Switzerland Things to Do

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.

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