Where to hike with kids in Switzerland?

I often get questions from families about where they should go hiking. Perhaps you don’t know where to start or are overwhelmed with the choices. In any case, I’m here to help. So below, I share ideas on where to start, how I find places to hike with my kids, and tips for figuring out the best option for your family.

Where to go first?

Here are my top three hikes for families that I’m sure you’ll love. Each has beautiful views, interactive elements, play equipment, easy trails, and great picnic areas. They are all close enough to Zurich for a day trip by car or train. Just pick a nice day and try it.

If you have older kids and want a more challenging hike that will impress, here are our three faves:

Don’t hold out for the Matterhorn. There are so many mountains and so many spectacular vistas in Switzerland, that you don’t have to go far or spend much to get a fantastic authentic Swiss alp experience.

How to best use Moms:Tots:Zurich

Lucky for you, we’ve already done a lot of research on family-friendly hikes. We’ve done dozens hikes in Switzerland, with many successes and some fails. I write up all the details here so you can maximize the fun and minimize the frustration.

A good place to start is the Top 10 lists. Here are a few you might like:

We routinely update our Current Picks to reflect the season and weather. Also check our Hiking Calendar to see what we recommend for each month. My Activity Map is a good way to look for stuff to do in a particular region.

Make sure you follow our Facebook page. On Thursdays or Fridays, I usually post a recommendation for the weekend based on the weather forecast. Follow us Instagram page to see what we’re doing right now. Subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss any new posts.

Use our Pinterest boards

On our Pinterest page, I pin all the Moms:Tots:Zurich posts into a variety of categories. I also pin hikes from other websites that I want to do soon. Also, every post on our website has a “pinable” so you can pin it for later and remember which hikes caught your idea without having to search for them again.

Hiking with kids in Switzerland: Getting Started

How do we find new places to go?

I give my husband lots of credit for finding the great outings that show up on this blog. He combs through lots of websites and blogs to get ideas. He also has an uncanny ability to pick the perfect place at the perfect time, like finding the only sunny place when the whole country is covered in clouds. I’m a lucky woman.

Here are all the ways we find new stuff to do…

Get inspired. To get inspiration for new family hikes, we often browse Switzerland web portals like My Switzerland and Schweizer Familie. However, I never rely on them to find detailed trail info. They rarely provide trail maps or detailed trail descriptions and more than once, I’ve gotten totally lost using their info. So I typically study maps before heading out.

Pick a resort. I find the best info on the mountain resort websites. I just pick a mountain and look at the websites for the cable cars in that area. Most promote family-friendly activities, including hikes. Study the trail map before you go. Look for short loop trails designed for families or trails that lead to picnic areas and playgrounds.

Browse online maps. I like map.search.ch that has little icons for cable cars and funiculars as well as attractions like waterfalls, restaurants, rodelbahns, etc.

Study official hiking routes. I use hiking websites like wanderland.ch to find official routes. But since many are too long or difficult for families, I usually get creative and make my own shorter version.

Ask your friends and stalk expats blogs. I find personal recommendations so much more useful than generic overviews on tourist websites.

Wherever you go, visit the Tourist Information Office and grab all the free maps and brochures on offer, especially those outlining family friendly activities and hiking options in a wide surrounding area.

Collect free summer hiking maps and tourist brochures available where you buy your gondola ticket to see other options in that area.

Revisit favorite areas. Since you’ve already been there, you should already have the local maps, making it much easier to select an appropriate trail. Visit the same places during different seasons.

How to beat bad weather

If you stayed home every time it was forecast for rain in Switzerland, you’d hardly go out. So we have become experts at figuring out how to make the best of a bad forecast. Here’s what we do.

Study the precipitation and cloud maps. Even if it’s cloudy in Zurich, it’s often sunny just an hour drive south or west. We rely on Search.ch for our forecasting, particularly the weather animations that show where it will be rainy and/or cloudy over the course of a day. We use this to decide where we will hike.

Watch the mountain webcam channel (on SF Zwei from 7:30-8:30am) on weekend mornings to pick a hiking area with nice weather.

Don’t wait for the weather.  When all else fails, put on your raincoat and pack an umbrella. You might just make some memories.

 

>>> Ready to hike? Get inspired with our current picks for this season.

 

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