Switzerland is so beautiful, it doesn’t seem real. In the presence of Switzerland’s majestic mountains and crystal clear lakes and rivers, you have to pinch yourself to confirm you have not been transported into a fairytale. I’ve seen the photos and videos of beautiful Switzerland, but never thought it would actually look the same. I can tell you, the pictures do not do Switzerland justice. The flowing rivers, turquoise blue lakes and majestic mountains are more beautiful, more serene, more incredible in person. Modern photo and video devices are unable to capture the essence of Switzerland. Switzerland is a worthwhile destination to experience the incredible beauty of earth’s natural creations. With this Switzerland travel Guide with kids, you’ll learn about interesting facts about Switzerland as well as what to do, and where to go to get the most value.
Switzerland is expensive. Everyone will tell you how expensive Switzerland is, believe them and me. This Switzerland with kids family travel guide will also help you get the most of your holiday without having to take out a second mortgage.
What Switzerland is Known For
Switzerland has a rich history of chocolate making, dating back to the 17th century. Since then, the industry has evolved significantly into a true art of chocolate making. Switzerland is best known for its milk chocolates however, their dark chocolate is delicious. Toblerone anyone?
Swiss watches are a symbol of luxury and status. Known as having the ultimate quality, attractive design and a reliable brand history. Swiss watch makers are often the ones to introduce the latest technology innovations. They achieve this without losing the classic tone of its products. Rolex anyone?
The greatest mountain range in Europe provides Switzerland with breathtaking scenery. The Swiss Alps are known around the world as the ski destination of the rich and famous. You have Glaciers, amazing waterfalls, some of the highest mountain ranges in Europe surrounded by crystal blue lakes. It’s unreal.
I always thought there was only one type of Swiss cheese, how wrong I was. In Switzerland, they take cheese making seriously. They’ve been doing it for hundreds of years and the quality and taste shows. You can go to any supermarket, or cheese shop in Switzerland, close your eyes and pick any cheese and I guarantee it will be delicious. I’m not a cheese lover, but I fell in love with cheese in Switzerland.
Switzerland Cheese Fondue
The cheese is so good, they decided to melt it and put it on everything. Or, dip everything in melted Cheese. Switzerland is know for their delicious Fondue.
Switzerland is where people who want privacy when it comes to their money, keep their money. Around the world, Switzerland is known as a place for people who want complete anonymity when it comes to their finances, because it is illegal in Switzerland for banks to provide any information on their account holders to any third party. That means governments or other organizations. If you have money you want to hide from prying eyes, Switzerland is one of the places available to you.
Switzerland is not here for war. They have said, nope, nada, not us. Regardless of what is going on in the world or in their backyard, Switzerland maintains a strict policy of no interference. They do not get involved. But, they have set up the Red Cross which helps the worlds population during times or war, disasters, and disease. This usually keeps Switzerland safe from invasion etc from different forces around the world. Plus, they probably hold your money, so most people leave Switzerland alone.
Swiss Trains, Trains and more Trains
I unequivocally love trains and Switzerland has over 46 train companies although they are a small country. Train tracks criss-cross the the country in every way imaginable. The trains are one of the most comfortable in the world. They are ridiculously quiet, and unnaturally smooth. You don’t realize your moving. The only tell tale sign is watching the incredible scenery zip by through picturesque windows.
Interesting and Fun Facts About Switzerland
- The official name of Switzerland is Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin. Which means Swiss Confederation. The Latin name is only used on official documents but it is the reason why Switzerland’s abbreviation is CH.
- The capital of Switzerland is Bern, while the largest city is Zürich.
- The population of Switzerland is nearly eight million (7,996,026) as of July 2013.
- There are more than 1500 lakes in Switzerland containing around 6% of Europe’s fresh water stocks. The largest of these lakes are Lake Geneva, Lake Constance and Lake Maggiore.
- Encompassing part of the Alps that run through Europe, Switzerland is a very mountainous country with 208 mountains over 3,000m high and 24 over 4,000m. The highest is Monte Rosa at 4,634 m (15,203 ft), however the Matterhorn (4,478 m or 14,692 ft) is the most famous.
- CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, is based in Geneva and sitting in the ground under it spanning the Swiss/French border is the Large Hadron Collider that physicists are using for experiments.
- Switzerland makes half of the world’s production of luxury watches.
- Swiss people consume the most chocolate per capita in the world. The country is famous for producing some of the world’s highest quality chocolate (Lindt and Sprüngli) after inventing modern techniques such as conching and tempering.
- switzerland is home of the Red Cross.
Where is Switzerland
Switzerland is a small country located in the West Central Europe. Switzerland is small in size, but half the country is located in the breathtaking Swiss Alps, and as you travel Switzerland with kids you’ll hear three different languages spoken – French, German and Italian. Cosmopolitan cities are situated on sparking turquoise lakes, villages nestle on steep slopes above green valleys, and high altitude trains zip up and down the mountains.
Switzerland With Kids Travel Guide & Tips
The area of Switzerland close to a neighboring county, usually speaks the neighboring country’s language. For instance in Zurich, which is close to Germany, the local language is German.
In the Geneva and Lausanne area, close to France, the language is French. The region of Switzerland close to Italy, Lugano, speak Italian.
Although English isn’t an official language, it’s widely spoken and understood, especially in cities. Getting by in English is very easy. Many people speak English, and in tourist areas you often get addressed in English right away by staff. The Swiss are very tolerant about you not speaking their local language and will generally do their best to help, especially if you make an effort with at least a few words of theirs first.
The Swiss franc (CHF) is the only official currency in Switzerland. The franc is the only currency accepted everywhere. The Euro is the currency in the neighboring countries Germany, France, Italy and Austria, and in many other European countries. Euros are accepted near the border and at tourist areas, normally at a 1:1 rate, and your change will be in CHF. Always pay with CHF.
Euro’s are worth more than Swiss Francs, so if you pay with euro’s, but if you get the value of a Swiss Franc, you are overpaying by at least 10% by not paying with the local currency. I recommend going to an ATM machine and withdrawing money. That way, your bank handles the conversion rate and you can pay with local currency.
You also have the option of paying with you credit or debit card in most places, but always choose to pay in the local currency (CHF) if prompted by the credit card machine. You get a better exchange rate if your bank (credit card, debit card company) processes the exchange rate, than the credit card processor of the business where you are shopping. Many times the credit card terminal will alert you to the additional costs associated with the currency exchange on your behalf.
So, take out local currency from the ATM when you arrive in Switzerland, or pay with your credit card, but always select local currency.
Getting Around Switzerland
Rule number 1, ride Swiss trains.
Switzerland has some of the most amazing train rides in the world, with panoramic views of glaciers and snow covered peaks. Some trains go where there are no cars, such as the trains to Zermatt or Wengen. There’s a variety of trains, from cogwheel railways or steam trains that inch up the mountains, to the Top of Europe – Jungfraujoch railway that runs inside the mountain and arrives at a station high in the Alps.
Use the trains in Switzerland, they are very comfortable and can take you to almost everywhere you want to go. Transport runs the same timetable everyday (with the odd exception on holidays), with the ticket costing the same whether it is a busy rush hour on a Monday or late on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and regardless of whether you bought it a week or a minute ahead of the trip. Other than special services like the Glacier Express no reservation is needed, and you generally just take whatever seat isn’t already occupied. Services are normally synchronized as well, so when you get off your intercity train the regional train/bus/boat is waiting for you. Almost all SBB staff speak English to a reasonable level.
Transport can also be expensive. I recommend buying one of the various train travel passes available. You can buy a country pass like the Interrail Switzerland Pass or the Swiss Pass. Or if you will be in a specific area for the majority of your holiday, you can purchase regional travel train passes.
The passes are also expensive, but so are individual tickets. Plus, with the travel passes, kids are free and you don’t have to keep buying individual tickets for where you want to go. The freedom and convenience is worth it, especially with kids in tow.
Buy your passes before you reach Switzerland so you can use it to get from the airport or train station.
Another benefit of Swiss train travel passes are the discounts you get on excursions and trips.
So, the train travel passes more than pay for themselves.
Read our Guide to Switzerland Train Passes
We recommend the Eurorail Swiss Country Train Pass. The price is good and it is really convenient
Switzerland Food Tips
The food in Switzerland is fresh and of high quality. You can tell when you eat it. If you eat out in restaurants, it can be very expensive, especially when traveling with kids. So, determine when to eat out and take advantage of nice restaurants sometimes, but I recommend utilizing the supermarket when possible. Supermarkets also have affordable prepared food.
- Shop at Supermarkets for almost everything you need. Supermarkets are the best way to eat for cheap, and are normally very good.
- Migro Supermarket– does very good and cheap food, and the restaurant/take away sections provide excellent prepared food for the prices charged.
- Coop Supermarket – We found COOP to have the best prices and the best tasting prepared food between Migros and Coop.
- Aldi Supermarket – Another Supermarket option in Switzerland
- Lidl Supermarket – Switzerland Supermarket
Generally most other take-away restaurants in Switzerland tend to be doner kebabs in the 10CHF+ range. Eating out properly will be 15 CHF+ for a cheap meal and at least 25 CHF per person for a meal and drink in most places. Food costs in Tourist areas are higher.
lunch specials — If you are going to eat out, do so during lunch, when most lunch specials cost around 10-19 CHF. Moreover, stick to the ethnic restaurants like Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Thai for the best deals and biggest portions (and closer to that 10 CHF price). Lunch specials are a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck and to enjoy the dinner menu but at a cheaper set menu price. Cook breakfast, eat out lunch, cook dinner — you can’t go wrong!
Beer & Wine – I would also buy your beer and wine from the Supermarket. You will find good quality and good prices.
Take advantage of hotel dinner menus. The food is usually pretty good and the price is more affordable than stand-a-lone restaurants.
Bring a refillable water bottle – there are many natural fountains in the mountain areas with fresh delicious water coming straight from snow melt. You can continuously fill up your water bottle instead of buying bottled water at 3 – 5 CHF each.
Chocolate is the best in Switzerland. Swiss macaroons tastes like clouds. They mainly sell Swiss macaroons in Zurich, so if in Zurich, you have to buy chocolate and try the macaroons.
Cheese is also a huge staple in Switzerland. The price of cheese is very reasonable. They have a large variety of cheese of high quality and good prices.
Shop hours in Switzerland
Typical shop and supermarket opening hours are 8am-6:30pm on weekdays, possibly closed at 4/5pm on a Saturday, and not open at all on a Sunday. On Sundays small towns turn into ghost towns, tourist cities feel more like museums, and almost every shop is closed. In touristy towns, Interkaken etc stores stay open later. But this is an early to rise early to bed country.
Where to Stay
I recommend an Airbnb or Homeaway if traveling with family. A hotel or a hostel can also be a good option. We stayed in a hostel for the first time as a family with a shared bathroom (the horror lol) but it turned out ok. The scenery more than made up for the inconvenience of not having a bathroom in our room. Plus, everything was very clean.
Places to Go In Switzerland With Kids
Jungfrau Region – Because it is one of the quintessential regions of Switzerland. The Amazing waterfalls, and mountains are located here.
Lausanne – Explore the beautiful Lake Geneva and take a boat ride on Lake Geneva.
Grindenwald – Walk around this picturesque alpine town. This is where you can take the train to the top of the world.
Interlacken – a town situated between two lakes. Very pretty, active and prices are pretty good.
Lugano – With Mediterranean flair, Lugano offers all the advantages of a world-class city, combined with the cachet of a small town.
Lauterbrunnen– because it is the land of 1000 waterfalls.
Bern– because it is the capital and has a great vibe.
Lucern – explore the beautiful town and lake. Take longest cogwheel cable car all the way up Mt Plitus.
What to Do In Switzerland
Hiking – You cannot go wrong taking in the spectacular scenery of Switzerland on foot. Everyone hikes and it’s a great place to do it. Being in the presence of nature is great. The many marked trails for hiking with activities at different stops on the trail, keeps hiking interesting. —-> Hiking for families in Switzerland to check it out.
Bike Riding – You can rent bikes from many places and take in the scenery from a bike. It’s a fun way to be active while enjoying your surroundings. Electric bikes are great for scaling steep mountain areas.
Swim in a Lake – With over 1500 lakes in Switzerland, you will be able to find a lake to swim. It’s fun and many lakes have water activities for you to enjoy. Take note of the water temperatures, because the lakes can be quite cold depending on the time of year and your location.
Ride trains – Sometimes it’s great to just get on a train and watch the scenery in Switzerland go by. It’s relaxing and comfortable.
Shopping – For cheese, chocolate, and Watches because you’ll find the best in the world in Switzerland.
Hang gliding – Very popular in the mountain regions because you will get a view of the Swiss Alps like no other.
River Boat Rides – With lakes and beautiful surroundings, getting on a boat and discovering the mountains around you is pretty cool.
Cheese Making Workshops – Learn to make cheese.
Chocolate Making Workshops – Learn to make chocolate.
I recommend buying souvenirs when you travel to a new destination. It’s really cool to see your souvenier at home and remember your trip. In Switzerland, swiss tourist items are:
Cow Bells – Why? because they are still used today and you hear cow bells everywhere. There are so many cows in Switzerland and they all have cowbells.
St Bernard – This dog breed is synonymous with Switzerland. They are large working dogs and were originally bred at the Great and Little St Bernard Pass to assist in mountain rescues. I am not advocating bringing back home a real St. Bernard, but a plush toy would work.
Swiss Knifes – The swiss army knife, obviously
Further Resources for your trip to Switzerland
Cheap flights To Zurich
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Cheap Flights to Geneva
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