One of the best summer activities in Switzerland is hiking through the Alps. You see people of all ages and abilities enjoying the endless jaw-dropping mountain scenery on foot. It’s easy to set off with babies and toddlers in carriers or backpacks — more challenging is motivating school-age kids to go for any consequential distance. Fortunately, our Swiss friends have thought through this and have taken the time to add kid-friendly treats on the trail.
On a visit to Switzerland’s Jungfrau Region, encompassing some of the most coveted tourist attractions in the Bernese Oberland, I was able to give a few of these treats a test drive with three kids, ages 8, 11 and 13. We kicked off our trip with an overnight in Mürren, a car-free village at 1,650 meters (5,413-plus feet), perched on a mountain with uninterrupted views of three of the most famous mountains in the Alps: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. If you want the ultimate Swiss Alps scenery, this is it (Zermatt is another favorite).
The are several kid-friendly hikes in Mürren, but the one that is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser is the Children’s Adventure Trail. It starts at the top of the Allmendhubel Funicular train. One benefit of hiking in the Swiss Alps with kids is that the extensive gondola and funicular train networks are open all summer long, enabling families to skip terrain that is too rigorous yet still access high-altitude hiking.
A “we’re going to have a blast” tone is set when you arrive at the top of the Allmendhubel Funicular and are greeted by a playground with a fantastic slide and panoramic views. If you didn’t pack a lunch, there is an aptly named restaurant here called the Panorama Restaurant Allmendhubel. We stopped for a bite — friendly service, kids’ options and good food make this an excellent pre-hike meal choice.
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The Children’s Adventure Trail combines lovely scenery with kid-focused entertainment. It’s ideal for school-age kids (although the tween in our group loved it too).
Little monkeys will fully appreciate the climbing, crawling and jumping opportunities on a wooden obstacle course of sorts, including lookouts, seesaws and balance beams. The hands-down winner for fun, however, is the zipline-style swing, which has just enough speed and bounce for kids to think it’s cool, but not so much that it scares more timid travelers. It’s best for ages 6 and up.
Once you are able to wrangle your kids off the swing, there’s a long slide connected to a picnic area and yet another playground before you arrive back in town. The full trail takes about an hour to complete — if you combine the hike with lunch, it is a perfect half-day excursion.
Mürren’s unique mountainside position makes it a thrilling home base. In addition, the car-free setup means it is perfect with kids and is small enough that you can get everywhere without hassle.
You can only access Mürren via the Schilthorn Cable Car or by taking the cable car and then a panoramic train from Lauterbrunnen. Fee-based parking is available in both places.
A finite number of accommodations means that overnight crowds in Mürren are limited — hooray! — and that booking a hotel ahead of time is a must. We stayed at Hotel Eiger and enjoyed all the onsite amenities. A less expensive option with huge family rooms is Hotel Jungfrau. We stayed here on this last trip and fell in love with the charming owners. Rooms and public areas are simple, but the “will do anything to help our guests” attitude makes this hotel an absolute pleasure.
Editor’s Note: Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.
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