My two siblings and their families from the U.S. will travel to visit us in Switzerland this summer. In total, we will be 6 adults and 6 children (ranging 4-10 years old). This will be their first trip to Switzerland (or this part of Europe), and they will stay about 10 days. I have a small house that is not equipped for such a big group for a long stay. However, we are a budget-conscious group. I have a vague idea that it would be nice to find a big farmhouse (or maybe a mountain chalet) in Berner Oberland and use this as a homebase for day trips, assuming everyone will buy Swiss Rail passes. For this to be practical, though, it would need to be somewhere within easy walking distance to public transport. I could also imagine that it would be nice to stay in one place for 5 nights and then move to another area, e.g., 5 nights in a mountain village and then stay in another area lakeside. I would appreciate any advice about places to stay, suggested itineraries or activities. Thank you!
swiss traveler, I usually travel solo, so don't have much information on accommodations for a group of that size. However, I'll try to offer a few suggestions..... Lauterbrunnen would be a great central location for the Berner Oberland. It's has good transit options within walking distance. From there it's easy to access either Mürren and Gimmelwald on one side of the valley, or Wengen and Grindelwald on the other side. It's a beautiful and scenic area for hiking, and the hike from Allmend-Hubel back to Mürren should even be possible for the children. I'm not sure what to suggest for accommodations for your group. Will you be self catering your breakfasts or do you want a B&B facility? Some possibilities.... > Contact Lauterbrunnen Tourism as I'm sure they'll have a good idea on suitable facilities in that area. > Have a look at Hotel Horner as they have apartments as well. > I'm not sure if staying in a Hostel would work, but you could have a look at the Valley Hostel in Lauterbrunnen or the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald. > In Gimmelwald you could also contact Pension Gimmelwald or Esther's Guesthouse. The trip to the Schilthorn is fantastic but also a bit pricey, and I believe the Swiss Passes only provide 50% discount. You could also have a look at the Bernese Oberland Pass. Good luck!
If cost is a big concern, have you considered a cheaper Alpine region besides the sometimes mind-blowingly expensive Berner Oberland (I've found only the usual suspects of Davos and St. Moritz to be more costly)? Flumserberg is just down the road from you, it's much cheaper on average, and it is extremely family friendly. Some of the trails near the summit are even level enough to push a stroller. The only downside is that it's not so much a distinct town but a series of hamlets spread out over a mountain side. But there is frequent bus service that links them together. And it overlooks the Walensee, so there's your lake requirement.
All the kids wil travel for free on the trains and lifts if the parents get a pass of some kind and ask for a free Family Card. The Berner Oberland villages all have their own website listing vacation homes and chalets, like wengen.ch, grindelwald.ch, muerren.ch, etc. but for some reason my computer is cranky about opening these. I did find this chalet in Grindelwald that will sleep all 12: http://www.vrbo.com/422328ha It has an apartment that sleeps 8 and another that sleeps 4, in the same building. This is within walking distance from the main train station in Grindelwald and right next to the sports center and swimming pool. Grindelwald has lots to lffer families like a summer luge, zipline, trotti-bikes, etc. If you want a quieter village look for chalets in Wengen or Muerren. I have seen nice chalets on the shores of Lake Brienz and will try to locate those.
I should also have mentioned my favorite place in the alps, Bettmeralp. It is in the Valais, not the Berner Oberland. But easy to get to from Zurich. This chalet is divided into 3 apartments which should accommodate all 12 of you, for around 200 CHF a night: http://www.bernhard-stucky.ch/sonnhalde_haus.html The little car-free village of Bettmeralp has mini-golf, a sports center with swimming pool, a lake above town (no swimming), and nice walks with cows and great views.
Any feedback on these suggestions, swisstraveler?
Yes, thank you very much for all of the helpful information. I've spent a lot of time these last few days looking into everything, and I'm now leaning towards a stay for 3 nights in either Mürren or Gimmelwald (in a simple B&B) and then 3-4 nights somewhere on Lake Luzern hopefully in a shared house, although I have not been able to find anything yet. (And the group could stay for a few nights in our small house.) I really want them to see the best of Switzerland and thought it could be nice to have the mix of alpine and lakeside/access to a big city... also given the limitations of traveling as such a big group with lots of little kids. I'm trying hard to plan an ideal vacation, though, as this might be our one shot to have them here with us... so please let me know if you think this plan is lacking. Do you have a recommendation for a special village on Lake Luzern with ferry access to Luzern? Thank you for all of your suggestions!!!
Another idea is to look at google maps and see what towns you might be interested in staying in that are close to Luzerne. Then, to check that town's website in Switzerland, you would use this format: www.nameoftown.ch So, for instance, Luzerne would be www.luzerne.ch Usually the hotels/pensions/vacation homes are listed under "tourismos". Hope this helps.
Think about contacting Untours. We stayed with them in the tiny town of Frutigen and had our own flat. It was one of our best trips. We did meet larger family groups that stayed nearby and had more than one accommodation. Chris
I just checked the Untours website. Thank you.
Engelberg is just an hour from Zuerich at Mt. Titlis, we went there recently and mostly it was people from Zuerich there for a ski weekend. There's a lot of summer hiking possibilities, lake Truebsee, and beautiful mountain views. Rail lines come right in to town, so you can get there easily. There's also plenty of places to rent, check homeaway.com. You could then head over to Lindau on the Bodensee for more sightseeing and lake fun.
Would either of your siblings consider home exchange? We love it. We have an exchange lined up for 3 weeks in Switzerland this summer with a great couple with a house near Thun. Total cost zero. They will be in our house while we're away enjoying the Canadian Rockies. And we'll have kitchen and laundry facilities, room to spread out, and easy rail access to anywhere we want to go.
This is weird...you live in Zurich,Switzerland and wanting to know more about certain areas in Switzerland so you post on an American based travelling forum. Would it not be easier just to pop into your 'local' Swiss Tourism office in Zurich and get the low down ?!?!? Lovely weather here currently...check out the HD cams Lauberhorn (above Wengen) http://panocam.panomax.at/lauberhorn here in Mürren
I had exactly the same question as Chris