Lauterbrunnen Waterfalls
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Switzerland Family Vacation: Our Experience

Most of our family vacations are to a new place every trip. Not Switzerland; the fantastic scenery makes it a place we keep returning to.

This guide reviewsf the top places to see and stay in Switzerland, from the snowy Alps to the charming towns and lakes. We’ll show you what we loved and what we’d skip next time.

NOTE: Our guides focus on unique local attractions. We want to explore things that can’t be found at home, and we only include places that we’ve been to.

If you search for “best things to do in (random city),” you’ll find many of the same things: wax statue museums and believe-it-or-not attractions. But if we’re flying around the world to visit somewhere, we want to see something new first.

switzerland Overview
Switzerland Family Vacation Lauterbrunnen Falls
Mannlichen

Switzerland overview

Top Thing To Do: Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe.

Where To Stay: Swiss Holiday Park. Our kids love this resort because of the water park and other fun activities (complete review here).

This resort is several hours from our other favorite, the Oberland area. Spend a couple of days at Swiss Holiday Park and some more in the towns of Wengen or Lauterbrunnen in Oberland.

The best time to visit is in the summer. The ski resorts are quiet, and the mountain temperatures are cooler. Plus, snow is still available to see year-round at places like Jungfraujoch.

How To Get There: Zurich (ZRH) is the closest airport, followed by Geneva (GVA). Check flight prices on Google Flights to find the best deals.

The Swiss rail system makes getting around the country easy, with no rental car needed. See more on the rail system below.

Getting to Switzerland

Switzerland is pretty easy to reach from the United States, with flights from many U.S. airline hubs to the main airport in Zurich. Swiss Air also serves the U.S. with flights to Zurich and Geneva.

Most of our trips have been through London (LHR) on British Airways, arriving in Zurich (ZRH). From here most of the country is accessable by train within a couple hours.

Our this trip we arrived in Zurich late in the evening, so we stayed overnight at the Hyatt Place Zurich airport. The stay wasn’t long enough to write a review on, but it’s a great place for an overnight stay at Zurich airport. You can walk to it, then walk to the train station right in the airport the next day.

Getting Around Switzerland

Image 1

Dont bother looking at rental cars: the train is the only way you need to get around Switzerland. It’s easy, reliable, clean, and there’s amazing views along the way. We’ve taken “scenic train rides” in other countries before that are nowhere near as good as the scenery you’ll see on the Swiss public transportaion system.

Even small towns, like the ones we visited, are served by trains in Switzerland. Though you’ll often have to transfer once or twice to get where youre going. This is another reason our luggage has gotten lighter each trip.

The family cars on many Swiss trains even have small playgrounds on the upper levels! On one of our trips, our kids spent most of a 2-hour train journey playing with other kids in a small play area with a slide (picture in the galley below). The family cars are marked on the side of the train and on station signs when the train approaches.

Switzerland Train Playground Upstairs

We’ve typically purchased first-class train tickets for no more money, but the family train cars with playgrounds are usually second-class tickets.

Where To Go in Switzerland

After a lot of research on where to do, here are the top things we saw in Switzerland. Along with what we thought, we’ll tell you if we’d recommend each place or visit there again.

Swiss holiday Park in Morschach

Our first stop on our vacation was several hours by train, followed by a bus ride for the last 10-minute journey up the mountain to the town of Morschach.

Morschach was a great first place to see in Switzerland. The small town is tiny, with only a couple restaurants, and a tiny small grocery store. Usually when we travel, we run into other Americans, but not here.

Swiss Holiday Park is the only resort in town, attracting most visitors to this village.

The resort is similar to a water park resort in the United States, with a few excellent additions. Along with the indoor/outdoor water park, there are other activities like go-karts, horseback riding, a sauna, a steam room, and an ice bath.

Our kids loved the horseback riding, which takes you around the resort and ends up back on the town’s main street.

Read more about our stay at Swiss Holiday Park. This resort overall is a great place to visit, but keep in mind some parts of the hotel and apartments are older and about due for refurbishment. There’s also no air conditioning (common for European hotels), but that’s usually no issue with the cool temperatures in the area.

Oberland Area

Lauterbrunnen

This area is a must visit! If you don’t go anywhere else in Switzerland, GO HERE!

After leaving Swiss Holiday Park, our next Swiss vacation took us to Oberland. Our following few excursions are all from the Oberland area.

The Oberland area in the Bernese Alps is (in our opinion) the most scenic area in Switzerland. Known for it’s amazing mountains, serene lakes, and charming villages.

It’s instantly recognizable from the Lauterbrunnen waterfalls, made famous by Instagram. There’s plenty to do in this area.

If you’re visiting in the summer, temperatures are usually nice and cool, allowing for plenty of outdoor activities. You could spend a week here if you enjoy activities like hiking and spending time outdoors.

There are several towns to stay in with great mountain views. Click on the city to learn more:

  • Wengen: A small car free village, that’s very quiet. Overlooks Lauterbrunnen in the valley below.
  • Lauterbrunnen: A slightly larger town than Wengen, Lauterbrunnen is right under Wengen.
  • Grindelwald: One of the most famous Oberland towns outside the valley, a short distance from the other two towns.

We stayed in Wengen on our most recent Switzerland family vacation.

There’s amazing views from Wengen, because it sits above the Lauterbrunnen valley. and offers great views of its waterfalls.

Wengen is a car-free and quiet village, so it may not be the best choice if you have lots to do. It you prefer a bit busier down, Lauterbrunnen is a good option. It’s just a short train ride via cog train down to the valley.

Here’s a short video clip of the amazing views from our Wengen VRBO, which was located on the top floor of the building with a rooftop window. You can even see the famous Instagram waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen.

Cable Car up to Mannlichen

Mannlichen

Wengen is a great base camp to start one of our favorite things to do, the cable car ride up to Mannlichen.

Mannlichen isn’t one of the most well known tourist attractions, but rather a scenic mountain that is a popular starting point for hikes, and a skiing area in the winter.

But we found it to be an amazing partial day trip, that we did several times. Part of the fun is the ride up the mountain in the roof-top cable car. Check out the amazing video on the ride up from this video we took:

Once you arrive at the top, you’ll find a ski area with a great playground (or Splietsplatz) that we spent several hours on throughout our stay.

A restaurant is also located at the top, near the cable car station. We got lunch or drinks there both times while we watched the kids on the playground.

There’s even some unique Swiss playground equipment, modeled after the local cows you may find grazing the mountains nearby.

Switzerland Cable Car To Mannlichen

You can also enjoy some high-altitude hiking and cool weather.

There’s a short hike up to the viewing point where we took the picture above. It’s a bit steep at the end on a gravel path, so strollers don’t work on the latter part of the path.

Schlithorn Mountain

Another Oberland excursion, this is a must-do if you’re staying in near Wengen or Lauterbrunnen.

Riding the cable car is an amazing experience. You have to transfer between several cable cars to reach the top. The views of the Swiss Alps and the countryside are breathtaking.

At the top, we visited the revolving restaurant, though clouds limited views. Get reservations if you’re interested in this; it was packed.

Fun facts: A James Bond movie was filmed here at the revolving restaurant at the top. (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). You’ll be reminded of this throughout the attraction, from James Bond mannequins to 007 branded hamburgers.

On the way up or down the cable cars, don’t miss a stop at the midpoint station. You’ll have to change cable cars here anyway, so take a look outside. It was one of the best parts of Schlithorn but it wasn’t well known about when we went. There was almost no one out there when we were there.

Mannlichen Walk Across Cable Bridge Large

Brave kids can walk across a glass bridge, net bridge, or rope tunnel, all suspended thousands of feet above the valley!
Both our kids loved this!

In this picture, it’s hard to tell how high it is because we’re in the clouds!

Schlithorn Chain Tunnell

Cable car tickets for Schlithorn are included if you purchase the Oberland Pass from Swiss Travel Pass.

Ti[p: If you don’t have enough time to do both Schlithorn and Jungfraujoch while you’re staying in the Oberland area, visit Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch and Mannlichen are both amazing, but Jungfraujoch is even better.

Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe)

The highlight of our stay in the Oberland area was a trip to Jungfraujoch, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Read our complete review of Jungfraujoch.

We reached Jungfraujoch by cog train, arriving at the highest train station in Europe at 11,333 ft above sea level. The train leaves from Lauterbrunnen with a stop in Wengen, then a transfer higher up on the mountain.

Since we were staying in Wengen, it was very convenient. But you do need train reservations for this trip.

The whole ride until you get to the tunnel has amazing views. From the training leaving Lauterbrunnen (sit on the right side):

Lauterbrunnen Waterfall

After passing through Wengen you continue up the mountain to the small village of Kleine Scheidegg, changing trains there.

Kleine Scheidegg Snow Jungfraujoch

On the return trip there was heavy snow coming down in Kleine Scheidegg. Not something we were expecting in June! This is a good stop for lunch before continuing the train journey.

The last part of the train journey is in a tunnel through the mountains.

The train station at the top is even inside a mountain

Jungfraujoch Train Station Large

The views at the top of the snow-capped alpine peaks and glaciers are breathtaking. Our kids loved the year-round snow tubing.

We also visited the amazing ice palace and the Lindt chocolate store.

It was an amazing experience and the best part of our trip. We highly recommend taking the day to make a trip to Jungfraujoch. Read our whole trip report here.

Interlaken

Interlaken is a slightly larger town located between two lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. It is a popular destination and transportation hub with plenty of activities nearby.

While we spend much of our time in Switzerland in Interlaken, you have to connect on a train in Interlaken when traveling to the Oberland area from any large city.

Although it’s a great central location, it doesn’t give you the full mountain experience. It feels more industrialized and a transportation hub. We recommend staying in Wengen, Lauterbrunnen, or Grindewald.

That said, there are a few unique things to do in Interlaken.


Harder Kulm Funicular

From Harder Kulm (Top of Interlaken), take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain peaks and lakes.

A funicular will take you up the mountain, and once at the top, you can explore the terrace, restaurant, and observatory. We’d recommend Schlithorn and Jungfraujoch, instead of Harder Kulm if you have to choose.

The Oberland pass from Swiss Travel Passes also includes the Harder Kulm Funicular.

Interlaken Boat Cruise


An Interlaken boat ride is a great way to explore the beautiful Lake Thun.

The boat also passes Swiss landmarks like Jungfrau Mountain, the Eiger, and the Mönch. You can also spot the beautiful Thunersee and Brienzersee lakes. The cruise also stops at several ch arming towns, including Interlaken, Thun, and Spiez.

The Oberland Pass from Swiss Travel Passes includes some of the lake cruises.

Interlaken Jet Boat Ride


Jetboat Interlaken is also in Interlaken. Take a thrilling ride with fast turns on the waters of Lake Brienz.

This excursion is similar to the Shotover Jet Boat in Queenstown. But we think the one in Queenstown is much better. The boat is similar, but the canyon ride in Queenstown, New Zealand makes it even better.

Lucerne

View Of River Lucerne Things To Do Switzerland Family Vacation

Our next and finally stop in Switzerland is Lucerne. Lucerne is a beautiful city full of history and wonderful sights. Click here to read our full guide on Lucerne.

This old town has cobblestone streets, and a famous monument called the Lions of Lucerne.

When you visit the city, see the iconic Lucerne Bridge, which spans the Reuss River.

The paintings and sculptures of the bridge make it a unique and picturesque sight. View the lake, the mountains, and the quaint old town from the chapel bridge.

Lucerne Train Station Large

Lucerne is a great destination for a weekend getaway. But, if your time is limited, we would skip Lucerne in favor of the Oberland area.

Where to Stay in Switzerland

We focused on the most beautiful parts of Switzerland for our trips.

The Oberland area makes a perfect spot for a home base to explore the most scenic area of Switzerland. It’s close to attractions such as Schlithorn and Jungfraujoch.

The scenery here is incredible, making it a must-visit spot on any Switzerland trip.

The Swiss Holiday Park, a few hours east of Oberland, is a great place for a relaxing vacation. It offers many activities for kids and is one of our favorite resorts!

Interlaken

Interlaken Ariel View

Interlaken is one of the largest cities in the area. But it is more of a commercial &transportation hub than a mountain village.

We’d recommend staying in one of the following towns that will give you more of an authentic Swiss vacation.

Wengen

We stayed in Wengen on our most recent Switzerland family vacation. Click here to read more.

Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen View Of Waterfall From Town Large

Lauterbrunnen, located in the valley below Wengen, is another great option.

Here you’ll find a larger town than Wengen, as well as a variety of shops and restaurants. Lauterbrunnen will also give you some great views of the huge Lauterbrunnen waterfalls.

Grindelwald

Grindelwald is another good choice in the Oberland area, connected to Jungfraujoch by the Eiger Express cable car.

Grindewald Ariel View. Switzerland Family Vacation

These towns all have stunning views of the surrounding mountains, making them ideal bases for exploring the region.

Recap

We have visited Switzerland twice recently and would love to go back again. Our most recent summer vacation included Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. The whole family voted Switzerland as their favorite

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4 Comments

  1. Hello,

    We are a family of four ( kids aged 3 and 7)
    We are on a first time tour to Switzerland in June this year.
    The whole trip is for about 2 weeks , spread between UK,France and Switzerland, with SW being the first point in this travel.
    Can you recommend how long do we plan for in SW? and which cities would you recommend traveling? I have shorlisted
    Zurich,Interlaken with day trip to Jungfrau.

    Thank you for your help 🙂

    1. Hi Ankur,
      Sounds like a great trip! We’d recommend 4-5 days, with most of it in the Interlaken area. We’ve been through Zurich a few times but it’s usually just for a day on the way to or from somewhere in the Alps.
      Instead of Interlaken, we’d take 1 more train transfer to goto Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, or Grindelwald. Those towns put you right in the mountains, vs a more industrial area in Interlaken, and the train to Jungfrau leaves from Lauterbrunnen and goes through Wengen on the way up. For the other days in the area, a cable car up to the Mannlichen hiking area playground was a hit with our kids (we diid that twice), and the waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen, but they may be loud for the 3 yr old.
      We also stopped in several other cities like Lucerne, but none of them compared to the Lauterbrunnen area.
      If you ask our kids, their favorite place has been the Swiss Holiday Park, which has good kids activities, but doesn’t have the scenery of Lauterbrunnen/Wengen, which has been our favorite.

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