When visiting the region Jura & Three Lakes it can be quite overwhelming on what to see and do, and where to stay.
It is a large region and you will NEVER see it all in just one family mini-break in Jura & Three Lakes, but let’s start with some cycling, a visit to see some animals, paddling into the sunset, a great lake and canal boat ride.
During this trip we brought our bikes with us as it is just so convenient to go from A to B, and as we’re living in the Swiss Alps, we’re super happy for once not to have to manoeuvre a massive mountain when cycling :).
But by all means, most of our suggestions here which involve biking can be done on foot or with a combination of foot & public transport within the Jura & Three Lakes.
- Get to know the Region Jura & Three Lakes
- Our 4 Day Jura & Three Lakes Itinerary – For Active Families
- Day 1 in Jura & Three Lakes – Region Murtensee
- Day 2 – Murten, the Papiliorama and St.Petersinsel am Bielersee
- Day 3 – Cycling Tour, Boat Ride & a Visit to the Pile Dwelling Village.
- Cycling Route Map within Jura & Three Lakes
- Day 4 – Relaxed morning and visit of the La Sauge Bird Nature Centre.
- Our thought about this mini-break in Jura & Three Lakes
Get to know the Region Jura & Three Lakes
Before we start to show you all the fun, beautiful and interesting things to do in Jura & Three Lakes, let’s get oriented a bit on the region.
Jura & Three Lakes is located in the western part of Switzerland and is bordering with the French region of Jura.
The map below shows you the entire region of Jura & Three Lakes (or Jura & Trois Lacs) and how it is split into sections within the different western Swiss cantons.
During this family weekend we are concentrating more on the area between the three lakes. Lake Murten – Lake Biel – and Lake Neuchâtel. You will be in a bilingual area where the locals are speaking Swiss German and French, just to confuse you even more 🙂
Therefore the common Swiss names of the lakes are Murtensee or Lac Morat – Bielersee or Lac de Bienne – Neuenburgersee or Lac de Neuchâtel. This helps with your insider knowledge.
Cycling will be the main activity on our weekend itinerary for one simple reason. Jura & Three-Lakes offers the most beautiful and family friendly bike routes suitable for all levels. So every time we’re in this part of Switzerland our bikes travel with us. Even arriving by train on the SBB transport system from anywhere in Switzerland is easy.
Our 4 Day Jura & Three Lakes Itinerary – For Active Families
During this Jura & Three Lakes itinerary we will be visiting the area around Murten, St. Petersinsel at Lake Biel (Bielersee) and a bike route along Lake Neuchâtel. An educational visit to the The Pile Dwelling Village in Gletterens to experience the stone age in Switzerland will also be part of this itinerary.
Of course we could not miss the joy and fun of cruising on one of the three lakes by boat. And when travelling with kids a visit to any animal farm or centre is always a highlight, and so it is also on this weekend trip to Jura & Three Lakes.
If this sounds perfect to you then carry on reading and start planning your family weekend in Jura & 3 Lakes.
Accommodation during our visit to Jura & Three Lakes
We booked two nights in the Bad Murtensee Hotel in Muntelier-Murten, Canton Fribourg. The hotel is right at the Lake Murten shore, offering both formal and casual dining options. We opted for the casual option and had a great evening meal at their Beach Bar enjoying a beautiful sunset. The great plus with this hotel was the free stand up paddleboards for the guests staying at the hotel. Breakfast was perfect and we would definitely recommend this hotel also because of its proximity to the old town of Murten.
For a family of 4 their deluxe garden double rooms are perfect.
For our last night we booked into the Auberge la Sauge, in Cudrefin, Canton Vaud. Its’ location on the edge of the la Sauge nature reserve on the north eastern shore of Lake Neuchâtel, was the reason for this choice.
The bike ride on our 3rd day will start from here and we will be cruising back to la Sauge by boat. The Auberge itself is a nice building right at the river and adjacent to the La Sauge Bird Nature Reserve. The rooms are newly renovated, large and perfect for a family of 4 wanting to spend the night.
NOTE: Monday and Tuesday the restaurant at the Auberge is closed ( summer 2021) but you can still sleep there. DO NOT FORGET YOUR MOSQUITO REPELLENT! The Auberge is at the La Sauge Nature Bird Centre with lots of water and wild nature, so it is normal to encounter mosquitos here. Just be prepared. All the room windows have mosquito nets.
Day 1 in Jura & Three Lakes – Region Murtensee
Let’s start our family weekend in Jura & 3 Lakes straight away with a family bike tour to get to know the region better. So, welcome to the largest vegetable garden of Switzerland, which supplies some of the larger Swiss supermarkets.
We arrived just before lunch in Kerzers and it is here where the route starts. Park your car at the train station and jump on your bikes. The choice of a 25km or a 45km route awaits but you do have the option to shorten it as you wish. See the map below and the dedicated cycling signs you need to follow.
We opted for the green route which was 25km long.
The whole route is flat and most of the time on farm roads. We cycled it on a Sunday which was nice as there were only a few farm vehicles on the roads. I could imagine that during the week you would encounter more tractors etc. Maybe something to think about especially when cycling the biggest vegetable garden in Switzerland with kids.
This is the perfect cycle path if your kids do not yet know how many types of vegetables are growing in Switzerland and what they look like during their growing phase. The most interesting one for us all was the Artichoke plant.
Cycling Route Tip: In some areas it was at first not clear which direction to go, therefore stick to the normal principle – when there is no sign go straight ahead. Check out the brochure here
Food: Best to bring a picnic or plan lunch for when you get to Sugiez or in Ins.
An insider tip we have been given was to stop at the Boulangerie Guillaume to taste the famous Gâteau du Vully. A treat!!!
Another option to get something to eat would be at Ins, apparently there are some good pizzas at the Bistro10.
Check in to Bad Murtensee Hotel
On our return to the car we packed up the bikes and drove to our hotel with the plan to go swimming.
The Bad Murtensee Hotel is right on the shore of Lake Murten with access to the water nearby.
Our room was perfect, a deluxe garden room for the 4 of us.
The hotel offers a beach bar dining option or a more formal one on the hotel terrace, both overlooking Lake Murten. We had more the beach feeling that day, and a burger and fish in batter sounded just perfect.
Sunset Paddle Boarding at Lake Murten
During dinner the sun started to lower over the Jura mountains, the wind dropped and the lake suddenly became all quiet and flat. Excellent conditions to try the hotel’s family paddle boards and spend the last hour of the day out on the lake. It was a magical family moment that we all treasured.
Day 2 – Murten, the Papiliorama and St.Petersinsel am Bielersee
Murten Old Town
Well sometimes you need to be flexible in your trips and changes are necessary. And this was also the case on that morning. One family member (me) woke up pretty poorly and there was no way I could hop on a saddle and cycle around Jolimont for 30km.
So, we adapted. As our Hotel Bad Murtensee is so close to the Murten Old Town, the kids and Dave went for a cycle trip to town and visited Murten’s medieval old town. Make sure you are walking the “Ringmauer” which gives you great views over the Murten rooftops and the lake.
Visit the Papiliorama in Kerzers
During the afternoon we (me included 🙂 ) went to Kerzers and finally visited the Papiliorama. This place has been on my to do list for a long time and I am so happy to have finally ticked it off.
There is much more than just butterflies. The state-approved foundation, Papiliorama, has a main goal to introduce the public to the diversity of tropical and indigenous fauna and flora and to actively contribute to their protection. The company also protects 400 square km of tropical forest in Belize!
We got lucky when we visited as it was pretty empty so we could enjoy all the different facilities and domes in peace. One dome has over 1000 butterflies freely flying around, and one or the other may even just land on your shoulders or hand.
Furthermore you can step into the Nocturama dome where you will experience a full moon night atmosphere. The reversed day and night rhythm makes it possible to take a nocturnal walk in the middle of our day and observe the mysterious, night time animals of the tropical forests. This was without a doubt our favourite part. When Lucas saw all the bats he could not believe his eyes. Along the walk you will also discover sloths, tree porcupines, night monkeys, armadillos and much more.
Note: Some people say it smells quite a lot in that part of the Papiliorama. When we visited there was no unpleasant odours and the ventilation was perfect.
The third dome is an imitation of a Belize Jungle Trek. An authentic copy of these rich habitats makes this an exciting walk through the tropical forest. Look out for the Toucans!!
The outside area is huge as well with ponds, insects and other great educational sections. To the kids delight you will also encounter goats and donkeys to pet and feed hay. And last but not least the playground in the form of a monkey adventure course wraps up a visit to the Papiliorama as an amazing family experience.
Tips when visiting: They say it is less busy on sunny days and during the weekdays. A restaurant is on site.
Evening cycle tour along the St. Petersinsel from Erlach
If you still feel energetic like we did, drive to Erlach from where you can access the St. Petersinsel. There is a large car park and from there you go over the bridge and on to the island’s only road. Several small paths lead to the water. Nice to check them out as from the road itself you do not really see the Bielersee – Lake Biel.
At the end of the St.Petersinsel you will find the most stunning property which was a monastery and is now a hotel. We enjoyed our dinner there and if you wish there are a few authentic rooms to visit. Apparently it was also the refuge for the Geneva writer, philosopher and social critic Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
After dinner cycle back to Erlach where you cannot miss a stop at the Campsite playground. The kids will love it!
Day 3 – Cycling Tour, Boat Ride & a Visit to the Pile Dwelling Village.
Today we moved to the Lake Neuchâtel area to la Sauge in Cudrefin which is part of Canton Vaud.
Our new accommodation in Jura & Three Lakes was at the Auberge La Sauge adjacent to the Nature Bird Centre with the same name. A beautiful place, quiet and outside of the town.
NOTE: The Auberge’s Restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesdays
Cycle to Cudrefin and then Portalban for Lunch
For todays bike ride we left the car in the morning at the Auberge and joined the cycling road n°5 which passes along fields in the direction of Cudrefin, Chabrey, Portalban, Gletterens.
In Cudrefin we came off the No5 cycle path and followed the water front all the way to Portalaban. Check out the full itinerary for this stretch here on our blog.
Portalban, which is in the Canton of Fribourg by the way, offers great lunch options at the camping site and if you do have time, a large sandy beach invites you to swim in Lake Neuchâtel.
Visit the Pile Dwelling Village in Gletterens
We had a bit of a time schedule as within our bike route was the goal to catch a connecting boat at Vallamand-Dessous located on Lake Murten. This boat would then bring as all the way back to La Sauge. Therefore to keep on our schedule we skipped the swimming and carried on with our cycling tour.
Not far from Portalban you will find the Pile Dwelling Village in Gletterens.
A nice place to step back in time to the pile dwellers and stone age and get to see how they may have lived.
The people running this place are super enthusiastic and have heaps of knowledge.
The place offers lessons in stone age crafts such as making a fire, colouring cloths with natural products, and learning how to throw a spear. You can find out more on the activities here.
Boat ride on Lake Murten
From Gletterns you need to follow the cycling route n°481 all the way to Vallamand from where you will take the boat. When we arrived back at Portalban it was time to take the kids on the tow ropes as it was quite a bit uphill. A very nice stretch over the hill on a quiet road and then down to Lake Murten.
Voilà, all that is left of this beautiful cycle tour is chilling on the boat and enjoying the cruise back to our Jura & Three Lakes accommodation, the Auberge la Sauge.
Below you will find the boat map and stops.
Cycling tip: If you miss the boat you can cycle to another boat stop further along the lake or even cycle all the way back to the Auberge.
Cycling Route Map within Jura & Three Lakes
I will eventually write a full itinerary for this family bike route, but for now you can see the route on the map below.
How the map works: Click on “Learn More” to get to the full map layout with profile and interactive route indicator.
Day 4 – Relaxed morning and visit of the La Sauge Bird Nature Centre.
After a good nights sleep and a relaxed family breakfast at the Auberge la Sauge we had one more visit in our Jura & Three Lakes itinerary.
A visit to the beautiful Bird Nature Centre La Sauge which is adjacent to the Auberge.
We heard that there might be a chance to see a Kingfisher at the 1st pond! And we were in luck, Chloe spotted it straight away and to our delight we saw three of them. Such beautiful birds.
Amongst a thousand mosquitoes we also saw many other bird species. The are three different hides and if you love birdwatching definitely add this to the list. Mornings are better, as later in the day some hides were reserved for serious photographers and bird enthusiasts who may not have appreciated the excitement of our kids. 😉
Tip: DO NOT FORGET YOUR MOSQUITO SPRAY.
Our thought about this mini-break in Jura & Three Lakes
This was not the first time we visited and we’re starting to get to know this area a bit better.
What we loved most on this trip was going on a bicycle ride and combining it with a boat cruise. It gives you the option to plan many more routes, and I already have some in mind for our next visit.
Another discovery was that you could actually visit all three lakes on a boat cruise. The lakes are interconnected by canals which is pretty awesome. Again this allows for epic bike routes to be planned.
See photo below and for more information you can click here.
You may also Like these following Articles
- With our Bicycles and the SBB to Murten and the region Jura & Three Lakes
- Biking Along Lake Neuchâtel
- Epic Summer Road Trip Through Switzerland 2020
- How to Travel Switzerland on a Budget
- Switzerland Itinerary , 7, 10 & 14 Days
- 33 of the Best Viewpoints in Switzerland – NO HIKING required
Voilà, I hope you enjoyed reading Our Family Mini-Break in Jura & 3 Lakes – 4 Day Itinerary
If I have left anything out, please ask your questions in the comments below and share your experience, so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries and stories as well
Note: This trip was in collaboration with the Tourisem Jura & Three Lakes (Jura & Trois Lacs) , but as always trips like these are to test it for you and our full honest review is presented here.
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