Zurich, Switzerland is an international hub for business travelers but also a fabulous place to travel with kids!
Zurich, Switzerland is one of my favorite places to visit. My in-laws live in a little town just outside of Zurich, so I’ve been traveling here with Mr. Bliss since 1997, and we’ve been taking the Bliss Kids overseas to Switzerland since they were babies.
While the capitol of Switzerland is a huge international hub for business travelers, it’s also a fantastic place for families. It’s not the overwhelming hug of warmth and and loud, jovial outbursts of welcome you feel when visiting places like Italy or Portugal, where children are embraced and ingrained into life seemingly everywhere you go, it’s more of a milder, gentler, quieter embrace by the locals that you’ll feel here. We always felt welcome with our children wherever we went in Zurich.
Here are some of my top picks for where to go and what to do if you’re traveling to Zurich, Switzerland with kids.
Where to Go With Kids in Zurich, Switzerland
Go by Train
When in Zurich, it’s easy to take a train, bus or boat (or gondola!) to almost anywhere you need to go. If you’ll be in the area for a few days or a week, depending on your itinerary, I suggest getting the Swiss Travel Pass or the Swiss Travel Flex Pass. The best part for families: children under the age of 16 travel for free when accompanied by a parent who has a Swiss Family Card; children under the age of 6 travel free with an accompanying adult (no Swiss Family Card needed). The Swiss trains are the cleanest trains I have ever taken, anywhere. They are almost always on time (that famous Swiss precision!), stations are well-organized, and transfers are fairly easy to navigate for first-time visitors.
Seeing Switzerland by train is a fabulous way to see the diverse and absolutely stunning Swiss countryside, towns, mountains, lakes, and rivers.
Walk and play along Lake Zurich
The large, windy lake connects Lake Zurich on the Western end, and the cantons of Zurich, St. Gallen, and Schwyz. At the Zurich end, as well as from several smaller towns along the lake, you can rent paddle boats, go swimming, rent bikes and bike along the scenic paths that follow the river, watch the sailboats, and our favorite: take the ferry from Zurich to one of the other towns. On hot summer days, visit the largest covered waterpark in Europe – the Alpamare – in Pfäffikon.
Walk around the Niederdorf
Located in the Old Town of Zurich, the Niederdorf is like a small European village within the big city. Wear comfortable shoes to traverse the uneven cobblestone streets and hills, as you stop into little shops and make the tough decision where to enjoy a meal or where to rest your weary feet for some quick snacks. This is one of those places where giving you a recommendation for where specifically to eat & drink would not do anyone justice; you’ll come across dozens of options, all offering different cuisine, a different vibe, and varied space options, so go with an open mind and choose according to what you and your family are feeling like that day. Everyplace we’ve ever taken our kids here has been kid-friendly.
It should go without saying, but that beer pictured above is mine and not Bliss Girl’s.
There are also lots of great travel photo opps in the Niederdorf, whether it’s classic Swiss architecture, signature red geraniums hanging in containers from terraces, or painted cow fixtures on corners, the Niederdorf is a great area to explore.
Visit the Lindt Chocolate Factory
Located in Kilchberg, just outside of Zurich and an easy train ride from the center of the city, is the magical place known as the Lindt chocolate factory. This is real chocolate, folks, not that watered down stuff the large candy makers in the US try to feed us. You can make reservations to take a tour, but the must-stop if you are short on time is the Lindt chocolate outlet store on the first floor. We always stock up on amazing chocolate here to bring back home.
There are many outdoor markets throughout Zurich on different days, but one of my favorites is the Bürkliplatz open air market by the Lake Zurich waterfront. It’s part flea market, part farmers market, and there are also food trucks and other vendors there. It’s a great place to get fresh fruits and vegetables for your trip, and there’s a beautiful selection of fresh flowers here as well. The food trucks offer kids a fun, quick bite while you are out and about exploring the city!
Franz Carl Weber Toy Store
No trip to Zurich is complete without a walk down to check out the shops and restaurants along the Bahnhofstrasse, and one of our must-stops on every trip, even as our kids get older, is the Franz Carl Weber toy store. This megastore is three floors of kid fun! Your children will find their favorites plus some fabulous European toys that you can’t get in most places in the States. It’s a great place to go to perk the kids up after walking for a while in the city, too. Bonus: there’s a Starbucks across the street where they can fuel up on snacks before heading back out for more Zurich exploring.
Have you traveled to Zurich with kids? Which of these ideas appeals to you the most?