Family Adventures: Taking Your Toddler to the Swiss Alps

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The Bernese Oberland is set up for family adventures, and not just for the 7 year old who kicked my butt on a Bernese Oberland Tour tour a few years ago, but as a mother of a non-stop wound-up and sassy two year old, it’s the perfect place for a family adventure of any shape or size.

Wynter is mesmerized by the gondola cabin soaring above her at the playground as it heads down to Mürren.

My husband Jake and daughter Wynter met me in the Bernese Oberland this past summer for a week long workcation.  My husband and I both guided in this area sans kiddo but this was our first time exploring this part of the Alps through the lens of parenthood.  After a silly early Easyjet flight from London and one too many transfers on the train, Dad and Daughter arrived to Mürren where our daughter quickly enjoyed her first successful nap in Switzerland.  For the record, both parents enjoyed her nap as well. From our experience the travel days are the most challenging but nonetheless rewarding with first time train rides, bus adventures and even a tram, as the car-free village of Mürren sits on the edge of a 3,000 foot limestone cliff.  

The bouncing Steinbock was such a hit that she didn’t even notice the famous Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains behind her.

More than a few families have embarked on our inn-to-inn treks with small children, carrying them in backpacks over passes and out to remote inns.  Some areas are better for this than others, and this is definitely an adventurous prospect, depending on what stage of curiosity and development your child is in and how much you want to carry them!  A great option with small children is to post up for a few days in one or two villages on a customized family tour that could fit any little ones needs.  Among our regular tour offerings, our self-guided Classic Peaks: Murren and Zermatt trip is ideal for small kids, with 3 nights in Murren followed by 3 nights in Zermatt, and various hiking options to fit your needs and interests in both locations.  In Zermatt, kids will love the ice caves at Klein Matterhorn and the lakes near Sunnegga.  Chamonix, Grindelwald, Kandersteg and Saas Fee all have wonderful family spots as well. 

The Dolomites in Italy are a paradise for little ones as well, with lots of lifts to ease the walks, adventurous playgrounds, great hotels, and safe and walkable villages.  There are also many fun pool facilities with waterslides, zero entry pools, and lazy rivers that are a ton of fun for everyone.  Our Dolomites Dayhikes tour, currently listed as unavailable (but always possible) is a great place to start.   As always, we can customize any tour to fit your needs.  

The deluxe Allmendhubel playground is equipped with swings, zip lines and even an Alp cheese stand including numerous cheese wheels behind the counter.

Back to Mürren and the sassy 2 year old.  Our experience was likely a bit different than most, as my husband blew out his knee in late December and was still not ok’d to explore any significant elevation gain or loss on his feet… a.k.a he wasn’t allowed off the stroller compatible trails.  With these orders we still found plenty to do. The Bernese Oberland, and most all of Switzerland, host the neatest kids playgrounds – also ideally located right next to cold local beverages and snacks. I’ve found the key to adventuring with my kiddo is playgrounds, adult comforts like local beer and wine, and SNACKS, always snacks.  I thought my husbands hangriness was intense until I met my daughter’s for the first time.

We brought a child carrying backpack to explore more of the steeper terrain above Mürren and waterfall-soaked Lauterbrunnen Valley, but stroller compatible options sure were a big hit with our tired trail legs.   Around Mürren, both Allmendhubel and Winteregg are perfect family destinations.  Both are close to town with gorgeous views, accessible on foot or by transportation, and with great playgrounds and restaurants.   

The hospitality of the Bernese Oberland is hard to beat when it comes to fussy kids and the little things that make or break an experience with them.  For example, the spaghetti bowl at the Hotel Bellevue in Murren was a welcomed hit and almost disappeared despite its massive size, the complimentary coloring book from the Mürren Coop grocery store offered a few hours of entertainment, and the friendly local shopkeepers were easy going despite a mischievous little girl roaming their stores.  At one store, the shop owner even maintained her cool as our little one managed to wrangle a pink Piz Gloria shirt into her hands and refused to let go.   The shirt did make it home with us and is her favorite souvenir so far in her 2.5 years of traveling.  

A child carrier backpack is a necessity if you want to maximize your miles on the trail each day.

Every child and parent is unique with different needs and interests, but no matter your family’s age combo, the Alps hold something to fit your ideal vacation needs.  If an adventure with your littles sounds enticing, we’re happy to customize a tour to fit your needs and interests including nap time and non nap time options.  Although I must say, napping in Murren with waterfalls echoing in the distance and paragliders casting shadows out your hotel window is a likely perk for your entire crew.

 

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