Are you on a holiday near Saint-Raphaёl on the Côte d’Azur and would you like to know which beach to go to? Here’s our selection of 5 best beaches for you to try out!

1. Calanque du Petit Canereit, Antheor

A beautiful, natural spot away from the crowds, without facilities. This beach is located between Agay and Théoule-sur-Mer, just after passing Antheor Plage and the train bridge. You will see a small parking lot on the right side of the scenic road. Come early in the morning to have a parking spot, and if you are really lucky, to have the beach all to yourself like we had one morning. Steep stairs lead you down to the beach, do-able with children, bring water, your water shoes, and your picnic! Snorkeling gear is also really good to bring as it is a beach with stones and a lot of fish can be seen! The second time we were there, at around 13 o’clock, at boat stopped to sell drinks and ice-cream, just in time for our dessert after the picnic! The captain of the boat said he came there every day, so do bring some money just in case. This beach is definitely one of our preferred spots!

2. Plage du Débarquement, Saint-Raphaёl

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This beach is our top spot for snorkeling! An amazing amount of fish can be seen, even very close to the beach. It’s certainly because this beach has no sand but big rocks, so bring your water shoes and your snorkeling gear! We had never seen so many fish in one place in the Mediterranean before! You will see a lot of people walk around with the Decathlon snorkeling masks that have become so popular 😊. There are lifeguards on this beach, public toilets, and there is a restaurant. The view on the famous landmark of Saint-Raphaёl, l’Ile d’Or, is best from this beach, and we like to bring our stand-up paddles and paddle around the island. Paddling around the island and back to the beach takes about 35 minutes and my husband has done it with our 10 year old. The island is private property, so you cannot go on the island.

3. Tiki plage, or Plage de Camp Long, Agay

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This beach, located between Agay and Saint-Raphaёl, is also known as the ‘Plage de Camp Long’. It is a creek with a nice beach with a mixture of sand and small stones. You can walk around the creek on a small foot path carved into the typical red rocks of the Estérel mountains that end up in the sea. The parking lot is relatively big compared to smaller creeks located along the well-known ‘Route de la Corniche d’Or’. The beach has a restaurant, a snack corner, a small shop, showers, public toilets, and rental of stand-up paddles, kayaks and pedal boats. Children are at ease to swim here as the water does not go steep down immediately. They can of course also search for crabs along the rocks around the creek. Tiki plage is definitely one of our preferred beaches!

4. Calanque des Anglais, Agay

Another beautiful, small beach, with typical red stones from the red rocks of the Estérel mountains. If you go all the way to the ‘official sign’ indicating the ‘Calanque des Anglais’, access to the beach is a bit more difficult then when you park at the stairs just before. From those stairs, the beach is accessible with children as well. Like all the ‘calanques’ beaches, come early and don’t forget water shoes and snorkeling gear!

5. Saint-Aygulf

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This wide beach is our best spot for real sand and building sand castles! It is also the perfect beach with small children as the water is very shallow for a long while. There are parking lots along the road on both sides (payed parking). Since it is quite a long beach, there are several different beach bars and restaurants. What we like to do after a couple of hours on the beach, is go to the beach front where there are several restaurants and bars right on the beach. Some have really nice terraces! The little center also has a big shop with everything you would need for the beach, inflatable toys, beach towels, they have everything! Just don’t go to the beach near the center, as it tends to get too crowded at the end of the day. The beach is long enough to pick a spot before the town center.

Would you like to see some of the beaches as seen from above? Check out our drone video of the beautiful coast line:

Beach cleanup

A walk on the beach in the Netherlands always makes me happy. It clears your head and the surroundings are beautiful. The kids can run in the wind, jump off the dunes and they can play the ‘does the wave wet my shoes or not game’. But still, to make them contribute to a beach cleanup gives them a whole other level of understanding, and if you do a cleanup every once in a while, when you walk in nature, it may just teach them to be responsible themselves later on.

They will transform it into a treasure hunt, and they may oblige you to finally bring a treasure or two home with you (we are the proud owners of a very rusty boat propellor), but it does really teach them something valuable, and they do realize it is ridiculous what people leave in nature… Straws, bottles, plastic bags, bags with dog poo (seriously if you clean up your dog’s poo, and put it in a plastic bag, why do you leave it on the beach afterwards?). We also found a whole box of medicines, and finally, a lost Iphone that we brought back to the beach bar hoping it would then be reunited with its owner.

The children seemed a bit more aware of the trash problem and I think that in summer, when we spend even more time on the beach, they will run after their empty cookie wrapping in case the wind picks it up. Or at least, I hope so!

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s April letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her April letter here.

April 2021

Salut Kristin!

‘Avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil!’. Haha, this means, in April… don’t take off your warm clothes just yet, or literally, don’t take off a thread (of clothes). April indeed comes in many facets, doesn’t it? Like you, we had apéro in the sun with friends, fresh snow on the surrounding mountains, and days and days of that terrible wind, la Bise. It’s been here for about 11 days, while usually they say a Bise lasts 1, 3, 6, or 9 days. Luckily it is behind us now!

The snow swan got very thin on the Jura mountains, at some point we thought we saw a break, but then it snowed again…

The cherry blossoms around Zug seem super lovely! I’ve seen quite some photos of it over the years on Instagram. Being quite allergic to them, I will unfortunately not venture out too close to them. We have that with Spring, we love to see the flowers on all the trees, but we are honestly too allergic! I really hope the frost will not have affected the cherries too much, as I love cherries!

Ah, yes, I saw that in the Married Swiss series, that one or two duvets was a question. We only have one duvet, and I wouldn’t even have thought two duvets was an option, but when sometimes in a hotel we do have two duvets, I admit it avoids secretly pulling the duvet towards you at night. 

I have not heard of the Spring festival in Zug, but I did hear about the burning of the Böögg! We don’t really have that here, although on a small scale, they do it in some Kindergartens on the French side as well, ‘bruler le bonhomme d’hiver’. We do always check afterwards to see how long it took for the Böögg to explode, and we too keep our fingers crossed for a warm Summer ahead!

Ligerz

Yesterday, we had a small incident at home where one of us hurt his hand on the hot stove. It had me thinking of a common thing on this side of the Röstrigraben called a ‘coupe-feu’? Do you have that in the German speaking part as well? A coupe-feu is a person who has a gift of ending the feeling when you burn yourself (and the burning feeling that lasts for a while, even though you, for instance, took your hand away quickly). This practice, which happens by talking on the phone, is quite common on the French side, and a lot of French-Swiss have a phone number of a Coupe-feu in their phones. There are a lot of hospitals on the French side where they even have a list of these ‘people with the coupe-feu gift’ at their emergency unit, as a complimentary suggestion to help someone after their first aid. Luckily, our incident was not bad and quickly resolved, so we didn’t need it, but I know people who did, and who say it helped. I had never heard of the existence of such a thing before moving to Switzerland!

I know how you feel about not being able to go home, even though my home country is obviously closer. Technically, I can go. But since a quarantine is required in both directions, and well, our kids have to go to school, it’s not really possible anyway. 

Oh, great if you would come to Geneva to renew the Teen’s passport! I realize it is a long trip for you, but I would sure be happy to meet you in person! 

We did have our Spring break already, and since we waited until the very last moment to see if any travel restrictions would be eased towards our family (the Netherlands, and the South of France), we ended up with no plans and all restrictions still in place. 

Life sometimes goes as it goes, and we had a super nice surprise as on Friday just before Easter, we actually won a giveaway to go to lovely BNB Le Vieux Chalet in Chateau d’Oex! We were all super excited and left the next day for a 2-nights stay. The BNB was wonderful with lots of things to do for the kids, so they played basketball, table soccer, table tennis, and we could all use the outdoor jacuzzi with a mountain view! A real treat!! 

From Chateau d’Oex we visited a bit of the surrounding villages, while doing an Easter egg hunt, and we went to Gstaad to finally see the Mirage mirror house, just before it was taken away. We were happy we went to see it as I wanted to go for a while, but somehow never got around to do it. 

Apart from our trip to Chateau d’Oex, we also went along some villages on the Lakes of Neuchatel and Biel. The villages Le Landeron and La Neuveville which are very picturesque with their colored houses, and then on to Ligerz on Lake Biel. What was funny was that we took a funicular in Ligerz to go up on the vineyards hills, and that funicular actually crossed the Röstigraben! At the bottom, in Ligerz, they speak German, and on top, in Preles, French. From Preles we walked back down to Ligerz and enjoyed the view on beautiful Lake Biel, an area we actually know less, but which is really very close to our Swiss town of origin, Heimatort. Maybe only a half an hour by car actually, but we decided we wanted to save that for a full weekend to visit our origin town and its surroundings. 

On the last day of our Spring break, we went on a day trip to Lausanne. When my husband and I met, he was a student in Lausanne, and I sometimes went after work to see him, but we never went as a family. We climbed the steps of Lausanne’s Cathedral and learned about a tradition they kept alive since the Middle Ages: a Cathedral’s Night Watch actually calls out every hour from on top of the Cathedral between 22:00 and 2AM every night, 365 nights a year! I love these kind of traditions that are kept alive. Are there any traditions like this in Zug?

Oh Ticino, you are so lucky! Yes, this is also a popular holiday destination for the Genevois. As warm weather destinations, I would say Ticino, but also France and Italy in non Covid times, to get to the beach and warm weather. The closest beach breaks are at a 5 hours drive from Geneva approximately, so if you have a few days off, this is very possible, but not so much this year of course.

Enjoy the pizza and gelato Kristin! We have fond memories of Lugano, Gandria, and Monte Bré!

Bonnes vacances,

Laura

Make sure you read Kristin’s April letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

Things to do in Lausanne

Lausanne is the capital of the Canton Vaud in Switzerland and is located on the beautiful Lac Léman. It is a lively city with plenty to offer for students, families, and visitors. Lausanne has an old town center, a brand-new museum hub, Plateforme10, many parks, playgrounds, and a lake area, called Ouchy, who’s natural setting invites joggers and people enjoying their Sunday afternoon stroll. 

We loved visiting Lausanne, and since we do not live far away, we will definitely go more often. Here are our Top Things to do in Lausanne! 

Old town and Lausanne’s Cathedral

Lausanne has a lovely old town center and a beautiful Cathedral. A lovely tradition which is kept alive since the Middle Ages is that the Cathedral’s night watch (guet in French) calls out every hour from 22:00 until 2AM every day, 365 days a year. Incredible right? This means someone in Lausanne actually has the job of being the ‘guet’, and climbs up the Cathedral every evening to still tell the people in Lausanne during the night what time it is. When you climb the 224 steps of the Cathedral, you will see a door that says: ‘Loge du Guet’ which is where the night watch spends his evening. You will also be rewarded with a very, very beautiful view on the rooftops of the city, the lake, and the mountains afar. If you go to Lausanne, climbing the Cathedral should definitely not be missed!

In front of the Cathedral, there is a small square with benches for a picnic or a coffee date with a view. Very nice spot!

Lausanne for kids

Since April 2021 the city of Lausanne created a Travel Journal specially for their young visitors. The travel journal definitely makes a city trip to Lausanne fun for kids and allows them to read some interesting information about the sites they visit for themselves, check out the map to see where they are, and it has quite a few goodies to pick up at several spots while exploring the city! How about picking up a cupcake in the center of town, or a hot or cold chocolate at the chocolate shop, or why not an ice-cream in Ouchy on a sunny day? The Travel Journal also gives them something special at some of the city’s top attractions for children, like Aquatis and the Olympic Museum. We had fun exploring Lausanne through the Travel Journal and visited the Tour de Sauvabelin observation tower, the Cathedral, Ouchy, and a Museum. 

You can pick up the Travel Journal for free at the Lausanne Tourism Offices. The information in the journal is in French, English and German, and it comes with a pencil, an eraser, and glue for kids to craft, draw, write, and customize their own journal!

More information on Lausanne’s Kids Travel Journal: https://www.lausanne-tourisme.ch/en/travel-journal/

Tour de Sauvabelin and the park

Sauvabelin park in the north of the city is a lovely park for families. It has a small lake, a petting zoo, playgrounds, and a wooden observation tour, Tour de Sauvabelin. The tower was described by our children as a big Kapla tower, and we definitely saw why. From on top of the tower you have a lovely view over the park and the city. From the Tour de Sauvabelin, you can easily stroll back down to the center of town. To get there with young kids, I would suggest taking public transport as the climb up can be a bit exhausting. 

How to get to Tour de Sauvabelin: we took the metro from Ouchy to Bessières station, and then bus 16 to the Lac de Sauvabelin (direction Vennes). 

Important: the tower will not be accessible due to works from 19 April to 10 May 2021.

Museums in Lausanne

Plateforme10 is a modern new art district, very close to the train station, and located where the former train halls were. The fact that it is located at a former train hall, is nicely integrated on the esplanade in front of the building. The art district is more than a museum hub, it will also be a place to meet friends as there will be restaurants, and we already saw some shops, like Caran d’Ache. At the moment the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts is already located at Plateforme10, and two more museums will follow soon: MUDAC (Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts) and Musée de l’Elysée (photography).

The Olympic Museum in Lausanne

This modern, one-of-a-kind museum tells you the history of the Olympic Games, shows you what life in the Olympic village is like and how the athletes prepare themselves. It took us a while to put our stuff away in the cloakroom since all the lockers have the names of athletes on it and our children wanted to choose the locker of some specific athletes.

Inside the museum there are several beautiful movies shown, about concentration, happiness or the sadness of a defeat. There is a nice movie about the opening ceremonies through time which we loved watching. You will be able to see all the different torches that carried the Olympic flame and of course all the medals.

On the -1 level there are also some interactive games to be played and you can test your balance on different balance boards.

The museum is located by the lake and the outdoor area has some nice art representing sports and athletes. You will see the Olympic flame and you can test who of your family is the fastest on a 100-meters athletics track.

Aquatis

Aquatis is the big aquarium in Lausanne. We haven’t been yet, but more information on Aquatis can be found here: https://www.aquatis.ch/en/

Trampoline Park in Lausanne

There is a brand-new Trampoline Park in Lausanne called The Jump Spot. It’s located in a former Swiss Railway hall and they opened on March 29th 2021. Our youngest son went to test it with his friends and loved it. Make sure you reserve your spot online in advance to avoid disappointment. Their website: https://thejumpspot.ch

Excursions from Lausanne

Lausanne’s location makes it easy to go on many excursions and day trips. The closest by are of course a walk in the beautiful vineyards of Lavaux, which is a UNESCO World heritage site and has a breathtaking view on the lake. Montreux and Chateau Chillon are also close by, and a smaller town in the Canton Vaud, Nyon, which is also a nice place to visit. 

If you would like to stay updated on our family travels as we go, then make sure to check out our Instagram or Facebook page.

A perfect day trip in Switzerland combining beautiful villages with a view on Lake Biel!

La Neuveville and Le Landeron are part of Switzerland’s most beautiful villages, and even though they are in two different Cantons, they are located very close to one another. That’s why, when we recently went on a day trip, we were able to combine a visit to both these colorful Swiss villages, with a beautiful walk in the vineyards in Ligerz which has a wide view on Lake Biel. 

Le Landeron

Le Landeron is in the Canton Neuchatel, and since we drove from Geneva, Le Landeron was our logical first stop. Le Landeron is beautiful, but very small. It basically is one street with beautiful colored houses, built around an area with planted trees. It has 2 typically Swiss decorated fountains, and benches in the middle. We chose to combine this small village with La Neuveville, but of course, if you haven’t been to the city of Neuchatel yet, you could also easily do a day trip focusing on just one Canton.

La Neuveville

La Neuveville is another beautiful Swiss village and is much bigger than Le Landeron. La Neuveville is in Canton Bern and located on Lake Biel. The combination of its paved streets with colored houses and the access to the lake immediately gave us a holiday feeling! We loved walking through this medieval town that has some places of interest not to be missed: the red tower, the square tower, the open stream flowing along the main street, the decorations on the buildings and the fountains, the ‘Cour de Berne’ historical building with the big Bernese coat of arms on it, and the lake side area. There are plenty of restaurants and shops in La Neuveville, but since we visited in April 2021, not much was open yet. 

La Neuveville has a long history of tales of witches, and it is possible to do a self-guided witch themed walking tour through the town. Just follow the signs that say ‘Ballade de la Sorcière’. This walking tour also goes steep up to a viewpoint. More information on this walk: https://www.j3l.ch/en/V1596/the-witches-trail

The lakeside in La Neuveville has a small grass beach, a playground for kids, and the possibility to get on a cruise on the lake. 

Ligerz, the vineyards and the view on Lake Biel

Ligerz, or Gléresse in French, is very close to La Neuveville and has a funicular you can take up the mountain for the best views on Lake Biel. The Vinifuni funicular gently takes you up, through the vineyards and a forest to Preles on top. What is interesting is that this funicular crosses the language border (the so called Röstigraben) as Ligerz is in the German speaking part, and Preles is in the French speaking part. The Vinifuni has 2 stops before reaching Preles, but we would recommend you to go all the way up. On top there is a ‘Buvette’ with a view, and the leisurely walk down only takes you an hour. 

From Preles, follow the road to your right until you see the start of the hiking path which says Ligerz. You cannot miss it from there, as the only way is down. The first part is through the forest until the view opens up and while you continue down, you will start to see the picturesque chapel of Ligerz and the vineyards. It made us think of Lavaux vineyards on Lac Léman, really beautiful! 

Practical information: there is a public covered parking in Ligerz, right before the Vinifuni funicular coming from La Neuveville. 

St Peters Island in the middle of Lake Biel

As you have watched the beautiful view on Lake Biel from Ligerz, you will have seen the peninsula St Peters Island in the middle of the lake. The island can be accessed by boat from Biel – Bienne, or by foot or by bike from Erlach. The island has beaches, nature, and a restaurant. We haven’t been on the island yet, but we may just come back to do that this summer!

Approximate driving distances for this trip.

From Geneva: 1 hour and 30 minutes

From Bern: 40 minutes

From Basel: 1 hour and 15 minutes

From Zürich: 1 hour and 30 minutes

If you liked this article, you may also like articles on other beautiful Swiss villages we have been to. On our blog you will find our posts on Grimentz, Murten and Avenches, Gruyères, Ascona, and more!

If you would like to stay updated on our family travels as we go, then make sure to check out our Instagram or Facebook page.

                                                                                  

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s March letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her March letter here.

March 2021

Chère Kristin,

Yes, we were so close on exactly the same winter weekend! I thought of you when we saw the Matterhorn from afar! We say ‘bonjour’ as well to everyone while walking. In a forest, on a mountain hike, and in our village. The bonjours stop as soon as we get to Geneva of course, because in a city it would be too much and considered as ‘strange’ I guess. 

Zermatt is actually quite a trip for us as well. It can take 3 hours to get to Täsch, and then still park and hop on the train. How crazy is that train station at Täsch, as if you arrive at an airport right? We went to Zermatt once when we were skiing close by, and totally loved it! We would definitely want to go back in Summer to go on those beautiful hikes towards mountain lakes. 

Our Winter weekend was just great as well. We went to Blatten and the Belalp mountain. Blatten is a typical small village in Wallis, with the cute sun burnt mountain huts and stables. I loved walking around in the little center and take plenty of photos. It’s a place we had been to in Summer and since all trips are domestic lately, I love to go back to the same villages in a different season. From Blatten, you can take the cable car up to the Belalp mountain and I did a Winter hike there to the viewpoint of the Aletsch Glacier. Super beautiful, but better visible in Summer. What do you think?

We actually did 2 weekends away one right after the other. The first weekend away we went to Lucerne for my birthday weekend. Lucerne is so beautiful! I’m sure you have been on plenty of occasions, as it didn’t seem so far from Zug, but I really love that town. The lake, the surrounding mountains, the history and old bridges, and the frescoes. I’m just loving the frescoes on the buildings! So, because we were staying in a hotel, we had the luxury to be able to go to the restaurant. Felt completely weird, and so good, and we ordered all we wanted. ‘Mom, can I have a…?’ ‘Yes, yes, go ahead, whatever you like!’ It’s been so long since we had been in a restaurant, I miss that!

If you ever have to renew your Australian passport again, please do give me a call as in non- home office times, I literally work one block away from your consulate! 

I did not apply for Swiss citizenship. The law on ‘nationality’ seems to be the law which changes most often, and years ago, the rule for the Netherlands was that my children would only be Dutch if one of their parents was only Dutch. I’m sure I could apply now, since my children have both their passports (or 2 out of 3 of their countries actually) and they would not be taken away from them, but I still don’t feel the necessity to do so. Of course, it is a pity I cannot vote. I can only vote in my own commune for their things, but nothing national. 

Oh, I find it so interesting to learn about this Canton of Origin, or Heimatort as you say! In our case, both my husband’s mom and dad have their Heimatort in the Canton Bern, so his passport, and that of our children say they are Bernese, I never knew it depended on the paternal side of the family. It really is just a coincidence that they were from the same Canton. The paternal side of my husband’s family, for generations, actually all grew up in Morocco. They left St. Imier in a period of time where there was less work there. We really have to go to St. Imier once, and what is funny, is that I have written to the Museum in St. Imier and they do have something which was donated by my husband’s family. His family was scattered all over after their years in Morocco, and it’s a family member from Madagascar who apparently donated something to the local museum. As I am curious and want to know everything, I of course cannot wait to go check it out. 

Yum, bread, and fish. I love discovering all these regional foods too! I will look up the Vulleykuchen and may give that a try! Apero season has started with the good weather being back, so if you say it’s good with an Apero platter, you convinced me! 

About the weather, when did your Spring start in Zug? Is it just the official calendar date or are there any specific customs with the change of season? In Geneva, Spring is officially declared on the day that one specific tree in the old town shows its first blooming bud! The tree is a chestnut tree, and it is observed every day in ‘almost Spring’. When a bud starts to bloom, it is written on the front page of the local newspaper that Spring has sprung in Geneva! 

Apart from that we have the snow swan, which is visible from my village. It is basically the last snow, in the form of a swan (you have to look well, but once you see it, you will always see it) on the Jura mountains. They say you will only know there will be no more snow, if the neck of the Swan is ‘broken’. And so this year is particular, as it warmed up, but the swan was still complete, and then it snowed again…

This month also marked a year in home office for me. I’ve observed my village and vineyards in all seasons, for a year. It’s those little things that keep me positive, observing nature, as I of course hoped to be able to celebrate Easter by travelling to the Netherlands to see my family. It still isn’t in the cards, so I guess we will start to make our own Easter traditions! We do not celebrate Easter with a specific thing yet, other than always a brunch, but I love decorating the house and my children consider me the egg-hunt-hero, haha, so I think I better start preparing!  

Until our next letters, I already wish you a very ‘Joyeuses Pâques’ dear Kristin!

Bisous from Geneva,

Laura

Make sure you read Kristin’s March letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

Lucerne, or Luzern in German, is a beautiful city in Central Switzerland. The city is located on Lake Lucerne and is surrounded by the Swiss Alps. It is not surprising that Lucerne is often included in any traveler’s choice and itinerary for when they visit Switzerland. Lucerne has a historic Old Town with beautiful frescoes on the buildings, medieval wooden bridges that cross the river Reuss, a wide selection of museums and attractions, the lake, and the accessibility to mountain peaks like Pilatus or Titlis. 

In this article you will find our Top Things to do in Lucerne, and a suggestion on a hotel with an incredible view!

Lucerne city highlights, the old town and the bridges

Lucerne is not a big city and is easily explored by foot. There are two medieval wooden bridges not far from each other which are a must-see for any first-time visitor to Lucerne. What is so special about the bridges, the Kapellbrücke and the Spreuerbrücke, is that on the inside they are decorated with painted panels describing Swiss and local history. 

Chapel Bridge and the Water Tower

The Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, is the longest of the two wooden bridges. The 205 meter long bridge dates from the 14th century, and the painted panels inside of the bridge were added in the 17th century. Together with the Water Tower, which has served as archive, prison, or even torture chamber, the Chapel bridge and the water tower are definitely the most famous landmarks of Lucerne. In Summer the Chapel Bridge is all decorated with flowers which makes it even more picturesque. The bridge has suffered from a terrible fire in 1993, which destroyed almost two-third of the bridge and many of its historic paintings. The bridge has since then been restored.

Jesuit Church, Spreuer Bridge and the Needle Dam

Once you have crossed the Chapel bridge, you can walk alongside the Reuss river towards the other wooden bridge, the Spreuer Bridge. In between the two bridges, you will find more historic sites of Lucerne, like the Jesuit church, and the Needle Dam. The Needle Dam regulates the water level of Lake Lucerne with quite a unique system, by manually removing or adding timber needles. 

Look up and see the frescoes!

From the Needle Dam, you can head towards the Old Town shopping streets, and pass by Mühlenplatz. In these Old Town streets you will see many buildings with beautiful frescoes. Our preferred one is on the building of Guildhall zu Pfistern, which seemed to tell us on stories and generations of families. 

Guildhall zu Pfistern

Musegg Wall

The Musegg Wall and its towers is part of Lucerne’s fortifications. The wall and its towers can be visited between April and November. 

Lion Monument Lucerne

The Dying Lion of Lucerne

The Lucerne Lion Monument, or the Dying Lion of Lucerne, which was described by Mark Twain as the ‘saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world’, is carved out of a rock and shows a mourning lion. The sculpture commemorates the swiss soldiers who died during the French revolution. We were really impressed by the size of the sculpture!

Museums in Lucerne

Glacier Garden Lucerne

Did you know Lucerne was covered by a glacier in the Ice Age? And that later on it was actually located by the sea? Learn all about this in the Glacier garden, which is located right next to the Lion Monument in Lucerne. 

Glacial potholes were discovered by a local family when they wanted to do some works on their house. The Glacier Garden is an outside, covered, area and has a museum right next to it. The museum is the family house and has many objects of the family who used to live here, but also maquettes of mountains. 

Another highlight at the Glacier Garden is the Labyrinth of Mirrors. This labyrinth was once made for the Swiss National exhibition in Geneva, but has been placed at the Glacier Garden after the Expo. We had a lot of fun getting lost in the labyrinth!

Swiss Museum of Transport

Lucerne has one of the most child friendly museums in Switzerland, the Swiss Museum of Transport. The museum says it’s ‘open to discoverers’ and we totally agree, because there are a lot of activities for children where they can touch and do things.

The museum has a large screen movie theatre, a planetarium, an attraction called the Swiss Chocolate Adventure to learn all about chocolate, a big aerial photograph of Switzerland where you can walk on and learn about Swiss geography at the same time, and of course it has trains, cars and planes for children to discover.  Kids can also drive some cool miniature vehicles for themselves, be a passenger on a miniature train or slide down from a plane! Our children loved the Swiss Transport Museum!

Kunstmuseum Lucerne

Kunstmuseum Lucerne

The Kunstmuseum Lucerne is right in the center of town, on the lake. We loved the architecture of the building, but we could not visit when we were in Lucerne as the museum was closed at that time. 

Lake Lucerne, Vierwaldstättersee, and the surrounding mountain peaks

If you have more days to spend in Lucerne, you can easily access the lake and the mountains from Lucerne. A boat trip on the lake for just a few hours, or longer, or a trip to the famous Pilatus, Rigi, or Titlis mountains. 

From Lucerne to Titlis: to get to Titlis you would need to take a train from Lucerne to Engelberg, which takes approximately 45 minutes. From there you can continue on to the cable car by foot, or by taking a free shuttle bus. More info on visiting Titlis from Lucerne:  https://www.titlis.ch/en/info/general/arrival

From Lucerne to Pilatus: There are two ways to get up to Pilatus, and your best way depends on the season. To go to Mount Pilatus from Lucerne in Summer, you can take a train or boat to Alpnachstad. From there, the steepest cogwheel train in the world will take you up between May and November. 

In Winter, you would need to go to the town Kriens, where 2 different cable cars will take you up. Kriens can be reached by bus from Lucerne (bus 1 from the station) More information on how to get to mount Pilatus: https://www.pilatus.ch/en/inform/arrival-and-location-plan

From Lucerne to Rigi: There are many ways to get to Rigi mountain from Lucerne. One of them would be by taking a boat to Vitznau (about 60 minutes), and then hop on the train up to the Rigi mountain. More information on different ways to get to Rigi can be found here:  https://www.rigi.ch/en/inform/arrival-parking

Chateau Gütsch and the view over Lake Lucerne

View and art from Chateau Gütsch

You can see the castle Chateau Gütsch from the center of Lucerne. It is located up on a hill overlooking the city and the lake. The castle, which is a hotel, and has a restaurant and bar, is a beautiful spot to have a drink while enjoying the view. (however, current measures did not allow us to enjoy that, as at the moment, it is only accessible to hotel guests). A funicular takes you up to Chateau Gütsch from the Baselstrasse in Central Lucerne. 

Best Place to Stay in Lucerne

This beautiful hotel in Lucerne has an incredible view on the most famous landmarks of Lucerne and is located in a building in the Old Town with wonderful fresco paintings. In the morning when you open your curtains, you immediately see the famous Chapel bridge or the Jesuit church. Really beautiful location, and quite reasonably priced for such a prime spot in the city. 

If you liked this article, we have more articles on beautiful Swiss Cities on our blog! You can check out our articles about Bern, Neuchatel, or Geneva.

If you would like to stay updated on our family travels as we go, then make sure to check out our Instagram or Facebook page.

A Ski Resort with plenty of activities for non-skiers as well!

Grindelwald is a lovely town in the Jungfrau region in Switzerland. We have been to Grindelwald in summer, and we decided to come back in Winter on our annual ski break. The region offers a multitude of activities for both skiers and non-skiers, and you can easily access other ski resorts like Wengen, or Kleine Scheidegg just below the Jungfrau Top of Europe. Grindelwald is definitely a family friendly ski resort and in this post you can read all about skiing, sledging, adrenaline activities, and winter hiking in Grindelwald!

Things to do in Grindelwald in Winter

Skiing in Grindelwald

Staying in Grindelwald for a ski break is an excellent choice because of the wide variety of slopes and activities. There are plenty of ski slopes for beginners, as well as lots of slopes for experienced skiers, and a fun snow park on Grindelwald First. 

You can either buy a ski pass for Grindelwald and Wengen combined, or for the whole Jungfrau region which would also cover Mürren and Schilthorn if you would like to go a bit further as well. 

Grindelwald’s own mountain is the First mountain which is accessible by cable car from the center of town. The First cable car has 3 stops: Bort station, Schreckenfeld station and First, all the way on top. The whole ascension to the top takes 25 minutes. The snow park is located not far from the Schreckenfeld station. 

While you ski on the Grindelwald First mountain, you can combine some other activities in your day, like walking on the Grindelwald First Cliff Walk, or, flying like a bird on the First Glider, which is included in your ski pass, so no excuses. 

There are mountain restaurants at each of the intermediate stations, as well as at the snow park. 

Skiing in Wengen

From the Grindelwald Terminal you can take the cable car up to Wengen Männlichen which really is a great ski area that covers lots of slopes for all levels. On Männlichen you will find plenty of blue slopes for beginners, but also slopes like the famous Lauberhorn Ski Race slope, which is used for World Cup skiing. 

The brand new and very modern cable car, the Eiger Express, also takes you up from Grindelwald Terminal to the foot of the Eiger mountain in about 15 minutes. This big cable car has convenient holes in the floor to put your skis in. From the Eigergletscher, you have the possibility to ski to Kleine Scheidegg and Wengen, or back to Grindelwald.

Skiing on Kleine Scheidegg

There’s a big beginners area at Kleine Scheidegg taking you back down to Grindelwald on a long blue slope. 

Grindelwald for non-skiers

Grindelwald also has a lot to offer for non-skiers, or for those who just don’t want to ski all day. We think this is important when choosing a ski resort since like most families, we don’t always all have the same interests, and it is great to have some alternatives. Grindelwald has winter hiking paths, sledging slopes, snowshoeing paths and some adrenaline activities like the First Glider which has you fly over that gorgeous landscape like an eagle. 

Winter Hiking in Grindelwald

A beautiful winter hiking path can take you down from Grindelwald First back to Grindelwald town. Depending on how long you would like to hike, you could also break this up and partly hike down and hop back on the cable car at one of the intermediate stations. On top of Grindelwald First, you would also have the possibility to hike higher up towards Bachalpsee. 

We did the hike from Bort to Grindelwald town, which took about 1h30 and was lovely because this hike passes by a lot of beautiful snowed in mountain huts. We also hiked from First to Schreckenfeld, which was beautiful as well, but more to see the ski slopes. We preferred the part from Bort to Grindelwald. 

First Cliff Walk by Tissot

A must-do in Grindelwald is of course the First Cliff Walk. You will find the start of the Cliff Walk right at the top station of the Grindelwald First cable car. The path goes along the cliff, and takes you to a viewing platform with wonderful views on the surrounding peaks. 

Check out below video on Instagram to get an idea of what the First Cliff Walk is like in Winter.

First Glider, fly like an eagle over the mountain

More adrenaline activities on Grindelwald First include the First Flyer, and the First Glider. The Flyer is a zipline that takes you down to Schreckenfeld from just below the First top.

The First Glider has you attached to a giant eagle and takes you back and forth to Schreckenfeld station. This means you first fly backwards, and then forwards. The flyer seems to go faster than the glider, but the going backwards part was what made only part of our family dare to do this. 

Sledging in the Jungfrau region

Sledging on Grindelwald First

A sledging run also goes from Grindelwald First down to the village. It is the same path as the winter hiking path, and at some parts a multi-user slope with slow skiing as well. Some parts seemed a bit steeper than the Wengen Männlichen sledging slope. You can rent sledges anywhere in Grindelwald. In all the sports shops in the village, but also in the one sports shop on Grindelwald First. To be sure they are not all rented out it is of course smart to secure your sledge in the village and just take it up in the cable car with you. 

Sledging in Wengen

We went for a cool sledging adventure in Wengen on top of Männlichen and totally loved that run! We took the cable car to Männlichen from the Grindelwald Terminal and first admired the view up there. From Männlichen you can see as far as Lake Thun, and of course the view on the mountains is gorgeous. We went to Männlichen in Summer as well and it then has one of the most beautiful alpine playgrounds. In Winter, only the cow-shaped-slide is accessible, but still nice for the kids to play while you are ordering something at the restaurant on top. 

From Wengen Männlichen to Holenstein

From Männlichen you can sledge down to Holenstein middle station, and go back up with the cable car to do this run over and over again. If you have a day pass of couse, and not a single ride pass. If you have a single ride pass, you can sledge all the way down to the Grindelwald Terminal which will get you about 2 hours of sledging fun!

We totally loved this sledging slope and went back up to do the run from Männlichen to Holenstein twice. This slope is definitely family friendly! There are 3 parts where you do cross the ski slope, so just be careful there, or tell your children to stay behind you on those parts, but it really is ok. The slope towards Holenstein is mostly in the sun, and has both slower parts as partly steeper parts and fun turns. There is no restaurant at the Holenstein middle station, so bring your snacks or go back up to Männlichen.

From Wengen Holenstein to Grindelwald Terminal

When you decide to sledge all the way down to the Grindelwald Terminal, this part adds about 40 minutes of fun to your sledging adventure and changes the views a bit, as here, the sledging run goes partly through a forest which is really nice as well. Check out the snow conditions all towards Grindelwald Terminal of course to see in whether there is still enough snow for this part of the sledging run.

Once you are down at Grindelwald Terminal, you can just hop on a bus back to the center of Grindelwald to take your sledge back to the rental shop. 

From Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg, and Jungfrau Top of Europe

Another alternative activity to skiing is the beautiful train ride from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. Trains run directly from Grindelwald train station to Kleine Scheidegg and it takes about a half an hour of gentle curves through winter wonderland to get there. While going up to Kleine Scheidegg you can observe the sledging slopes from your train window. 

Kleine Scheidegg is where the trains to Jungfrau Top of Europe leave from, but is a beautiful place itself to go to, because of the impressive views. Kleine Scheidegg has a beautiful historic hotel on top, some restaurants, and a small café-restaurant called Chalet Bar that we liked in Summer and went back to this winter.

From Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen

Another nice excursion from Grindelwald is a short trip to Lauterbrunnen. Lauterbrunnen is famous for its waterfall, the Staubachfall. Of course, there is more water in this waterfall in spring and summer than in Winter, but still beautiful to see. 

From Lauterbrunnen, you can also take the cable car and train up to chocolate box village Mürren and walk around there, or even go up to Mürren directly with the Stechelberg cable car, and then onwards to Schilthorn Piz Gloria for a 007 James Bond adventure.

Since we had already done this in Summer, we did not do it again this Winter. You can read all about Mürren and Schilthorn Piz Gloria here.

How to get from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen:

By car: it is really close by, it took us about 20 minutes by car only

By train: from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen takes about 40 minutes. First take the train in direction of Interlaken Ost, and change once at the station Zweilütschinen.

Where to stay in Grindelwald:

When we go on a ski break, we always try to stay as close to the cable car as possible. Especially with kids and all the ski equipment you would want to avoid walking too far in the morning. We found a small but affordable apartment close to the Grindelwald First lift.

For a short stay, we would recommend this hotel, which is very close to the First cable car as well, and has an outdoor heated pool!

If you liked this article on winter holidays in Switzerland, then you may also like our articles on other ski resorts! Check out our article on Bettmeralp, near the Aletsch Glacier, and on Saas-Fee in the Valais.

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s February letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her February letter here.

February 2021

Hello from your end of the Röstigraben Kristin!

Yes, we made it across to the German speaking part of Switzerland for our February school holidays! That’s actually how we call them, no Sports-Ferien here. Skiers do also call them ‘ski break’, but of course not everyone skies. We are jealous that you have 2 weeks off in February as it is one of our most preferred school breaks of the year!

How lovely that you always return to the same town in February! We actually always do the exact opposite and often choose a different town for the February break, although we have a few favorites where we went to twice! I love the fact that changing towns every year makes us see and taste quite a lot of Switzerland. We often went to different villages in the French speaking part of the Valais, but we have also been to the German speaking part before, and we like that little change. Different food and saying Grüezi here and there. Especially my husband loves to Grüezi everyone, but always hopes they will not answer more than that back, because then he has to admit his German is actually not that good. 

We arrived in Grindelwald on Saturday and it was really cold when we arrived! Now, 3 days later, it seems spring has started, and the snow quickly turns into ‘slush’ in the sunshine. So far, I have skied with our family for 1 day, but I am definitely the slowest of the family, as like you, I learned how to ski at a later age. I’ve also been on a lovely winter walk down the First mountain in Grindelwald and we went up to Kleine Scheidegg, which was so nice as we had also been there in summer and it was lovely to see the same place in a different season.

We didn’t put our kids in ski school this year due to the C-situation, which is actually the first time ever. Do your kids follow the ski classes of the Swiss Ski School? Ours love the Ski school and they always go to the group lessons. Our teen has finished all the levels and even got avalanche training in the end. Super interesting and a bit a part of the alpine culture to learn such skills. 

Yesterday, we had a really cool sledging adventure in Wengen on top of Männlichen. There seems to be a much more developed sledging culture on this side of the Röstigraben! We do have sledging slopes as well, but here there are so many! Seeing all the people on the trains and buses with their sledges is something you do not often see in the French speaking part. At least, not with such a big choice of slopes to choose from. I really enjoyed it! It took us an hour and 40 minutes to slide down from Männlichen to Grindelwald Grund, combining parts of the trail through a forest, with parts with a beautiful open view on all the surrounding peaks! There were easy slow parts, but also some steeper ones and fun turns. We had a blast!

All in all, we really love the Berner Oberland region, in all seasons. What is actually funny is that my husband and kids are ‘Bernese’. They have that written as their Canton of Origin on their passport. Is your husband’s family originally from Zug? My husband was born in Geneva, but when you trace back the origin, his family is from St. Imier and from Studen, which are both in the Canton of Bern. When he was living in France, he used to receive his voting papers in German because of his Canton of Origin and he always had to ask his mom what it said. Luckily for him that has been changed when he moved back to Geneva. We are thinking of visiting his towns of origin sometime this year, as honestly, we have never been!

Capuns! Oh don’t get me started, I love Capuns! As a Swiss dish, Capuns actually came a bit as a surprise to me as well and as soon as we get to Graubünden, I always need to order Capuns! I’m still discovering so many Swiss dishes after all these years. I absolutely love the book on Swiss Bread. You have that book as well right? I baked a delicious bread from Neuchatel the other day by following the recipe in that book. The bread is called a ‘Taillaule Neuchâteloise’. I had never heard of it and loved the taste of lemon in that bread. I will definitely make it more often now that I know about it! 

You mentioning Jass is quite interesting as it is not played that often on the French side of the Röstigraben. However, when you ask a Swiss on our side if they know how to play it, they all say yes. However, you hardly ever see someone play it! When last summer, we went to Flims like you, we took a day trip to Chur and in a café we saw this big Jass tournament going on. Very interesting for us to see, as I really had never seen that in the French speaking part before!

Oh, summer, you are right, it will be here before we know it even if it is difficult to imagine that in the middle of winter wonder land. Like you, I really have fond memories of swimming in those beautiful fresh lakes! Caumasee is incredibly beautiful, and that’s why it probably is so popular. Our favorite lake was Crestasee though, where it really seemed less crowded and very beautiful as well!

I also love swimming in our own lake in Geneva in summer. Have you ever been to Geneva? We have historic baths in the center of town called ‘Bains des Paquis’ which date from 1872. It has a nice restaurant / café on site, perfect for a Birchermüesli on a sunny summer morning. You can also get a massage here, and concerts are organized in summer. In winter, it is one of the places where you eat the best fondue in town.

But let’s hope on a beautiful spring first, I can’t wait! 

À bientôt,

Laura

Make sure you read Kristin’s February letter here.

And you can find all our letters here.

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s & Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s first letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her January letter here.

January 2021

Dear Kristin,

‘Bonne année’ to you and your family as well! 

Was that really an extra week of school holidays? We had 2 weeks and it still felt really short. The kids went back to school on January 11th but they worked through until December 23rd, which usually gives us a bit of stress to travel to family for Christmas. This time though we did celebrate Christmas at home which actually was only the second time we ever did that! 

In the first week of January, we kind of took advantage of those Cantonal school holiday differences and went for a bit of winter fun in Canton Vaud. As their holiday was over, we almost had the ski slopes to ourselves, which was really awesome! I’m not a very good skier compared to the rest of my family and so I went snowshoeing on one day as well and I love that too! The silence around you, and how you can get close to nature. Just you and the crackling sound of snow under your snowshoes! 

I’ve been snowshoeing for a few years already and I do see an increase in popularity, but maybe less than on your end as the ski slopes on our side didn’t close, while in other Cantons they did. I guess a lot of people were looking for alternatives to enjoy winter wonderland. 

Grey January is here indeed and we usually get a lot of fog here as well. However, we did get some snow this week, and to be quite honest, it doesn’t snow that often in Geneva! It made the kids really happy as they could sledge right in front of the house and it made me happy to walk in the vineyards covered in snow! Since we stayed home so much this year, I’m rediscovering my own surrounding nature in different seasons and I love that! 

I never knew your ‘köningskuchen’ was actually a bread type! Or maybe I did, as we have 2 different ones here. We have ‘la couronne des rois’ which could be more like your bread version, but we always eat ‘la Galette des Rois’ which is indeed filled, either with almond, or with apple. It’s always a discussion here, as some of us prefer the almond filling, and some the apple one. The hidden king comes in a lot of forms and shapes these days, and we have been collecting the hidden treasures (fèves) ever since our eldest was about 3. Counting our fèves collection, I can see we eat on average 3 ‘Galettes des Rois’ in the first week of January! That sounds like a nice tradition that kids dress up as Kings and ring the doorbells to sing in the village! We do not have that tradition at all on this side of the Röstigraben. Here, you just wear the crown which comes with every pie when you buy them. I really need to try and bake one myself once, but I haven’t tried that yet! 

Your hiking goals for 2021 sound great!! I have also set some hiking goals, and I was also thinking of adding some wild swimming spots to my list for 2021. The fact that we stayed more within Switzerland in 2020 has definitely changed the way I look at travel. Switzerland is so beautiful! 

I have never been to Zug and would love to visit your area once! About Zug, I saw the dance challenge performed by Zug’s Cantonal police on the news this morning. Yay for some positivity to lift up people’s spirits! 

Oh, I would love to try your Gulash soup! I do understand German, but that has more to do with my own mother tongue language being a bit similar. Do your kids have French in school at young age already? On this side, they start to learn German in primary school, and it is one of the main subjects in high school as well. For children who have only French as a first language it seems quite difficult to learn German as the languages are so different. I would have liked if they had also added Italian to the program to have more of the national languages. 

There has been an enormous amount of snow fall across Switzerland this week! Will you head out this weekend for more snowshoeing adventures? I think we will just stay local this weekend, head out for a walk, but snuggle up at home a lot as well. Your gulash soup had me thinking of some of my favorite soups. I love the Barley soup from Graubünden, but also the ‘Soupe de Chalet’ from this side of the Röstigraben. Do you ever make that? I may make it this weekend by following this recipe on Gruyère tourism’s website, although I do not add the nettles. We still have a nice local pie from the Canton Valais to go with it for dessert. 

Don’t you just love trying out all the different Swiss foods of all the regions and sometimes even as local as a small town?

Talk to you soon!

Gros bisous from Geneva,

Laura

The Furka Pass is one of Switzerland’s highest, and most beautiful mountain passes. The highest point of this scenic road is at 2436m above sea level and marks the border between the two Swiss Cantons Uri and Valais. A slow travel trip over these winding mountain roads is a must-do road trip in Switzerland and can be done from approximately June to October. 

Travelling on the highway can be quite boring. If you choose the alternative routes, going over the Swiss mountain passes, you get to see so much beauty that the trip itself is already worth it! ‘Travel is about the journey, not the destination’, a famous travel quote which is definitely true for Swiss mountain passes! Take your time for this trip; we wanted to stop at so many places to take photos!

We went over the Furka Pass in summer, when driving back to Geneva from our holiday in Flims, Graubünden. The Furka Pass is close to other Swiss scenic mountain roads, so depending from where you start, you may have it combined with the Susten Pass, Oberalp Pass or the Grimsel Pass. 

The Furkapass starts in Andermatt, and finishes in Gletsch in the region Obergoms in the Valais, or the other way around of course.

Realp and Tiefenbach

From Andermatt you will first pass the village Realp with its cute Hotel Post, and as of here the ascension on the road full of hairpin bends will start. Quickly after Realp, you will get to the very small village Tiefenbach, with literally only a handful of houses, a Hotel with a restaurant, and a small alpine chapel.

Highest point

On the highest point of the Furka Pass, you will be able to see the sign marking the border between the Canton Uri and the Canton Valais. You will also find one of the photo spots of the Grand Tour of Switzerland here, so don’t miss that photo opportunity! The views are amazing of course. 

James Bond on the Furka Pass

The next stop on your road trip is Hotel Belvédère which gained fame as a James Bond film location for the movie ‘Goldfinger’. Hotel Belvédère is located right on a hairpin bend. In high season in summer, it can get quite busy at this spot, so if you would like the perfect picture as you see them on Instagram, come early, or late… As you can see in our photos, when we were there in the middle of the day, it was quite busy.

Across the curve of Hotel Belvédère, you will see the view on the Rhone Glacier. On site there is a small souvenir shop, and an entrance to visit the Rhone Glacier Grotto. 

Canton Valais, a steam train and the Postbus

The beautiful road then takes you into the Canton Valais, or Wallis, to the town Gletsch. Along the road trip on the Furkapass, you may have seen the beautiful old steam train. This is a nice alternative to visit the Furkapass in summer. 

More information on the 18-km trip on the Furka Steam Train: https://www.dfb.ch/index.php?id=986&L=3

The Swiss Post Bus also goes on the Furka Pass, but do check the time tables in case you decide to leave your car, hike a bit, and take a Postbus back. We took hitchhikers back to their car, who found out the bus was not due to come for a few more hours…

Goms bridge

Quickly after arriving in the Canton Valais, you will pass the Goms bridge linking the villages Fürgangen and Mühlebach. Make sure you stop to see and cross this impressive bridge of 280 meters long over the Rhone river. The bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the Valais, and it wiggles when you cross it. The Goms bridge is open all year round. 

If you would like to make your Swiss road trip longer and enjoy the highlights on the way there are many more opportunities that open up to you from here. Close by, you could for example go and see the Great Aletsch Glacier, either by going up to Bettmeralp, or, by visiting Blatten bei Naters and its beautiful Belalp mountain.

Before you start your road trip, you can check if the Furka Pass is open here.

Aren’t we all looking for ideas to make this winter break somehow fun and special? We’ve seen most things cancelled or closed. No Christmas markets, no events, and not being able to travel to our family for Christmas for a lot of us. Most governments tell you to stay at home, but the Swiss government also says you can go into the forest or just outside. Here are some ideas for a fun but safe winter break near Geneva and Vaud!

Ouchui.ch, a completely free tour of different areas in Geneva

We recently tried this guided tour of Carouge by simply going online on our mobile on the website: https://ouchui.ch. There are different scavenger hunts of different areas in Geneva, and two of them are also available in English so far: Carouge and Geneva (the one starting on the Quai du Mont-Blanc). The scavenger hunt will take you around the area and you will learn a lot of history on the way. We liked the Carouge one, and there were plenty of things we didn’t know, for instance, did you know that Carouge has the oldest tram line in Europe?

Magic winter lights in Carouge

Carouge also puts up very nice lights in winter, and they will be there until mid-January, so fill up your thermos mug with hot chocolate or mulled wine and go for an evening walk. 

Note for Carouge: bring your mask, as in the pedestrian area of Carouge masks are mandatory. 

Family Hikes

In the vineyards, in the forest, or next to the rivers. There are plenty of hiking paths in or near Geneva! We personally always think it lifts up our spirits to go out for a walk, and when spending so much time at home, it really is necessary to go outside.

You can find some of our suggested hikes on: https://letsexplore.ch/family-hikes-around-geneva/ (note: Gorges de la Jogne hike is closed in winter and if you do not want to walk in snow, do not choose the higher hikes).

We recently tried another hike near the Allondon river, la Roulave. We still have to write about this one but will drop that itinerary here as soon as it’s written down. 

Winter Activities for Non-Skiers

You want to go to the snow but you are not a skier? There are plenty of alternatives around Geneva and Vaud! Sledging, snow shoeing, or cross-country skiing (everyone can do that, but 1 lesson for the technique is always good). 

We recently went sledging on the Col de la Givrine in Vaud and we did end up in a big traffic jam though. So, for Covid safe activities, try to adapt your timing by going early for instance. Once we managed to park, the area is still big enough for social distancing, so that was fine. 

Our non-skiers suggestions to enjoy winter wonderland can be found here: https://letsexplore.ch/2020/01/16/winter-activities-near-geneva-for-non-skiers/

Skiing

Skiing is possible, but not in all Cantons and things change rather quickly with all the measures, so always check the tourism website of the town you are heading to!

Close to Geneva and Vaud, you can ski on the Jura. We are lucky as there has been quite some snow falls recently! If you would like to head a bit further, or higher up, here is a selection of our favorite ski resorts, but of course, you can only go to the Swiss ones now as the resorts in France are still closed. Also think of bringing your own picnic as the restaurants are closed, or only open for take away at the moment. 

Family friendly ski resorts: https://letsexplore.ch/2018/08/28/top-family-friendly-ski-resorts/

Is skiing Covid safe? Well, the resorts have to guarantee all the measures, so social distancing while waiting in line, take away for the restaurants, downsized lift capacity, and masks on on all the mountain transport. Apart from that it is to the Canton, and everyone’s own estimation of risk. 

Neuchatel Belle Epoque Scavenger Hunt

Another outdoor activity for the whole family while discovering the beautiful Swiss city Neuchatel. The Neuchatel Bell Epoque Scavenger Hunt is really well done! You pick up your scavenger hunt kit from the tourism office and off you go finding your way through the old town, along its frescoes, and while solving puzzles. More information on this scavenger hunt here: https://www.j3l.ch/en/P34107/scavenger-hunt-les-chenapans

Cooking World Dishes at Home

If you stay at home a lot, cooking can be a fun activity, and why not with the whole family? In a year where we almost couldn’t travel it can be fun to pick a world dish, cook it together, put on some local world music on Spotify and check some facts about that specific country! 

On our blog we have plenty of world recipes that we have cooked together with locals from these countries. You can check out inspiration for recipes on our World Food series here on our blog: https://letsexplore.ch/world-food/

Crans Montana Latern Walk

Legends and fairy tales on this Lantern winter path in Crans Montana! We haven’t been yet, but it looks super beautiful and since it’s outdoors, it could be a great covid safe activity for the winter break. More information on this magical winter walk: https://www.crans-montana.ch/en/magical_experiences/

Eat outdoors, grill sausages like the Swiss or eat a fondue

Well, why not?! In Switzerland people love to eat outdoors. Grilling sausages on an open fire is quite common practice and, in some areas, even day cares do that with the kids regularly. 

We have also eaten our fondue outdoors, in both summer and winter, and if you make a fire, you could even be safe meeting up with one other family while social distancing. 

Would you like to know more about Swiss food: https://letsexplore.ch/switzerland-swiss-food/

Ice skating on natural ice

*update January 2021: ice skating on Lac de Joux will not be allowed even if it freezes up *

We haven’t seen it yet this winter, but, some lakes are known to be great places for ice skating when they freeze up. Beautiful Oeschinensee in the Kander Valley is one of those dreamy places and quite a bucket list place for ice skating. Closer by, keep checking for the Lac de Joux, even though this lake doesn’t always freeze up as it is quite a big lake. Closer to Geneva, check what the current situation of Lac Lamoura in Les Rousses is. As this is one of the smaller lakes, it tends to freeze up quicker. 

Website for the Jura lakes: Montagne du Jura lakes

Museums or castles

What to say when the situation differs per Canton? Of course, we’ll be a lot warmer in museums. The Federal Council closed museums during their press conference on December 18th but some Cantons with lower numbers of the virus could still keep their museums open. At the moment of publishing this article, this is the case for the majority of the French speaking cantons, but since it changes constantly, do check before you go, and for most museums, buy your tickets online as they too have put in a lot of protection and manage their crowd control.

Suggestions we like: Musée du Léman in Nyon, Chillon Castle, beautiful Laténium archeology museum in Neuchatel, and in Geneva Maison Tavel or the archeological site underneath the Cathedral!