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Venice, Italian Lakes, and Switzerland with kids?

Hello everyone, this is my first post here. I am looking through and do not see anything in this forum Related to this topic, but I apologize if this has already been covered.

We are contemplating a first trip as a family to Europe next summer. My children will be ages 5 and 7. I have thought a little bit about more traditional itinerary such as London Spain or France, but want to do something that I have never done. Plus, we are coming from Florida and we would be interested in a little cooler weather in June or July 2020.

I am wondering if anyone has done a trip starting in Venice then visiting Lake Como, and then extending into Switzerland (Berner Oberland or Lucerne). Considering flying into Venice and out of Zurich. I have been to Venice before and I think my children would love it, but I am not sure if The Lakes and/or Switzerland are appropriate for kids their age since I have never been to either. We are "outdoorsy" and love hiking moderate trails and eating good food. Any advice would be appreciated!

Posted by
9272 posts

How much time do you have for this trip? Number of nights on-the-ground, so to speak. I like the idea of into Venice and out of Zurich and with enough time you can spend a few nights (at least 3!) in Venice, which will likely be your warmest stop, then on to Lake Como for at three nights (should be cooler), and finally I’d make the Berner Oberland a 4 to 5 night stop if at all possible. This is where you will find moderate and easy trails, lovely scenery, cooler weather. With the kids, I would look at Mürren and get an apartment so you can spread out and cook a little. That helps defray the cost of Switzerland.

As to Lake Como for kids, there are the ferries to ride, a castle above Varenna to explore, and villas to visit.

Posted by
11498 posts

You should somewhere on Lake Como ( or Lago Maggiore, depending on your route) on your way to Switzerland, but save most of your time for the Alps. In addition to the Berner Oberland, I suggest the car-free village of Bettmeralp, perched high above the Rhine Valley. It would be right on your way to the Berner Oberland if you go the MIlan-Brig-Spiez route, with a stop at Lago Maggiore ( Stresa).

I suggest Bettmeralp because it is very Family-friendly, and offers a range of easy ( lift-assisted) hikes in beautiful scenery, including the huge Aletschgletscher. ( I will find web photos and post). And then there is the Seilpark ( ropes course) which was a HUGE hit with my 6-year-old twin grandchildren last summer.

https://www.aletscharena.ch/sports-summer/climbing/rope-garden-baschweri/

Note that they take children as young as 4 on the children's course. The "adult supervision" means you are on the ground near them, not alongside. With helmets and harnesses to clip in, it is very safe. It was fun to watch the grandchildren and the Swiss kids help each other with their cables.

For hikes, you can ride a lift to the top of the ridge above the village and hike along on a level path with amazing views until you come to the next lift, and ride down.

There is a lake above town where they can swim, and also a sports center with a pool for rainy days. The last weekend of July they have a Seefest ( lake festival) with food booths and music bynthenlake. It was lots of fun to see and hear.

In the Berner Oberland, we stayed in Mürren and the twins enjoyed the playground at the top of the Allmendhubel funicular, and then the Childrens Adventure Trail ( a series of slides, log bridges, and tunnels) for the way back down to town.

4-5 nights in each location would be my suggestion if you have time. Rent apartments and plan on cooking dinner, as Swiss hotels and restaurants are very expensive.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for the quick replies. I was thinking 10-day total itinerary, so that could give us about 3 nights in each spot.

Posted by
16123 posts

Three nights in the Alps is not what I would advise. It would be only 2 full days, and Alpine weather is unpredictable. You could have nothing but socked-in, wet weather for the entire time, hich would b disappointing.

Switzerland is generally very expensive (though if you buy food at grocery stores you may not have to mortgage your home). You could have the mountain experience in the Italian Dolomites for considerably less money. I suspect the weather may be just a bit more reliable there, but it's not something I've researched.

In any case, I urge more than 3 nights in the mountains.

Posted by
12 posts

We could probably swing it for 3 nights in Venice and Lakes region, and then 4 nights in the Alps. Or even reduce the lakes to 2 nights and spent 5 nights in the Swiss Alps.

Does anyone have experience bringing there children to the Italian Lakes region? suggestions on hotels and things to do other than soak up the Beautiful scenery and lakefront dining?

Seems that Murren is a crowd favorite in the B.O. Would you suggest just staying in one place the whole time and exploring the region from there? Is it possible to make it from a remote place like Murren to Zurich for a flight? I was hoping not to Rent-A-Car...

Posted by
809 posts

It is very easy to get from Murren to Zurich. Plus, if you take the slightly longer route via Lucerne you get half of the Golden Pass scenic route, which is stunning. The Swiss train system is great, and kids are free if you do the Swiss Pass. I took my 8/11 year olds last year and they loved it; Switzerland was their favorite country we visited. You can read about it here, scroll down to the Switzerland part. There's a GREAT playground in Murren that I had to drag my kids away from (even the jaded 11-yo). It had a zipline and underground tunnels where they could pretend to be marmots and a "cheese-making station" that involved winching up buckets of water and large foam cheese wheels. We stayed in a 2-room suite at the Hotel Alpenblick, which also has a 2-BR apartment. Very nice to put kids to bed in one room and then sit out on balcony in other room peacefully with the husband watching the sun go down. It does book up early though.

Posted by
11498 posts

With only ten days, I agree with staying in Italy (as much as I love Switzerland). Travel to the Berner Oberland will use up a day of your precious time.

I am going to suggest a lake destination that is closer to Venice than Como. Lago dinGarda is beautiful, especially at the north end. You can reach the town of Pescheria di Garda by a very short train ride from Verona. But don’t stay there; head north by ferry to Malcescine for a lovely spot to stay on the lake. See photos here:

https://www.visitmalcesine.com/en/malcesine

Some hotels are right on the beach; hotel Castello just below the old castle you see in the photo and has a beach. You can ride a large cablecar up,5000 feet to the top of Monte Baldo for some easy and beautiful walks.

Better yet, rent a car in Venice and drive yourselves. Then return the car to Venice and fly home from there.

Posted by
237 posts

We took our kids ages 14 and 13 to Muerren and Venice (10 days total) this past summer.

For details, see my trip reports:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/switzerland/trip-report-6-days-in-switzerland

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/trip-report-4-days-in-venice

We would not have wanted to shorten our time in either place in order to add another destination; in fact, we wished we’d had a few more days in Venice.

Enjoy your trip whatever you decide to do!

Posted by
575 posts

I'm not sure that I saw this addressed-
but-
I don't think you're going to get "a little cooler weather" in Italy than you have in the summer in Florida. Venice is very hot and humid in the summer. Altho the higher elevations in the mountains should be cooler, the valley floors can get quite hot in the summer.
In any case, I'm sure you will plan a memorable trip.
Safe travels!

Posted by
23063 posts

Hi, FL doc, welcome aboard. Good to have you drop in.

My 2 penneth,

with only week and a half I think something has to go. Venice to the Berner Oberland is easy by train, especially if you route via Luzern and have the Brünig Pass route with the lakes and waterfalls. Then onwards to the flight home straight from Mürren if the flight is not too early.

Adding the lakes may be good down time, but so can the mountains. Do these kids of yours have energy or are they, or is one, a bit of a dawdler?

Certainly both Venice and Mürren will be like being on another planet. You may be able to find a nice lake near home.

Dunno.

It is a shame you can't find two or three more nights by magic.

Posted by
12 posts

Hey everybody, thank you for the amazing advice. Lots to process here. I do appreciate the trip reports as well these are excellent!

It seems to be the overall suggestion to take more time, but I think being away from home for 10 days is already stretching it since the longest trip we've done as a family thus far is 1 week in California coast. I appreciate the advice of maybe just staying in the Italian Mtns (Dolomites?), and savings Swiz for another trip. Likewise, the idea of just skipping the lakes region and doing venice and Switz. is reasonable as well. we do have one energetic kid and one "dawldler."

Now, surely I will search the switz forum as well, but since you all recommend so much time in the BO, what are the highlights or can't miss attractions?

Posted by
9272 posts

The attraction of the Berner Oberland is the natural beauty. Easy hikes abound coupled with dramatic lifts and cogwheel trains to high places. It is a bit expensive so an apartment where you can cook is advisable as food in the markets isn’t too bad but restaurant prices will make your eyes bulge. There are passes for transportation that are quite practical for riding the fun gondolas and trains. Rick Steves’ Switzerland guide book covers the area very well, so I hope you have that or can get it from the library. The Ballenberg Open Air Museum is great and I’ll bet your kids would love it.