Hiking with Kids in Switzerland: Frequently Asked Questions

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:

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:

>> 10 Theme Trails to Motivate Lazy Kids
>> 10 Reasons Why Your Kids Will Love Switzerland

Hiking with kids and family fun in Switzerland

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:

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Related Posts

3 comments

  1. What a wonderful site! We are planning to spend 7-8 days in Switzerland before heading to a wedding in France in late July 2018. We are flying from western Canada. We could fly into Zurich or Geneva. I had thought about Zurich and then spend 4 nights there (with a day trip to Luzern) and then maybe move on to Lauterbrunnen for 3 or 4 nights. Wondering your thoughts about that?
    1. Would you suggest Lauterbrunnen? I don’t want to stay in Interlaken but would like to rent bikes (3 adults, 3 kids ages almost 4, 7 and 8.5 at times of travel). We want to hike (easy hikes, like 2-3 hours per day with snacks in there somewhere!) and bike (again easy biking!). We want to travel by train because fitting 6 in one vehicle is challenging. Would it be better to stay in Bern and do day trips for hiking? It seems cumbersome but would like your opinion.
    2. Would you suggest Montreux area? We could do a couple days there on our way to Provence but I hate moving all of our stuff too many times. Not sure how much there is for kids there etc.
    3. I generally book on Airbnb, do you have another suggestion for apartments or houses to rent?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Wow, that’s a lot of questions! In short, if you want to explore the Jungfrau Region, I would definitely stay in Lauterbrunnen, not Interlaken and definitely not Bern (way too far from the mountains and expensive and time wasted by traveling by train back and forth each day). If you want to visit other areas in the Bernese Alps besides the Jungfrau Region, then Interlaken is a better choice because all trains connect there to other places. There are some train travel passes for the Jungfrau Region that would make your stay more affordable. You should definitely get SBB Junior Passes for all children aged 6-16, which allows them to travel free on all public transport and most mountain transport if traveling with an adult. Next summer those passes will probably cost CHF 30 per child. You should check sample train prices on SBB.ch so you know what you’re getting into. For example, and adult round trip from Zurich to Luzern is about CHF 52.

      The Jungfrau region is not really the place for “easy” biking. You can bike in the valley, but your time is probably better spend hiking in that region if you want the spectacular views.

      Zurich is worth one day, Luzern a half day, the rest of the time you’ll probably want to be in the mountains. It’s hard to know what to recommend because each traveler wants something different from their trip.

      If I were coming to Switzerland for a week, I’d probably rent an apartment near Interlaken (the most affordable is a week rental, usually Sat to Sat), then do day trips from there. I’d rent a car because it saves you time and gives you more flexibility (I don’t know what the car rental prices are but you should really look at the train prices and compare). There are so many mountains to visit within an hour drive of Interlaken, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

      Montreux – I’d skip it. It’s not close enough to the mountain areas. It’s a nice town on the lake, but there are better uses of your precious time in Switzerland (maybe someone from that area disagrees?!?).

      Airbnb is fine. We usually check on multiple sites (like Homeaway and Interhome) and find the same properties listed with different prices, then book with the best one. I prefer services other than Airbnb because on other sites you can submit a request without committing, so you can request multiple properties at the same time. Also Airbnb adds fees so the final price is often the same or higher than other sites.

      It’s hard to squeeze all my advice in a comment. If you need more advice, feel free to email me momstots (at) gmail (dot) com

Comments are closed.