Alps Family European Road Trip Guide

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Alpine Tourism Commission which is comprised of AustriaGermany, and Switzerland

We are continuing to plan our ultimate Absolutely Alps family road trip. We have been talking more about everything we want to do and I have found the Alpine Tourism’s three wonderful itineraries to be so much help as we work through everything we want to see and do. One thing I know for sure is that we want to split the trip up with Pete driving in parts, and other parts taking the train. That seems like the best way to do it for us. We are basing our plans of off Pete’s high school trip to the 3 regions on the Absolutely Alps route: Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, but that was years ago, so the guides are very helpful as we fine tune the places we will be stopping in and the activities we will be doing. We are hoping to book this trip towards the end of 2017, but that might have to be moved up to even sooner because this Absolutely Alps video really got us all excited to visit.  I’m not sure we will be able to wait! Thankfully the Alps is a great travel destination for spring, summer, and fall so no matter when we visit we are in for a wonderful vacation! We are all so excited to experience the culture, cuisine ( like these 9 must-try dishes), and hospitality of the Alps, with a big emphasis on the beauty of the Alps. I can’t wait to make memories together there!

Here is the itinerary we are still planning use:

For our road trip, we would plan to start in Switzerland and make our way to car-free Zermatt. It is located at the foot of the Matterhorn, and the Matterhorn is on Emmy’s list of things we absolutely have to see. Pete and the girls plan to ski some as the ski region here encompasses 63 mountain railways and over 220 miles of slopes! Since it is also known for the 250 miles of hiking trails throughout the Matter Valley, Ashley has asked that we make sure to plan time to hike some. I know we won’t be able to hike all of those 250 miles, but we plan to explore as many of them as we can. Another thing we have as a must do on our trip while in Switzerland is to ride the cog railway. It operates between Zermatt and the over 10,000-foot-high Gornergrat platform. We can’t wait to take in the breathtaking views of the Matterhorn and of glaciers. This is a 33-minute round trip on Europe’s highest open-air cog railway and is perfect for families.  It is a pretty quick so it will hold the attention of little one. Plus I’ve always wanted to ride a cog railroad!


I can’t wait to see Matterhorn in person! Switzerland is so beautiful!  


I’m also mesmerized by The Glacier Express. Can you even imagine the sights you can see from up there?!


Another must see on our itinerary is Oberhofen Castle, on Lake Thun. I have heard so many people talk about it and its historically significant past. An American even helped secure its place as a museum now.  I think the girls would learn a lot from visiting a castle dating back to the 1200’s.   Next on our trip will be Germany. I know it is also going to be a big memory maker along our road trip through the Alps, whether we decide to drive or take the train.  When we are traveling, we try to see as many different sights as possible, so I know that we would definitely want to visit the Black Forest. It is quite the place to see with mountains, breathtaking views, deep lakes, and charming valleys. It is also the largest nature park in Germany, and it has an array of health and spa resorts, thermal baths, and delicious regional food along with towns filled with historic architectural treasures. 


We would also want to visit Mainau Island to see the hundreds of species of plants and trees that have been planted there. The island is also well known for their positive environmental practices. Plus,  we would really enjoy seeing these blue waters.  


Our ultimate road trip would wind down in Austria. I would imagine that this part of our trip would be via car. Until I met Pete and heard about Austria from him, I really didn’t know what a rich history the county has, and all the beautiful areas there are to visit. He drove through on a bus with his group, and he really enjoyed all the little towns that they stopped at, so we would most likely want to do the same.

One such area that really caught my eye while I have been planning is Tirol. Tirol, which is located in the heart of the Alps and surrounded by majestic mountains, rolling meadows, and picturesque valleys has villages such as Alpbach (likely a permanent settlement for more than 1,000 years). This is another area that I would love to share the long local history with my girls so that they can learn about history where it actually happened.


The cozy homes here are surrounded by flowers and are crafted with bold, natural wood and stone that can easily withstand the rugged environment and its weather, while still blending beautifully into the landscape. I love seeing all the different types of architecture that are in the region, and climate specific. This seems like a place I would fall immediately in love with!  

We are also planning to visit Salzburgerland to get a real feel for the people of Austria. It is a place where our girls would love to explore with us through hiking, enjoying the local cuisine, and watching the children of the area play in their traditional clothing.


We are still planning on a two-week road trip, but we are also going to leave some flexibility there in case we want to stay a bit longer, which I’m sure we will! Are you planning a vacation to the Alps too? Here are the 9 best hidden gems in the Alps and 9 fun facts about the Alps for you to help with your planning too! 

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


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