Switzerland Things to Do

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Things to Do in Switzerland as a Family

While winter may be one of the best times to visit Switzerland, summer offers visitors verdant greens, flowering valleys, and excellent walking trails. On the other hand, winter brings you magical snow-covered villages, enchanting Christmas markets, and of course, outstanding skiing. Here are a few Swiss family-friendly activities you should not miss.

See and interact with the animals at Basel Zoo

A non-profit zoo, Basel Zoo’s official name is Zoologischer Garten Basel. It is the country’s largest and oldest zoo that welcomes more than a million visitors annually which makes it one of the most visited attractions in the country. It has a variety of animals from across the world that kids can get up close to. The zoo’s segregated categories and organized layouts promise to be one of the most fun and educative experiences for little ones.

The zoo has a reputation for being one of the best breeders and has one of the most beautiful botanical gardens with more than a hundred species of exotic animals and birds. It is open throughout the year but the best time to visit is summer when you can take a pleasant walk without worries of rain.

River rafting through the Swiss Grand Canyon

Just an easy day trip from Zurich, river rafting through the Swiss Grand Canyon is exhilarating and unforgettable, however, it’s only suitable for families with bigger kids or teenagers. The river is mild enough, however, a guide is still necessary to keep you safe as it does have class 3 rapids. Open from May to mid-October, rafters must be at least 10 years old and know how to swim.

Various companies have river rafting tours and they provide not only the guide but the equipment as well. All you need to bring is a swimsuit and a smile. River rafting is a great family activity if you’re in Switzerland during summer, or even during rainy days since you’re going to get wet anyway. The family will surely have loads of fun with this one.

Enjoy the alpine coasters

Quite a few mountains in the country have alpine coasters which allow you to ride down a track on individual cars. The hand brakes help you control the speed of the coasters. The longest one has a 3 km track and can be found in Prädischer, reaching speeds of up to 40 km/hr. Most coasters require you to sit on a sled with a machine dragging you up and down located either at the end or the start of your ride.

However, there are a few places where you have to ride a chair lift to reach the coaster’s top, such as Prädischer and Floomzer. This significantly adds up to the cost of the ride but you have an option to skip the lift and hike up the ride instead, provided that the children are up to it.

Skiing in Zermatt

Zermatt is truly a winter paradise for families, and unlike other resorts; the place has managed to retain a real holiday atmosphere, despite the ever-growing number of visitors. The mountains are consistently white and the streets snowy. The presence of horse-drawn sleighs and countless snowy playgrounds make it seem as if it’s Christmas every day. Private cars are banned so the place is devoid of congestion and traffic and there’s less pollution.

Children are welcome in restaurants across Zermatt that have kids’ menus and serve early dinners. Little ones need not miss out on the fun as they can go on the Leisee Wolli-park ski area for learners. With the best lift pass offers, children below 9 ski for free whilst those under 16 get half-price passes.

Zermatt offers more than just skiing, there’s a massive open-air skating rink, a toboggan run from Rotenboden to Riffelalp, indoor climbing walls, and an endless number of playgrounds. If you need any more proof that Zermatt is family-friendly, it has the distinction of being awarded the ‘Family Destination’ quality label.

Visit Schweizerischer National Park

Recognized as a country with stunning sights at every turn, sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge where to go in Switzerland. However, one thing is certain, a trip to the country is incomplete if you miss Schweizerischer National Park or the Swiss National Park. it is the country’s sole national park and in it, you will see verdant meadows and snow-crusted glaciers. Hiking trails abound, each more beautiful than the last.

Some visitors have plenty of luck when they visit and they see some of the park’s residents such as red deer, ibexes, and red squirrels. Who knows, the whole family might get lucky too? Don’t forget to check out the skies and you might see golden eagles.

Explore Lake Geneva

Also known as Europe’s largest alpine lake, Lake Geneva is the European seat of the United Nations, it’s a unique place that exemplifies the strict precision of the Swiss and joie de vivre of the French. Lake Geneva is famous for the beautiful lake, of course, chocolate, and banks. The fountain, also called Jet d’Eau, shoots more than a hundred meters into the air and is one of the area’s most famous landmarks.

Saunter through the old town and see the most beautiful historic buildings. Go to the top of St. Peter’s Cathedral through the tower, which kids will undoubtedly love, and get the most spectacular views in town. Head to Bastion Park, the home of the famous Geneva monument – the Reformation Wall. Sure, kids, especially young ones will get bored with history but there are other things to do at the park, such as play a game of giant chess.

A few other things worth checking out are the Art History Museum, Le Boir de la Batie Park & Zoo, and the Franz Carl Weber Toy Store. The massive toy store has a wide array of toys that it’s going to be a challenge to leave without buying anything. Be ready to spend at least an hour in Franz Carl alone.

Lounge in luxury at St. Moritz

One of the world’s top mountain destinations that boast palatial hotels and restaurants with prices that will leave you gobsmacked, St. Moritz is a chic resort town that you need to see if you have the budget. It has hosted two winter Olympics to date and sits 1,800 meters above sea level. The town has two parts, St. Moritz Bad, a health resort with less expensive lodging, and St. Moritz Dorf, the sunny terrace overlooking the lake.

Winter sports abound, such as tobogganing, snowboarding, skiing, bobsledding, and skating. If you come in the summer, you can try your hand at biking, hiking, and water sports. Don’t worry if the family only speaks English, the area is a cultural crossroads with locals speaking French, Italian, German, Romansch, and English. There is also a sizable expat community in the area.

Hop on the Albula/Bernina Railway line

The Albula/Bernina Railway Line holds the distinction of being a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. It offers one of the most magnificent rides which should not be missed. The route covers 122 kilometres and winds through 200 bridges, a few tunnels, some viaducts, and the Graubünden mountains. The train works all year long so get on it. You’ll get magical views in summer and winter.

Take a tour of the cheese factory in Gruyères

This small mediaeval town might be known for its hard, yellow cheese, but it has so much more to offer. But of course, you should start your visit with a tour of the cheese factory, taste the local specialities and say hi to the cows that call the verdant hills their home. They deserve some attention too, they produce the cheese, after all.

Gruyères might be tiny but there are plenty of things to do in the area. After your cheese tour, you can go to the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory, the castle of Gruyères, Saint-Germain Castle which now houses a museum, and The Tiber Museum which is inside an old church. If the family loves the outdoors, Gorges de la Jogne is a favourite of hikers and Mont Moléson is quite popular with climbers during the warmer season.

Relax in a thermal bath

Switzerland has a long history of thermal spas and for centuries even royalty relished the opportunity to soak in the healing water of local springs. Take your pick from massive health resorts or smaller wellness centres, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of relaxing in a 40-degree pool while the snowflakes gently fall on your face.

Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad is one of the most popular thermal baths in the country and it’s located on top of Mt. Rigi. Aside from outdoor and indoor pools, they also have an outdoor lounging area and herbal steam baths. However, the largest spa resort in the country is Leukerbad-Therme. They have a private mineral-rich spring with enough water to fill 10 thermal baths.

Spend the night in an igloo

For something completely different, why not spend the night in an igloo? A few Alpine ski resorts in the area have but igloos to double as room rentals during winter. They each have packages so pick one suitable for your needs, but most igloo rooms come with welcome hot drinks, sleeping bags, and battery-charged lights or lamps.

Go dogsledding

Husky runs are another popular activity in Switzerland. Most of these husky runs start from ski resorts and are part of their offerings for non-skiers. However, there are various options all over the country and a few of the most popular ones are at the Les Rosées-Dessous, the Lake Geneva region, and Jungfraujoch near Interlaken. If you’re not particularly keen on dogsledding, you can head to Barry Foundation which has guided walks on the snow during winter and animal-assisted therapy.

Have a winter walk with St. Bernards in Champex-Lac

Who wouldn’t want to pass up the opportunity to spend time with St. Bernards? Children will jump at the chance! First bred for rescue by monks in the 1600s at the Great St. Bernard Hospice on the Swiss border, St. Bernards are a common sight in the country.

The Barry Foundation has kept the tradition alive and to date, there are still breeding kennels for St. Bernards. Aside from their centre for animal-assisted education and therapy, they have a few other activities and the most popular is the winter walks. Lasting 45 minutes, these walks are in the Champex-Lac with one of the dogs pulling a sled that a small child can ride.

Get some adrenaline rush at the Titlis Cliff Walk

Sitting more than 3,000 metres above sea level and 500 metres above the beautiful snow-covered cliffs, Titlis is regarded as the highest suspension bridge in Europe. Barely a meter wide, it is certainly not for those who are scared by heights. You ride a gondola up Mount Titlis to get to the bridge with the otherworldly 360-degree views of the stunning glaciers. After your gondola ride, you walk to the glacier cave that ends on a viewing platform. On the other side of the 100-metre-long bridge is the Ice flyer glacier chairlift station.

Top Places to Visit in Switzerland

Despite its size, Switzerland is one of the countries on top of people’s bucket lists. The country has numerous things to offer, aside from its scenic vistas. It’s a massive playground for kids of all ages, including adults! It’s always challenging to keep the whole family entertained when travelling but there’s no lack of activities in the country. We have rounded up some of the most interesting for you.

Chateau de Chillon

An exquisite medieval stricture, Chateau de Chillon is located on an island in Lake Geneva close to the well-known town of Montreux. The castle was used as a strategic water fort in the 10th century and is currently a summer for the affluent Counts of Savoy. One of the most visited historical monuments in the country today, it contains countless arts and treasures.

Admission cost for children is only half the admission cost of adults and guided tours that last between 50 and 80 minutes in various languages, including Spanish, Japanese, Russian, French, Chinese, and English are available. A trip to the chateau with children is an excellent living and hands-on approach to art, history, and architecture. The weapons room is something that kids and teenagers might particularly like.

The Matterhorn

Most children recognize Matterhorn from Toblerone’s packaging. The pyramid-shaped mountain is one of the most photographed in the world and stands 4,478 meters. It has been thrilling adventure seekers from all over the world and hundreds of people attempt to summit every year. Don’t worry if you’re not in excellent physical shape because you can still enjoy it with the children when you ride the cable car.

The stunning views of the mountain peaks are surreal. It doesn’t get more Swiss than a trip to the famous Matterhorn.

Chaplin’s World

Located in Vevey, one of Switzerland’s most picturesque towns, this children’s museum takes the kids and the kids at heart on a magical journey through the life and art of one of the most recognizable comedians in the world, Charlie Chaplin. The former country estate was where the artist spent the last 25 years of his life. Perched on a plateau overlooking the Alps and Lake Leman, the property has a Hollywood-style studio and an exhibit wing.

You can walk through the scenes from Chaplin’s many movies and see wax replicas of the comedian’s iconic characters. Family photos and evocative memorabilia, such as Chaplin’s familiar hat and cane are on display too. Allow at least a couple of hours to do this place justice.

Swiss Vapeur Parc

A theme park for train lovers young and old, Swiss Vapeur Parc in Le Bouveret opened in 1989 and expanded in 2007. Kids and adults can ride all kinds of replica trains on a scale of 1:4, from steam to electric. The park has 3 different train routes and 3 stations where you can go on and off a train and change lines. Visitors can ride as many times as they want.

Trains run through detailed miniatures of Swiss monuments, bridges, viaducts, and a tunnel. The park also has a botanic garden that is home to more than a hundred and thirty species of plants and trees. At certain times of the year, the park hosts various themed events, do check the website for more information.

Rhine Falls Adventure Park

For the more daring kids and adults, Rhine Falls Adventure Park is the largest rope park in the country in terms of area. There are 170 obstacles open to visitors aged 4 and up, it’s the place to be for those who are looking for an adrenaline rush and adventure.

Balance from tree to tree, plunge in free fall from a platform or go on the Panorama Express, a 460-meter long stretch of cable car with unrivalled views of the falls, all while being secured to a safety harness system at all times. With a first of its kind in safety technology, visitors can enjoy their time without worries. Allow at least three hours to enjoy the activities. Non-climbers watching from the ground are given free access.

Verkehrshaus der Schweiz or Lucerne Transportation Museum

This interactive museum in Lucerne has thousands of displays that narrate the history of transport and mobility. This is where your children can explore the history of transportation, as well as have a glimpse of its future, not just on Earth but in outer space too. Aside from the galleries that are devoted to the sea, air, and land travel, the museum also houses an IMAX theatre and planetarium. Who wouldn’t be excited by that?

Children will be chuffed to bits when they take a closer look at engines, space capsules, and cars but one of the highlights of the museum is the chocolate-themed exhibit that’s designed to educate visitors about the origin, production, and transportation of one of the country’s most famous products! You can save time by purchasing tickets online.

Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe

The train journey to Jungfraujoch is something that adults and children alike will relish. The scenic observatory and observation terrace perched at almost 3,500 meters gives visitors panoramic 360-degree views of the surrounding area. The Great Aletsch Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, starts at Jungfraujoch and Jungfraujoch is the location of the highest post office in Europe.

Play in the snow, walk through an ice cave and hike out, there are plenty of things to do. Get an early start by booking the first train of the day, leaving with more than enough time to enjoy the scenery, avoid the crowds, and do all sorts of activities.

Swiss Science Center Technorama

This must-see science museum is where you can immerse yourself in the enchanting world of chemistry, biology, and physics. Children can ignite their curiosity and fire up their imagination with a wide array of interactive activities. 500 exhibits are waiting to be discovered, including experiment stations where you can test famous scientific theories.

Without a doubt, one of the most popular sections in the museum is the toy train collection, considered to be the best in the world. Don’t forget to bring a picnic and enjoy it in one of the indoor picnic spots or at the museum park.

Maestrani’s Chocolarium

If there’s one thing Switzerland is synonymous with, it’s chocolate, and a visit to the country is incomplete without dropping by any of the chocolate factories and museums. Located in Toggenburgerstrasse, the chocolarium is about 2 hours from Bern and is open daily except on Mondays. Maestrani’s is one of the oldest factories in the German part of the country.

You can attend a chocolate-making workshop and craft your very own masterpieces that you can take home. The Master Chocolatier will give you valuable insights into the different techniques of chocolate making and teach you a few fascinating tricks too. After which, you will be taken to the factory and guided through the numerous rooms where you will see the processes that bring chocolate to life. The best part is you get to take bites of freshly made chocolate while you watch the production line.

Ballenberg Open Air Museum

Transporting families to the past amidst picturesque surroundings, Ballenberg allows families to have fun outdoors and learn at the same time. The museum was opened in 1978 and it now has a collection of 110 farm buildings and rural houses relocated from all over the country. Aside from the authentic, centuries-old buildings, there is a variety of live demonstrations and exhibitions of old Swiss crafts, giving visitors a glimpse into Swiss culture.

Expect basket-weaving, braiding, carving, spinning, and many more, but you can do more than just watch the experts; you can join them too! Rounding up the attractions are a house with historical toys, a petting zoo, medicinal herbs, a forest trail, and courses on culture and customs.

Atzmännig

Dubbed as a leisure paradise for families with children, Atzmännig is a popular attraction in Zurich’s countryside. It boasts ropes courses, a giant alpine slide, a massive playground, and a variety of hiking choices that include a theme trail especially made for little ones. You’ll find young ones making a beeline for the ropes course that has a smaller course designed for kids aged 4 to 8.

Adults, as well as kids, who relish an adrenaline rush and fast descents, will find plenty of things to entertain them. Scream your hearts out at the tight bends of the toboggan run, try the bungee trampoline, or take a chance on bull riding. The chair lift also takes guests high up at almost 4,000 feet where they can feast their eyes on the spectacular vistas.

Valère Basilica

Also known as Valère Castle, Valère Basilica is located southwest of Switzerland in a town called Sion. Perched on a hill, it faces Château de Tourbillon. The fortified church was built between the early to the mid-12th century. Designed in Romanesque style, the building work took place over the next centuries and in the mid-15th century, the magnificent cathedral was finally installed.

The basilica’s organ still functions today and is believed to be one of the oldest functioning organs in the world. There is a free concert every Saturday afternoon during summer, with the 14th-century organ as the main attraction. Different musicians from all over the world come to interpret various musical pieces that are not so commonly heard.

After the cathedral was abandoned in 1798, part of it became a seminary while the remainder is still a museum today. You don’t need to pay anything to enter the cathedral, but for some spare change, you can learn more about the cathedral with a get a guided tour.

Château de Tourbillon

Also known as Tourbillon Castle, this imposing hilltop castle is something that will impress castle buffs, both young and old. Just a 20-minute walk from the station in Sion, it offers magnificent views of the Sion region and the canton of Valais. Built between 1290 and 1308, it was originally used as a residence of the bishop but was later expanded to include an exterior wall. The castle was badly damaged in a blaze in 1788 but was refurbished after the fire.

Conny Land

Yet another theme park near the Swiss-German border, Conny Land has 60 attractions that are more for little children. Easily walkable from one end to the other, kids aged between 4 to 10 will get the most of the day but there’s plenty of fun for younger kids too. Put your courage to the test on the Cobra, Europe’s largest linear roller coaster, or go on VooDoo Island, the interactive water playground.

Aside from the thrilling rides, there are live shows with dolphins, parrots, and sea lions, you can watch a play in the theatre too. The majority of the attractions have a roof so you can enjoy Conny Land no matter the weather. To make the most of your time, you should have at least half a day to spend in Conny Land.

Kindercity Children’s Museum

This children’s discovery ‘museum’ offers a variety of hands-on activities and has three play areas aimed at different age groups, from toddlers up to 10 years old. Very young visitors will find the Chäferliweg room quite the thrill with countless things to touch and climb on. More educational and not for pure fun, a few things kids will have a grand time with are the fun house mirrors, block room, and a water river with balls.

The roof of the building has an exterior play area where children can drive small go-karts, ride a train, and bungee jump, for an extra fee. In addition, various workshops such as making butter, chocolate, and bread are also available but you need to book these classes ahead of time.

Top Places to Eat Out in Switzerland

Exploring all the top attractions in the country can easily leave you not only knackered but famished too. Don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are the best places to eat out in Switzerland with the family.

Haus Hiltl

Listed in the Guinness World Records as the first vegetarian restaurant in the world, Haus Hiltl is located in the heart of Zurich. Named after its founder Ambrosius Hiltl, the restaurant has been serving meat-free dishes to patrons since 1898. They have an ala carte restaurant with waiter service, but of course, nothing beats the popularity of their buffet where customers can choose from more than a hundred homemade delicacies, tasty lemonade, and freshly squeezed fruit juices. The Züri Geschnetzeltes and Mango-Mousse are two things not to be missed in the restaurant.

If you fancy preparing meals for the family in your rental apartment or Airbnb, you can get fresh produce from the vegetarian butcher store. Of course, they offer a children’s menu plus various activities such as making crafts or drawing so the parents can eat in peace too.

Vieux Chalet

If you’re looking to pile on the cheese, Vieux Chalet, located in the town’s historic centre, has raclette as the star of their menu. The melted cheese is served on a plate with potatoes, bread, pearl onions, and gherkins. One of the highlights of dining there is watching the raclette being carved off a giant wheel of cheese. Indulge in a variety of cheese preparations and with more than 20 fondues on the menu, there’s always something for everyone. Book a table in advance to avoid waiting to be seated.

Santa Lucia by Bindella

People go to Santa Lucia for their delightful wood-fired pizzas. Located centrally in Barenplatz, Bern, it attracts all kinds of diners from busy office workers to families with little buttons in tow. The cosy terrace is perfect for al fresco dining, but regardless of where you sit, you’ll be pleased with the menu that includes fish, pasta, meat, and salads.

Because it is an Italian restaurant, much emphasis is also placed on young patrons, so for only nine francs, children aged 12 and below accompanied by an adult can pick whatever they like from the menu, minus the drinks, of course.

Le Chalet de Gruyères

If you want to have a taste of the best fondue in the country, you can never go wrong when you go straight to the source, and that is none other than Le Chalet de Gruyères. The cheese-making centre of Gruyères gives you nothing but all the cheesiness you have been looking for. The adults in the family can have the local wine or beer which goes well with raclette, fondue, and of course, the local dried meats. One dessert which is worth the travel is double Gruyères cream. Trust us, it’s decadent and it’s out of this world.

The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, welcomes pets, and offers vegan and meat-free dishes too. Book a table online to avoid standing in a queue as the restaurant is quite popular with both locals and tourists.

Restaurant Le Barocco

Serving French-style cuisine on the lower ground floor of Musée d’art et d’historie, all their dishes are made with local produce. When dining in the summer months, grab one of the tables in the inner courtyard and enjoy the cakes and pastries while the young ones play to their heart’s content in the MAH family area adjacent to the restaurant.

The family area features colouring materials, games, books, and puzzles which will keep the children entertained for hours on end. Keep in mind though, that they don’t accept cards, only cash, and they are closed on Mondays. Don’t forget to check out the museum and its fun workshops!

La Réserve Genève

If money is not an issue, you should splurge in this 5-star luxury hotel that has 5 sterling restaurants. In addition, they have a staffed playroom that’s open every day. The outdoor play area is perfect for warm summer days where children can go up and down treehouses and climb, as well as run around large wooden structures.

Take your pick from Tsé Fung, the first Chinese restaurant in the country awarded with a Michelin star; Summer Lodge, which offers all that’s good in the season, as well as a sushi bar; Café Lauren, which offers healthy options; Le Loti, where patrons can have a unique live cooking experience; and Le Bar. Where you can cap off the night with your favourite cocktails.

Restaurant Libelle

A favourite in Lucerne, Restaurant Libelle welcomes everyone from lone patrons who just want a cup of coffee to families looking for something to fill them up. Open, massive, and Industrial in décor and style, they have comfortable wooden tables in varying sizes, as well as seats both indoors and outdoors. With a terrace on the side.

Considering its popularity, it’s necessary to book a table ahead, especially when going during holidays and weekends. The play area comes with a dollhouse, toys, books, and hats. They even have a toilet especially for changing nappies.

Restaurant the Verandah

Highly rated and stylishly designed, The Verandah has excellent food and impeccable service. They offer typical Swiss food but are more popular for their delectable desserts and crepes, and we all know kids love both. Located in Hotel Royal St. Georges, the restaurant has mastered the art of blending contemporary cuisine with traditional Swiss flavours.

A few things on the menu worth the try are the fruit appetizer in three forms and the fondues served with local wines and a French baguette.

Piz Gloria

With an enviable location at the peak of Schilthorn, this rotating restaurant gives customers 360-degree views of the Alps. The distinct James Bond theme is because it appeared in the movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The sumptuous breakfast buffet, also called the James Bond Brunch, is a must and they serve small meals throughout the day too.

The cable car ride is usually included in the price. Reserve a table by the windows to enjoy the views. Children up to the age of 15 pay only 20 francs for the brunch and children under 6 travel and eat free of charge.

Restaurant Hotel Alpenhof

Located in Grindelwald, this traditional Swiss restaurant in a hotel has an elaborate menu and we particularly like the endless choice of rösti. Even cheese connoisseurs will be happy with their variety of raclette and fondue plus they will be more than delighted to serve extra potatoes with the fondue at no extra charge.

They have beef, veal, and pasta dishes, and their pasta-themed buffet on Mondays is worth the money too. Flavours are all on point, each dish carefully crafted, and their set meal offers good value.

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