Switzerland is a beautiful country. Nestled at the center of Europe and featuring the highest peaks of the Alps, Switzerland is a country of striking nature. As a relatively small country it is also a great destination for a family vacation.
Whether you focus on Switzerland alone or combine it with France or Germany for a longer trip, plan to spend at least a week to explore the Swiss attractions. As a traveling mother with a bunch of 3 kids I know that traveling with children can be straining at times. The great thing about Switzerland is that its fresh mountain air does wonders to children all ages. You can always find the space to let the kids roam around and when the kids are happy your vacation is sure to be a great success.
While in Switzerland we stayed at the area of Interlaken. Located between 2 major lakes (Thunersee and Brienzersee) with the Alps towering above it, Interlaken’s central location makes it great for exploring the Mittelland and Bernese Oberland regions of Switzerland. Towards the end of our stay we drove to Geneva and spent 2 days there. Plan to visit during the spring and summer months. It’s best to arrive in June or September as July and August can be hot and crowded.
Here are some great attractions to plan your itinerary:
- Jungfrau – This is as scenic as it gets – a train journey to the top of Europe, the Jungfrau rail is a once in a life time experience. The long train ride (about 2 hours each way) is a great opportunity to view Swiss villages up close. On the way you have to switch 2 trains and the last one actually passes through an ice tunnel in the mountain. At about 3000 meters high, the Jungfrau peak is snowy year round. At this height breathing is a bit strenuous but we did spend some fun time outside building a snowman and sliding on the snow. Inside there is an ice sculpture exhibit as well as a lookout on to Europe. When you take the train down take it in a different direction. Tickets are available at Interlaken’s central train station.
- Open air museum — located in Ballenberg this open air museum features historical farms and houses from all over Switzerland. It’s a wonderful place where you can hike in a beautiful setting, pet the animals, and see how people lived 200 years ago. Plan to spend a good part of your day here as it covers quite a lot of area.
- Bern is about 30 minutes by car from Interlaken. It’s a relatively small city with a nice downtown area. We walked around downtown, visited a beautiful church and had a picnic in the local park. Bern is home to a lovely natural history museum featuring beautiful exhibits on local wildlife animals.
- Murren is an alpine village lost in time. Tucked away between the mountains it is not accessible by car and the best way to visit with your family is to take the cable car up and down. Plan to arrive in Murren around lunch time and dine while enjoying the wonderful view. The cable car continues on up to Schilthorn top where there is a famous rotating restaurant as well.
- Trummelbach Falls is where water meets rock. This one of a kind waterfall is flowing through the mountain rock in a splashing thunder. Trummelbach alone drains the enormous ice walls of the highest peaks of the Alps. The water flows down at an amazing speed of 20,000 liters per second. A tunnel lift takes you up into the mountain and then you walk down around the falls. The falls are open from April to November daily.
- Geneva – located on the border with France on the tip of Lake Geneva, the city became world famous for its tall water fountain in the middle of the lake. The fountain propels 500 litres of water per second to a height of 140 metres at a speed of 200 km per hour, and can be seen from anywhere in Geneva. Stroll on the lake promenade to enjoy views of the fountain up close. The small botanical garden near the lake has beautiful flower arrangements. Take a walk into downtown and visit the beautiful toy store of Franz Carl Weber. My kids loved playing in the store and trying out the toys.
- Chateaus on the lake – The scenic drive around Lake Thunersee winds through small villages and Chateaus offering magnificent views of the Lake and the mountains. Castles are great for teaching history to children. While there are a number of castles around Lake Thunersee we chose to visit Oberhofen Chateau located right on the lake. Build in the 12th Century the castle belonged to the Habsburg family and has been constantly changed and updated throughout the ages. It is now a branch of Bern’s Historical museum and is home to 16-19th century Bernese furniture and home décor exhibition. Our kids loved the exhibit and enjoyed the grounds and the lake front location.
I hope these attractions will get you on the right track to your vacation in Switzerland. Whatever you choose to do in Switzerland, the views will win you and your kids over.
About the Author:
We love to travel and didn’t want to give that up when our children came along. As we juggled 3 kids while traveling we’ve learned that despite the difficulties of traveling with children it’s the most bonding experience. We’ve created Travelingbunch to share our kids’ view of the places we’ve been to, hoping these tips will help other families in their travels. Have a great time.