural roads as well as bike paths, meaning there is constantly something to view around the next turn.

Setting Your Expectations

We believe this location is one of the best skating locations in the world. Most of the paths are flat, smooth, and car free. But any time you skate seven days in a row traveling from town to town, you will come across small hills, rough patches, and the occasional busy road. Overall, we think you will love it.

Private Tour Info

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Details

  • Dates: September 1 - 7, 2021
  • Cost Per Person: $3,300
  • Optional Single Supplement: $800
  • Private Tour Minimum: 12
  • Activities: Skating (option to bicycle instead of skate)
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Guides: To Be Determined

Other Info: The single supplement provides you with a double room for single occupancy.

This tour can accommodate a limited number of bicyclists who plan to bicycle the entire week. Bike rental is an extra 25 € per day.

We are not able to rent bikes for skaters on an as-needed basis as we don't have the ability to transport bikes in our vehicles.

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Trip Highlights

  • Skate along the Walensee Lake with thousand foot high cliffs peering at you from across the water
  • Walk the ancient streets of Bad Ragaz, Werdenberg, and Altstätten, three of the lovely towns in which we stay
  • Skate along the Bodensee (Lake Constance) with hundreds of other cyclists, as the round-the-lake tour is the second most popular bicycle route in Europe
  • Skate just a few kilometers over the border to the cute, small town of Vaduz, the capital of Liechenstein, where we spend one night.
DAY 1

We pick you up at 1:00 PM in Bad Ragaz, swanky spa town located in the upper Rhine River Valley and at the foot of the Alps. After introductions, we will skate from our centrally-located hotel using a series of town bicycle paths, paved trail on the Rhine River dike, and small farming roads. Our destination is the wine village of Malans, population 2,341. With five wineries located in town, you'll have the option to do a little tasting before skating or catching the van back. Distances: 11 or 22 kilometers

DAY 2

Today we skate on Switzerland's Regional Skating Route 53 from Bad Ragaz out to the Walensee, a large lake with towering cliffs looming straight up from the water. Our path first takes us through an idyllic (and flat) agricultural valley before reaching the lake and nestling between the waters and the railroad tracks with fast-moving trains whizzing past us. You'll have the option to take that local train back to Bad Ragaz or do it all via skates. Distances: 22, 31, or 62 kilometers

DAY 3

We'll skate down the Rhein valley paralleling the Rhein River, utilizing mostly small farming and country roads without traffic. Near the end, we will cross over the border into Liechenstein and the very small town of Vaduz, the capital of the provinciality. This is a half-day skate so you will have time to enjoy the area, learn about Liechenstein, and even go on a hike in the nearby mountains, including an optional eight kilometer hike to the ruins of a 12th century castle located in the wilderness. Distance: 20 kilometers for a half day plus optional 8 kilometer hike

DAY 4

We keep moving down the Rhine Valley today, which means even while we meander left and right with the small roads and paths we are imperceptibly but distinctly skating downhill. The interesting thing about the skating route we are on today is that it reveals much about real life in Switzerland: farmers in their fields, school kids shouting in their playground, families barbecuing in a local park, and old ladies shuffling home from the store with a bag of groceries. All this on paved, mostly flat, and mostly smooth roads and paths. Our destination today is Altstätten, a historic walled village.  Distances: 15 or 30 kilometers

DAY 5

Today we finish our skating in the Rhine Valley at the town of St. Margrethen, where you have a choice. You can hop on a train to our hotel in Romanshorn or continue on the "marathon route" which was designed to be flat, smooth, and few turns for those in training. Either way, our destination is Romanshorn on the shores of Lake Constance. Tonight we sleep in an 800-year-old palace and can enjoy a drink while looking at sea birds gliding over the water. Distances: 14 or 32 kilometers

DAY 6

We skate on the famous Bodensee bicycle route, a four-day tour around Lake Constance (the Bodensee in German) which is now the second most popular bicycle tour in Europe. (See our new Danube Bicycle Adventure for the most popular location!) You will never be on your own as we will be passed by and pass hundreds of cyclists. Today's route is an out (and back if you wish) route that parallels the lake the whole way but takes us through cute towns and past seaside cafes on our way to the city of Kreuzlingen.  Distances: 15, 22, or 44 kilometers

DAY 7

On our final morning, we skate the other direction along Lake Constance. We have saved one of the best skating stretches for last, as our path is smooth, straight, and totally free of cars. Our destination is the small town of Arbon, situated on the water, where you can enjoy a morning coffee with the sea breezes. After returning to the hotel, we'll shower, check out, and take the train back to Zurich or wherever your travels take you.  Distances: 8.5 or 17 kilometers

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Trip Accommodations

NIGHTS 1 & 2 >> SORELL HOTEL TAMINA / BAD RAGAZ

Bad Ragaz is a swanky resort town at the foot of the mountains and the Sorell Hotel Tamina is the top-rated hotel in town. You will love the four-star quality but we also chose it as it is perfectly located in the center of the historic center. If you have time, walk from the hotel to the hot springs that made Bad Ragaz famous!

NIGHT 3 >> HOTEL VADUZERHOF / VADUZ, LIECHENSTEIN

We skate just across the border into the Principality of Liechenstein and the very small (5,000 inhabitants) and cute capital of Vaduz. Our hotel is in a building that is 170 years old but the rooms feature the utmost in modernity. In fact, this hotel is a member of a cutting-edge Swiss hotel chain that features machine registration instead of a staffed reception desk! While we are not sure that will catch on in Switzerland or on Zephyr tours, the hotel is perfectly situated so we can explore town.

NIGHT 4 >> SONNE HOTEL / ALTSTÄTTEN

The Sonne Hotel is located steps from the historic center of Altstätten, which you can enter through the old town gate still standing. After skating all day and wandering around the village streets, you will appreciate the recently-remodeled sleeping rooms of the hotel and the outdoor terrace where you can sip one of the local wines.

NIGHTS 5 & 6 >> HOTEL SCHLOSS / ROMANSHORN

The Hotel Schloss, translated as Palace Hotel, is exactly what it offers: a 600-year-old palace recently renovated into a three-star hotel. Situated just above the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and right next to a church founded in 779 (making it over 1200 years old), you will have plenty of history at your doorstep. You will also appreciate the balconies overlooking the town and the terrace with winds blowing off the lake.

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Arrival & Departure
The best way to get around in Switzerland is by train, where the tiniest towns have excellent connections. We meet you on the afternoon of Day One in the town of Bad Ragaz, which is less than two hours by train from Zurich. Even the airport has a train station (airport code: ZRH). We finish before noon on our final day in the town of Romanshorn, which is just over an hour by train back to Zurich.
What's Included?
  • Two Zephyr guides, with a third guide added if necessary.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All of your dinners and breakfasts are included. Gratuity for these meals is also included. In general, we leave lunches open so that you have time to explore and enjoy the local flavors en route.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day except for the occasional optional transport by local train.
  • NOT INCLUDED Bicycle rental, beverages, desserts, lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses, and travel to and from the destination.
Weather

The average high temperature in June is a pleasant 70 degrees. It does rain in the area all year long, with the summer months often seeing the wettest days, so be prepared!

Physical Activity

This is an intermediate, fairly easy inline skating tour but any time you plan to skate through Europe for seven days in a row there will be some rough spots, small hills, and other obstacles. You should be comfortable on your skates, competent in braking, and able to easily skate six or eight miles at a time. 

Extending Your Stay

There is so much to do in Switzerland and you are so close to other countries it is hard to choose! One option would be to fly into Zurich and out of another airport; Munich, Milan, and Geneva are all relatively close by train. We can also highly suggest spending time in the Alps. You could easily arrive at Bad Ragaz early and spend a few days hiking from there.

Type of Person Who Will Enjoy This Tour

All inline skaters of intermediate level and above will enjoy this tour! We do have the ability to take bicyclists as well but this is primarily for those participating with skaters.

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.

 

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