Route 3 (North-South): Section 1 – cycling Basel to Aarau, Switzerland

Highlights: Aarau, Basel
Overview of the entire Route 3 (North-South Route: Basel-Chiasso):
This route is supposed to be a mix of urban, country and Alpine landscapes, from Basel in the north-west to canton Ticino in the south-east. It travels along historic routes, passing at times through very busy roads, and shares its entire path with Eurovelo 5 (via Romea Francigena). SwitzerlandMobility.ch (Cycling in Switzerland) gives the total length of Route 3 as 365km divided into 8 sections..
Basel is in itself a very busy biking intersection. Not only it is part of 3 national Swiss routes (Route 3, 7- Jura Route , 2- Rhine Route), but it is also crossed by Eurovelo 15 Route (Rhine route), from Switzerland to Holland , Eurovelo 5 (via Romea Francigena), and Eurovelo 6 (Atlantic-Black Sea). The European routes are shown on Eurovelo.com.
Route 3, Section 1 (Basel 254m-Aarau 379m)
Stats from SwitzerlandMobility.ch: 57 km (2 km unpaved). Height difference is B-A: 700m,  A-B: 600m. Their site has the full profile.
There is a challenging climb in the 1/3 closest to Aarau.
March 2017 (1-day trip)
I chose this route today because it was the only sunny region in Switzerland.
I opted to depart from Aarau and end in Basel, because I thought Basel would have a better train connection for returning in the evening (but I was probably wrong).
In Aarau (Canton Aargau), I was immediately surprised by the huge and modern train station, with many shops from food to services. The sign for Route 3, however, was nowhere to be found and I had to use my SwitzerlandMobility App to locate my position. The route was actually just to the side of the station.
At any rate, as I started wandering around the town, I got pulled into its old center with apparently the most beautifully painted eaves (16th century) in Switzerland. Aarau was in fact historically important because located in the center of the Basel, Bern, Zurich triangle. This town is really a jewel, very well kept and with a sense of wealth. I ended up spending over an hour here, biking with my eyes to the sky to admire the decorates eaves of the houses. Too bad that a nuclear plant is located just a few km outside the city .
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Aarau

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Exiting Aarau, the path continues along the river Aare and then through woods on unpaved surface for a couple of km. The first 15km from Aarau are in the countryside, all uphill and quite steep (6%) at times. Then, one is rewarded with a nice and long descent. The remaining of the trip (2/3) is mostly flat, through more or less developed villages and towns until the urban sprawl of Basel.

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I stopped briefly in Liestal because it was marked as a medieval town rich in historic buildings. However, I did not like it. Yes, there are a couple of nice buildings, but the town has a depressing feel and look. So, I would not recommend it.
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Liestal

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Pratteln, instead, is a cute medieval village, very nicely kept.

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Just a km from Pratteln is the ancient town of Augusta Raurica, and one of the most important Roman sites in Switzerland, with several monuments and probably the best preserved Roman Theater outside Italy. It is not on Route 3 and I had no time to go there; however, it is crossed by Route 2 and hopefully I’ll see it when I’ll bike that section.
I arrived in Basel (also 7:01, 2:09) at sunset so I couldn’t see much. In truth, Basel is too big to see while biking. A challenge was to find the train station. I got lost in the city, in the midst of tall buildings and busy roads, and it took me half an hour to go there. So it is important to allow some extra time to catch the train. Maybe I’ll be able to take some photos during my next time here.
Links to Introduction & other Bike Routes/Sections:

11 thoughts on “Route 3 (North-South): Section 1 – cycling Basel to Aarau, Switzerland

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