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Help w/ 2-week itinerary to Switzerland w/ 7 yr old

Help w/ 2-week itinerary to Switzerland w/ 7 yr old

Mar 19th, 2017, 10:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2017
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Help w/ 2-week itinerary to Switzerland w/ 7 yr old

Greetings, the amazing Fodor's travel community,

I am looking for a realistic and "best of your experience" suggestions for a 2-week itinerary in Switzerland. We will be traveling with our 7 yr old daughter and it will be her first trip to Europe. We will be flying from New York (JFK) and the best tickets we found so far will be to and from Zurich. We do not need to make Zurich our base but we'll be flying in and from it, so we might as well make the best of it and incorporate it in our itinerary. Or not?

We'd like to avoid moving from town to town every other day and prefer sticking to 2-3 bases and exploring from there. We won't be renting a car. We'd love to include some scenic hiking -- all day is fine -- but also explore some quiet scenic villages or towns and diversify the trip further with boat trips or visits to unique places -- castles, if there are any in Switzerland, monasteries, etc. We want the trip to feel magical, outdoorsy, away from tourist mayhem, and somehow not too crazy, so we can actually enjoy and relax a little.

We'll be traveling from June 27 through July 11.

Any recommendation for an itinerary that could help us meet these goals will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

vlada1014 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2017, 12:01 PM
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With 2 weeks you could explore several regions well. Vevey makes for a fine base along Lake Geneva in the west. From there Montreux, Lausanne, Geneva, and the wine/chocolate/cheese region inland is easily done by rail or car.

Lauterbrunnen makes a very good base for the Berner Oberland region. There's lots of great hiking, mountain excursions, and many good options available in the event of poor weather. Day-trips to Brienz, Thun, and Bern are easy.

Luzern is another great base for the northeast area. The city itself is a delight and there are still more mountain excursions nearby easily done as a day-trip.

By the way, the Zurich airport is connected directly to both Bern and Luzern, with frequent trips which take about 70 minutes. You don't have to stay in Zurich the day before your flight.

Other folks here can better identify bases other regions such as the Engadine.
Edward2005 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2017, 12:31 PM
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Yes Edward has a great itinerary -the Jungfrau Region around Interlaken, Lake Geneva and Montreux area and Lucerne and yes a day or so in Zurich.

Land in Zurich

Train to Lucerne

Exlore Lake Lucerne- Pilatus -Mt Rigi

Take Golden Pass scenic train route via Brunig Pass to Interlaken-Ost and head for the hills by train to say Wengen, a perpetual favorite here- especially for families.
Lots on nice easy hikes nearby - like the famous Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg waltz - take cable up to Mannlichen from Wengen and mountain train back down from Kl Scheidegg to Wengen- or do a fairly easy but somewhat long hike down on a wide track to Wengen.

Take Golden Pass scenic train Interlaken-Ost to Montreux - great base for boat rides on Lake Geneva - the Chocolate Train or regular trains to the Callier Chocolate Factory for a Willie Wonkaesque tour (watch kiddo from falling into vat!)

and or Chateau Chillon -easy walk from Montreux along lake paths - or more excursions to mountain tops.

I'd spend the most time in the Wengen area- so much to do - boat rides on the two lakes bookending Interlaken each make a great day out - the Jungfrqujoch train to the highest train station in Europe and perpetual snow and ice - walk to a glacier- do the Schilthorn/Murren/Gimmelwald loop in one nice day, etc.

15-day Swiss Pass is perfect for you - kid gets a free Family Pass and never pays a dime even for mountain gondolas that you pay 50% on usually- comes free with pass. For lots on info on Swiss Passes and trains and transports -www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 19th, 2017, 06:44 PM
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Edward2005 and PalenQ, thank you SO MUCH for great recommendations and super helpful tips! They all sound great.

We'll be doing our homework from here but we are now also contemplating spending few days on Lake Como in Italy (northern part). Is there an easy way to get there from Interlaken-Ost by train? Thank you!
vlada1014 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2017, 09:47 PM
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Hi vlada1014,

I'm afraid I have to throw some reality onto your plans for the Lake Geneva area.

In the summertime, the Montreux-Vevey area is far, FAR from being "quiet, scenic." The lakeside promenade is usually crowded in the summer months, meaning pretty much elbow-to-elbow.

On top of that, the internationally renown Montreux Jazz Fest takes place this year from 30 June - 15 July, when it gets even more mad than elbow-elbow. I'm sure the area will be a madhouse even from the 27, if you make this area your first stop. You may have trouble finding hotel rooms available, as small armies arrive early to set up the stages and security for the performers.

Yes, Vevey will be a little more quiet than Montreux, but still quite a lot of spillover will occur. And when you head to Montreux to see Chillon . . . you'll experience those crowds.

If you want to avoid the crowds, you could stay closer to the Lausanne side, maybe Morges or Lutry, which really are charming and quiet towns. You'd still be able to take a trip to Montreux for Chillon.

Or you could stay in the charming pre-Alp area just a bit inland from the lake -- Chateau d'Oex, Rougemont, or even Gstaad. They are only about 1h from Montreux, and you could very easily visit Gruyeres and Broc-Fabrique from a base here. Again, these are small and quiet (Gstaad is a bit on the tourist trail, but nothing like Montreux, and June is still a bit early for the area).

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is offline  
Mar 20th, 2017, 07:13 AM
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Chateau Chillon has a lot of events tailored for children, especially ones your daughter's age.

Edward2005 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2017, 11:36 AM
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"castles, if there are any in Switzerland"
Yes, there are a few (about 1500 with all ruins, but less than 5 per cent are of interest and can be visited).

May be you will have a look at
neckervd is offline  
Mar 21st, 2017, 12:01 PM
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If you make one of your bases Interlaken or somewhere on one of Lakes Thun or Brien there's lots to interets your daughter. There are several castles on lake Thun (oberhofn is the prettiest), plus there's a toy museum in Thun itslef which might be of interest. Then you can visit the open air museum at Ballenberg on lake Brienz, which has lots of animals. When I stayed there it was in Bonigen, a very quiet village/ssemi suburb of Interlaken, on the shore of Lake Brienz, which was lovely, quite in the evenings, but easy to get around from.
Nonconformist is offline  
Mar 21st, 2017, 01:36 PM
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another Interlaken delight for kids:

PalenQ is offline  
Mar 21st, 2017, 03:19 PM
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another Interlaken delight for kids- all year tobaggan rides:

PalenQ is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2017, 04:40 AM
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As public transport is rather expensive in Switzerland, study carefully the sites about Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Travel Pass Flexy and Swiss half fare card: http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home.html

Check the Swiss Travel System Family Card
The Swiss Travel System Family Card is issued at no cost to parents who wish to take along their children under the age of 16 at no cost. Please note that at least one parent has to travel with the child/ren.

Some ideas (check opening periods, some places are closed in winter)::

historic steamboats on Lake Geneva:

Swiss Vapeur Park Le Bouveret:

Signal de Bougy:

Menhirs at Yverdon

Blonay-Chamby historic railway:

Chillon castle:

Gruyeres castle, cheese diary and chocolate factory:

Chatelard-Emosson (Mont Blanc area):


Entirely walled city of Murten:
Medieval city of Bern:

Swiss Village Park Ballenberg:

Lugano and Swissminiatur:

Seewen in the Jura close to Basel:


Rhine Falls Adventure Park

Furka steam train

You may have a look at
neckervd is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2017, 12:18 PM
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Wow lots of things for kids- and they go free on all transports with the free Family Card- of course parents must pay!
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2017, 02:01 PM
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Wow, I am overwhelmed with great suggestions and internet resources you've shared, especially for kids! Thank you, Fodor's community, you are the best!

Our itinerary is shaping up.

We arrive in Zurich and decided to start our journey in Lauterbrunnen by taking a train there the same day and saving Luzern for the end of the trip, so we don't have to stay there twice. In addition, my husband found some unused British Airways miles that we can spend on hotel in Lausanne, so we decided to make our second base there, away from Montreux

So far, our draft itinerary looks like this:

June 28: Arr. Zurich. Train to Lauterbrunnen

June 29 - July 4 (6 nights): Lauterbrunnen.
- walk to Trummelbach Falls
- trip to Schiphole Mountain / glacier? or go to Bern
for 1 day
- walk in Lauterbrunner Valley
- trip to Jungfrau
- trip to Interlaken. Cruise the lake and visit castle.

July 4 - July 9: Lausanne. Researching best day trips from there.

July 9 - July 10: Luzern

July 11 -- flight to New York from Luzern-train-Zurich.

Please critique or/and some recommendations. Thank you!
vlada1014 is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2017, 02:02 PM
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I did two weeks in Switzerland last June. You can check out my report, here: https://tinyurl.com/zudqgtj

If you slice off the two days I spent going to St. Gallen (which I don't think would interest your 7 year old), I think my itinerary would work pretty well for you. We stayed a week in Wengen because we were renting an apartment--you could shorten that to 5 days and maybe add a day or two to Lake Geneva or Luzern.

I really enjoyed having the unlimited travel Swiss Travel Pass. For a two week stay, it can be a good deal.

For kids, the open air Museum at Ballenburg, the transport Museum at Luzern (Verkehrshause), and the Maison Cailler/Gruyere daytrip would be particularly good, as would some of the short mountain trails in the Berner Oberland.
twk is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2017, 10:41 PM
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Hi again,

For your time in Lausanne, I'm posting here my "reviews" (with photos) of my favorite things to do along the lake. I always base in Montreux, but these are pretty easy to do from Lausanne, and a couple of the easier (Morges, Lavaux).

Also like to add that I don't have "reviews" of Vevey or Lutry, but I'd highly recommend spending time in both of them. Vevey for its tangle of winding streets in its old town right next to the lake, and Lutry for its sweet old town and sweet harbor area.

Montreux old town


Walks through the Lavaux vineyards

Promenade Fleuri





Have fun!

swandav2000 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2017, 01:53 AM
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I suppose you realized that about half of all places I menitoned in my post SWITZERLAND WITH CH8ILDREN
neckervd is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2017, 01:55 AM
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I suppose you realized that about half of all places I mentioned in my post SWITZERLAND WITH CHILDREN are more or less around Lausanne.
neckervd is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2017, 12:46 PM
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Treats for kids in Switzerland -chocolate!
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 01:28 PM
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Great suggestions and reports! Thank you, everyone!
vlada1014 is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 02:39 PM
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Itinerary looks quite nice. I do notice on sbb.ch ( an excellent resource!) you'll have hourly trains departing at ten min to the hour which take 2:10 to go from Laussanne to Luzern. (note the German spelling) A nice train ride. One 1/2 day trip idea from Luzern ( good with your pass) is a train ride to the town of Engelberg, which has a delightful monastery, making their own wine and cheese, a lovely shopping area to stroll around, and spectacular cable car up to Mt. Titlis, with some opportunities for hiking around there. Do google "trotti bike titlis" for a fun suggestion.
The boat trips around Luzern and the aforementioned transport museum are excellent suggestions. The people could not be friendlier. Do try to learn some "deutsch". even a few phrases. Most Swiss will be fluent in at least 3 languages, and the "typical" American who will not at least try to learn a bit of German or French is a small issue. Even if you butcher the language, you'll be seen as making an effort to correct the stereotype.
docdan is offline  

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