Family Vacation in Switzerland: A Complete Guide to Traveling with Children – Tips, Recommendations, and the 6 Least Asked Questions

Nothing is as annoying as an FAQ where the answer to your question is not included. We has specially compiled the six least asked questions about a vacation with children to Switzerland just for you. Everything you don’t necessarily need to know about traveling with children in Switzerland, but are now reading anyway.

As The Men sang in 1999: “Every day is an answer to a question you’ve never been asked.” Sometimes, Heimwee proudly presents its own (quirky) FAQ about a summer trip to Switzerland. Brace yourself.

Can you take children on a summer vacation in Switzerland?

Good news, it is not illegal to take children on vacation in Switzerland. Neither in summer nor in winter. To avoid any hassle, we recommend bringing your own children and the necessary proof. An ID card is sufficient; the Swiss are quite sympathetic in that regard. You don’t have to worry when entering Switzerland via customs. However, you should be concerned if you bring more than 5 liters of wine per person or 1 kilogram of meat.
At the customs posts, you can park briefly to buy a road vignette / environmental vignette for Belgian license plates. The sticker costs 40 CHF as standard, is valid for 14 months, and is necessary to drive on Swiss highways. If you’re driving through those impressive tunnels, you might as well contribute to this masterpiece of human engineering. You can buy the vignette in advance on various websites, but you’ll always pay more, shipping costs, you know. Just stop at customs and practice your French and/or German.

What do they mean by “the weather can change quickly in the mountains?”

We don’t really know who “they” are, but fortunately, you don’t have to take this literally, as weather is not a page. Perhaps it’s a metaphorical page, because it means that the weather can change within seconds. This can be for the worse: you’re peacefully hiking in modest sunshine and suddenly you’re hit by hailstones the size of marbles. (really happened). We at Sometimes Heimwee prefer to think positively: during our ten-day stay in Haute-Nendaz, the weather was Temps de la foufette (= unofficial Swiss for crappy weather) the whole time. Fortunately for us, the weather did change for the better for a few days, suddenly offering swimming options.

Some recommendations for swimming with children in Switzerland:

  1. The public outdoor pool of Sion
    Drive down the mountain – a tourist attraction in itself – and take a dip in the fifty-meter pool of Sion, race on the slide with a chronometer, or splash around in the toddler pool. All this for the democratic price of 6.5 CHF per head (4 CHF for a child’s head). Meanwhile, marvel at the scenery, the beautiful mountains, or the luxury planes from the nearby Sion airport.
  2. The outdoor pool of Haute-Nendaz itself
    Don’t feel like driving down the mountain? We understand. Just head to the outdoor pool of Nendaz itself. A rectangular dock with expansive views. Same rate as Sion.
  3. Paddling in the mountain river Printse in Siviez
    Okay, believe us, this is worth it: take the car to Siviez (a fifteen-minute drive), take the barefoot path, which is already a kilometer of enjoyment and scrambling along the Printse. You arrive at a BBQ spot with some benches. There you build dams, catch tadpoles, and hang out for an entire afternoon. Just don’t forget to sunscreen your insteps, because they burn even if you stay in the water.
  4. How much percent of the hikers you pass greet you with “bonjour!”?
    If you want to go skiing in the mountains in summer, you’re out of luck. With an altitude of 1400m above sea level, like Haute-Nendaz, you won’t find any snow in the 21st century. Even though the gondola to the top, Tracouet (2200m), works, you won’t find snow there either. But don’t worry, because once you’re there, you can hike. After all, you paid 34 CHF for a ride up!

Conclusion during this 3-hour walking enjoyment: EVERYONE SAID BONJOUR!

Barefoot path of Siviez? Bonjour? Check.
Along the Bisse de Milieu? Bonjour? Check.
Se promener dans la ville? Bonjour? Check.

How different is a Swiss indoor playground from a Belgian one?

The biggest difference lies in the mode of payment: in Swiss indoor playgrounds, you pay with Swiss Francs and not Euros. Otherwise, Swiss indoor playgrounds follow the same customs as Belgian ones – and I almost said unfortunately: expensive, useless for parents, bad acoustics, very sweaty overheated children, too many stimuli, there’s always a kid with a rat tail running around…

The advice from our family affairs correspondent is therefore the same as in Belgium: try to avoid these places. Finally, it’s very unfortunate that Swiss children don’t adopt the neutral stance of their ancestors in an indoor playground.

Is the Fairy Cave in Saint-Maurice actually worth it?

No. But our family affairs correspondent did waste half a day there, so they’ll write about it therapeutically anyway.

When you say Han, you say cave, but when you say Switzerland, you can definitely also say cave. If you think about it logically, it’s not so bizarre: all that beautiful rock that adorns this beautiful country, there must be some space for it somewhere, right? So it is also in Saint-Maurice, a 45-minute drive from Haute-Nendaz.
The Fairy Cave presents itself as a magical place and has done so since the mid-19th century. What happened then, during the first tourist exploitation? All visitors broke off the stalactites and took them home. What remains? A narrow, humid corridor of half a kilometer with a waterfall and a pond at the end.

So what do those fairies have to do with it? Uh, I think there’s a village called Fay and then they also wrote something about fairies. Or something like that. Oh yeah, and before that, the locals fled into the cave when the barbarians were there, I did remember that. And then there are also 5 plastic fairies hanging up to lure children.

Nevertheless, the terrace is worth a visit, only 2 meters wide against a rock wall with the only duo fryer with a beautiful view next to you!
On the way back, we luckily stopped at a megalomaniac playground where even parents can have a great time if they put away their phones for a moment: hooray for labyrinth adventure!

Finally, a word about the cave: actually, we should have gone to the largest underground lake in Europe, somewhere between Sion and Sierre. Visiting a cave with a boat, that brings our nostalgic brain back to the caves of Han. A good friend of the family affairs correspondent once introduced himself as “Do you know that cannon shot at the end of the tour of the caves of Han? Well, that’s me!”. It must be one of the most poetic sentences ever uttered in Ottenburg…

What supermarket advice can you give?

Migros is a nice local concept: The company is actually a federation of regional cooperatives, with more than two million shareholders. Every adult residing in Switzerland can become a member, receives a free share, and has voting rights during the general assembly. 0.5% of the turnover is used for social and cultural projects, according to Wikipedia.

All well and good, but you can’t buy alcohol there, and let’s not forget: we’re still talking about a family vacation. So there are other supermarkets too, COOP, even an Aldi, but according to my daughter, the soy milk doesn’t taste the same.

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