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Help with Itinerary for Swiss - Traveling with Kids

Hi.

Me and my wife will be traveling to Switzerland in July with Kids aged 2, 11 and 13 and need help in planning itinerary. We will be arriving on the eve of 7th July from Paris via train and will have to travel back to Paris on the eve of 13th July. So with these 6 days and 6 nights, the plan is wide open and I am looking for suggestions to fit a family friendly trip in that period. This is going to be our first trip to Switzerland (Europe for that matter) and I must confess that I am already a little late in planning it. So I am looking for suggestions to make it a family / kids friendly and a memorable one. Most travel sites suggest to start from Berner Oberland but I am open to suggestion from the seasoned travelers on this forum. One question though, will it be worth trying to fit in a 2 day stop-over in Munich and/or Salzburg on the way in / back or that will be packing too much into this short duration and we should keep that for our next trip to Europe and do justice with Swiss with these 6 days?

Looking forward for the suggestions and will highly appreciate more detailed responses on designing the itinerary.

Regards,
Arslan

Posted by
9993 posts

You will barely touch Switzerland in 6 nights, so forget ideas about Munich and Salzburg.

Paris to Luzern, 2 nights, then to the Berner Oberland for 4 nights. Or you could easily spend all 6 nights in the BO if you like mountain scenery, hiking, and fantastic mountain trains and lifts.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks Laurel. This helps. Where do you suggest we station ourselves in BO if for all 6 nights and do you have a suggestive itinerary. People seems to suggest either of Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen, or Grindelwald. Can I stay at one of them and traverse others through various means of transportation ? What are the key places to certainly try. Sorry for being too general in my question but I have just started my research for this destination.

Posted by
8889 posts

Arslan, I concur with what Laurel said
For info and hotel booking for the Jungfrau region see: https://jungfrauregion.swiss/en/summer/
See the "See and Do" section.

You have definitely no time for Munich or Salzburg. They are both ½ day travel past Switzerland, not on the way in / back.

There are two different train routes from Paris to Switzerland, via Basel and via Geneva. For the Jungfrau region, via Basel is quickest. If you go to the Swiss Railways site ( https://www.sbb.ch/en ) you can look up trains from Paris to Interlaken (or to your final destination: Lauterbrunnen / Mürren / Wengen / Grindelwald) and it will find the quickest routing.

You have 6 nights by my calculations. If you want to split it up, do 2 nights in Luzern. This has an old town, a lake and lake boats:
7th July Paris to Luzern (2 nights)
9th July Luzern to Lauterbrunnen / Mürren / Wengen / Grindelwald. This is a scenic rail route over the Brünig Pass. (4 nights)
13th July train to Paris

P.S. The train from Paris to Switzerland is cheaper if you buy the tickets early. You may already have missed the cheap fares. So buy ASAP. For info on these trains see here: https://www.seat61.com/lyria.htm
For info on other trains in Switzerland see here: https://www.seat61.com/Swiss-trains.htm

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks Chris. Your feedback is much appreciated. I am looking to book train tickets now. Paris to Basel return on TGV trains. Should I be looking to buy a rail card/pass before I book in order to save on PARIS-BASEL-PARIS train fares? If so, which one?

Posted by
7205 posts

You should probably invest in either a Swiss Half Fare Card or a Swiss Travel Pass (for the adults only). When you purchase either of these also request the free Swiss Family Card because that will allow your kids to travel with you all over Switzerland 100% free.

Neither of those cards will help with your TGV train fare Paris<->Basel because that portion will be in France.

Posted by
8889 posts

Arslan, Rail cards and tickets for travel in Switzerland was a subject I didn't address, as the post was already getting long. It is explained on the website I listed earlier: https://www.seat61.com/Swiss-trains.htm

You need to buy a ticket from Paris to Basel on 7th July, and another Basel to Paris on the 13th. These tickets will only be valid on the one train you specify when you buy. The ticket will include reserved seats which will be listed on the ticket. Swiss passes do not give any discount on this ticket, because this is a train trip outside Switzerland. Website: https://www.tgv-lyria.com/en-CH

For trains in Switzerland, you have 4 options:
1) Swiss Pass. You can buy this in advance at the SBB website ( https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/travel-in-switzerland/international-guests.html ), or at Basel station while you are changing trains. It will then be valid for all your travel in Switzerland, except some mountain lines, from Basel to your destination and back to Basel.
2) Half Price card, again from the SBB website. You then need to buy half price tickets for all your trips in Switzerland. You can buy these on the day at the ticket machines in each station.
3) Berner Oberland Pass ( https://www.regionalpass-berneroberland.ch/en/ ). Better coverage of mountain lines in the Jungfrau Region, but you then need to buy tickets Basel - Luzern and Bern -Basel.
4) Just buy tickets on the day, full price.

Yes, it is complicated, and you can only work out the best options by doing the arithmetic yourself, and include any travel you will be doing while you are there (trains, boats, cable cars etc.).
2-year-old travels free in Switzerland, 6-16 is half price, but if you have a Swiss Pass they are also free. That tips the calculation.

Map showing all Swiss rail lines where the Swiss Pass and Half Price Card are valid: https://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/sbb/de/infotexte/uebersichtskarte-sts.pdf

I don't know the age rules for French trains, you will find out when you buy.

Posted by
9993 posts

As for where to stay in the BO - Lauterbrunnen or Mürren would be my choices. We have stayed in Lauterbrunnen 3 times (4th coming up this fall) and Mürren once. We like Lauterbrunnen because it is central to going up both sides of the valley and also easy to get in-and-out of Interlaken. We've stayed up to 9 nights (in one trip) in Lauterbrunnen and enjoyed every minute of it. When we went to Luzern all we could think about was being in Lauterbrunnen in the mountains. Great hiking, scenery, cogwheel trains, lifts galore! Check out a Berner Oberland Regional Pass if you are there 4 nights of longer.

Posted by
444 posts

We have been to the Lauterbrunnen Valley twice. First when our baby was 10 months, then a year later when she was 22 months and our oldest was 10 and 11. Stay in the BO only. I would stay in Wengen. We have stayed in Gimmelwald. We self catered most meals. Essential with pick eaters. I remember spending 28 Euros in Murren for chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs which our 22 month would not touch.

Stop at the grocery store in the mornings for sandwiches and snacks. Get your kids used to apples, bananas and other fruit so they will have something to eat on the daily hikes.

Above Murren is Allmenhubel and a large free childrens playground that you will have to pull your little ones off. Follow the Northface trail for the most picturesque scenery or the Children's Adventure trail down. Both are an easy walk down hill most of the way. Look both hikes up.

\
enjoy

Posted by
692 posts

If this is your first trip, and you have kids with you, you don't want to be stressed. Thus staying in one, maybe 2 places is the way to go. You could easily spend 6 days in the Berner Oberland, preferably Lauterbrunnen or Murren.
I'd suggest getting the Paris to Zurich TGV, so you can either visit Lucerne on the way to Berner Oberland, or stay there briefly. Your kids would enjoy the mirror maze in Lucerne, which is in the "Glacier Garden", which is right next door to the Dying Lion Monument.

https://www.gletschergarten.ch/en/mirror-maze/

While in the Berner Ob. I'd suggest you buy a Berner Oberland Pass so that you can see a LOT of the region with a 2 year old in tow. The other kids will enjoy walking on the hikes where they can encounter cows for sure, and often goats. I'll send to your private mail some maps and pics of the trails so you can see what will fit your kids. Just click on your name in the upper right after you've signed in.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks all who have provided very helpful guidance. My itinerary seems to be taking some shape. Here is what I have put together collecting the feedback so far and also learning from some other members in the forum who have similar circumstances and plans.
I need further assistance to fine tune it.

Day 1: Arrive at Basel SBB late afternoon 5.30pm, Take train to Lucerne. Stay at Hotel, Evening walk in the area
Day 2: Lake Lucerne Cruise, Lion Monument, Glacier Garden with mirror maze
Day 3: Either a day trip to Zurich - will see if we can get on double-decker train with family car - (any suggestions for day trip kids-friendly activities in Zurich?)
or
Mount Pilatus (golden Round Trip)
Come back to Lucerne in the evening - stay at hotel.
Day 4: Leave for Wengen via the Brünig Pass for scenic rail route, Arrive at Wengen. Walk around the village.
Question here is what time should we leave for Wengen? I am thinking if we leave early morning, we get to Wengen by mid-day so we may be able to do a little more and cover some of the activities from day 5 and 6 in day 4 instead of just walking around the village on day of arrival. Or we can leave Lucerne late and try to fit in both options of day 3 between day 2-4. I have 3 kids (13, 11, 2) so suggest if it will be too much. I am personally leaning towards Zurich option to cover some variety.
Day 5: Go to Lauterbrunnen. Take cable car to Grutschalp. Take train Grutschalp to Winteregg (walk around) to Murren (walk thru town) cable car up to Schilthorn and back, down to Gimmelwald via cable car (playground, self service cheese shop), then to Stechelberg, bus to Trummelbach, see falls, bus to Lauterbrunnen, train to Wengen.
Day 6: Train from Wengen to Interlaken. From there do a cruise on Lake Brienz and get down at Brienz. Take bus to Ballenberg museum. Train from Brienz back to Wengen.

(I am quite open to make ANY changes to day 6 plan)
Day 7: Check out from Wengen, get back to Basel SBB and catch a train back to Paris at early afternoon.

In the above itinerary, I guess Berner Oberland pass is a must-buy. But should I buy Swiss Half Fare Card or a Swiss Travel Pass (with free Swiss Family Card) keeping above in mind ? (Family of 5, 2 adults and 3 kids 13, 11 and 2)

Also any suggestions for the hotels/Air BnB for Lucerne and Wengen?

Posted by
692 posts

Arslandar:
Just a couple of comments on your proposed itinerary.
On day 3 a day trip to Zurich would be my last choice. I can't think of much for kids (or adults) in Zurich, but maybe someone else has some comments on that.
Day 4: You've mentioned Wengen, but since you haven't made reservations there yet, allow me to suggest alternatives.

I've been to the region with kids, and here are my preferred places to stay, in order: Murren, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Wengen. The reason Wengen is last is because although it is a lovely town, there's not a lot to do for kids there, comparatively speaking. In contrast, in Murren there are half a dozen trails, including the children's adventure trail, sheep next to the trail down to Gimmelwald, playground and zipline up the hill from Murren, etc.

Now some of this depends on how your family operates, but I could see one parent putting the 2 yr old down for a nap while the other 3 walk down to Gimmelwald and back. So if your older two are fairly independent, there's things for them to do or go to while others are occupied. Murren is so safe that there are no police there. I think I read that in Steves' book. And in Murren and the other towns, it is next to impossible to get lost.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks Shoe. I will certainly consider making a switch to Murren instead of Wengen. Any hotel / bnb suggestions ?
Would you also be able to comment on whether I will need a swiss pass / half fare pass or Oberland pass or both with this itinerary?
Thanks.

Posted by
692 posts

I'd recommend Chalet Fontana in Murren, but I would not be surprised if it is sold out by this time. Check anyway. If Murren places are filled up, my next place to check would be Jungfraucamping.swiss in Lauterbrunnen. They rent trailers.

Given that almost all of your journey is from Bern/Lucerne on south, plus boats, plus Ballenberg museum, I'd recommend the Berner Oberland Pass, especially if you and the kids make good use of the cable cars and trains. You can buy it in Bern or Lucerne, where you have to change trains anyway.