8 Castles to visit in Switzerland with kids
We love visiting castles! We have been to many castles in the Dordogne and Loire Valley in France and we have celebrated our wedding in a castle in the Netherlands. But what are the best castles to visit in Switzerland with kids? Here is a list of recommended Swiss castles compiled with the help of Swiss-based bloggers! In this article you will read on famous castles like Chillon, less known castles, nearby activities, and about an exhibition on Swiss Food in one of the castle’s museums!
Château de Chillon, Montreux
Photos provided by Ashley from Born Explorers.
Set on the banks of Lake Geneva with towering mountains in the distance, the setting of Château de Chillon is the most impressive thing about this castle. But the inside of the chateau is also well worth a visit to discover more. One of our favorite things besides the view is the map and activities provided for kids to make the visit interesting for them too. They also host lots of special events at this castle including a spooky Halloween party and a medieval festival and they even organize children’s birthday parties! Check out their website for more about all their fun family events. https://www.chillon.ch/en/Z5067/children
Chillon castle entrance fee: CHF 12,50 for adults and CHF 6 for children above 6 years old.
Recommended by Ashley from Born Explorers.
Château de Prangins
This castle is one of the locations of the Swiss National Museum. It is close to the lake, and has a beautiful garden where they grow vegetables from the 18th century. There are often events organized, like for instance spring markets and ‘Lunch on the Grass’ in autumn. On the three floors and in the cellar, there are permanent and temporary exhibitions. A very interesting temporary exhibition will start in Prangins castle soon: ‘A table! What does Switzerland eat?’. To learn all about what’s in the cooking pots of the ‘Homo Helveticus’, be sure to visit the exhibition that starts on April 7th and lasts until October 20th 2019. As we have written a post on Swiss Food, we will definitely visit, and are quite curious to see if any of the foods we talked about are in this exhibition.
Château de Prangins entrance fee : CHF 10 for adults, free for children under 16
For more information on the Chateau de Prangins, including a downloadable kids activities brochure, and information on the exhibitions: https://www.nationalmuseum.ch/e/prangins/
Burgdorf Castle, Canton of Bern
Photos provided by Hana from Our Swiss Experience
Burgdorf Castle, which is around 900 years old, is the impressive landmark of the town and the Burgdorf region. It is currently under re-construction, however, guided tours for school classes and groups can still be booked. After the re-opening in 2020, you will find a youth hostel and a restaurant here. Of course, the castle museum will also be newly opened. Together with the Helvetic Gold Museum, that will open its exhibition rooms again with a unique collection, that documents the history of gold mining in Switzerland.
Even now you can reach the viewpoint in front of the castle and the area in front of the castle gate, where you can enjoy the magnificent views of Emmental and the Bernese Alps.
Nearby activities: There are plenty of things to do in Burgdorf and its proximity. Walking up the hill towards the castle, you will walk through the picturesque upper-town (Oberstadt) with old arcaded houses, where you can find pleasant shops, cafés, and restaurants.
You can also take an easy hike above the stone cliffs, called “Flüeweg”, that surround the town. Or, you can bike along the Emme river, and explore the historic covered timber bridges that cross the river. Since Burgdorf is also called the “gate to Emmental”, you can take a trip to the Emmental cheese factory (Schaukäserei) in Affoltern im Emmental to see how this famous cheese is being made.
Recommended by Hana from Our Swiss Experience.
To read more on Hana’s Flüeweg hike: https://www.ourswissexperience.com/en/2017/10/14/hiking-with-kids-flueweg-burgdorf/
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Canton of Ticino
Bellinzona is a beautiful town with not one, but three castles! We have visited the Castelgrande, which is very well maintained and nice to explore by yourself. You can walk on the castle walls and enjoy the view over the mountains. To access the castle you either walk up, or you take the elevator in Bellinzona.
Bellinzona Castelgrande entrance fee: CHF 5 for adults, CHF 3 for children of 6 years old and up.
The main square of Bellinzona has nice pastel colored houses and terraces. On Saturday’s there is a big local market in Bellinzona, so if you can, make sure to plan your trip on a market day and taste some local products.
To read more on our trip to the Ticino region: https://letsexplore.ch/ticino-lugano-with-kids/
Schloss Lenzburg, Canton of Aargau
Photo taken from the Lenzburg Ferris wheel and provided by Tamara from Part-Time Working Hockey Mom
Growing up in the Lenzburg area you would visit with your family and eventually take a school field trip to the castle and find something different to excite (or scare) you every time. To be honest as a kid my only memory was the one of the jail cells, and I was terrified!
These days they have added more to attract / scare the kids: an “authentic” fire-spitting dragon called Fauchi! If you’re not into visiting the dragon you may always have a wonderful time at the kids’ area, dressing up as princesses or knights, craft your own sword and read stories. Meanwhile grown-ups may enjoy coffee and cake at the cafeteria.
When my then boyfriend and I got engaged, he made it clear he wanted to get married at the castle. He grew up in a different part of Switzerland, so this was a big deal for him. Make sure to book one of the two knight ballrooms way in advance!
On specific occasions, there are public tours or special tours with guides dressed in medieval costumes who will tell you about life in a castle.
Lenzburg castle entrance fee: CHF 14 for adults and CHF 8 for children above 4 years old.
Stroll through the Old Town of Lenzburg: Rathausgasse is a nice cobble stone pedestrian area with lovely (street) cafés and specialty shops. Between April and November they hold farmer’s markets on Tuesdays (7:30-11am) and Fridays (1-5pm) where you can purchase produce, flowers, fish and freshly baked goods. It’s charming and scenic!
HERO has a factory outlet, so if you’d like some cheap fruit jams, ravioli or canned veggies, visit their shop at Karl Roth-Strasse 8 CH-5600 Lenzburg), Opening Hours: Monday through Friday: 09:30am–12:00pm and 1:15–6pm, Saturday: 09:00am-2pm.
The Stapferhaus foundation has annual interactive exhibitions that attracts people from all over. Themes have ranged from “Home”, “Decisions” and “Money”.
Recommended by Tamara from Part Time Hockey Mom.
Read more on Tamara’s recommendations on the Lenzburg area: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/09/top-ten-thursday-hometown.html
Château de Voltaire, Ferney-Voltaire, near Geneva
The castle of the famous philosopher Voltaire, is located in Ferney-Voltaire in France, at about 20 minutes from Geneva. So this is not a Swiss Castle, but Voltaire chose this area because of the proximity of Switzerland. Voltaire lived in this castle for 20 years and wrote some of his famous works here. His castle is surrounded by a beautiful park which offers views on the Jura and Salève mountains. The ground floor of the castle can be visited and contains well kept rooms restored to their former state. Interactive booths give the visitor more information on the rooms and artworks, or on Voltaire’s life. French children of course learn on Voltaire in school, and the little castle bookshop has lots of interesting children’s books. The castle is relatively small compared to some other castles mentioned in this article, but nevertheless interesting.
Voltaire castle entrance fee: 8 euros for adults and free for children
Nearby activities: Ferney-Voltaire has a good and big market on Saturdays. If you are visiting on a Saturday then come early to secure a parking spot and combine your visit with the market.
Château de Grandson
Photo provided by Kristin from Swiss Family Travel
The close to 1000-year-old Chateau de Grandson, set above the lake of Neuchatel, can be visited without a guided tour. What we loved about this castle was its size, small enough that it not only kept our kid’s attention but also left us plenty of time for more exploring in the afternoon. Our 4-year-old loved pretending to be the Queen sitting on the throne, and our older kids loved seeing the display tools found in the lake dating back to 4000BC, something they had learned about in school. Although there is a small cafe with a lovely view on-site, we decided to enjoy lunch at the gluten-free/lactose-free restaurant across the road, Café du Commerce.
After your visit to the Chateau, why not venture further along the lake to the town of Yverdon-les-Bains and visit their thermal baths, and if you are lucky it could be market day. Or if you want to explore the region longer why not stay at the Yverdon Camping ground which is directly on the lake.
Grandson castle entrance fee: CHF 12 for adults and CHF 5 for children ages 6 and up.
Recommended by Kristin from Swiss Family Travel.
Read more on Kristin’s castle recommendations: https://swissfamilytravel.com/blog/autumn-in-switzerland-castles
Château de Nyon
We love Nyon! The castle of Nyon towers over the city on the shores of Lac Léman. The castle, built in the 12th century, looks so freshly painted, you would almost forget how old it actually is. What we love most about the castle is just walking in and on to the beautiful terrace at the back, offering you a peaceful and beautiful view over the lake. A lovely place to daydream! The castle museum can be visited.
Nyon castle entrance fee: CHF 8 for adults, free for kids up to 16 years old, and free for everyone on the first Sunday of the month.
How to get there: from the main parking when you enter Nyon, you either have a foot path going up, or an elevator going straight up toward the castle from the parking. Make sure to at least take the urban garden foot path back down towards the lake.
Nearby activities: Musée du Léman and Aquarium, a cool museum for younger kids where they can explore and touch certain things, and that has a rescue boat simulator they can steer. A nice playground is right next to this museum. There is also the Roman Museum of Nyon which also organizes cool kids activities in the school holidays. A popular outing is also to take the boat to cross the lake from Nyon to Yvoire, a beautiful medieval town in France.
Nyon has a Flea Market on the lake shore every first Sunday of the month, except in August.
If your children are into the medieval theme and castles, there are some great festivals close by like the Medievales d’Andilly which are held in June each year in France, close to Geneva. Or, the Medieval Festival in the cute town of Saillon, which is held only every 4 years. The next edition of this Medieval Festival in Saillon with loads of actors and storytelling (in French) is in September 2019.
We have done a short castle vacation in Chambéry in France once. Chambéry is easily accessible from Geneva and makes for a nice weekend break. You can read our review on Chambéry and the castle stay here:
And you, what is your favorite castle in or around Switzerland?