The Epic Summer Road Trip Through Switzerland - with Kids
It has definitely been one of those summers we will all never forget and talk about for a very long time. Our epic summer road trip through Switzerland was during The Covid-19 summer. Like most of the world, we had restrictions for almost three months due to COVID-19. But I must admit we were lucky that we could call the Swiss Valais mountains our home. With nature and nearly nobody around us we still felt free.
But the time came when restrictions eased and summer was finally here.
With the borders still having a tight control of who could come in to Switzerland, and no international flights landing in Zürich nor Geneva due to Covid-19, we went for it.
All the buzzing Swiss tourist places which are normally overfull with international tourists all year long, were now more or less empty. It was our time to make the most of this bad Covid-19 situation, and explore some of Switzerland’s most attractive tourist destinations on a road trip. All in a safe way of course.
School was finished and so we “Packed Again” all our belongings we thought would be necessary for this road trip through Switzerland. As usual we packed too much and moreover not the right things, but this is another story 🙂
We decided to make a mix of camping, Airbnb and nights with family.
But other than that, we did not have much of a plan.
On our Road Trip Map through Switzerland you will find viewpoints, the cable cars we rode, accommodation and hikes.
- For who is this Summer Road Trip Through Switzerland?
- What do you need for the Epic Summer 2020 Road Trip Through Switzerland ?
- Things you will find on our 2020 Summer Road Trip Through Switzerland
- START: Our 2020 Summer Road Trip from Valais Through Switzerland
- Travelling during the Covid-19 Pandemic
- Final Thoughts on our Summer Road Trip Through Switzerland
For Who is this Summer Road Trip in Switzerland?
This 2020 summer road trip is for everyone. We will show you some of the
most amazing views, great hikes, and beautiful lakes on an amazing road trip through Switzerland.
The time you spend in each place I will leave to you, as everyone has different ideas about a road trip through Switzerland.
You can easily stay longer in places, skip some completely and even add on if you wish. Although I have listed a lot of places, for sure there are plenty of others, but I just simply could not list them all. Otherwise this article for our Summer road trip through Switzerland would be a year road trip. Which I would not mind actually 🙂
What Do You Need for the Epic Summer 2020 Road Trip through Switzerland ?
An adventurous spirit, lots of fun, and a car. This is not a trip I would recommend to use the public transport system unless you have lot of time and more stops would be required.
However if you do have the time, why not hop on the train, bus, maybe even a ship. You can get some great deals with the Swiss card. I have put together a perfect guide to travel Switzerland on a lesser budget. You will find all kinds of different public transport tickets on there.
But back to the car. It just gives you a bit more flexibility on the whole trip, rather than checking your watch throughout the day, and having constantly the train time table under your nose. 😉
Things You Will Find on Our 2020 Summer Road Trip Through Switzerland.
Great destinations, some of which are lesser known than others. Amazing hikes and plenty of road side vistas.
I have not detailed it down to the hour, I will let you do this. You will also not really find lots of accommodation recommendations on here. I have stated where we overnighted, because it suited us. Now, you might be looking for more luxurious accommodation, or maybe you are even travelling in your RV or mini bus. Therefore, please, if you like our choices do book them and if not just seek some others.
Switzerland has plenty of choices. A few destinations and hikes are linked to the full article on our blog. This way you can get more in depth information on a place. Bear with me please, not all have a full documented blog article, yet. I am working on this over the winter and will link them to here. But for now, I wanted to give you some great ideas about an amazing road trip in Switzerland.
Our 2020 Summer Road Trip Through Switzerland
When we were planning our road trip, the overall goal was to get to as many places we normally would not visit due to it always being super crowded with tourists.
But we also did not want to drive every day for hours, that would not make sense at all.
And this was our 2020 summer road trip through Switzerland
We started our road trip through Switzerland in Valais - our home.
- Valais – Sion – Castle Valère & Les Iles
- Berner Oberland - Kandersteg - Oeschinensee Hike
- Berner Oberland - Lauterbrunen – Day Visit
- Berner Oberland – Mürren – Almendhubel
- Berner Oberland – Schilthorn Piz Gloria
- Berner Oberland – Overnight at Interkirchen & visit Rosenloivalley
- Berner Oberland – Grimsel Valley – Gelmerbahn & Gelmersee
- Berner Oberland – Grimsel Pass
- Obwalden – Drive through with two view points
- Niedwalden – Stanserhorn Panorama Hike
- Schwyz – Stoos – Overnight at Fronalpstock with Ridge hike from Klingenstoss
- St. Gallen – Alpstein - Overnight at the Staubern
- St.Gallen - Alpstein - Saxer Lücke Hike
- Appenzell – Overnight - Ebenalp & Äescher Wildkirchli
- Appenzell – Overnight – Seealpsee
- Glarus – Overnight Klöntalersee
- Glarus - Elm the Ämpächli with Riesenwald Theme Path
- Drive Home with plenty of stops. Glarus Uri - Klausen Pass
Valais – Sion- Castle Valère & les Iles
Whether you're starting this 2020 summer road trip through Switzerland in Sion or if you are passing through, you definitely need to make a stop here. Start with a visit to the beautiful Sion Valère Cathedral and the Tourbillon Ruins. The Valais town Sion, which is also the Cantonal capital city is dominated by the two famous hills of Valeria and Tourbillon.
Whilst walking through the old town in Sion, you will pass cosy coffee shops, arts and crafts artisanal shops and museums.
You will have an amazing view from the top of the Valère Cathedral over the Valais Valley. After the Cathedral visit hike up to the Tourbillon ruins. A fun place to step back in time.
If you have not yet had lunch, head to the Domaines Les Iles. An oasis close to the city yet so far away from it. A beautiful lake surrounded by large trees makes this the ideal place for a rest. Walk around the lake or if you are taking your bikes on your summer road trip through Switzerland, then it is now time to take them off the hook.
Especially, if you are travelling with younger kids, a great place to cycle in safety. After your ride, have a swim, maybe even rent a paddleboard.
Berner Oberland - Kandersteg - Oeschinensee Hike
Welcome to Switzerlands amazing car trains. From Valais you are taking the Goppenstein Car train to Kandersteg in Canton Bern.
Once in Kandersteg you will be hopping on the cable car up to the Oeschinensee.
Here is the full article of the Oeschinensee in Kandersteg, how to get there and where best to hike. You will find a full article on our blog covering how to get to the amazing viewpoint overlooking the lake and where to rent a boat.
Berner Oberland - Lauterbrunen – Day Visit
You will probably have heard of the famous Lauterbrunnen Valley. It features many beautiful waterfalls and I believe there are more than 72 in total. The 300m-high Staubbach Falls claims the popularity prize.
It is also the central point from where you can head up to Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren and the Schilthorn which are all part of the Jungfrau Region.
Berner Oberland – Mürren – Almendhubel
After you have visited the Lauterbrunnen Valley, carry on with this epic summer road trip through Switzerland and head to the car free village of Mürren.
Nestled on a plateau with an epic view of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau right in front of your eyes, Mürren is also a good choice to overnight. Park your car at Schilthornbahn Valley station in Stechelberg and take the cable car up to the plateau.
After you have checked into your hotel - we stayed at the Sports Hotel, cheap and cheerful – hop onto the funicular which is situated in the middle of the village. This will bring you up to the Almendhubel, a kid’s paradise with a short flower trail for the whole family to enjoy. Plan enough time to stay up here as the playground is amazing! And if you are overnighting in Mürren, you will have no stress to leave early. We finished this day by hiking back down to Mürren along the Kids Adventure Trail where a further 2 more play areas await.
Berner Oberland – Schilthorn Piz Gloria – Thrill Walk in Birg
Are you ready for a James Bond 007 experience? And what about a thrill walk to make your adrenaline pump? Then this will be your day. First take the cable car from Mürren up to Birg at 2677m altitude. I am assuming you have spent the night in Mürren so make the most out of this and try to be on the 1st lift. This way you may be able to experience the Thrill Walk in Birg station alone or at least without all the day visitors that may arrive with the next few cable cars.
Stunning views await along the glass bottom walk which gives you a good view over the mountains but also a few 100m down. Not to be missed, the walk through the wire tube! Would you dare? See photo below.
After you have taken your family picture at the pink carpet, our daughters favourite, jump back into the cable car and meet James Bond 007!
Schilthorn Piz Gloria was the film location for the James Bond movie Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. In the meantime, the whole area has been perfectly transformed into a mini museum. If you are not a James Bond fan you might be converted after this visit to the Schilthorn Piz Gloria. The whole set up is very well done. All the information, both inside and outside, plus all the interactive stations, make this a top experience. Plus you can marvel at some of Switzerland’s finest vistas.
Berner Oberland – Overnight at Interkirchen & Visit Rosenlaui Tal
This is an area where you have plenty of activities to check out. We made sure that on our way to the campsite we had some spare time and drove up to the Rosenlaui Tal.
You may have seen the view along the river to the Rosenlaui Glacier on Instagram. If you like it then this will be your goal. There is a pay station to drive the Rosenlaui Tal and the road is winding up the valley for quite some time. Along the way you have the possibility to visit the Rosenlaui Glacier Gorges but we just opted for the view further up the road. You could easily spend the whole day here whilst hiking and discovering this beautiful area further.
Berner Oberland – Grimsel Valley – Gelmerbahn & Gelmersee
Today we finally went to a place I have longed to visit for quite some time. The amazing Gelmerbahn ride which is an attraction on its own. Europe’s steepest open funicular, definitely nothing for the faint hearted.
And at the top you will be greeted by the most unique and beautiful mountain scenery. Nestled within the mountains, the alpine lake, the Gelmersee invites you to hike around, have a picnic and for the brave ones, maybe even a swim. You can find all about this place on our blog“Gelmerbahn & Gelmersee Hike”
IMPORTANT: You MUST pre-book your ticket to ride the Gelmerbahn.
Alternatives whilst in this area would also be as visit to the Aarenschlucht.
Berner Oberland – Grimsel Pass
You are now so close to the Grimsel Pass, that I suggest you might as well drive up there and check this place out. On the other side is the Canton Valais and you can see over to the Furka Pass which will be the pass which you will use to return if you start this epic summer road trip through Switzerland in Valais.
Just before the Pass you will find the "Historisches Alpinhotel Grimsel Hospiz" A picturesque hotel, kind of hidden within a bleak and rocky landscape.
Obwalden – Drive over Brünig Pass with several View Points
When on a summer road trip through Switzerland you will soon realise that after every corner is another photogenic viewpoint. Therefore, a simple 5km road could easily take you hours. This is because you are travelling through one of the most beautiful countries and with that in mind, you should stop wherever you like and get the most out of this summer road trip through Switzerland. The main thing as always, do not stress.
We are now leaving the Berneroberland, and our road takes us into Central Switzerland. As you are driving over the Brünig Pass just at the other side where you are starting to descend there is a nice roadside viewpoint on the left side, overlooking Lake Lungern. Furthermore, you can also stop along the lake in many places. And as always, a perfect place to have a picnic lunch.
Niedwalden – Stanserhorn Panorama Hike
If you, like we, LOVE amazing views then you will enjoy this next stop. Head up to the Stanserhorn and be prepared for some of the finest Swiss views there are. But before you marvel at the epic views, enjoy the ride up, as it is an adventure in itself.
Take a seat in the Oldtimer Funicular Train, first operated in 1893 which ascends slowly through flower meadows towards the CabriO, the World's first roofless cable car. It feels a bit like a journey through a time zone. 🙂
If you are lucky and there are not too many people, try to get a place at the top of the CabriO. The kids loved it and the fact that there was no roof was quite crazy in the kid’s eyes.
A beautiful short circular hike will reveal the beauty of this amazing place and its surroundings. You will find all about the hike in detail on our blog.
Schwyz – Stoos – Overnight at Fronalpstock with Ridge Hike from Klingenstoss
Wherever you stayed the night before, you need a half a day to complete the ridge hike from Klingenstoos to Frohnalpstock with kids.
We parked around lunchtime at the large car park directly at the Stoos Funicular, which by the way is the steepest funicular in the world. At the top you need to walk to the chairlift which brings you to the summit of Klingenstoss for the start of the hike.
At first, I was a bit nervous to bring the kids as I have seen some photos with drop-offs on both sides of the path. Luckily our kids are well trained young mountaineers and listen to our commands if necessary. There are some areas where a hand is definitely needed, but all in all it was in our opinion a safe hike to do with kids who have some hiking experience Most certainly it is the most stunning ridge hike we have completed so far. Simply amazing. Don’t be fooled either by thinking it is a straight easy hike. There are several ups and downs and when we finally reached the Fronalpstock at 6 o'clock we were quite tired and happy to be finally here. The tiredness was temporary for the kids. As soon as they saw the most amazing playground on top of the mountain overlooking Lake Lucerne, they went for it. Luckily for us we found a bench 🙂
We booked the night at the Fronalpstock Gipfel-Hotel and you can do the same. What an amazing experience it was and we observed a most beautiful sunset where colours changed from yellow to dark red. It was a very remarkable family experience and even today we still talk about this place the most from our summer road trip through Switzerland.
St.Gallen/ Alpstein – Overnight Staubern
We skipped quite a bit from Schwyz to Fümsen, but this next place is special to us. We discovered The Alpstein last year and knew we would want to return. And so, we did. This time we entered the Alpstein from the St.Gallen side which allowed us to visit our family on the way and reduce the journey a little.
Book a room at the Berggasthaus Staubern which is situated on a ridge and provides the entry to the Alpstein.
You need to leave your car at Frümsen at the car park of the cable car which brings you up to the Staubern. Enjoy a sunset with a view over Lichtenstein, Austria and well beyond. If you ask what the other mountain is with the tower on the top, this is the Hoher Kasten.
St.Gallen/ Alpstein - Saxer Lücke Hike
The next morning, we hiked to the Saxer Lücke from where you have an amazing feel of the whole Alpstein area. Later during the summer Dave and I hiked 3 days within the Alpstein without the kids. An activity you should put on your bucket list if you love sleeping under the stars and amazing hiking trails. I will add the blog post soon and link to here so you can have a look at it.
The Saxer Lücke hike is not strenuous and doable with kids. But keep in mind, it is of course a white-red-white alpine path and there are some sections at the beginning where care is needed, but all in all an easy hike, 2-3 h round trip.
Appenzell – Overnight - Ebenalp & Äescher Wildkirchli
And if you loved the Alpstein as much as we did, then let’s continue our summer road trip through Switzerland and head over to the other side of the Alpstein. From Frümsen drive to Wasserauen in Appenzell and take the cable car up to the Ebenalp where we suggest you stay the night.
You are now opposite of where you slept the day before. If you still have time and it is not dark yet, walk down to the Äescher and Wildkirchli. The advantage of sleeping up the mountain is so you can beat the day tourists. Late afternoon when they are all making their way down, the summit becomes a relaxing and quiet place again. It is during these times where we enjoy it the most. Therefore, make the most out of it.
Appenzell - Alpstein - Overnight at Seealpsee
The next morning after a hopefully quiet and relaxing night, enjoy your alpine breakfast and a bit more of this most amazing view up at the Ebenalp. We're staying in the Alpstein for our next visit which will be the Seealpsee.
I have to admit we did not walk down from the Ebenalp but walked up from the Wasserauen car park. But you could hike straight from the Ebenalp down.
If you decide to take the cable car down and then hike from the car park you need to count about 1.5 h and overcome a very steep road. It is not long but super steep. Just take your time, stop at many places and walk in the rhythm of the kids. Once at the famous Seealpsee you will soon forget the steep hill you have just hiked up.
The place is stunningly beautiful but it also gets quite busy. We were here during mid-season and it was perfect. And if you sleep at the hotel you will again have the place nearly to yourself once all the day tourists have left.
Glarus – Overnight Klöntalersee
Slowly we need to think about our way back into the Valais and it probably cannot get any further in distance than from the Alpstein. But it was so worth it, making the extra route on our summer road trip through Switzerland to include Appenzell.
Today we’re heading direction Glarus where the beautiful Klöntalersee lies. I have been here when I was a little girl with my dad on a fishing trip and never came back. Not quite sure why as this is such an amazingly beautiful place. We camped at Camping Güntlenau right at the lake. I wish we would have had one extra day to just relax and cycle along the lake shore. But we had to make our way back home and there was still a place I had in mind to visit.
Glarus - Elm the Ämpächli with Riesenwald Theme
I made sure we had some time to visit the Ämpächli Kids Paradise and the “Riesenwald” (giant forest) Theme walk.
This is a place where you should not rush the kids, like we did due to the rain 🙂 . But our summer road trip through Switzerland had to end one day and we only had the day to enjoy this most amazing family place. Here is all you need to know about the Ämpächli Kids Paradise and the “Riesenwald”.
The Drive Home via Glarus Uri - Klausen Pass – Furka – Oberwallis
We had a 5 hours’ drive back home. Knowing what beauty is still to come we knew it would make a very long drive. But luckily the kids are very good travellers and with all the stops time would pass quickly. And so it did.
Before we started to hit the interesting road up the Klausen Pass we already had our 1st stop. I was finally able to visit and shoot the Berglistüber Waterfall. I have seen this place so many times on Instagram and every time loved it more.
Not far from the former Bergli Restaurant (parking spaces available) you can already hear the roar of the Berglistüber. The walk is only about 5 min from the car park and therefore an absolute must stop.
Next Stop Klausen Pass
The Klausen Pass Route is a journey to the roots of our beautiful country connecting the Cantons of Glarus and Canton Uri.
This is an extraordinary region and for sure there are plenty of stops on the way.
The weather was turning for the worse and the spectacular lightning has forced us to carry on and drive down the quite narrow mountain pass road before the storm hit. Though I still managed to get a nice shot back over the saddle of the pass.
Travelling during the Covid-19 Pandemic
A lot of friends and people from our blogging community on social media have asked questions about the trip. Mainly about the social distancing and if we felt safe during our trip?
Yes, is the answer.
But if you know us and have been following us for some time, you know that we are mainly somewhere up a mountain rather than in the middle of a crowded city. And as there was still no international flights coming in to Switzerland at that time, most lesser known destinations were super quiet.
It did not really feel any different than any other road trip in Switzerland we’ve done before Covid-19.
Shops were open like normal and at that point Switzerland had no mask enforcement rule. Therefore, also on that front it did not feel weird.
The only thing I would say is where we really noticed that Covid-19 was 0n-going was when entering a cable car station, or smaller shops. They clearly stated only 4 persons per cabin or 20 persons max in the shops.
But as we’re taking the kids shopping very rarely, it was no issue at all and luckily, we’re a family of 4, which meant we always had a cabin to ourselves when we rode up a mountain.
I would say the most visual impact was seeing all the hand-sanitizers on every corner. The kids got super used to them and so did we.
On a good note we realised, especially on camping grounds, that they allowed much more space between the tents. So, Covid-19 social distancing was definitely kept in place. And to our absolute joy also in the mountain cabins. We got a great room all to ourselves. And I also heard from other friends that were visiting mountain huts, that they been given a dorm which normally hosts 12 persons for five of them.
Therefore, 2020 was definitely a summer to make the most of the mountain huts. Especially if you do not like to sleep in dorms with strangers. Haha who likes that anyway? 🙂
Despite not having to share these beautiful famous Swiss places with the international tourists, the Swiss certainly made up for it.
Even though we were early in the summer season, and many Swiss kids were not yet on the school break, in some places there were more people than in others.
We put it down to the fact that, not only were the international tourists not entering Switzerland, but also we, the Swiss, could not leave to go on an international holiday.
It felt like the Swiss started to discover Switzerland!!
Final Thoughts on our Summer Road Trip Through Switzerland
We absolutely loved it. The kids as much as we did. We all have great memories from the beautiful camping place in Klöntalersee. But we all agree that the overnights in both mountain huts were amazing! Well the Fronalpstock is not really a hut more a hotel/restaurant, but just being up the mountain, able to watch the sunset outside amongst the cows and being nearly alone was definitely a highlight.
We’re lucky as most of the time our kids are good travellers and a road trip is easily manageable. I remember when we travelled last year through western Canada for 6 weeks, they were amazing nomads. Not to forget the Italian Tuscany trip when they were just 2 years of age.
For our next summer road trip from Valais through Switzerland
I would love to add more destinations and stay longer 🙂
Switzerland you are beautiful.
If you are thinking of travelling to Switzerland after these Covid-19 restrictions are all over but are not sure about how to manage finance and places, you may want to check our “How to travel on a lesser Budget"article and also our 7, 10 ,14 days itinerary suggestions through Switzerland covering different suggestions for Swiss places to visit.
Uri – Teufelsbrücke
I love a bit of Swiss history and hence this scenic section on our way home to Valais. The rugged Schöllenen Gorge in Uri has books full of stories, as it was an extremely difficult and dangerous barrier for travellers to overcome in the 13th century before the 1st bridge was built. An ancient legend tells us that the DEVIL built the first bridge over the Reuss, hence the name Teufelsbrücke.
Valais – Furkapass
And as we love our mountain roads, we’re hitting another pass. This time the Furka Pass which means once on the other side we will be home in the Canton of Valais.
Although there are plenty more epic road side stops before actually parking the car in front of our chalet and wrapping up this awesome summer road trip through Switzerland during the Covid-19 summer season.
Stop at the summit of the Furka Pass and look down into the Valais. Of course, we had to add another “Grand Tour of Switzerland” photo post to the collection. In the back you can see the Grimsel Pass Road, and if you made the detour after the Hike at the Gelmersee to visit the Grimsel Pass summit, then this is where you were standing.
Valais – Furka Pass Road – Hotel Belvedere
You must have seen this place on Instagram, right? The famous Hotel Belvedere, unfortunately no longer welcoming guests.
This hotel was also in the James Bond 007 Movie Goldfinger. Therefore, definitely a worthwhile stop to capture this scene in your camera.
Valais – Furka Pass Road – Rhone Glacier
And as you have parked your car already to get the perfect click from the hotel, there is more. Behind the souvenir shop at the car park lies an amazing glacier. Yes, it is true.
You have to get a ticket from the souvenir shop but it is well worth it. You can even walk inside the glacier tunnel.
Valais - Anglican Chapel in Gletsch
At the bottom of the Furka Pass road is a hidden gem, and it would be a shame not to stop and visit this beautiful Anglican Chapel. It is right at the parking lot by the restaurant.
The road in the background is the Grimsel Pass road .
Valais - Goms Bridge - Bellwald
Wow, we finally made it down the Furka -Pass road and are heading along the Oberwallis Valley direction home.
If you do still feel for one more stop and love suspension bridges then don’t miss this last stop. The parking is right by the road and you can easily reach the 280m long Goms bridge which connects Bellwald and Ernen hiking area.
You may also like these following posts
- Zermatt - 13 Best Things to do in Zermatt. Ideally in 2 Days. Ultimate First Time Visitors Guide
- Zermatt - Matterhorn Glacier Paradise - An Epic Family Experience
- Zermatt - World's Highest Glacier Palace - Why you should visit
- Evolène - Ferpècle - Bike ride to the Mont- Mine Glacier, Val D'Hérenes
- Zermatt - A Family Day trip to Zermatt
- Grimsel Valley - Gelmerbahn & Gelmersee Hike with Kids
- Kandersteg - Oeschinen Lake hike with kids
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when planning your Epic Summer Road Trip through Switzerland.
If I have left anything out or you have a question, please ask your questions in the comments below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries also.