3 castles to visit in Switzerland
Fog, Pumpkins and Chestnuts are all signs that winter is closing in. The weather is getting chilly and we are spending more and more time indoors. So what to do when you want to still get out and about but what to stick to a warmer location?
How about visiting a castle!
All this week on Simple Family Travel I am chatting about my favourite things to do in Switzerland during the Autumn season. With the days getting cooler and the weather a little more unpredictable, visiting a Castle is definitely a great idea to keep warm. Switzerland may no longer be famous for royalty, but there are plenty of different castles throughout the country to visit and get your dose of history.
One of our favourite castles is Schloss Lenzburg, perched high above the town of Lenzburg in Kanton Aargau. The castle offers a great look into how everyday life was back in the middle ages, and kids love the range of activities on offer. Home to not only counts and dukes of the past centuries, Schloss Lenzburg has also been owned by German and American Families.
My kids especially loved the kids room, with dress ups and a play corner as well as arts and crafts. They could easily spend the whole day here, so this makes it a great place to visit on a rainy day. And in case you do stay the day, you can enjoy a light lunch at the cafe on site.
The setting around the castle is especially worth a visit in Autumn, with many beautiful trees creating a stunning backdrop of golden hues. Check their website for special events throughout the year.
Château de Grandson
Another castle we have recently visited is Château de Grandson. Set on the lake of Neuchâtel this 13th century chateaux is a beautiful location for a day out. When we visited we had the place almost to ourselves and could go room to room learning about things including the battle of 1476 where Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy was defeated by the Swiss Confederate. You can also view ancient tools that were found in the lake dating back to 4000 BC. This was particularly interesting for our kids who had been learning about the different eras at school.
If you are a car enthusiast then you will enjoy the vintage car exhibition which includes Great Garbo’s Rolls-Royce Phantom I and Winston Churchill’s Austin 1938 (which are both currently being restored).
The Chateau itself has a great looking cafe to enjoy a light meal however we found ourselves at the restaurant across the road where we enjoyed yummy dishes such as seasonal mushroom risotto.
The castles of Bellinzona
If the weather is looking dreary on the north side of the alps, you can always head south where the weather is often sunnier!
Visit the town of Bellinzona, best known for it’s three castles that surround the town. Part of the UNESCO cultural work heritage list since 2000, the castles are some of the most well preserved castles in Switzerland. Bellinzona was once surrounded by fortress walls, protecting the area from the ancient romans. You can easily imagine why the positions were chosen as they provide a perfect view to both the north and southas well as a very stragtegic position at the crossroads of the alpine routes.
The grounds of Castelgrande are itself worth to look around, and you can do so without paying the entry fee inside if your kids don’t have the patience to look around. If visiting Bellinzona on a Saturday, walk through the weekly market and pick up something for lunch then head up and enjoy the large grassed area of the Castelgrande for a picnic. If you would prefer not to walk, there is small train which connects you from the castles to the village. The tour lasts about one and a half hours and tickets can be purchased directly on the spot or from the InfoPoint Bellinzonese e Alto Ticino Turismo.
The town of Bellinzona is extremely easy to access by train from anywhere in Switzerland, and the town is very walkable. We have enjoyed pizza from the International across from the train station as well as a declicious lunch inside the Castlegrande which also has a nice kids menu.