I get lots of emails from families living in Zurich and those moving or traveling here. Here are the typical inquiries I get and my answers. I hope this helps.
Where should I go hiking tomorrow?
Like you, we often wonder all week what we’ll do next weekend. Sometimes the weather is great and there are too many choices. Other times, rain or clouds are making it difficult to find somewhere to go.
On Fridays, I usually post seasonal and weather appropriate ideas for the weekend our MomsTotsZurich Facebook page. That’s a good place to start.
If weather is an issue, start with the precipitation maps on meteo.search.ch and see where the break in the clouds and rain are. Then look at my Map of Hikes and Activities and pick something in that area.
I’m traveling to Switzerland this summer. Where should I go?
Start with my regional guides for the most popular areas in Switzerland: Zermatt & Valais Region and Jungfrau & Interlaken Region. If you are staying in Zurich and need day trip ideas, see: 10 Things to Do with Zurich Visitors.
Is this website just for little kids? I have tweens/teens / I don’t have kids.
The vast majority of activities on this site appeal to all ages. I started this website when my kids were babies, thus the “Tots” in the name. But as my kids have grown over the last 12 years, we’ve added many hikes and activities appropriate for older kids, teens and adults. I still try to always note if the activity is appropriate for younger children or strollers. But besides that, a hike is a hike and beauty appeals to all.
I don’t have a car. Which hikes are easy to reach by public transport?
No worries. Switzerland is well connected by punctual and reliable public transit, though it can be expensive. Please see my post about Family Hikes Easy to Access by Public Transport, which includes info about discount travel passes.
Switzerland is so expensive! How can I save some money?
How I can meetup with other Zurich families that like to hike?
I’m not an outdoors person but now that I’m in Switzerland, I feel like I should “see” the Swiss alps. Is there something for me?
Yes! I realize that not everyone loves hiking as much as I do. So I try to include lots of hikes that are specifically designed for families, which usually means they are relatively short and easy and you won’t break a sweat. At most mountains, you can simply take the gondola up and enjoy an amazing view without having to hike at all, if that’s more your speed.
Do I need special clothing or gear to go hiking in Switzerland?
No, most hikes I recommend are pretty easy and don’t require more than sturdy shoes and a bottle of water. But a few items will help. Unlike most Swiss hikers, we don’t wear fancy high tech clothes or shoes, but a good rain jacket is important. A roomy day pack is good, to carry snacks and extra clothes for the kids.
What do you recommend to carry our baby/toddler on a hike?
Our MVP award goes to our beat up Bob Jogger stroller that has endured much abuse on very non-stroller friendly trails. I had a framed Kelty baby backpack, but I hated it because it was so bulky. So I used my Ergo baby carrier instead, with my kids from 0-4YO, napping for hours on my back while we enjoyed more difficult trails. I’m sure there are many new great options available these days. Try asking on one of the expat parenting forums on Facebook.
How do you find places to go?
I don’t have any magical sources of info. We do a lot of research to find good hikes that are appropriate for families and distill that info in our posts. We comb through dozens of websites and blogs to get ideas, but usually we have to still do lots of research to figure out all the details (drives me crazy sometimes!!!).
Typically what happens is that I find a pretty picture, I look up the hike on a few websites, most of which have almost no helpful info (where is the trail head? how long is the hike? where is a trail map?). Hiking websites do provide maps but often plot out super long, difficult hikes (6 to 8 hours) when I just want to hike a couple hours with the kids and see the prettiest parts. So I open up a route mapping website like GPSies and map out a shorter route, verifying that the elevation gains aren’t too much for kids. Then I check the satellite pictures to make sure we are seeing the best stuff. It takes hours sometimes.
I must also thank my husband who has the 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.
Where do you stay? Can you recommend a hotel?
We rarely do weekend trips and rarely stay in hotels, so I can’t help you there. We almost always rent apartments for a week, usually through www.homeaway.com. It’s better value, you get more room for less money, you can make meals at home (especially breakfast), you have somewhere to hang out when the kids are asleep, and you are usually in a less touristy location.
More questions? Please leave a comment.