Switzerland is much more than exclusive ski-resorts and fondue as any family smart enough to go in summer will be happy to tell you.
The country’s small enough to tour around but, so dense with history and remarkable scenery, a single region’s usually more than enough for one holiday.
Everyone knows the iconic Alps, but the land of the Matterhorn is also home to spectacular lakes, one of Europe’s oldest national parks, impressive World Heritage sites and several of the loveliest cities on earth.
And it’s not as expensive as it’s reputation suggests. Switzerland is very family-orientated, kids are welcome everywhere and the country works hard to offer a price range to suit most budgets: skiing in Zermatt will never be cheap, but a family ski-holiday in Sattel-Hochstuckli compares very well to skiing in France.
Direct flights all year round from London to Zurich, Geneva and Basel.
Switzerland covers just over 41,000km². It’s a fifth the size of the UK and you can travel by train from Zurich to Geneva in under three hours.
Switzerland has 12 UNESCO World Heritage sites including: the Old City of Bern, the Jungfrau Aletsch Region and the medieval Castles of Bellinzona.
Switzerland has five ski regions and several legendary resorts including: Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Verbier, Gstaad and Klosters.
2016’s Mercer Quality of Living Survey named Zurich the world’s second best city to live in, just after Vienna.
The Bernina Express Alpine route is one of the highest rail journeys in Europe.
The 170km² Swiss National Park was established in 1914 making it the oldest in the Alps.
Switzerland is not a cheap country: the world’s fourth most expensive hotel, Geneva’s President Wilson, will cost you £26,000 per night. Fortunately for families, there are considerably less expensive options and plenty of choice from self-catering ski chalets and apartments to family hostels on Lake Zurich, traditional guesthouses and inns in the Swiss National Park and child-friendly spas and hotels across every region.
Zurich is lively and interesting and works well as base for exploring northern and central Switzerland. There are over 130 ski resorts less than two hours’ drive from Zurich Airport. And the Sattel-Hochstuckli region, just 40 minutes east of the city, is one of the country’s great outdoor adventure areas in summer.
If your knowledge of Geneva is limited to the famous Jet d’Eau, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Built around Lake Geneva, the city’s gorgeously green, very beautiful and amazingly exciting for kids. It’s also less than two hours from top French ski resorts like Les Gets and Chamonix and under an hour from Le Grand Bornand and Les Carroz.
Christmas in Basel is one of Europe’s loveliest spectacles but the ancient city’s just as charming to visit in spring, summer and autumn. It’s packed with engaging experiences for kids. They can learn about everything from traditional paper making to the history of cartoons in over 40 unique museums. The famous 500 year old Autumn Fair is fantastic for food, wine and white-knuckle thrills. And the annual Fasnacht is the most colourful and fun Mardi Gras celebration in the country.
For all its magnificent Alpine mountains and unspoiled landscape, Switzerland is one of Europe’s easiest countries to drive around. Hire a car for touring, take advantage of free bike hire in cities and hop aboard excellent Swiss trains as often as you can.