16 Family Friendly Destinations in Switzerland
Looking for some inspiration for your next Swiss family adventure? I’ve asked Swiss-based families from around the country to suggest their favourite places to go on adventures with their families. So don’t just consider the Matterhorn, Titlis, or Jungfrau for your next Swiss adventure because there are plenty more picture postcard experiences just waiting for you to explore!
Aletsch Arena, Valais
When you envision a Swiss winter wonderland, the Aletsch Arena is probably what you’ve been imagining. Made up of three car-free villages, Rideralp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp, the Aletsch Arena has been highly rated as a family-friendly destination where your little ones will be very well taken care of. Get to dinner by sled, head out for winter walks with views over the Aletsch glacier and the Matterhorn in the distance, or sign up for the very family-friendly ski schools. If summer is more your thing, you will enjoy the cooler mountain temperatures as the mercury start to rise down in the cities where you can spend time hiking and taking in that fresh mountain air. Aletsch Arena is great to visit year round so no matter what the season be sure not to miss this hidden Swiss gem.
Recommended by Ashley from Born Explorers
Read more about Ashley’s visit to the Aletsch Arena here.
Stunning Views, a great playground, and a tickle trail around a pretty lake...need I say more? The tickle trail at Engelberg Brunni, whose aim is to allow you to experience nature with bare feet, is accessible via gondola and then a chair lift. The helpful staff will even assist with transporting strollers and picnic baskets. BBQ facilities are also available. We love this destination for the pretty landscape and the activities available for kids: swimming in the lake, dipping toes in mud along with the trampolines, and the water playground just outside the gondola. Engelberg Brunni is an easy, fun day out for families with young kids or a great place to stay a little longer.
Recommend by Amanda from Expat Adventures.
Central Valais incl. Sion
There is more to the canton of Valais than Zermatt and its beloved and iconic Matterhorn. A much more varied area with stunning views and unforgettable family hikes is central Valais. You could easily spend a month in this area of Valais, including it’s capital Sion, and still only scratch the surface. Base yourself in Nendaz and explore playgrounds with fabulous views, enjoy walks over suspension bridges that will give you wobbly knees, and hike to alpine lakes where you and the kids can have stone skimming competitions before setting up a picnic with views only seen in luxury travel books. The best part is that the only people you’ll run into there are the locals - well, maybe not after reading this post.
Recommended by Corina from Packed Again.
Read more about Corina’s visit to Tseuzier lake here.
If you want your kids to fall in love with the Swiss Alps, head to Elm in Eastern Switzerland, which has a variety of amusements to charm your little ones. After a cable car ride up the mountain, you'll find a big play area with trampolines, swings, climbing structures, lounge chairs for parents, and a cafe. All this with amazing mountain views and no tourists; this is strictly a locals joint. If you want to stretch your legs, there is a short theme trail for children with a dozen or so activities scattered along the path, including a giant xylophone, a suspension bridge, play houses, and an obstacle course. At the end of your day, you can ride a mountain scooter all the way to the valley, a thrilling ride with a gorgeous backdrop of a classic Swiss landscape. This is the first place my kids ask to return to every summer, and it never disappoints.
Recommended by Tanya from Moms Tots Zurich
Grindelwald-First, Bernese Oberland
Gasthaus First is the perfect place for a casual alpine family getaway. From Grindelwald take the Gondola up to First and once you check-in and the lifts close for the day, it’s just you, 30-40 other guests, a few staff members and the whole mountain. Sleeping options are simple—choose from either a dormitory or family room with shared bathrooms—but the balcony offers unbelievable views of the Eiger, Monarch and Jungfrau mountains and is the perfect spot for a late afternoon “apero.” Dinner is a fixed menu but in no way quality or taste compromised! When it’s time to descend back to reality the following morning, Gasthaus First is also conveniently the launch site for the First Flyer, Go-Carts, and Trotti bikes which is a fun and exciting way to descend the mountain. Families will want to stop off at Bort, about two-thirds of the way down, for its playground with stunning views and a choice of two restaurants. Simple, easy, and fun for the whole family!
Recommended by Amanda from Amanda Joy Photography
Read more about Amanda’s trip to Grindelwald- First here.
Lauterbrunnen, Bernese Oberland
Lauterbrunnen, the beautiful valley of 72 waterfalls, is the perfect base for a long weekend away, and one of our favourite family getaways each year. We like to stay at the Valley Hostel and explore the mountain playgrounds each day. Our favorite playgrounds are Männlichen, Allmendhubel, and Bort. We also love renting bikes on the main street of Lauterbrunnen and cycling the valley floor for a few hours, passing some cute self-service farm kiosks for snacks. For a rösti or fondue dinner, we head to the Hotel Oberland. And our all important morning coffee shop is Airtime Cafe where we can relax and the kids can play with the toys provided.
Recommended by Kate from Mom in Zurich.
Montreux is Geneva’s underappreciated little sister. About one hour from the Geneva airport by train, it is a beautiful, small city that is nestled along the clear blue-green waters of Lake Geneva. It’s a nice day trip but you can easily keep yourself busy longer if you want with mountain and lake activities aplenty. The lake promenade itself, with its restaurants, green spaces, and playgrounds, is a perfect way to spend the afternoon as a family. I would not miss a visit to Chateau Chillon, a beautiful castle on the lake just outside the main town. There is also a nice protected cove next to the castle where the little ones can splash about. Other fun activities to look into: lake cruises, the Chocolate Train (touristy but yummy!), and some hiking trails. Just be aware there is a famous (and therefore crowded) Jazz Festival here in June.
Recommended by Kara from Fambamandventuregram.
Read more about Kara’s visit to Montreux here.
Oeschinensee, Bernese Oberland
Oeschinensee in Kandersteg is the most beautiful spot we have visited as a family in Switzerland. From the village of Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland, take the cable car up to Oeschinensee. When you arrive on top, you will immediately see the summer sledging run that our kids love. After a short hike of about 15 minutes, you will be able to see the beautiful mountain lake for the first time, but you need not stop there with your hike. In Summer, the Oeschinen Grill and Picknick Shop sells 'Ready to grill' packs, complete with wood for your fire and sausages to grill. We went in Autumn, so it was too cold to swim, but in Summer apparently people do swim in the lake. If you can spend more time in this area, the whole Kander Valley is beautiful, with the Blausee and daring suspension bridges and cute mountain huts.
Recommended by Laura from Let’s Explore.
Read more about Laura’s trip to Oeschinensee here.
Rapperswil, St. Gallen
Rapperswil is a perfect family city outing for an inspiring change of scenery that can be packed into just a couple of hours (i.e. the maximum duration of preschooler patience!). Adults can drink in the well-kept beauty of the old town, while kids will enjoy watching ducks surfing Lake Zurich from the lakeside promenade, and everyone can ooh and ahh at a real castle. The adventures can be extended with a visit to Knies Kinderzoo, or you can make the journey part of the experience by traveling to Rapperswil by boat from Zurich. There are also two delightful, family-friendly cafes to prevent hangry toddlers (or parents) from squelching the fun: There's Good, with its play corner up a small ladder, and Kaffee Klatsch, which has a only few books for kids (no playground) but offers an atmosphere that’s both lively and cozy, as well as excellent coffee, burgers (both meaty and vegan) and a get-it-while-you-can selection of homemade cakes and goodies.
Recommend by Beth a freelance travel writer.
This town in the lower Engadine valley looks like it has jumped straight out of a story book and will charm your whole family’s socks off with its traditional thick walled and painted homes. Not only is it a great location for a family-friendly ski week, but in summer it is a great starting point for exploring the Swiss National Park. The village itself has plenty of family friendly accommodations. We recommend the Hotel Belvair, which is conveniently located right next to the thermal swimming baths to relax those tired muscles either from a day on the slopes or your day hiking in the mountains. Or why not try the recently renovated youth hostel? And if you are around on the 1st March, look out for the Chalandamarz, a traditional festival to shoo away the winter with loud cow bells (read more about that in the book Schallen Ursli).
Recommended by Kristin Reinhard from Swiss Family Travel.
The Solothurn region in northwest Switzerland has dense forests, amazing gorges, and picturesque villages. And the town of Solothurn could easily be considered the most beautiful baroque town in Switzerland. Children will certainly love the large playground just a few steps behind the Solothurn cathedral.
The banks of the Aare river are an ideal area for a family bike ride, or you can take a cruise on the river. If you opt for a hike, take one in the Jura mountains or through the beautiful gorges.
And although some “attractions” are not as well known as in the canton of Bern or elsewhere, we like it here because it’s off the beaten path.
Recommended by Hanna from Our Swiss Experience.
Stein am Rhein, Schaffhausen
Stein am Rhein is a charming village located northeast of Zürich. In its center, the half-timbered buildings have colorfully painted facades. It’s beautiful in all seasons, though an excellent time to visit is in December, when it becomes the Märlistadt with a Christmas market. In 2018’s Märlistadt, Rapunzel led the fairy-tale tour, the Märliweg, with a more than a dozen stops for a creative retelling of her story. Children loved following along. Though she guided in German, even English-speakers enjoyed her clever re-enactments with the witch and the prince. The tour ended with tea and cookies for the kids, but adults could also indulge in warm beverages from market vendors. Just a 45 minute by car from Zürich or 75 minutes by train – near the German border, west of the Bodensee. It can also be combined with a side trip to the Rheinfalls, another 20 minutes by car.
Recommended by Rachel from @seattlerachel
Take the world’s steepest funicular with a gradient of 110%, and visit the car-free village of Stoos at an altitude of 1300 meters above sea level in the canton of Schwyz. The funicular—at 1547m long—takes about 5 minutes and overcomes a height difference of 744m. The mountain has plenty of hiking trails in the summer and a ski area in the winter, at an altitude of 1900 meters. Stoos has some great accommodations as well, and I highly recommend a stay at the Seminar and Wellnesshotel. Their wellness area has something for everyone, including an indoor pool and outdoor whirlpool that children can also use. The hotel has packages for families, with a guest house and main hotel, plus a restaurant with a delicious buffet. Depending on when you choose to visit, families can enjoy a variety of activities in the middle of unspoiled nature.
Recommended by Abbie a freelance writer and contributor at Swiss Family Travel. Contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valle Maggia is one of the most beautiful places to experience the best of Swiss summer, with its numerous natural crystal clear pools with smooth river stones and boulders. The TCS camping ground in Gordevio is a paradise for families with small children. Located right on the river, you can spend the entire day building stone towers, relaxing on your own recliners, cooking lunch on the fire pits and creating baby pools out of river stones while enjoying the natural clear blue water. The swimming area on the river in Maggia is suitable for younger children but with the river current you’ll want to pack a life-vest for peace of mind. Just a few kilometers down the road, make sure to visit the picturesque village of Maggia, home to the award winning bakery Panetteria Poncini. For the more adventurous (and with a good pair of trekking sandals), discover the more remote swimming spots near Golino and Intragna. It’s worth the hike! (Tip: It is a wonderful place to celebrate Swiss National Day on August 1.)
Recommended by Emily from Cooking at Hinterberg
Valle Verzasca, Ticino
Explore the Ticino Verzasca valley beginning in Lavertezzo by taking the bus to the last stop in Sonogno. Before beginning the 14km hike back to Lavertezzo, let the kids play at the playground in Sonogno set right next to the river. (Tip: If you want to shorten the hike back, just hop back on the bus.) Along the way you can picnic in Brione before arriving back to Lavertezzo to enjoy the mesmerizing clear green water to cool your tired feet. If you stay overnight in the Locarno region, make sure to reserve some time to swim and play at the Lido di Locarno, an indoor and outdoor aquatic centre set right on the banks of Lago Maggiore. It offers both access to the lake as well as several themed outdoor pools (as well as a diving platform, warm water jacuzzi, water fountains, and a playground in the sand and swings) on a big lawn. It’s seriously one of the best pools we’ve been to and my kids keep asking to return.
Recommended by Alessandra from It’s Me Zazzie.
Settled at the end of the Nuremberg lake, the quaint town of Yverdon-les-Bains is a great town to spend some lazy summer days. The local campground located directly on the lake is an ideal spot for water based activities but is also just a short stroll into town. Stock up on fresh produce at the weekly farmers market and visit our favourite bakery for delicious treats. In summer, cool down at the local pool before exploring the region either by boat or train. A great day trip is a visit to the castle in Grandson or the town of Murten. Or in the cooler months you can enjoy the thermal baths. The kids will love the freedom of the open space just past the campground to run around with a ball.
Recommend by Kristin of Swiss Family Travel.
Consider this campground in Yverdon.