Zurich, Switzerland is an international hub for business travelers but also a fabulous place for family vacations! Check out what to do in Zurich 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 my husband since 1997. We've been taking the kids overseas to Switzerland since they were babies.
Zurich with Kids
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.
Zurich is 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.
Swiss Trains: The Best Way to Travel Around Zurich
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, 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.
Traveling by train is a fabulous way to see the diverse and stunning Swiss countryside. I just love watching the landscape change from picturesque cities to small 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 have many options. You can rent paddle boats or go swimming. Rent bikes and bike along the scenic paths that follow the river. Watch the sailboats.
Or partake in our favorite activity: 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 here. You'll need to traverse uneven cobblestone streets and hills, as make the tough decision where to enjoy a meal. There are so many options!
Giving you a recommendation for where specifically to eat & drink in the Niederdorf would not do anyone justice. You'll come across dozens of options that look appetizing. Zurich restaurants here all offer many different cuisines. Plus, you'll find a different vibe and varied space options at each restaurant. I suggest you go with an open mind and choose according to what you and your family are feeling like that day.
Every restaurant we've ever taken our kids to in the Niederdorf of Zurich has been kid-friendly.
It should go without saying, but that beer pictured above is mine and not my daughter'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, Switzerland is the magical place known as the Lindt chocolate factory. This is just outside of Zurich and an easy train ride from the city center.
This is real chocolate, folks. Lindt chocolate is not the watered down stuff the large candy makers in the US try to feed us. You can make reservations to take a tour. However, 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. One of my favorites is the Bürkliplatz open air market by the Lake Zurich waterfront.
Bürkliplatz is part flea market, part farmers market. There are also food trucks and other vendors there. It's a great place to get fresh fruits and vegetables for your trip. There's a beautiful selection of fresh flowers here as well.
Meanwhile, 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. 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 here. Plus, they'll find 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! This is a great stop to fuel up on snacks before heading back out for to explore Zurich with kids.
Have you traveled to Zurich with kids? Which of these ideas appeals to you the most?