A Swiss Idyll
A year ago, we had an idyllic week in the Swiss Alps with Callum and Declan, joined by my brother.
We didn’t find all that much useful information about travelling with children before we went, but had a wonderful time.
We stayed in Wengen, a little car free village above the Lauterbrunnen valley. I love staying in places without cars, especially with the children. They can run around to their heart’s content without us worrying about them, and the quiet is amazing. The train up or down the mountain was every 15 or 20 minutes or so, which was plenty often enough when we were on holiday. If I was going again, I would also consider Murren, or Lauterbrunnen iself.
Evan and I love walking, and we have trained the boys into being happy enough to walk provided they get chocolate along the way – fortunately there is a lot of chocolate in Switzerland!
Some specifically fantastic children’s things to do that we loved are:
Children’s adventure walk (also excellently blogged here). We caught the train to Murren (itself an adventure with a train, a cable car and then another train). Then we caught a funicular railway up to Allmendhubel where we found parental heaven – a playground overlooked by a cafe. From the playground there was a well signposted walk back down the valley through a mixture of picturesque cow fields and pine forest, interspersed with various bits of playground equipment built out of the pine trees.
As we emerged from the forest at the bottom of the walk there was another playground with views across the valley to the snowcapped mountains of the Eiger, the Jungfrau and the Monsch. There were also quite a few swiss cows along the way, complete with bells, one of which gave Declan a curious lick.
Pfinstegg toboggan: From Murren, we took a train, a cable car, a train, another train, and then a cable car, to a little place called Pfinstegg. Although that sounds like a huge trek, it was a pretty easy trip, really – everything connected like, well.. a Swiss train. At Pfinstegg, there was a enormously fun summer toboggan run – if you really tried, you could get up to 40km an hour. Callum and Declan both had to go with an adult, and had a wonderful time persuading each adult to have just one more go… We adults enjoyed it a fair bit too.
Also from Grindelwald, we had a second lovely day. A cable car up to the top of the mountain, and then a hike up to an alpine lake was a good combination of extraordinary scenery (point blank views of 3-4,000 metre mountains across the valley for most of the way) and easy walking. Then after walking back to the cable car station, we took the cable car most of the way back down the mountain to the Bort cable car station, and a Trottibike the rest of the way. A Trotti bike is basically a scooter with blow up tires, and good hand brakes. The Bort cable car station is 4.5km by quiet, totally downhill, roads from Grindelwald at the bottom of the cable car. Lots of fun by scooter (providing you have good brakes!). Before getting on the scooter we spent a very civilized hour at the Bort Alpine adventure playground, which (in what seems to be a pattern for Switzerland) has a bar/cafe overloooking it so the parents can watch the children in comfort.
Another option on the same cable car system is the First flyer – a zip line ride from the top cable car station down to the next one. Unfortunately (and this is not on the website) you have to be at least 35kg to do it, and our boys are at least 10kg less.
The one specifically children’s activity we found that we didn’t get time for was another children’s walk – the Felix adventure trail from Mannlichen, but I’ve linked here for completeness.
The place we stayed in Wengen was a ski apartment – with better kitchen equipment than our house. Perfect for our little group. Here is a picture of the view from a walk nearby – on our first day, which was the only day with any clouds.
PS apologies to any German speakers who read this – I have no idea how to type umlauts using this software.