previous page icon Long Distance Cycling Tour: Culemborg (NL) - Gallarate (IT)
part 3:
Luzern - Gotthard - Bellinzona - Gallarate
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Luzern - Gallarate map Day 13. Luzern - Wassen: 81 km, 764 hm.
The picturesque Vierwaldstättersee was always close by for the first 55 km. Approximately halfway we took the Beckenried (NW) - Gersau (SZ) ferry* to switch from the south to north bank. Over the last 5 km along the lake the cycle path largely follows the old, scenic Axenstrasse*. The Gotthard ascent starts after Amsteg. The last 10 km of the stage you have to climb 330 m. Shortly before Wassen we found a very nice B&B (Chalet Carina).

Day 14. Wassen - Airolo: 47 km, 1474 hm.
The Gotthardstrasse continues climbing from Wassen to Andermatt (12 km). Swiss officials suggest to avoid the section Göschenen - Andermatt (4 km) by taking the train*. The reason for this is probably the combination of 
a relatively narrow road in avalanche galleries* and slowly driving cyclists; the average grade is 9%. Although cyclist could hinder cars, in practice there is no real problem or serious danger; I have have been here before by racing bike (see 2005 tour). Andermatt - Hospental is 3 km nearly flat, after that the final climb to the Gotthard pass starts (8.6 km, 680 hm, average 7.3%). For the first 5.6 km you have to used the main road. Then you can choose between the old cobblestone road, or remaining on modern asphalt, like 99% of cars will do. We have taken the classic, quiet option, despite being more demanding. For a short while all traffic comes together at the Passo del San Gottardo* (2108 m, in the Italian speaking canton Ticino). Cyclists prefer the Via Tremola*, being the continuation of the cobblestone road, to descent to Airolo. Here, you will find a variety of hotels, pensions and B&B.

Day 15. Airolo - Rivera (TI): 82 km, 521 hm.
The first 73 km are downhill (-1200 hm) through the valley of the river Ticino. The Leventina region (Airolo - Biasca) is lovely, with a spectacular Piottino gorge and the nearby old village of Faido*. After Biasca* the valley widens out. Ten kilometer after Bellinzona easy going comes abruptly to and end. In Cadenazzo starts a 5.5 km Monte Ceneri climb (6.4% on average). Rivera, just after the Monte Ceneri pass (550 m) offers acceptable accommodation in front of the railway station.

Day 16. Rivera - Gallarate: 67 km, 550 hm.
Rivera - Ponte Tresa* - Porto Cerisio (VA, Italy) is 34 km downhill or flat. Thereafter it is going up and down to Varese, and likewise to Gallarate*. The chosen route takes local roads to avoid quite heavy traffic on the main road (SS344 to Varese and SS341 to Gallarate). However, the main road is a bit shorter, has 220 m less difference in height and the slopes are more gradual. The tour ends just north of the town center. The daughter of Oof lives close by. The center of Gallarate is only 1 km further, just follow the Via Pegoraro to the Piazza Risorgimento.

see image on the photo page.

To return to Culemborg, we have cycled to Chiasso (see GPS page), and continued by trains to Bellinzona, Zürich, and Utrecht (City Night Line).

If you like to travel further south into Italy you may consider avoiding Milano (vast build-up area; hard to find bike-friendly roads) by choosing a more westerly route to Novarra, or along/parallel to the river Ticino to Pavia.
For Milano take a Regional train to Milano Garibaldi (40 min., bikes allowed).


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Culemborg - Völklingen
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Völklingen - Luzern
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Luzern - Gallarate
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