Switzerland is the jewel of the European alps with soaring mountains and epic hikes. It is a place so crisp and clean that for a short while you can forget all the worries of the world and just be immersed in the beauty of the place. We have travelled through a lot of areas in Switzerland over the years but there is one area that keeps drawing us back time after time, Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen in central Switzerland.
The Bernese Oberland area encompassing Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken is a popular summer resort area which is a haven for adventure sports and outdoor enthusiasts. In winter, the villages transform into bustling ski resorts. Whenever you decide to visit you will be spoilt for choice for what to do each day.
We have always visited in summer time so here goes my list of the most amazing outdoor things to do with kids in Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen:
Hiking, Hiking, Hiking Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald
In my humble opinion, the swiss alps have some of the best equipped and most accessible hiking trails that can drop you right in the midst of jaw dropping scenery. With the combination of efficient transport options such as gondolas, panoramic trains and buses you can make hiking with kids easy and fun.
You no longer have to wander close to town cause the ‘better’ trails are a little far away to get to with kids. Here the sky is the limit to where and what you can see hiking with kids….
First, Bachalpsee, Bort
One of the more popular hikes from Grindelwald is the First to Bachalpsee walk, a rewarding day trip that can be tailored to be as easy or hard as you like depending on how much public transport you utilise. Due to the altitude for this walk it is best if you wait for a clear, sunny morning and head off early. The clouds can roll in quickly and obscure your views if you don’t beat them to it.
Starting with a feast-for-the-eyes gondola ride from Grindelwald town centre all the way to First station you can alight the gondola for spectacular views before you even take your first steps.
For the brave ones amongst you, a good starting point can involve venturing along the cliff walk, a mesh suspension bridge edging around the cliffside to an unforgettable viewpoint jutting out from First. If you are even braver you can have a go on the First Flyer – no way in hell would you get me on this thing though – a little too far off the ground and some scary speeds!
You then begin the climb towards Bachalpsee via a wide, easy gravel trail with plenty of scenic rest stops along the way if the kids, or a parent needs a break. The trail is well marked and easy to follow but is a gradual climb at high altitude so expect to take it a little slowly if heading out with kids.
Be warned that this is what you can expect to find so it is well and truly worth the hike…..!
If you are ready to forge your own trail and head into your own patch of paradise then it is worth leaving the other hikers behind at Bachalpsee and choosing one of the narrow tracks back down the hill. Of course, if you have particularly small kids the hike back to First will mean you can catch the gondola all the way back into town.
We followed the peaceful and interesting hike following the creek through the valley towards Waldspitz which was serenely quiet.
We even managed to spot lots of marmots along the way which kept the kids amused as they popped their heads up and scurried about the mounds of grass….
From Waldspitz you can choose a couple of different trails back to Bort (gondola) or all the way back down to Grindelwald.
Want to add a little more adventure to your day? Work your way down the mountain on mountain carts from Schreckfeld to Bort, then the trottibike scooters from Bort all the way back to Grindelwald – seriously fun ways to make your way down.
You can check out all the options for adventure at Grindelwald First here: https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/grindelwaldfirst/
Lauterbrunnen to Zweissimen or Interlaken
If you run into some wet weather during your stay or just want an easy downhill walk with the kids then the trail following the river from Lauterbrunnen down to Interlaken is a great option and pram friendly if you have a decent mountain style pram.
You have the option of walking the whole way to Interlaken which is approximately 12 kilometres or can shorten the route at any of the train stations along the way which will return you to your home base. This walk is a little therapeutic as you listen to the gushing sounds of the river and pass pretty swiss chalets and forests along the way.
Of course if you venture to this region you can’t go past mentioning the Jungfrau, often referred to as the top of Europe. With the viewing platform sitting at 3454 metres, the views over the glaciers and snow-capped mountains from the top of the Jungfrau is pretty impressive.
Towards the end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley you will reach Stechelberg with the cable car taking you up the cliff-face to Schiltorn. This is another one of my favourite places to hike and explore in the region. Trails along the mountain top with direct views over the Eiger Monch and Jungfrau ranges and the opportunity to visit quaint villages such as Gimmelwald make for a great day out.
Other fun things to do in Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen
Witness the terrifying but captivating base jumpers
If the scenery is not enough to keep you loving Lauterbrunnen then watching the base jumpers flinging themselves from the cliff tops and soaring in their wingsuits towards the ground will keep you conflicted somewhere between amazed and horrified. On a clear day, there are loads of these guys jumping in the Lauterbrunnen Valley which is just phenomenal to watch.
As long as they all manage to have successful landings (hmmmm)!
With a plethora of bike trails in the region you can choose between cruisy terrain around the Lauterbrunnen Valley or the lakes of Interlaken or alternately there are plenty of mountain trails to tempt the more daring.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley trail can be done walking or is a kid-friendly bike ride along some flat and scenic roads. If you want to hire a bike I recommend Imboden Bike shop in Lauterbrunnen’s main street. They cater well for families with kid size bikes and trailers as well as all the safety gear.
Heading past the Lauterbrunnen campground this route will give you a birds-eye view of the famous Lauterbrunnen valley waterfalls. In particular Trummelbach where you can take a walk behind the base of the falls.
Grindelwald plays host to two fantastic kids’ playgrounds. Boasting innovative and a creative us of natural elements the adventure playgrounds at both Bort Station and Grindelwald town are worth spending some time. They are impressively designed to challenge the most coordinated kids’ balance and strength.
I was pretty disappointed to miss this as it was on my to-do list but there is a chocolate making experience in Interlaken which receives rave reviews – funkychocolateclub.com. It is kid-friendly and looks like loads of fun.
Do me a favour and check this out if you are a lover of all things chocolate…
Boat cruise on Lake Brienz or Lake Thun
Included for free with any swiss travel pass (see below for more info) a great way to take in the scenery is on board one of the boats on Lake Brienz or Lake Thun in Interlaken. The striking blue water back-dropped against the mountains is a sight to absorb.
Getting to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen
I have to say that I simply love the trains in Switzerland and I wouldn’t dream of travelling any other way. The trains are efficient, fast, clean and super easy to navigate your way around the whole of Switzerland reaching every corner of the country.
Some people will find navigating the different types of ‘passes’ a little confusing however if in doubt you should drop into one of the major Swiss rail offices where very friendly staff will always help you price up the different options to match up with your individual travel plans.
If you like the security of researching and pre-booking your rail passes click here to get you the best info and ticket information that can be booked ahead of time wherever you are.
This time around we opted for a Swiss Travel Pass which gave us unlimited travel on all the trains, boats, buses and many of the mountain railways and transportation. What we didn’t get included in this pass was minimal and we received pretty decent discounts on everything else.
When travelling with kids it is handy to keep in mind to ask for a Swiss Family Card which entitles the kids to free travel across the entire network. This means you can simply purchase a pass for the travelling adult/s.
The absolute best part of travelling via train is that you get to kick back and watch the impressive scenery pass by your window. If you are travelling to the Bernese Oberland from Geneva or Lausanne I recommend the slightly longer but far superior trip on the Golden Pass line. The scenery is simply stunning and well worth the extra little bit of time.
If travelling from Zurich then a few days stop at Luzern (Lucerne) and a visit up Mt Pilatus is another good option.
Where to stay in Grindelwald
Previously we have always stayed in Lauterbrunnen and LOVED it but it was time we opted to give Grindelwald a go – a fantastic decision!
Travelling with kids, Grindelwald gave us the best of both worlds. Fingertip access to the most amazing scenery and hiking but all the conveniences to make travelling with kids a breeze due its larger town size.
Private holiday rentals are definitely the way to go in this region and I wholeheartedly recommend Chalet Bachlager. Your hosts Peter and Margrit are humble and friendly and welcomed us warmly to their house (the apartment is on the bottom floor). The apartment itself was extremely spacious, with two comfortable bedrooms, an updated and lovely bathroom, and a fully equipped kitchen and living room.
Being a ground floor accommodation meant the kids could also run around on the lawn/garden.
We were totally at home here and were in awe each morning as we drew the curtains to be greeted by this…..!
Where to eat in Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald
To be totally honest we had been travelling for a number of weeks by the time we reached Grindelwald and the appeal of staying in a house meant that we were keen to eat in and save some dollars. Besides the view from our Airbnb was more spectacular than most restaurants could offer so a glass of wine looking out at the mountains was pure bliss each evening.
Grindelwald, and Switzerland in general is an expensive country to eat out, particularly when travelling with kids. There is a fantastic Coop supermarket in the centre of the village which was well stocked to self-cater for your stay.
A little mention for a fantastic lunch spot goes to the Flavours Café in Lauterbrunnen. This place is warm and cozy with some comfy lounges and the food and hot drinks were really delicious. One of the few places that serves up barista style drinks and their selection of lunch options and sweet treats was excellent.
I hope this has inspired you to consider a trip to Switzerland for your next family travels. It can be an expensive place to visit but once you are there it is easy to have one of the most beautiful holidays. It really is a jewel destination for family travel….
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