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Switzerland in July for Family of 4- Where to go? Help!

I am planning a 6-7 night stay in Switzerland for my family for the first week in July 2015. It will be myself, husband and 2 daughters, ages 12 and 8. We enjoy anything outdoors: hiking, biking, rock climbing. Mountains are wonderful since we live near water year round. Kids hate riding in car looking at scenery- can spend hours walking or hiking looking at things but not in the car. We really prefer to be where the American tourists are not(we love our countrymen but didn't travel to see them). Our favorite parts of traveling Ireland last summer were the very small towns/villages, we went to a sheep farm, where we were the only people, sheared a sheep by hand with a 4th generation sheep herder, fed lambs by bottle and cut peat. So if one area is more "authentic", we would prefer it. No shopping and fancy stores for us. Local cheese shops, bakeries, etc. are the way we like to see a country. Making cheese for sure.
Any recommendations? Should we stay in 1 place or split it up in 2? We are coming from Tuscany and headed to Salzburg afterwards.
It all looks so amazing I just can't narrow it down.
Both the Zermatt area and St. Moritz area(Engadine area) look beautiful(but too far apart to do both), we would probably rent an apartment or such.
We are willing to rent a car to optimize our experiences and allow for more access to greater areas or travel by train if that makes more sense.
Thanks for your opinions.

Posted by
4543 posts

seems pretty obvious, the go-to suggestion is always Bernese Oberland. so maybe it's a trick question. What have you found in Rick's guidebook?

Posted by
3551 posts

Bernese Oberland area is gorgeous but touristy for sure and out of your way. Appenzell and Ebenalp are small and a lot like what you are looking for. We truly enjoyed this area just east of Zurich.
More along your rte is Pontresina(a gd base) and st moritz not as unique as the other two areas but easy for u to get to on train route from Italy. Stay in one area only with your schedule and enjoy

Posted by
12040 posts

If you want an Alpine setting that's accommodating to visitors but not overwhelmed by them, and one that's very kid friendly, try Flumserberg. Like the Berner Oberland towns that get such rave reviews on this website, it sits at a relatively high altitude, but accessible by car. It's not so much a single village as a series of interconnected hamlets. During the summer, the mid-altitude slopes are filled with livestock. The hike to the summit isn't that difficult (although long), but if you choose to take the ski lift, there's several kilometers of relatively flat trails near the top, with all kinds of educational displays for kids . The mountains aren't as high here as in other areas of the Swiss Alps, but still pretty impressive.

Posted by
4543 posts

"bu*ocks it is touristy"

It's not a criticism, it's a tourist fact. The BO is one of the most famous tourist areas in Switzerland. As I was standing at the Interlaken station waiting for the Golden Pass train to Montreux, I looked around and noticed that everyone else on the platform was either Indian or Chinese. And the clamoring inside the one nice jewelry store next to the station was quite a thing; above that business was a restaurant serving (wait for it) Chinese food! Rick even mentions in his book and videos that because it is featured quite often in Bollywood films, the Jungfrau is now a major destination for Indian tourists. Thank goodness I was there in November, I can imagine that in high season the train station is like Times Square on NY Eve.

It's like Cinque Terre in Italy, it's beautiful and Rick has been pitching it for long enough that it's now flooded with tourists. Like Rue Cler in Paris.