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Looking for a place where EVERYONE can find some serious adventure? Look no further than the Swiss Alps. You’ll find something for every member of your family to make this an unforgettable trip!
Here’s what you can expect to find
FREE Trains, Trains, and more Trains. Kids under 6 are free and kids ages 6-15 travel free with a junior pass (30 chf) if accompanied by a paying adult (on most railways). Amazingly, the alps are incredibly accessible to even the youngest adventurers because of their extensive train system. Plan on visiting even the tiniest of villages with a train or cable car. It’s sure to impress the littles. Our favorite trains are these ones.
Mountain Playgrounds. Especially unique to Switzerland are their mountain playgrounds. These playgrounds knock it out of the park with their giant towers, zip-lines, and underground tunnels. While not the best for babies on toddlers, the 3+ age group will be in heaven. Check out some of our favorites here.
Themed Hikes. Imagine a hike based all on fairy tales, adventure, or even one all about games. Here are some great places to start looking for suitable hikes here, here and here (with little kids, plan on at least double the estimated times).
Cows and flowers. Plan on taking some time to slow down with your little ones and allowing them to enjoy the simpler things here. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find a meadow full of flowers, a stream to throw rocks in, or the ever impressive sound of bells from the livestock (which kids can never get enough 0f). Relax and step back as you experience these little things through your kids eyes.
What to avoid:
Long hikes (especially those that are up steep hills), and the Jungfraujoch railway to the top of Europe (It’s very busy and crowded – much better suited to an older crowd. Also when we went they would not let children under 1 on, and though this is not an official policy, it is a practice, FYI).
Kids ages 6-13
FREE Trains. As mentioned above, kids go free on most railways with a junior card and a paying adult, so take advantage. Also by this age, your kids will be old enough to appreciate that they don’t have to walk everywhere so they’ll thank you for it!
Playgrounds. The mountain playgrounds are the perfect match for grade school age kids. Most provide the perfect amount of adventure and fun so that your kids will have no problem spending a few hours at one (and their younger siblings and parents will be happy to join in the fun as well).
Hiking . We were constantly amazed by how well-marked the trails here are. Not only is it easy to find and stay on the right trail, but many signs also have approximate times until you reach a destination, a perfect solution for the constant question of “how much longer do we have”. Our favorite places to hike have great resources here, here and here. Be smart and pair your hiking with a train pass to optimize trail time and minimize uphill hiking.
Glacier Fun. Glaciers are abundant in Switzerland, so throw in a little extra fun and find a safe fun one to explore during the summer. You’re kids will get a kick out of having a snowball fight in July. We did one here that also had sledding and skiing available and this ski resort that also has an ice palace.
FREE Trains (until age 15). That alone is enough to make you not procrastinate your trip. While we’re thoroughly convinced that the rail passes are totally worth it, they’re not cheap, so hurry and go while kids are free.
Hike to a mountain hut. If you check out the ridge line of most Swiss mountains (or check it out on Google Earth), you’re bound to see a nice little square or two way up high. Those, my friends are awesome little mountain huts. What better way to explore with your teen than by hiking from one hut to the next on a back country trip? Check out lots of hiking trails with great views here, here and here.
Adrenaline sports. Many outfitters allow teens to participate in their adventure activities and if you can think it up, there’s likely to be an outfitter for it. Paragliding, canyoning, bungee jumping, and rafting are all very popular here.
Via Ferrata. Imagine hiking on the side of a cliff – LITERALLY. On a Via Ferrata hike, you are actually hiking on pegs and steps bolted into the side of a cliff. You can find a guide or often rent equipment if you have adequate mountaineering experience.
Honestly, there’s not much in the way of mountain adventure you can’t find in the Swiss Alps. Whether you’re up for a simple stroll in the mountains or are ready to get your adrenaline pumping with some paragliding, you can find it here. In fact, it’s so great, you just might want to do it all 😉