KidTripster Teen: My 5 favorite things to do in Switzerland
1/Hike in Lauterbrunnen Valley
My family and I stayed in Lauterbrunnen Valley for the week that we were in Switzerland. To be honest, hiking isn’t necessary to appreciate the beauty that Switzerland boasts. There’s something to be said for feeling so small as the 13,025-foot Eiger Mountain towers over you. However, the scenery grows even more spectacular as you get closer to the top. There are plenty of hiking options in the valley, ranging from an easy “Sunday stroll” to a difficult hike that requires a gondola ride to complete. Some are short; others are miles long. Some travel to waterfalls; others to villages. Some hikes are mostly flat through the valley; others are steep as they climb up the nearly vertical cliffs. You get the idea. But all of them are breathtakingly beautiful.
My favorite was riding the tram to the Schilthorn and then hiking down to the villages of Murren and Gimmelwald. These two iconic alpine villages embody that old Swiss charm that you see in vintage postcards. Bonus: warm pretzel rolls await your arrival at the local coop grocery store.
My second favorite excursion was taking the train to Kleine Scheidegg and hiking back down to Wengen, another charming alpine village.
2/Shop in Bern
Bern is the best depiction of what I thought a typical European town looked like before I actually visited Europe. The medieval town is built atop rolling hills, and a rushing river flows right through the city. But the town’s beauty aside, what I loved most about Bern was walking through all of the shops in the covered shopping area - perfect for a rainy day like the one that I experienced while there. There’s literally a chocolate shop on every corner; while you’re there, be sure to check out the famous Swiss pralines. To finish off the day, I’d recommend walking pass Bear Park and up to the Rosengarten, or the rose garden, that overlooks Old Town and Aare Loop. It’s a good place to dine al fresco and catch a summer sunset. There’s also a playground, if you have younger children.
KidTripster Tip: There’s a free bus that runs from downtown to the garden.
You thought that Switzerland was only known for its chocolate and cheese, right? Well, there’s another gem that all visitors must experience that I have yet to find in any place else in the world: rosti. Essentially shredded hash browns cooked in an inconceivable amount of butter, rosti is often served with cheese, eggs, meat or veggies on a plate big enough to make it the only meal that you eat all day. Believe it or not, my family tried rosti for the first time at a - wait for it - campground restaurant at Camping Jungfrau Holiday Park. In addition to the excellent restaurant, it also has a convenience store that sells an assortment of Swiss chocolates, Victorinox Swiss Army knives, and souvenirs. The rosti was so good, we went back for a second round two days later.
4/Eat pretzel rolls in Lucerne
If Bern is the old-timey, medieval Swiss town, Lucerne - or Luzern, as the Swiss call it - is its cute-and-vintage-with-a-modern-twist cousin. My family walked across the Chapel Bridge. Each interior truss on the bridge contains a historical painting. We explored the town and many more chocolate shops. Läderach Chocolatier Suisse was a favorite. This town is also the place where I fell in love with Swiss pretzel rolls from the local bakeries. Once I returned to the U.S., I found a recipe and have been making my own ever since.
5/Pet a cow
These cows aren’t the smelly cows that you walk pass when visiting a farm in the U.S.! On our train ride up to Kleine Scheidegg, the alpine hills were dotted with dairy cows wearing cowbells, providing a symphonic soundtrack to the valley. They are cute, chocolatey brown, and seem to have no problem with tourists getting close. As we hiked back down to Wengen, we passed by a Swiss farm girl herding her cows with a ski pole which gave us a good laugh. There’s no need to visit any farms to get up close to a cow here; a hike up into the mountains will give you a firsthand experience.
Madison Connell is a sophomore at Brigham Young University. She loves trying new food and rainy days.