Last summer my siblings and I went on a 3 week Euro trip, starting in the Czech Republic and eventually ending up in Spain. Of the 6 countries we sped through, Switzerland was my favorite. Now favorite is a pretty strong word, I realize. But Switzerland has earned it.
We started our journey through Switzerland arriving from Germany. We spent our first night with some of my brother-in-law’s friends near Zurich. They were excellent hosts. The best in fact. After a week of traveling, it was such a gift to connect to other people besides my siblings! And it gave us a great first impression of Switzerland and its friendly people.
The remainder of our time in Switzerland we stayed in Lauterbrunnen, with day trips out from there. While Interlaken is typically the more popular burg to have as a travel base, we decided on Lauterbrunnen because of the price of lodging. We found a ‘bungalow’ at Camping Jungfrau – Holiday Park and ended up really enjoying it. Lauterbrunnen is a beautiful valley town surrounded by climbing Alpine views and plunging waterfalls.
Since we had a car, it was easy to navigate to all the places on our list. That said, Switzerland is known to have excellent train routes that provide not only transportation but beautiful views and I’m disappointed we didn’t have a chance to utilize them.
As I am a Zimmerman who grew up Mennonite, I can link both my genetic and religious ancestry to this region of the world. For that reason, we spent a full day and a half exploring Anabaptist history cites, including the town my ancestors came from and caves and barns where my religious ancestors hid to escape persecution. If this portion of our trip is of interest to you, I blogged about that here (including a how-to if you are looking to visit these places yourself).
The other big day trip we did was to Grindelwald and First. Well, we drove to Grindelwald and took the gondola to First, passing Schreckfeld and Bort on our way up. We went first thing in the morning in case there were crowds and were happy to discover this was not an issue.
Dismounting in First we explored the Cliff Walk and the boys roamed half way to Lake Bachalpsee before we had to head back. Word to the wise, if you park in public parking, put plenty of money in the meter! It’s a frustrating discovery to realize your time on the mountain is limited by your parking meter miles below you.
From First we zip lined back down to Schreckfeld. Speed flying through incredible views is exhilarating and I would definitely recommend. We didn’t get a video, but this guy did.
From there we took the gondola to Bort, enjoying a quick lunch from the snack stand there, before riding Trottibike scooters back to Grindelwald.
Trotti bikes are little scooters equipped with brakes. What I didn’t think about when anticipating this part of our day, was that there would be very little ‘scooting’ involved. Due to the incline of the mountain, the only thing you really need are the brakes. The trick to moving is to hold the breaks and release them slowly. The trick to stopping is to squeeze the breaks harder until you come to a full stop. If you use your foot to slow you may fall and scrape your ankle.
The last thing worth mentioning in Lauterbrunnen are the waterfalls. The valley is said to have 72 but this one, Staubbach Falls, dominates the views.
What’s fun about this particular waterfall is that 1. there is a path to hike up behind the falls.
2. depending on the windiness of the day, the falls fall in different places. This means that when you hike, you may or may not end up under the falls. That day, we did.
One thing to consider:
1. The price. Switzerland is notorious for being expensive. Having been there I can say that it’s totally possible to do on a budget. Your money just doesn’t go as far. Meaning, lunch might be hot dogs from a snack stand. We also bought groceries for breakfasts, snacks, and sandwich lunches, which helped a lot and added variety to our eating out menu. We cut costs also by staying in a more affordable area and driving.
Why you should go to Switzerland:
1. The variety. We loved the hiking, views, history, and adventures. We were there for a week and by no means saw everything! We missed out on chocolate factory tours, summer toboggan runs, and fondue. Really, Switzerland has something for everyone and you won’t be bored, as long as you have money for adventures or at least legs for walking.
2. Navigability. Like all my favorite places, Switzerland is easy to navigate, with many English speakers, excellent public transportation, and up to date google maps if you’re driving yourself.