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Traveling to Switzerland, Germany and Austria with family

Hello everyone!

We are planning a 3 week trip to Switzerland, Germany and Austria with my family. we are thinking either the last two weeks of August and the first week of September or the last week of August and first 2 of September. We aren't really sure the best order of things although we are planning on flying in and out of different cities so we don't have to back track much.

In Austria we are thinking Salzburg and Vienna. In Germany we were thinking Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart (we have family there). For Switzerland we are definitely planning on going to the Berner Oberland since everyone says that's the place to go for the Alps. We don't want to stay in Switzerland for more than 5 night because we know it will be expensive.

Our group will be my husband and I and our 3 kiddos (who will be 4, 3 and 11 months) And my parents who are in good shape. We would like to see another spot in Switzerland but aren't sure what is best. With our light research so far we are interested in Lucerne, Bern and possibly Geneva. We are also open to other ideas. What would you recommend with our short time in Switzerland?

Also we plan on taking trains so we don't have to travel with 3 carseats and we are trying to figure out the best rail pass option. should we get a Swiss pass and then a eurorail pass for Just Germany or would it be better to do a eurorail pass for Germany and Switzerland?

If you have any other suggestions for traveling with this size group then please let me know!! Thanks so much for your input!

Posted by
5450 posts

6-9 cities in 21 days with 3 kids under 5? Pure insanity. You need to scale back. Personally, I would rent a car and request car seats from the rental agency. If you do decide on trains, don't buy a pass. Huge wastes of money. Visit the Man in Seat 61 website for a good overview of passes vs. point to point tickets.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for the website recommendation it has great info!

i understand your concern about traveling so much with small kids but we are pretty ambitious when it comes to traveling. We took a trip to Ireland and the UK with our older 2 kids when they were 21 months old and 3 months old and stay 2 or 3 nights in every place, we had fun and it worked out great. For that trip we did a mixture of train and car rental but it was a hassle to have our car seats and we like the idea of train travel. We do have friends and family that would agree with you and think it's crazy to be so ambitious but we know we can do it, especially with the help of my parents. Thanks for the info!

Posted by
328 posts

I understand that you can do it with three kids under 5, but that doesn't mean you should do it. I'd want my kids to enjoy it as much as I did and I can pretty much guarantee that they will enjoy it more if you slow down a bit and stop to splash in a few fountains or take a break from sightseeing and visit a zoo (try the zoo in Munich - our kids had a great time!). Try to think of seeing Europe with little ones as an opportunity to see a different side of Europe - less museums, more playgrounds (and you'll find some pretty cool playgrounds that you'd never find in North America).

My personal suggestion would be to go for quality over quantity. Based on what you are interested in seeing, I would omit Vienna. It's out of the way from everything else you have referred to. I'd do Salzburg from Munich (re your other question), too. That would allow you to focus on four home bases: Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart and the Berner Oberland. You could easily day trip to Lucerne or Bern (I'd recommend both over Geneva) from the Berner Oberland.

Rent an apartment in each of your home bases so you can cook a familiar (and healthy) dinner for the kids from time to time and allow them to settle in somewhere for a short while. Ask the apartment owners where the closest playgrounds are and visit them at least a few times during your stay. I'd expect renting an apartment would also make it easier for your parents to help you look after the kids in the mornings and evenings. On our three week trip with two kids (ages 1.5 and 3.5) this October, we ate all our lunches at restaurants but found that dinners were much more relaxing if we ate them in the apartments where the kids could play while we relaxed.

Oh and don't let anyone tell you you shouldn't take your kids with you. You'll have a great trip with your little ones, we always have.

Posted by
11449 posts

Chris has some great suggestions. I agree that you should avoid cars and car seats. We traveled with niece nephew and their 6-y-o and 2-y-o last summer and found trains and buses with stroller, no car seat, excellent. (He hated schlepping that darn car sea for the airplane, though! Will you have one? Rent one?)

In the Berner-Oberland, Chalet My Switzerland has some nice places to consider. Eating in with the kids is excellent and money-saving, and to a degree sanity-saving as everyone can relax.

Posted by
255 posts

Try to stay at the GREAT Valley Hostel in Lauterbrunnen. They have all sorts of accommodations. I took my family there a few years ago, but by car, and it was really nice. The train stops a couple blocks away. You can walk to everything from there. Lifts, funicular and mountain train are very close. We brought food and drink from Austria which was a LOT cheaper than Switzerland and used the kitchen facilities for meals. Met a lot of other families there due to that and had a great time. Room had an amazing view of the waterfall. If you have ever wanted to try a hostel this is a great one.