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3 Weeks Switzerland Itinerary for Adventurous Family - July/August

Hi, I will be travelling in Switzerland for 3 weeks mid-July/early-August with my wife and 2 kids (ages 9 and 12) and wanted to run my current planned itinerary by you for any advice/suggestions/issues you may see, etc. I am particularly interest in advice on off-the-beaten-path sights/activities along the way as well as good, reasonably priced dining options.

We are seasoned travelers and the kids are quite adventurous, they have done plenty of hiking, climbing, rappeling, camping. We have traveled for months in the African bush with them, stayed in villages in the Amazonian jungle, etc. I would like to find a good via ferrata, canyoning or similar experience for the kids - any suggestions?

Our plan is to rent a car and get a half-fare card. One of the reasons we are going is because my daughter chose cheese as her theme and so we want to get to a few dairies - so having the flexibility of a car seemed to make sense.

Here is the current plan - please critique and advise:

July 19th - Arrive in Zurich - FIFA Museum, walk the old town area, adapt to time change

July 20th - Sleep in Straw at Gmeiswaldhof in Mirchel - Go to Emmentaller Show Dairy, Cheese route, Burgdorf Castle

July 21st/22nd/23rd - Grindelwald (3 nights) - Plan for 3 days in region, want to do several hikes thinking of one day in Lauterbrunnen Valley, one day First-Schynige Platte, one day Eiger Trail possibly with trip to Jungfraujoch and/or hike down to Wengen, also considering day around Murren/Schlithorn - any other thoughts on what we should do?

July 24th/25th/26th - Vevey (3 nights) - Travel there via Gruyeres/Broc for cheese, chocolate and chateaus. One day to check out the wine festival in Vevey along with Chaplin's World and maybe other museums, one day to walk the Lavaux vineyards and visit Montreux/Chillon (my kids are big Queen fans so want to see the studio too)

July 27th/28th/29th/30th - Zermatt - Not sure what stops to make en-route. Want to do a half-day skiing, hiking options I'm considering include a route down from Gornegrat, Matterhorn glacier trail and Hornliweg and 5 lake hike.

July 31st - Staying in Parpan - drive across the Alps, hit a few key passes (what is the best route), maybe do a morning glacier tour on Aletsch Glacier.

August 1st - have reservations for Chammana Cluoza in Swiss National Park - hike to the hut from Zernez

August 2nd - don't have place to stay yet, thinking either Mustair or Livigno/Bormio - hike out via different route, if staying in Italy go to hot springs

August 3rd - Davos - do another trail in park in the morning, relaxing after, have free stay at Intercontinental and heard they have a nice pool

August 4th - Vaduz - Liechtenstein

Augst 5th/6th - Appenzell District - Appenzeller show dairy, Maestrani's chocolarium, St. Gallens

August 7th - Hotel at Zurich Airport - Travel to Zurich via Rhine Falls, what else to see along way?

Thoughts, advice?



Posted by
702 posts

Two suggestions:

hike in the direction of Schynige Platte to First so you will be looking at the mountain peaks as you walk. Take lots of water. It is a 6 hour hike and you must finish before 5 pm or so to get the last transportation down.

Don't walk from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen. The constant downhill slope will hurt your shins after 30 mins. If you wish to walk out of Kl. Scheidegg, walk towards Mannlichen (or the opposite way). It is our favorite trail in the area.

Posted by
12963 posts

Like Shoe, I would advise against the walk down to Wengen from Kleine Scheidegg. We did it with kids last August, after walking from Maennlichen to KS, and it was not nearly as scenic, more like hot and a bit boring.

There is a very good (and exciting) via Ferrara at Muerren, ending at Gimmelwald. My husband did it last summer, with the group guided tour (they provide the equipment). There was a family from Israel with kids about the age of yours, along with two others. He recommends it highly. You sign up in the Intersport shop in the village center. You can see photos (including the exposure) on the TripAdvisor review site:

You could combine a trip to the Jungfraujoch with a trek on the Aletschgletscher by doing the guided two-day trek from the Jungfraujoch, across Konkordiaplatz to Marjelensee, with an overnight in a hut. Here is a description of the hike, with photos:

And the details:

Note that there is a discount with Half Fare Card. We love the Aletschgletscher views on our hikes from Bettmeralp, and I have long wanted to do the two-day trek across the glacier, but have never managed to fit it into our trips.

Posted by
218 posts

You have a great plan for a wonderful trip. I'm excited for you and your family!

I would suggest that you try to visit Lucerne and the surrounding area. There are some great hikes and mountain and lake views. The alpine slide on the way up to Pilatus would be fantastic for your kids. Most amazing views associated with an alpine slide that I have found. And, your family will love the top of Pilatus and the views. On the way back, take the steep train towards the lake and then the rail that connects to Lucerne from the lakefront. Also, personally, I would try to spend more time in Bernese Oberland.

May be consider to go straight to Lucerne on Day 1, rather than linger in Zurich. It's a quick trip (about an hour), so easy even after a long flight, and a great place to acclimate. I would also recommend that you take a day from Zermatt and the August 2 open day and add to Lucerne (2 nights) and Grindelwald or Gimmelwald/Murren/Wengen (4 nights total in the area). If you did that, you could consider to stay in Mirchel en route to Vevey, after Grindelwald, etc.

I would also consider to simply visit Vaduz en route to Appenzell and spend an additional night there. Make sure to visit Ebenalp - some fantastic hikes in the area. It would also cut down on the consecutive one-night stays near the end of your trip.

The reasonably-priced dining options for a family of 4 will be the supermarkets around town.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. Very helpful.

Lola - do you remember the approximate size of the kids doing the via ferrata, from what I have read the minimum weight is 50kg for the via ferrata sets but if I can get someone to belay one of the kids with me that would be very interesting.

Posted by
12963 posts

The kids looked to be around 12 and 14 years, and probably were over 50 kilos. But I cannot find a weight ( or age) requirement on any of the websites. 50 kilos would exclude many adults, including me, and I am quite sure they would have allowed me to go if I wanted to.

You could contact them to ask on their website:

It is mainly a case of being mature enough to understand and handle the equipment properly, unclipping and re-clipping the carabiners from the cable. I doubt you would be permitted to assist; each person has to do it on his or her own.

But the Swiss have a lot of confidence in kids’ abilities. There is a ropes course/ zip line in Bettmeralp that takes kids down to age 4, as long as they can handle the equipment ( same kind of clipping and unclipping carabiners from a cable). They aren’t far of the ground there, though.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks. With this activity it isn't about maturity (though that is also important) but physics - the sets are designed to work within a certain range and if your weight is below it you can severely injure yourself in a fall because the energy absorber won't work. So with children (or adults) under the weight limit you need to use a regular belay rope and insure that in a fall that is what absorbs the pressure and not the via ferrata set.

You can see the limit specified here next to 'adults':
You can see a bit more discussion as to why bout 2/3rds of the way down here:

Posted by
1713 posts

Hi Avi, sounds like a wonderful trip! On the way to or from the Schilthorn stop at Birg to do the Thrill Walk. I thought it was fun and we got some beautiful photos of the surrounding area. We also enjoyed the train ride and visit to the Jungfrau.