There’s no question that Switzerland is one of the most geographically blessed countries in the world. Clear blue lakes, snowcapped peaks and a lush green landscape attract visitors from around the world in search of adventures from skiing to mountain climbing. On my travels I’m always on the lookout for places to share with my grandkids and while I’m not going to be climbing any mountains with them, Switzerland is definitely on the list. Here are 5 reasons to take the grandkids along when you’re heading to Switzerland.
First, there’s the Swiss Travel Pass, which allows families to experience Switzerland by train, bus and boat on premium panoramic trains such as the Glacier Express, Bernina Express, GoldenPass Line or Wilhelm Tell Express. Also included are: public transportation in more than 75 Swiss towns and cities, a 50% price reduction on most mountain railways and free admission to nearly 500 museums. It’s a convenient and economic way to make the most of your time in Switzerland.
Kids get a little noisy? No problem. The trains have designated family cars giving younger ones the freedom to play in a safe environment while you relax and take in the stunning landscapes.
While we’re on the subject of transportation, let’s talk about the Swiss Museum of Transport. With over 3000 items, simulators, multimedia shows and interactive platforms in a vast exhibition area, this is one of the most interesting museums I’ve ever visited. I’m not the only one that enjoyed it. There were kids everywhere, checking out racecar exhibits, trains, airplanes, boats and all kinds of classic cars from around the world.
As a clever and delicious tie-in to the famous Swiss chocolate, the museum is home to the Lindt Chocolate Experience – a multimedia exhibit that takes visitors from the origin of chocolate through its transport. And, yes, there are plenty of samples.
A highlight of my time in Switzerland was a visit to Mount Pilatus, which began with a lake cruise from Lucerne past idyllic villages surrounded by snow-capped mountains. To climb the mountain (6,932 feet above sea level) I boarded the world’s steepest cog railway. Not for the faint hearted, the train slowly tackles the vertical tracks to a mountaintop often shrouded in fog. Along the way bell wearing cows grazed and hikers inched their way up the steep trails. As the fog cleared I was rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps. At the top there are restaurants, a gift shop and musicians clad in traditional Swiss attire.
There are plenty of adventures to keep the kids (and grandparents!) entertained on the way down the mountain: panoramic gondolas, aerial cable cars, Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run and a rope park.
Step back in time at the Ballenberg open air museum for insights into the rural farming culture of Switzerland. Located in the heart of Switzerland between the popular regions Haslital Meiringen-Hasliberg and Interlaken, the museum’s hilly and wooded 163 acres wind past more than 100 original centuries-old buildings from all over Switzerland. There are daily demonstrations of traditional crafts including basket making, braiding, weaving and carving. There’s also a cheese dairy with a traditional cheese-making kettle hanging over the flames of an open kitchen. Over 250 native farmyard animals live here too which is always a thrill for the kids.
What kid wouldn’t want to climb the towers of a medieval castle surrounded by swords and knights in shining armor? At the Castle of Thun, the kids can do exactly that and along the way, they can earn the designation of knighthood. There are three steps: page, knave and knight. As you climb through the castle, the kids complete tasks re-enacting the situations of a knight in training. And, there are costumes – because a real knight can’t just wear jeans.
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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