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One of the best things about vacationing in Europe is the ability to travel by rail. No country is a better example of this than Switzerland. The destination is a traveler’s dream, and the rail system is efficient, affordable and extremely punctual, allowing clients to see much of the country without needing to rent a vehicle for their trip.
For families who want to see multiple cities without worrying about driving in a foreign country, finding places to park and navigating Alpine roads at night, a train journey through Switzerland is the perfect way to see the destination. There are fares at multiple price points, too, so taking the train can work for every budget.
Train travel is also a treat for children — and a break for parents. I loved that my kids weren’t complaining about being bored in the backseat of a car. I’d often hear my 8-year-old exclaim, “Mommy, look!” — pointing out picturesque villages and glacier waterfalls — as we stared out the window on different sides of the train. It felt like we were traveling through a moving artwork, making the journey as exciting as the destination. In five days, we visited Lugano, Melide, Bellinzona, Bettmeralp, Blatten-Belalp and Zurich, and we wouldn’t have been able to see all these places had we been driving on our own.
Our Swiss trip started and ended in Zurich. We were coming from Munich, so instead of flying, we took a two-story bus with comfortable seats, a washroom and even onboard Wi-Fi access. Zurich’s international airport has 7,000 bus, 400 tram and 350 train connections every day, so it’s exceptionally easy to get anywhere in Switzerland and to a lot of European capitals from the city.
From family-friendly thrills on ropes courses and Alpine coasters to amazing food, history and culture, Switzerland offers something for everyone.
Flavors of the RegionAfter arriving in Zurich, we made our way by train to Lugano in the Ticino region. Our taste buds were delighted, as the area’s food has an Italian flare. We enjoyed local delicacies at Alpe Foppa, which is located at 5,000 feet above sea level; coffee and gelato in the city square in nearby Bellinzona; and relaxation along the Lugano waterfront.
Adventure aboundsThe alpine coaster and ziplining tours at Monte Tamaro in Ticino were a huge hit with my family of adrenaline junkies. They also loved the waterslide park and multiple pools at Splash e Spa Tamaro, while I enjoyed the full spa.
The Seilpark in Blatten-Belalp is popular among families, as well, offering a ropes course, minigolf and different playgrounds in a themed area called the Witches’ Cauldron Adventure Park.
Northwest of Lugano, near Interlaken, is the Aletsch Arena region and the Aletsch Glacier, which is the biggest in the Alps. Hiking here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience: The 2-mile hike goes through two villages, and the scenery is breathtaking. Families can make the trek easier by using the cable-car system, or more challenging by hiking the full trail.
Immersive Experiences Switzerland is full of opportunities to experience history and culture. In Melide, which is located near Lugano, we visited Swissminiatur, a park with miniature replicas of the important buildings, monuments and modes of transportation in Switzerland. Bellinzona, meanwhile, is home to three UNESCO World Heritage-designated castles: Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro.
Clients can tour one or all of them for some amazing views and insights into what life was like in Switzerland’s past.
In Bettmeralp in the Aletsch Arena, we visited the Alpine museum and participated in an interactive butter-making workshop. Even in the country’s small villages, there are abundant opportunities for getting hands-on with history and culture. The food is, of course, another great way to experience local culture, as every village has a slightly different take on traditional Swiss food.
Switzerland offers plenty of activities to please even the pickiest family member’s tastes. It’s a small country — but with big travel potential for families.
The DetailsSwitzerland Tourismwww.myswitzerland.com