Family Destinations

Discover Switzerland

Avatar photo
Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

As a relatively small country Switzerland is a great destination for a family trip, and children will be spoilt for choice for things to do.

Switzerland is celebrated for its high quality of life, sophisticated ski resorts, luxurious watches, and not forgetting its delicious chocolate and cheese. Nestled at the centre of Europe and featuring the highest peaks of the Alps, Switzerland is a ‏country of striking nature.

Mountains occupy at least 60% of Swiss land, so there are a multitude of sports for both winter and summer, like climbing, ice climbing, glacier walking, snow boarding, snow golf, dog-sledding, and heli-skiing. Switzerland also has some of the best skiing in Europe and the world class regions Berner Oberland, Graubunden and Valais offer skiing at different levels. If all that proves too much with little ones, then you can head to one of the stunning cities, such as Interlaken or Zurich, explore the history, take a boat ride on a lake and just marvel at the snow-capped mountain ranges from a distance. If you are heading for summer sunshine, then the classy town of St. Moritz enjoys 322 days of sun per year, offering beautiful walks, horse-back riding and not forgetting the famous ‘Heidi Museum’ – it is a superb choice for a family summer holiday.

Interestingly Switzerland also showcases three of Europe’s most distinctive cultures, which gives the country lots of intrigue. To the northeast is Swiss-German-speaking Switzerland; to the southwest you find wine drinking French style; in the southeast, south of the Alps, the sun warms Italian-style piazzas; and in the centre lies classic Swiss flugelhorns and mountain landscapes. So every region offers completely different experiences, yet it always feels unified with a unique sense of ‘Swissness.’

Switzerland is naturally famous for its mouth-watering variety of chocolates and cheeses. A specialty is fondue, a delicious hot concoction of Gruyère and Vacherin cheese, melted and mixed with white wine, flour, Kirsch and a little garlic. Once a peasants dish, (they used to dip in stale bread) it is reknowned across all of Switzerland (especially in the Ski resorts) and is a popular eating experience for children who like to ‘dip their food’. Chocolate, the nation’s favourite sweet treat is synonymous with Switzerland. Swiss chocolate is famous for its smooth texture and refined taste. Milk chocolate, a Swiss invention, is famous because of the cream and milk derived from Swiss cows. Chocolate tourism is massive in Switzerland and there are plenty of experiences and activities for children such as the ‘chocolate train’ and visiting the famous ‘Lindt chocolate shop’.

In terms of accommodation there are plenty of choices, from charming small hotels to grand castles, cosy ski lodges or eco-chic hillside tents. There is something for every taste and budget.

If you are flying from Europe, Switzerland can be a glorious trip for a family weekend, or longer if you incorporate it with France or Germany and have packed your hiking boots or ski’s.

Must know before you go


Closed on Sundays. Swiss employment law bans working on Sundays, so all shops stay closed. An exception is any business in a railway station, which is deemed to be serving travellers and so is exempt. If you want to find an open shop on a Sunday, go to the nearest railway station. If a business is family-owned, you aren’t employing anybody so you can open, hence small shops can also open on Sundays.

It is not part of the EU. Switzerland is not a member of the EU, however. Therefore, travellers entering Switzerland are subject to customs controls even if there are no immigration controls, and persons travelling elsewhere in the Schengen Area will also have to clear customs.

Discounts. Switzerland is certainly not a cheap place to travel. But there are discounts. Almost nobody in Switzerland pays full fare for the transit system. At the very least they all have a Half-Fare Card which saves you 50% on all national buses and trains and gives a discount on local and private transit systems. Annual half fare cards cost CHF165; visitors from abroad can buy a 1-month Half-Fare Card cards for CHF99. Children between ages 6 and 16 pay 1/2 price for travel around Switzerland.



Verbier. Take to the slopes in Verbier and experience the very best in European skiing.

St. Moritz. ExperienceWhite Turf’, a prestigious and traditional horse race event since 1907 or take the kids to the famous Heidi Museum.


Jungfrau. This is as scenic as it gets – a train journey to the top of Europe, the Jungfrau rail is a once in a life time experience. The long train ride (about 2 hours each way) is a great opportunity to view Swiss villages up close.

Zurich. Spend half a day on a boat trip on Lake Zurich, before heading to the world famous ‘Lindt’ chocolate shop.

Tip for the trip

If you want to ensure your little ones sleep well at night then take some portable black out blinds or cheaper still, some black bin liners and tape. They are easy to pack and you can stick them to the windows so you won’t have to worry about light affecting the quality & consistency of your children’s sleep.


Best Places to Stay

Whitepod Resort, Valais

Whitepod valais

Whitepod Valais

Whitepod, located in the village of Les Cerniers is an eco-resort in the truest sense of the term. Every autumn, shortly before the snow starts, Whitepod builds wooden platforms upon each a geodesic-dome “pod” (that’s akin to a smaller ‘yurt’ tent). The pods have no plumbing and no electricity. But they do have oil lamps and a fireplace that keeps the pod toasty warm. Each pod also has a full bed and stellar south-facing views of Mount Blanc. They also offer kids activity camps in the summer months. Prices from £282 POD per night, visit

Hotel Waldhaus Sils, Engadin

Located 7 miles from St. Moritz, the position of this hotel in a forest above a village is magical. This is not one of those ‘kids’ hotels where you are surrounded by animation – it is all very low-key. The atmosphere is friendly and the food is excellent. The details here are handled with care and everything runs smoothly, which is why the same families love to come back year after year. Prices from £260 per night, visit

Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, Jungfrau

One of Switzerland’s best known classic yet historic spa hotels. All rooms have a distinctive design and décor, ranging from classic to contemporary and with views extending to the Jungfrau. Offers free accommodation for children up to 15, babysitting, Sony Playstation and games. Prices from £265 per night, visit


Need to know more?


Tourist Information


Swiss Snow Sports

Swiss Travel Passes

Valais Tourist Information


St. Moritz Tourist Information

Jungfrau Tourist Information





Dr. Jill Nash is a Cheshire based travel journalist and owner of independent guidebook publishing company ‘Luxury Backpackers’. Visit for more details on her best-selling guidebooks, including her new book, ‘Family Adventures in Style’ RRP £16.00