Switzerland makes it so easy for families to enjoy the alps, with well-marked trails, theme trails designed for families and plentiful mountain transport. But it’s still important to know what to expect and how to prepare. I get a lot of questions about hiking with kids in Switzerland: how we find the best places to go, what supplies we bring, what our kids wear on the trail, where we stay, etc. With over 12 years of family hiking here, we’ve got a few answers.
I’m not much of a hiker or outdoors person / my kids have never hiked. Is there something for my family?
Yes! I realize that not everyone loves hiking as much as I do, but I’m also not a high adventure, extreme sports person either. I prefer activities that don’t require special equipment or skills. I also like easy, relaxing outings just as much as other busy parents. So this site includes lots of hikes that are specifically designed for families, which usually means they are relatively short and you won’t break a sweat. Also, at most mountains, you can simply take the gondola up and enjoy an amazing view (often with a playground) without having to hike at all, if that’s more your speed. There’s something for everyone.
>> Start with our Short and Easy hikes.
Where should I go hiking with kids? Too many options!
Lucky for you, we’ve already done a lot of research on family-friendly hikes. Our website has all the hikes and activities we like and recommend. A good place to start is the Top 10 lists.
Here are a few you might like:
>> 10 Gorgeous Swiss Lakes for Kids to Throw Rocks Into
>> 10 Big Playgrounds with Big Views in the Swiss Alps
>> 10 Wildflower and Waterfalls Walks for Kids in Switzerland
Curious how we find new places to hike?
How do I motivate my tweens/teens that don’t like hiking or the outdoors?
Switzerland has lots of hikes designed specifically for families, with all sorts of attractions for kids. Many trails have playgrounds and theme trails with interactive stations scattered along the way. Many mountain resorts offer attractions like rope courses, summer toboggan runs, mountain bike and scooter trails. These guides should help you find something to interest your kids:
Switzerland is expensive! How can I save some money?
Choose hikes that don’t require mountain transport, where you can drive or take a bus directly to the trailhead. This include like walks along lakes and rivers.
Visit less popular areas, which are cheaper and less crowded but still amazingly beautiful. For suggestions, see my Swiss Alps on a Budget post.
Get your SBB Halbtax card immediately, which gives you half-fare on most mountain transport. For kids aged 6 to 15, get a SBB Junior Card, which costs CHF 30 for one year and allows the child to travel for free almost everywhere when accompanied by a parent. Children under 6 generally travel for free everywhere in Switzerland.
If you travel by public transport to the hike, look for SBB combo offers that give a discount if you purchase both the train and mountain transport together. Look for trains with family cars that have a little play area on the train for little kids.
Where do you stay overnight in Switzerland?
We typically do day trips from Zurich, so most activities recommended on this site are within a 2 hour drive of Zurich. We rarely do overnight weekend trips but we have done several week-long holidays in Switzerland, staying in regions that are too far from Zurich for day trips. Here are some of my region guides:
- Jungfrau Region: Family Hikes
- Zermatt & Valais Region: Hiking with Kids in Switzerland
- Engadin Switzerland: Family Activities and Hikes
We usually rent self-catering apartments for several days, through sites like www.homeaway.com. It’s a better value: you get more room for less money, you can make meals at home (especially breakfast for kids that get up early and want to stay in PJs), you have a separate room to hang out in while the kids are asleep in a bedroom, and you are usually in a less touristy location. Plus you have the option of staying in adorable traditional places like this:
In Switzerland, we’ve stayed in these areas: Lauterbrunnen in Jungfrau valley, Grächen in the Zermatt valley, Leukerbad in the Valais, Gluringen near Riederalp, Scoul in the Engadin, Champex in west Valais, camping in Locarno.