Are you on a holiday near Saint-Raphaёl on the Côte d’Azur and would you like to know which beach to go to? Here’s our selection of 5 best beaches for you to try out!
1. Calanque du Petit Canereit, Antheor
A beautiful, natural spot away from the crowds, without facilities. This beach is located between Agay and Théoule-sur-Mer, just after passing Antheor Plage and the train bridge. You will see a small parking lot on the right side of the scenic road. Come early in the morning to have a parking spot, and if you are really lucky, to have the beach all to yourself like we had one morning. Steep stairs lead you down to the beach, do-able with children, bring water, your water shoes, and your picnic! Snorkeling gear is also really good to bring as it is a beach with stones and a lot of fish can be seen! The second time we were there, at around 13 o’clock, at boat stopped to sell drinks and ice-cream, just in time for our dessert after the picnic! The captain of the boat said he came there every day, so do bring some money just in case. This beach is definitely one of our preferred spots!
2. Plage du Débarquement, Saint-Raphaёl
This beach is our top spot for snorkeling! An amazing amount of fish can be seen, even very close to the beach. It’s certainly because this beach has no sand but big rocks, so bring your water shoes and your snorkeling gear! We had never seen so many fish in one place in the Mediterranean before! You will see a lot of people walk around with the Decathlon snorkeling masks that have become so popular 😊. There are lifeguards on this beach, public toilets, and there is a restaurant. The view on the famous landmark of Saint-Raphaёl, l’Ile d’Or, is best from this beach, and we like to bring our stand-up paddles and paddle around the island. Paddling around the island and back to the beach takes about 35 minutes and my husband has done it with our 10 year old. The island is private property, so you cannot go on the island.
3. Tiki plage, or Plage de Camp Long, Agay
This beach, located between Agay and Saint-Raphaёl, is also known as the ‘Plage de Camp Long’. It is a creek with a nice beach with a mixture of sand and small stones. You can walk around the creek on a small foot path carved into the typical red rocks of the Estérel mountains that end up in the sea. The parking lot is relatively big compared to smaller creeks located along the well-known ‘Route de la Corniche d’Or’. The beach has a restaurant, a snack corner, a small shop, showers, public toilets, and rental of stand-up paddles, kayaks and pedal boats. Children are at ease to swim here as the water does not go steep down immediately. They can of course also search for crabs along the rocks around the creek. Tiki plage is definitely one of our preferred beaches!
4. Calanque des Anglais, Agay
Another beautiful, small beach, with typical red stones from the red rocks of the Estérel mountains. If you go all the way to the ‘official sign’ indicating the ‘Calanque des Anglais’, access to the beach is a bit more difficult then when you park at the stairs just before. From those stairs, the beach is accessible with children as well. Like all the ‘calanques’ beaches, come early and don’t forget water shoes and snorkeling gear!
This wide beach is our best spot for real sand and building sand castles! It is also the perfect beach with small children as the water is very shallow for a long while. There are parking lots along the road on both sides (payed parking). Since it is quite a long beach, there are several different beach bars and restaurants. What we like to do after a couple of hours on the beach, is go to the beach front where there are several restaurants and bars right on the beach. Some have really nice terraces! The little center also has a big shop with everything you would need for the beach, inflatable toys, beach towels, they have everything! Just don’t go to the beach near the center, as it tends to get too crowded at the end of the day. The beach is long enough to pick a spot before the town center.
Would you like to see some of the beaches as seen from above? Check out our drone video of the beautiful coast line:
A walk on the beach in the Netherlands always makes me happy. It clears your head and the surroundings are beautiful. The kids can run in the wind, jump off the dunes and they can play the ‘does the wave wet my shoes or not game’. But still, to make them contribute to a beach cleanup gives them a whole other level of understanding, and if you do a cleanup every once in a while, when you walk in nature, it may just teach them to be responsible themselves later on.
They will transform it into a treasure hunt, and they may oblige you to finally bring a treasure or two home with you (we are the proud owners of a very rusty boat propellor), but it does really teach them something valuable, and they do realize it is ridiculous what people leave in nature… Straws, bottles, plastic bags, bags with dog poo (seriously if you clean up your dog’s poo, and put it in a plastic bag, why do you leave it on the beach afterwards?). We also found a whole box of medicines, and finally, a lost Iphone that we brought back to the beach bar hoping it would then be reunited with its owner.
The children seemed a bit more aware of the trash problem and I think that in summer, when we spend even more time on the beach, they will run after their empty cookie wrapping in case the wind picks it up. Or at least, I hope so!
A Ski Resort with plenty of activities for non-skiers as well!
Grindelwald is a lovely town in the Jungfrau region in Switzerland. We have been to Grindelwald in summer, and we decided to come back in Winter on our annual ski break. The region offers a multitude of activities for both skiers and non-skiers, and you can easily access other ski resorts like Wengen, or Kleine Scheidegg just below the Jungfrau Top of Europe. Grindelwald is definitely a family friendly ski resort and in this post you can read all about skiing, sledging, adrenaline activities, and winter hiking in Grindelwald!
Things to do in Grindelwald in Winter
Skiing in Grindelwald
Staying in Grindelwald for a ski break is an excellent choice because of the wide variety of slopes and activities. There are plenty of ski slopes for beginners, as well as lots of slopes for experienced skiers, and a fun snow park on Grindelwald First.
You can either buy a ski pass for Grindelwald and Wengen combined, or for the whole Jungfrau region which would also cover Mürren and Schilthorn if you would like to go a bit further as well.
Grindelwald’s own mountain is the First mountain which is accessible by cable car from the center of town. The First cable car has 3 stops: Bort station, Schreckenfeld station and First, all the way on top. The whole ascension to the top takes 25 minutes. The snow park is located not far from the Schreckenfeld station.
While you ski on the Grindelwald First mountain, you can combine some other activities in your day, like walking on the Grindelwald First Cliff Walk, or, flying like a bird on the First Glider, which is included in your ski pass, so no excuses.
There are mountain restaurants at each of the intermediate stations, as well as at the snow park.
Skiing in Wengen
From the Grindelwald Terminal you can take the cable car up to Wengen Männlichen which really is a great ski area that covers lots of slopes for all levels. On Männlichen you will find plenty of blue slopes for beginners, but also slopes like the famous Lauberhorn Ski Race slope, which is used for World Cup skiing.
The brand new and very modern cable car, the Eiger Express, also takes you up from Grindelwald Terminal to the foot of the Eiger mountain in about 15 minutes. This big cable car has convenient holes in the floor to put your skis in. From the Eigergletscher, you have the possibility to ski to Kleine Scheidegg and Wengen, or back to Grindelwald.
Skiing on Kleine Scheidegg
There’s a big beginners area at Kleine Scheidegg taking you back down to Grindelwald on a long blue slope.
Grindelwald for non-skiers
Grindelwald also has a lot to offer for non-skiers, or for those who just don’t want to ski all day. We think this is important when choosing a ski resort since like most families, we don’t always all have the same interests, and it is great to have some alternatives. Grindelwald has winter hiking paths, sledging slopes, snowshoeing paths and some adrenaline activities like the First Glider which has you fly over that gorgeous landscape like an eagle.
Winter Hiking in Grindelwald
A beautiful winter hiking path can take you down from Grindelwald First back to Grindelwald town. Depending on how long you would like to hike, you could also break this up and partly hike down and hop back on the cable car at one of the intermediate stations. On top of Grindelwald First, you would also have the possibility to hike higher up towards Bachalpsee.
We did the hike from Bort to Grindelwald town, which took about 1h30 and was lovely because this hike passes by a lot of beautiful snowed in mountain huts. We also hiked from First to Schreckenfeld, which was beautiful as well, but more to see the ski slopes. We preferred the part from Bort to Grindelwald.
First Cliff Walk by Tissot
A must-do in Grindelwald is of course the First Cliff Walk. You will find the start of the Cliff Walk right at the top station of the Grindelwald First cable car. The path goes along the cliff, and takes you to a viewing platform with wonderful views on the surrounding peaks.
Check out below video on Instagram to get an idea of what the First Cliff Walk is like in Winter.
First Glider, fly like an eagle over the mountain
More adrenaline activities on Grindelwald First include the First Flyer, and the First Glider. The Flyer is a zipline that takes you down to Schreckenfeld from just below the First top.
The First Glider has you attached to a giant eagle and takes you back and forth to Schreckenfeld station. This means you first fly backwards, and then forwards. The flyer seems to go faster than the glider, but the going backwards part was what made only part of our family dare to do this.
Sledging in the Jungfrau region
Sledging on Grindelwald First
A sledging run also goes from Grindelwald First down to the village. It is the same path as the winter hiking path, and at some parts a multi-user slope with slow skiing as well. Some parts seemed a bit steeper than the Wengen Männlichen sledging slope. You can rent sledges anywhere in Grindelwald. In all the sports shops in the village, but also in the one sports shop on Grindelwald First. To be sure they are not all rented out it is of course smart to secure your sledge in the village and just take it up in the cable car with you.
Sledging in Wengen
We went for a cool sledging adventure in Wengen on top of Männlichen and totally loved that run! We took the cable car to Männlichen from the Grindelwald Terminal and first admired the view up there. From Männlichen you can see as far as Lake Thun, and of course the view on the mountains is gorgeous. We went to Männlichen in Summer as well and it then has one of the most beautiful alpine playgrounds. In Winter, only the cow-shaped-slide is accessible, but still nice for the kids to play while you are ordering something at the restaurant on top.
From Wengen Männlichen to Holenstein
From Männlichen you can sledge down to Holenstein middle station, and go back up with the cable car to do this run over and over again. If you have a day pass of couse, and not a single ride pass. If you have a single ride pass, you can sledge all the way down to the Grindelwald Terminal which will get you about 2 hours of sledging fun!
We totally loved this sledging slope and went back up to do the run from Männlichen to Holenstein twice. This slope is definitely family friendly! There are 3 parts where you do cross the ski slope, so just be careful there, or tell your children to stay behind you on those parts, but it really is ok. The slope towards Holenstein is mostly in the sun, and has both slower parts as partly steeper parts and fun turns. There is no restaurant at the Holenstein middle station, so bring your snacks or go back up to Männlichen.
From Wengen Holenstein to Grindelwald Terminal
When you decide to sledge all the way down to the Grindelwald Terminal, this part adds about 40 minutes of fun to your sledging adventure and changes the views a bit, as here, the sledging run goes partly through a forest which is really nice as well. Check out the snow conditions all towards Grindelwald Terminal of course to see in whether there is still enough snow for this part of the sledging run.
Once you are down at Grindelwald Terminal, you can just hop on a bus back to the center of Grindelwald to take your sledge back to the rental shop.
From Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg, and Jungfrau Top of Europe
Another alternative activity to skiing is the beautiful train ride from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. Trains run directly from Grindelwald train station to Kleine Scheidegg and it takes about a half an hour of gentle curves through winter wonderland to get there. While going up to Kleine Scheidegg you can observe the sledging slopes from your train window.
Kleine Scheidegg is where the trains to Jungfrau Top of Europe leave from, but is a beautiful place itself to go to, because of the impressive views. Kleine Scheidegg has a beautiful historic hotel on top, some restaurants, and a small café-restaurant called Chalet Bar that we liked in Summer and went back to this winter.
From Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen
Another nice excursion from Grindelwald is a short trip to Lauterbrunnen. Lauterbrunnen is famous for its waterfall, the Staubachfall. Of course, there is more water in this waterfall in spring and summer than in Winter, but still beautiful to see.
From Lauterbrunnen, you can also take the cable car and train up to chocolate box village Mürren and walk around there, or even go up to Mürren directly with the Stechelberg cable car, and then onwards to Schilthorn Piz Gloria for a 007 James Bond adventure.
Since we had already done this in Summer, we did not do it again this Winter. You can read all about Mürren and Schilthorn Piz Gloria here.
How to get from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen:
By car: it is really close by, it took us about 20 minutes by car only
By train: from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen takes about 40 minutes. First take the train in direction of Interlaken Ost, and change once at the station Zweilütschinen.
Where to stay in Grindelwald:
When we go on a ski break, we always try to stay as close to the cable car as possible. Especially with kids and all the ski equipment you would want to avoid walking too far in the morning. We found a small but affordable apartment close to the Grindelwald First lift.
For a short stay, we would recommend this hotel, which is very close to the First cable car as well, and has an outdoor heated pool!
If you liked this article on winter holidays in Switzerland, then you may also like our articles on other ski resorts! Check out our article on Bettmeralp, near the Aletsch Glacier, and on Saas-Fee in the Valais.
Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s & Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments.
My letter is a reply to Kristin’s February letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her February letter here.
Hello from your end of the Röstigraben Kristin!
Yes, we made it across to the German speaking part of Switzerland for our February school holidays! That’s actually how we call them, no Sports-Ferien here. Skiers do also call them ‘ski break’, but of course not everyone skies. We are jealous that you have 2 weeks off in February as it is one of our most preferred school breaks of the year!
How lovely that you always return to the same town in February! We actually always do the exact opposite and often choose a different town for the February break, although we have a few favorites where we went to twice! I love the fact that changing towns every year makes us see and taste quite a lot of Switzerland. We often went to different villages in the French speaking part of the Valais, but we have also been to the German speaking part before, and we like that little change. Different food and saying Grüezi here and there. Especially my husband loves to Grüezi everyone, but always hopes they will not answer more than that back, because then he has to admit his German is actually not that good.
We arrived in Grindelwald on Saturday and it was really cold when we arrived! Now, 3 days later, it seems spring has started, and the snow quickly turns into ‘slush’ in the sunshine. So far, I have skied with our family for 1 day, but I am definitely the slowest of the family, as like you, I learned how to ski at a later age. I’ve also been on a lovely winter walk down the First mountain in Grindelwald and we went up to Kleine Scheidegg, which was so nice as we had also been there in summer and it was lovely to see the same place in a different season.
We didn’t put our kids in ski school this year due to the C-situation, which is actually the first time ever. Do your kids follow the ski classes of the Swiss Ski School? Ours love the Ski school and they always go to the group lessons. Our teen has finished all the levels and even got avalanche training in the end. Super interesting and a bit a part of the alpine culture to learn such skills.
Yesterday, we had a really cool sledging adventure in Wengen on top of Männlichen. There seems to be a much more developed sledging culture on this side of the Röstigraben! We do have sledging slopes as well, but here there are so many! Seeing all the people on the trains and buses with their sledges is something you do not often see in the French speaking part. At least, not with such a big choice of slopes to choose from. I really enjoyed it! It took us an hour and 40 minutes to slide down from Männlichen to Grindelwald Grund, combining parts of the trail through a forest, with parts with a beautiful open view on all the surrounding peaks! There were easy slow parts, but also some steeper ones and fun turns. We had a blast!
All in all, we really love the Berner Oberland region, in all seasons. What is actually funny is that my husband and kids are ‘Bernese’. They have that written as their Canton of Origin on their passport. Is your husband’s family originally from Zug? My husband was born in Geneva, but when you trace back the origin, his family is from St. Imier and from Studen, which are both in the Canton of Bern. When he was living in France, he used to receive his voting papers in German because of his Canton of Origin and he always had to ask his mom what it said. Luckily for him that has been changed when he moved back to Geneva. We are thinking of visiting his towns of origin sometime this year, as honestly, we have never been!
Capuns! Oh don’t get me started, I love Capuns! As a Swiss dish, Capuns actually came a bit as a surprise to me as well and as soon as we get to Graubünden, I always need to order Capuns! I’m still discovering so many Swiss dishes after all these years. I absolutely love the book on Swiss Bread. You have that book as well right? I baked a delicious bread from Neuchatel the other day by following the recipe in that book. The bread is called a ‘Taillaule Neuchâteloise’. I had never heard of it and loved the taste of lemon in that bread. I will definitely make it more often now that I know about it!
You mentioning Jass is quite interesting as it is not played that often on the French side of the Röstigraben. However, when you ask a Swiss on our side if they know how to play it, they all say yes. However, you hardly ever see someone play it! When last summer, we went to Flims like you, we took a day trip to Chur and in a café we saw this big Jass tournament going on. Very interesting for us to see, as I really had never seen that in the French speaking part before!
Oh, summer, you are right, it will be here before we know it even if it is difficult to imagine that in the middle of winter wonder land. Like you, I really have fond memories of swimming in those beautiful fresh lakes! Caumasee is incredibly beautiful, and that’s why it probably is so popular. Our favorite lake was Crestasee though, where it really seemed less crowded and very beautiful as well!
I also love swimming in our own lake in Geneva in summer. Have you ever been to Geneva? We have historic baths in the center of town called ‘Bains des Paquis’ which date from 1872. It has a nice restaurant / café on site, perfect for a Birchermüesli on a sunny summer morning. You can also get a massage here, and concerts are organized in summer. In winter, it is one of the places where you eat the best fondue in town.
But let’s hope on a beautiful spring first, I can’t wait!
Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s & Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments.
My letter is a reply to Kristin’s first letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her January letter here.
‘Bonne année’ to you and your family as well!
Was that really an extra week of school holidays? We had 2 weeks and it still felt really short. The kids went back to school on January 11th but they worked through until December 23rd, which usually gives us a bit of stress to travel to family for Christmas. This time though we did celebrate Christmas at home which actually was only the second time we ever did that!
In the first week of January, we kind of took advantage of those Cantonal school holiday differences and went for a bit of winter fun in Canton Vaud. As their holiday was over, we almost had the ski slopes to ourselves, which was really awesome! I’m not a very good skier compared to the rest of my family and so I went snowshoeing on one day as well and I love that too! The silence around you, and how you can get close to nature. Just you and the crackling sound of snow under your snowshoes!
I’ve been snowshoeing for a few years already and I do see an increase in popularity, but maybe less than on your end as the ski slopes on our side didn’t close, while in other Cantons they did. I guess a lot of people were looking for alternatives to enjoy winter wonderland.
Grey January is here indeed and we usually get a lot of fog here as well. However, we did get some snow this week, and to be quite honest, it doesn’t snow that often in Geneva! It made the kids really happy as they could sledge right in front of the house and it made me happy to walk in the vineyards covered in snow! Since we stayed home so much this year, I’m rediscovering my own surrounding nature in different seasons and I love that!
I never knew your ‘köningskuchen’ was actually a bread type! Or maybe I did, as we have 2 different ones here. We have ‘la couronne des rois’ which could be more like your bread version, but we always eat ‘la Galette des Rois’ which is indeed filled, either with almond, or with apple. It’s always a discussion here, as some of us prefer the almond filling, and some the apple one. The hidden king comes in a lot of forms and shapes these days, and we have been collecting the hidden treasures (fèves) ever since our eldest was about 3. Counting our fèves collection, I can see we eat on average 3 ‘Galettes des Rois’ in the first week of January! That sounds like a nice tradition that kids dress up as Kings and ring the doorbells to sing in the village! We do not have that tradition at all on this side of the Röstigraben. Here, you just wear the crown which comes with every pie when you buy them. I really need to try and bake one myself once, but I haven’t tried that yet!
Your hiking goals for 2021 sound great!! I have also set some hiking goals, and I was also thinking of adding some wild swimming spots to my list for 2021. The fact that we stayed more within Switzerland in 2020 has definitely changed the way I look at travel. Switzerland is so beautiful!
I have never been to Zug and would love to visit your area once! About Zug, I saw the dance challenge performed by Zug’s Cantonal police on the news this morning. Yay for some positivity to lift up people’s spirits!
Oh, I would love to try your Gulash soup! I do understand German, but that has more to do with my own mother tongue language being a bit similar. Do your kids have French in school at young age already? On this side, they start to learn German in primary school, and it is one of the main subjects in high school as well. For children who have only French as a first language it seems quite difficult to learn German as the languages are so different. I would have liked if they had also added Italian to the program to have more of the national languages.
There has been an enormous amount of snow fall across Switzerland this week! Will you head out this weekend for more snowshoeing adventures? I think we will just stay local this weekend, head out for a walk, but snuggle up at home a lot as well. Your gulash soup had me thinking of some of my favorite soups. I love the Barley soup from Graubünden, but also the ‘Soupe de Chalet’ from this side of the Röstigraben. Do you ever make that? I may make it this weekend by following this recipe on Gruyère tourism’s website, although I do not add the nettles. We still have a nice local pie from the Canton Valais to go with it for dessert.
Don’t you just love trying out all the different Swiss foods of all the regions and sometimes even as local as a small town?
Talk to you soon!
Gros bisous from Geneva,
The Furka Pass is one of Switzerland’s highest, and most beautiful mountain passes. The highest point of this scenic road is at 2436m above sea level and marks the border between the two Swiss Cantons Uri and Valais. A slow travel trip over these winding mountain roads is a must-do road trip in Switzerland and can be done from approximately June to October.
Travelling on the highway can be quite boring. If you choose the alternative routes, going over the Swiss mountain passes, you get to see so much beauty that the trip itself is already worth it! ‘Travel is about the journey, not the destination’, a famous travel quote which is definitely true for Swiss mountain passes! Take your time for this trip; we wanted to stop at so many places to take photos!
We went over the Furka Pass in summer, when driving back to Geneva from our holiday in Flims, Graubünden. The Furka Pass is close to other Swiss scenic mountain roads, so depending from where you start, you may have it combined with the Susten Pass, Oberalp Pass or the Grimsel Pass.
The Furkapass starts in Andermatt, and finishes in Gletsch in the region Obergoms in the Valais, or the other way around of course.
Realp and Tiefenbach
From Andermatt you will first pass the village Realp with its cute Hotel Post, and as of here the ascension on the road full of hairpin bends will start. Quickly after Realp, you will get to the very small village Tiefenbach, with literally only a handful of houses, a Hotel with a restaurant, and a small alpine chapel.
On the highest point of the Furka Pass, you will be able to see the sign marking the border between the Canton Uri and the Canton Valais. You will also find one of the photo spots of the Grand Tour of Switzerland here, so don’t miss that photo opportunity! The views are amazing of course.
James Bond on the Furka Pass
The next stop on your road trip is Hotel Belvédère which gained fame as a James Bond film location for the movie ‘Goldfinger’. Hotel Belvédère is located right on a hairpin bend. In high season in summer, it can get quite busy at this spot, so if you would like the perfect picture as you see them on Instagram, come early, or late… As you can see in our photos, when we were there in the middle of the day, it was quite busy.
Across the curve of Hotel Belvédère, you will see the view on the Rhone Glacier. On site there is a small souvenir shop, and an entrance to visit the Rhone Glacier Grotto.
Canton Valais, a steam train and the Postbus
The beautiful road then takes you into the Canton Valais, or Wallis, to the town Gletsch. Along the road trip on the Furkapass, you may have seen the beautiful old steam train. This is a nice alternative to visit the Furkapass in summer.
More information on the 18-km trip on the Furka Steam Train: https://www.dfb.ch/index.php?id=986&L=3
The Swiss Post Bus also goes on the Furka Pass, but do check the time tables in case you decide to leave your car, hike a bit, and take a Postbus back. We took hitchhikers back to their car, who found out the bus was not due to come for a few more hours…
Quickly after arriving in the Canton Valais, you will pass the Goms bridge linking the villages Fürgangen and Mühlebach. Make sure you stop to see and cross this impressive bridge of 280 meters long over the Rhone river. The bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the Valais, and it wiggles when you cross it. The Goms bridge is open all year round.
If you would like to make your Swiss road trip longer and enjoy the highlights on the way there are many more opportunities that open up to you from here. Close by, you could for example go and see the Great Aletsch Glacier, either by going up to Bettmeralp, or, by visiting Blatten bei Naters and its beautiful Belalp mountain.
Before you start your road trip, you can check if the Furka Pass is open here.
Aren’t we all looking for ideas to make this winter break somehow fun and special? We’ve seen most things cancelled or closed. No Christmas markets, no events, and not being able to travel to our family for Christmas for a lot of us. Most governments tell you to stay at home, but the Swiss government also says you can go into the forest or just outside. Here are some ideas for a fun but safe winter break near Geneva and Vaud!
Ouchui.ch, a completely free tour of different areas in Geneva
We recently tried this guided tour of Carouge by simply going online on our mobile on the website: https://ouchui.ch. There are different scavenger hunts of different areas in Geneva, and two of them are also available in English so far: Carouge and Geneva (the one starting on the Quai du Mont-Blanc). The scavenger hunt will take you around the area and you will learn a lot of history on the way. We liked the Carouge one, and there were plenty of things we didn’t know, for instance, did you know that Carouge has the oldest tram line in Europe?
Magic winter lights in Carouge
Carouge also puts up very nice lights in winter, and they will be there until mid-January, so fill up your thermos mug with hot chocolate or mulled wine and go for an evening walk.
Note for Carouge: bring your mask, as in the pedestrian area of Carouge masks are mandatory.
In the vineyards, in the forest, or next to the rivers. There are plenty of hiking paths in or near Geneva! We personally always think it lifts up our spirits to go out for a walk, and when spending so much time at home, it really is necessary to go outside.
You can find some of our suggested hikes on: https://letsexplore.ch/family-hikes-around-geneva/ (note: Gorges de la Jogne hike is closed in winter and if you do not want to walk in snow, do not choose the higher hikes).
We recently tried another hike near the Allondon river, la Roulave. We still have to write about this one but will drop that itinerary here as soon as it’s written down.
Winter Activities for Non-Skiers
You want to go to the snow but you are not a skier? There are plenty of alternatives around Geneva and Vaud! Sledging, snow shoeing, or cross-country skiing (everyone can do that, but 1 lesson for the technique is always good).
We recently went sledging on the Col de la Givrine in Vaud and we did end up in a big traffic jam though. So, for Covid safe activities, try to adapt your timing by going early for instance. Once we managed to park, the area is still big enough for social distancing, so that was fine.
Our non-skiers suggestions to enjoy winter wonderland can be found here: https://letsexplore.ch/2020/01/16/winter-activities-near-geneva-for-non-skiers/
Skiing is possible, but not in all Cantons and things change rather quickly with all the measures, so always check the tourism website of the town you are heading to!
Close to Geneva and Vaud, you can ski on the Jura. We are lucky as there has been quite some snow falls recently! If you would like to head a bit further, or higher up, here is a selection of our favorite ski resorts, but of course, you can only go to the Swiss ones now as the resorts in France are still closed. Also think of bringing your own picnic as the restaurants are closed, or only open for take away at the moment.
Family friendly ski resorts: https://letsexplore.ch/2018/08/28/top-family-friendly-ski-resorts/
Is skiing Covid safe? Well, the resorts have to guarantee all the measures, so social distancing while waiting in line, take away for the restaurants, downsized lift capacity, and masks on on all the mountain transport. Apart from that it is to the Canton, and everyone’s own estimation of risk.
Neuchatel Belle Epoque Scavenger Hunt
Another outdoor activity for the whole family while discovering the beautiful Swiss city Neuchatel. The Neuchatel Bell Epoque Scavenger Hunt is really well done! You pick up your scavenger hunt kit from the tourism office and off you go finding your way through the old town, along its frescoes, and while solving puzzles. More information on this scavenger hunt here: https://www.j3l.ch/en/P34107/scavenger-hunt-les-chenapans
Cooking World Dishes at Home
If you stay at home a lot, cooking can be a fun activity, and why not with the whole family? In a year where we almost couldn’t travel it can be fun to pick a world dish, cook it together, put on some local world music on Spotify and check some facts about that specific country!
On our blog we have plenty of world recipes that we have cooked together with locals from these countries. You can check out inspiration for recipes on our World Food series here on our blog: https://letsexplore.ch/world-food/
Crans Montana Latern Walk
Legends and fairy tales on this Lantern winter path in Crans Montana! We haven’t been yet, but it looks super beautiful and since it’s outdoors, it could be a great covid safe activity for the winter break. More information on this magical winter walk: https://www.crans-montana.ch/en/magical_experiences/
Eat outdoors, grill sausages like the Swiss or eat a fondue
Well, why not?! In Switzerland people love to eat outdoors. Grilling sausages on an open fire is quite common practice and, in some areas, even day cares do that with the kids regularly.
We have also eaten our fondue outdoors, in both summer and winter, and if you make a fire, you could even be safe meeting up with one other family while social distancing.
Would you like to know more about Swiss food: https://letsexplore.ch/switzerland-swiss-food/
Ice skating on natural ice
*update January 2021: ice skating on Lac de Joux will not be allowed even if it freezes up *
We haven’t seen it yet this winter, but, some lakes are known to be great places for ice skating when they freeze up. Beautiful Oeschinensee in the Kander Valley is one of those dreamy places and quite a bucket list place for ice skating. Closer by, keep checking for the Lac de Joux, even though this lake doesn’t always freeze up as it is quite a big lake. Closer to Geneva, check what the current situation of Lac Lamoura in Les Rousses is. As this is one of the smaller lakes, it tends to freeze up quicker.
Website for the Jura lakes: Montagne du Jura lakes
Museums or castles
What to say when the situation differs per Canton? Of course, we’ll be a lot warmer in museums. The Federal Council closed museums during their press conference on December 18th but some Cantons with lower numbers of the virus could still keep their museums open. At the moment of publishing this article, this is the case for the majority of the French speaking cantons, but since it changes constantly, do check before you go, and for most museums, buy your tickets online as they too have put in a lot of protection and manage their crowd control.
Suggestions we like: Musée du Léman in Nyon, Chillon Castle, beautiful Laténium archeology museum in Neuchatel, and in Geneva Maison Tavel or the archeological site underneath the Cathedral!
Treat your loved ones with some great local gifts while you support local businesses!
The end of the year is around the corner, and what a year it was… More than ever, it is important to show your loved ones that you think of them, whether you will be able to see them, or whether you will celebrate Christmas and New Year miles apart from each other.
We all have been affected by this crisis this year. The second lockdown has caused loads of online shopping in many countries. To show our love to the small business owners, who are trying to compete with all the big websites, here is a thought for you: why not support the small local businesses by buying their beautiful products online? Not only will you have a more original gift, but you will also have helped one of the many small local businesses!
Your Swiss Local Shopping Guide!
GIFTS FOR FOOD AND DRINK LOVERS
Maison Kassatay – Moroccan gluten free Macaroons
Did we already have you at Macaroon? I know I was feeling all excited when I found out about these homemade Moroccan Macaroons! They are called Ghribas, and Maison Kassatay makes these delicious gluten free Macaroons which are a treat for the eye, and for your tastebuds! Maison Kassatay is located in Geneva but can send her macaroons in beautiful gift boxes all over Switzerland. The macaroons can be kept in the fridge for 3 weeks, but honestly, who will be able to resist for that long? So treat your favorite Sweet Tooth with one of these gift boxes, to enjoy with tea, coffee, or, why not, champagne. It is the festive season after all, isn’t it? Online shop of Maison Kassatay: https://kassatay.com
Smiqql – Funky Flaky Salts to spice up your Christmas dinner!
Another good gift idea for Food Lovers! Smiqql is a very new company that sells Flaky Salts, or ‘sprinkles of joy’ as they call it! We can see why, because the colours of the products and the packaging certainly look joyful! You can add these delicately crunchy salt flakes that come in many different flavours to your favorite recipes! Check out their beautiful Gift Boxes on: https://smiqql.com
L’Atelier du Fromage: Hidden treasures of Swiss cheese delivered at Home!
L’Atelier du Fromage would like to share some of Switzerland’s best artisanal cheeses with you! They have monthly cheese boxes by subscription, which would make you travel across Switzerland, but you could also just order a box once to try it out. Their latest box is the ‘Apéro Box’ and we like the sound of that! They are always unique, and pairing cheese, wine and a salty snack from one of Switzerland’s Cantons. Check out these boxes, as a gift to send to someone, or as a gift to yourself: L’Atelier du Fromage
The Small Batch Project – Hop on a chocolate journey at Home!
A perfect gift for someone who loves chocolate! The Small Batch Project brings you chocolate from all over the world from producers who use single-origin cocoa, and who produce in small batches only. You can shop these lesser known chocolate bars in their online shop, order a gift box, or sign up for a chocolate subscription! With this subscription you could soon claim to be real chocolate connoisseur, because each carefully selected bar of chocolate comes with a note about the chocolate maker and the used cocoa beans. Their website: https://thesmallbatchproject.ch/en/
Federation of Malted Republics – FMR – Locally crafted beers
The Federation of Malted Republics (or FMR) is a small brewery in Rolle! The company is founded by two friends, who brew with humor, passion and natural raw materials. They have a special gift box for Christmas for you to order for your favorite Beer Lover! You can either pick up your order at the brewery in Rolle, at one of their Ambassadors, or, they ship the bottles all over Switzerland from a minimum of 6 bottles. Check out their webshop here: http://fmrbrewing.com
Seed & Root Delicatesses – Granola and more!
Granola love! For those in Home Office, it can be a part of a good and healthy morning routine to make a nice granola for breakfast. At Seed & Root they call themselves ‘Hunters of Delicacies’. They sell ready homemade gourmet granolas, or any ingredients separately to make your own at home. They also have a nice selection of fine products like honey, herbs and spices. Their beautiful e-shop: https://www.seednroot.ch
FROM SWITZERLAND, WITH LOVE
Swiss Family Travel– Beautiful Switzerland in an envelope!
Kristin is a photographer, and we are more than once in awe of her beautiful Swiss shots! She has started her own online shop of Swiss themed greeting cards and prints. Ordering her cards to accompany your gift to those far away, or gifting a set of cards to someone, will immediately transport them to Switzerland! Wait no longer, and check out her online shop on: https://swissfamilytravel.com/shop
Deer and Sparrow – Grüezi and a post-able hug for your family’s Christmas Tree!
If you will be far away from your family this Christmas, Deer and Sparrow has come up with a great idea for you to somehow still be present and still add to your family’s Christmas tree decorating! Greeting cards, which are easy to post to your family, and which contain a beautiful Christmas tree ornament for them to keep! The ‘Snow-hugs-allowed’ card and ornament, is a cute post-able hug to send some love to those missing you, and the Grüezi tree decoration will definitely bring a bit of Switzerland into their homes! Send your family and friends some love in an envelope with these ideas from Deer and Sparrow! Check out their Etsy Shop: Deer and Sparrow
Ma Love – Swiss Interior Design, gifts and souvenirs
Malin loves Switzerland! She had spent 12 years here, living in 4 different cantons when she started her Swiss Interior Design Company, based in Lausanne. In Ma Love she combines her passions – Homefurnishings, travelling, mountains and her work for a better planet. The products are designed using Malin’s own photographs of her travels around Switzerland! Check out their Swiss Souvenir gift range of trays, coasters, chopping boards, cushions, plaids, tea towels and much more: https://www.malovedesign.com
Lovely Sheep Boutique – Comfy Merino Wool thermal clothing to enjoy the outdoors!
Let’s get comfortable! It doesn’t look like we will be enjoying many indoor places this winter, unless it is the comfort of your own home. Going outside is good for your body and your soul though, so dress warmly and go outside to explore your local surroundings! Lovely Sheep Boutique has beautiful quality, natural Merino Wool clothing for the whole family. The shop is inspired by the Swiss way of life! Comfort, quality and practicality for outdoor activities all year round. Check out their lovely thermal clothing on: https://lovelysheep.ch/
Wooper- Jewellery made from Swiss Wood, Inspired by Travel and Nature!
Oh we love this! Beautifully designed wooden jewellery inspired by nature and travels. There are earrings, bracelets and necklaces in a lot of different designs. The Valais based designer obviously cares about the planet and nature and uses sustainable products for his creations. All the jewellery is made of local Swiss, recycled wood, so no tree is cut specifically to make these products. The bracelets are made from recycled PET plastic. And there’s more, for every item sold, Wooper donates to the Summit Foundation in Vevey! More information on: https://wooper.ch
Cura, eco-conscious jewellery designed in Switzerland
Cura’s colorful collection is made piece by piece by hand in Switzerland. Cura is a brand that uses recycled plastic, and gold or silver, to create unique and lightweight jewellery. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is the philosophy of this brand which they apply from the sourcing of the materials, to the packing. Their website: https://curajewellery.com
Xquisit Design – Sustainable Fashion
This Smart Casual fashion designer with a love for nature makes all her clothes out of natural and plastic free materials. She also supervises the whole supply chain and makes sure that the people who work on her clothes have good labor conditions! A local ‘feel good’ fashion brand for all occasions! The bath robes are handwoven and the sweatshirt is made of 100% organic cotton. More information and other products (in German): https://xquisitdesign.com/de/shop/?p=1
NUME-Lab – Swiss Skin care products
NUME-Lab is a new company, founded in February 2020 by a Neuchatel couple who were reviewing their bathrooms’ skin care stash full of products that were not fulfilling their needs! NUME-Lab is a Swiss brand that merges the secrets of the nature with the innovative Swiss biotechnology. Their products are both for men and women, and are developed and produced in Switzerland using clean ingredients. Check out this new skincare brand: https://nume-lab.com
FOR OUR LITTLE PEOPLE!
Loubiblu – No scissors, no glue, no fuss craft kits!
It’s aimed at little people, but since these beautiful craft kits, available in plenty of different themes, are to make without scissors, glue, or fuss, it actually also is a gift for the parents! No mess, no need to look up loads of crafts on the internet, all is there, in these cute ready-made kits! So while you are preparing for Christmas, your little ones can have fun decorating the house with these cute kits! Loubiblu’s webshop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/loubibludesigns
Karin & Me – Online Shop for Progressive Parents
Karin & Me sells items for kids to make them more confident and resilient. From quiet books for toddlers, to anti-stress kits for teens and pre-teens to encourage them to pause, focus on themselves for a few minutes, and combat anxiety and stress. It is important to look after our Mental Health this year, and even more so in the age of teenagers. Karin & Me webshop: https://www.karinundme.ch/shop
Gifts for Pets – pamper your four legged friends!
Why would gifts only go to human beings, right? If you are looking for a gift for your beloved pet, then make sure to check out https://thewoofclub.ch ! They have special Christmas gift boxes for dogs and for cats!
SHARING IS CARING! Would you also like to support small local businesses? Share this article on social media, or, if you would like any of these gift ideas yourself, point this article out to your loved ones!
A beautiful and easy day trip from Geneva by car, but somehow people seem to drive more often in the opposite direction than towards Bellegarde-sur-Valserine in the Ain region in France! The Pertes de la Valserine is an interesting site for a hike and is of geological and historical value in the region. You will be able to see where the Valserine river ‘gets lost’ under the rock formations of a canyon, to appear again before it will end up in the Rhone river. When driving from Geneva towards Bellegarde, you will pass through the village Léaz with its viewpoint the Belvédère de Léaz which offers one of the most stunning views over the Rhone in the area!
Belvédère de Leaz
Quickly after the Fort l’Ecluse tunnel, you will drive through Léaz, a small village. Signs along the road will easily guide you to the parking of the Belvédère, from where you can walk up in only 10 minutes to this viewpoint.
The view at this spot is amazing and should really not be missed!
Les Pertes de la Valserine Hike
For the Pertes de la Valserine hike, you continue by car to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. Signs will guide you to the parking lots. We chose P2, but the most common starting point of the hike is in front of the train station. From P2, the hike starts with a part down towards the river, through a beautiful forest. Once you are down, you will immediately see the beautiful rock formations, the canyon, a waterfall, and many natural potholes.
The Valserine river was the first river in France to receive a status of a ‘wild river’. The water quality is good and a lot of trout fish swim here. At some point you will see a fish ladder was created for fish to swim back up stream next to a dam. Rivers in France with this ‘wild river’ label are protected.
We crossed the bridge ‘Pont des Oules’ which is a natural bridge already used by travelers in the antiquity and walked next to the river in the direction of the dam.
You will not only see nature on this hike, but also abandoned buildings of what once was part of the industry of the region, like for example the old water pumps constructed in the 70’s.
If you would do the whole hike of the Pertes de la Valserine, this would be a 3h round trip hike.
To see, or download, the map of the Pertes de la Valserine hike: https://www.terrevalserine.fr/fr/infos-pratiques/brochures/brochures.htm
Also interesting in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine: La Voie du Tram
Another option in Bellegarde is the Voie du Tram which follows the former tramline that run here between 1912 and 1937. We have not done this trail yet, and it would be good to download the map to see which part of the trail you would like to do as its 19 km long in total. Part of the Voie du Tram seems to get close to the Pertes de la Valserine hike as well.
Access information on the Hike along the Pertes de la Valserine:
The hike closes in winter. If you do the hike after days of rain, make sure you wear good shoes as it can become slippery. Parking: due to some works, P2 will close from October 19th for 3 weeks. P1 in front of the train station in Bellegarde will remain accessible. Train: Bellegarde-sur-Valserine is accessible by train from Geneva.
If you liked this article, make sure you check out our other hiking suggestions close to Geneva: Family Hikes around Geneva
While on a weekend get-away near Neuchatel, we visited the Val-de-Travers region. This region has some beautiful and famous Swiss hikes, like the Creux-du-Van, and the Areuse Gorge. We did the Gorges de l’Areuse Hike in September, and there were already a few signs of Autumn, but while the colors keep changing, this hike should be even more beautiful further into Autumn!
Starting at the Noiraigue train station
The Noiraigue train station is a good option as a starting point for this hike. The train station is also the local post office, and has a shop selling many regional products to fill up your backpack for your picnic! Local cheese, sausages, and chocolates amongst others!
There is a small parking lot at the train station, and you can leave for the Gorges de l’Areuse hike right from here. The signs will lead you, first along the train line, and then into the forest along the Areuse river.
You can adapt your hiking time to your liking. From Noiraigue to Champ-du-Moulin would take you about 1 hour and this gets you along the most scenic part of the Gorges de l’Areuse, and across the beautiful stone bridge ‘Pont de Brot’ which is a very much loved photo spot! At this part, the hiking path is narrow and next to impressive cliff walls and waterfalls. At some other points along the hike, the path is much wider, and so is the river. The hike itself is mainly flat, so not difficult at all.
Once you get to Champ-du-Moulin, you will find the cute little ‘Buvette Rive Gauche’ for refreshments, and a bit further along the road, there is a restaurant at ‘Hotel de la Truite’ in case you would like to take more time to eat and warm up over lunch. From Champ-du-Moulin, you can catch a train which will take you back to Noiraigue in 4 minutes. Check the time-table in advance on the CFF / SBB app, as the trains do not run very frequently on the weekend.
If you would like to continue your hike, you could hike all the way to Boudry, which will take less than 3 hours in total. From Boudry you can also take the train back to Noiraigue, but you would need to change trains once.
Apart from the beautiful Gorges de l’Areuse Hike, and the famous Creux-du-Van, the Val-de-Travers region has many local museums. One of the famous products that originates from this region is Absinthe. We thought it was interesting to visit the Maison de l’Absinthe and our children loved tasting Absinthe Lemonade (alcohol free of course). Very close to the Noiraigue train station, you could also visit asphalt mines.
Read all about the many local museums, and on some cool things to do in the nearby city of Neuchatel, in our full article: Things to do in Neuchatel.
Tip for the Gorges de l’Areuse hike: as most hikes in autumn, and especially after rainy days, make sure you wear good hiking shoes as it can become slippery! The hike is not accessible with strollers.
Access: Noiraigue train station can be reached by train from Neuchatel. Boudry can be reached by tram from Neuchatel.
Switzerland has many beautiful lakes! Some are easy to access because cities are built on their shores, and some require the effort of a hike to get there. But which are the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland? We share our favorite ones with the help of other Swiss based bloggers! From hidden mountain lakes, to the bigger ones, this article will literally take you around Switzerland by its most beautiful lakes!
18 of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland!
Blausee in Berner Oberland is a small lake of an incredible blue color! The water is transparent, and you can take a short boat ride on a glass bottom boat to have a look at what’s underneath. Blausee has a very romantic setting, both for the scenery, as for the legend of the lake. The legend is about a girl who lost her loved one and cried so much that her tears filled the lake. You can see a statue of this girl on the bottom of the lake. You will reach Blausee by a short stroll through a forest. The lake is beautiful in all seasons, but we particularly liked to visit in autumn because of the colors of the trees and the reflection in the lake. Nowadays, there is an organic trout farm, and you will see many trout swimming in Blausee.
Where Oeschinensee was still a hidden gem a few years ago, its beauty as seen from the Panorama hike is now starting to get a certain fame! In winter Oeschinensee is one of the most scenic lakes for ice-skating, and in summer it is a beautiful place for hiking, or for grilling and chilling on the lake side. We loved the Panorama hike around the lake, even though the path is sometimes narrow and steep. The views from this hike are views we will never forget! You can access Oeschinensee by the cable car from Kandersteg.
To read all about Oeschinensee and Blausee, check out our article on the Kander Valley: https://letsexplore.ch/2018/10/22/the-kander-valley-in-bernese-oberland/
3. Lake Thun
By Hana from Our Swiss Experience
17.5 km long and 3.5 km wide, Lake Thun is according to me the most beautiful water reservoir in Switzerland. It is named after the nearby city of Thun, which is located on the northernmost tip of the lake and is at a half-hour drive from the capital Bern.
In summer, Lake Thun is absolutely magnificent and its great atmosphere is completed with five lovely castles scattered around the lake: Hünneg Schloss, Spiez, Oberhofen, Schadau, and Thun.
The BLS company runs boat cruises on the lake, which gives you a unique possibility to get to know the shores from another perspective. While cruising Lake Thun you can enjoy stunning views of the peaks Niesen and Stockhorn on the west side of the lake, forested slopes of Beatenberg (with the peak Niederhorn) in the east, and the snow-capped Bernese Alps in the south. And you just take notes for your future hiking experience since there are many beautiful trails in the neighborhood – e.g. you can hike to Blueme lookout tower, you can experience adrenaline on the suspension bridge in Sigriswil, or visit St. Beatus Caves.
To find our more on cruising Lake Thun, check out Hana’s post with 6 reasons to cruise Lake Thun!
4. Lake Brienz
By Tamara from Part-Time working Hockey Mom
A great starting point to explore the area is Giessbach Falls. After a short hike that allows you to actually walk round the back of the fall, admire the fairytale-like castle / hotel. Better yet, enjoy a cup of coffee on the terrace overlooking the lake and the mountains. Board the historical funicular that is taking you through woods, over bridges and alongside waterfalls down to the lake Brienz.
Many, many water activities are offered at the lake: surfing, stand-up paddling, water skiing, wakeboarding, canoeing, kayaking, and of course good old swimming. If you don’t feel like getting wet, enjoy a scenic cruise to Interlaken Ost from where you may explore a number of exciting sights, the most popular – yet pricey – being a day trip to Jungfraujoch, “Top of Europe”.
More of Tamara’s tips on the region: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/08/day-trip-to-bernese-alps.html
A short hike from the top of Grindelwald’s First mountain will lead you to this beautiful mountain lake! Plenty of space around to find your own quiet picnic spot around the lake to soak up some views and try to catch a perfect photo of a reflection in this beautiful Swiss mountain lake! After the hike, the Grindelwald first mountain offers you some fun alternatives to get back down again, like by Trottibike, mountain kart, or zip lines.
More information about activites on Grindelwald First and Bachalpsee: https://letsexplore.ch/2020/07/31/grindelwald-first-the-tissot-cliff-walk-and-the-bachalpsee-hike/
6. Moiry Lake
By Corina from Packed Again
Deep in Val d’Anniviers in Valais, above the pretty little village of Grimentz you will find the Moiry Valley with its most beautiful mountain lake. As you approach Moiry you can see from far the massive dam wall.
Moiry Lake offers a vast range of mountain activities, whether it be relaxing at the foot of Moiry glacier, hiking around Moiry Lake, pumping some adrenaline on the Via Ferrata or enjoying an ice-cream at the local restaurant whilst observing the lake. We love to visit during the late summer months as the lake has plenty of water due to all the snow melting and therefore the turquoise colour of the water is just out of this world.
Moiry lake definitely belongs on the list of `easily reachable and most beautiful mountain lakes in Switzerland`. Check out our Moiry Guide: https://packedagain.com/moiry-lake-moiry-glacier-hike/
Once visited, you will always come back to Moiry.
7. Stellisee, Zermatt
By Iva Kostadinova
The Stellisee (2.537 m) is among the most famous and idyllic mountain lakes of Zermatt. You can get here by cable car from Sunnegga and hike to Stellisee as a part of the 5 Lakes Hike (Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee and Leisee).
Stellisee is a 20-minute walk from the Blauherd summit. To get to Blauherd, you take an underground funicular from Zermatt to Sunnegga and then catch a chairlift from Sunnega to Blauherd. If you hike from Blauherd to Stellisee and back, this short hike takes only about an hour. The path to get there has some rocky parts, so wear good shoes. You will be treated by a breathtaking view of the Matterhorn along the hiking path, and its reflection in the Stellisee lake gives you wonderful views and reflections of Switzerland’s most famous mountain in the water. Swimming is only possible at Grünsee and Leisee.
8. Taney Lake
You have to earn it to see it, as to get to the Lac de Taney, the only way is up! A short, but steep hike in the Chablais region of the Valais you will not regret. Once you have passed the Col, be ready for some postcard views and mountain restaurants. In summer, you can swim in the lake, and there are some mountain huts to stay overnight.
More information about a hike to this lake in the Valais: https://letsexplore.ch/2020/05/17/lac-de-taney-hike-valais-switzerland/
The amazing color from above, and the little island in the middle. This lake will surely be able to please even the most spoilt traveler! Caumasee in Flims definitely deserves a place on any Swiss lakes list! Tropical vibes guaranteed in a mountain setting! You can walk down and back up, or use the elevator. In summer, you pay an entrance fee to the lake. There is a restaurant, a snack, a playground, and stand-up paddle renting on-site. Our top tip on visiting this lake: come early, or late afternoon, as it can sometimes get a bit busy in summer.
Caumasee’s little sister, Crestasee, is usually less crowded, but not less beautiful all the same. The water is transparent here as well, and you so you can see the rocks or fallen trees lying on the bottom of this lake. Swimming here is divine, surely, a bit cold sometimes, but divine! You can rent stand up paddles or a glass bottom canoe. The lake is a bit smaller, and a half an hour of renting will be enough to go around the lake. The lake has a nice restaurant on site and a large grass ‘beach’. One of our favorite lakes in Switzerland!
More information about Caumasee and Crestasee: https://letsexplore.ch/2020/08/14/flims-laax-a-swiss-paradise-for-outdoor-loving-families/
By Alison from Museum Travelers
In a region known for majestic mountains, Davosee is a beautiful gem and one of the first places visitors see when visiting Davos. Davosee is great for all ages with a paved 4km walking track, perfect for strollers and wheelchairs. Tame squirrels amuse the little ones and the sculpture park of Resli A. Marugg at the north end is a nice interlude. In summer, wakeboarders, boats and paddle boarders flock to the lake, but be warned the water is not warm, 15C in summer! For more adventurous hikers trails lead up to Seehorn and to Davos Wolfgang, giving spectacular views of the village, lake and alps, as well as seeing flocks of sheep and the famous red Glacier Express train along the way. End your day with a local craft beer or pub meal at Bachi’s Strandbad or play a game of beach volleyball. In winter the lake is frozen, perfect for ice skating and the path becomes a cross-country ski route. Davosee is an easy 10-minute walk from Davos Dorf train station, or bus route 1 passes the lake about every 30 minutes. There’s lots of car parking, for cars and camping cars, at 1 franc an hour.
12. Lai da Palpuogna
By Tanya from Swiss Family Fun
This gorgeous lake was once voted the most beautiful place in Switzerland and for good reason. It feels remote although it’s only a short walk from the road, surrounded by mountain peaks and forest, making lovely reflections in the water. The walk around the lake only takes 20-30 minutes, so plan more for a leisurely stroll and picnic than a demanding hike.
The path is not suitable for strollers, but it’s an easy short walk and small children should be fine. There are several picnic areas around the lake, some with grill pits and firewood, some with benches and tables. But anywhere you choose along the lakeshore will be perfect for soaking in the view.
For more information on this beautiful lake in Graubünden, check out all Tanya’s tips on Swiss Family Fun: https://swissfamilyfun.com/lai-da-palpuogna/
13. Lake Zürich
By Vanda from the The Yogi Wanderer
It’s not an exaggeration to say gorgeous Lake Zurich is the epicenter of Switzerland’s largest city. Almost all social and leisure activities revolve around this huge and splendid body of water, especially during the warmer months.
From the Expovina wine fair to Zurich’s international theater festival, from the city’s triennial festival to the largest techno parade in the world, there’s no shortage of events happening in and around Lake Zurich. All year round the lake is also a popular meeting point for an improvised lunch break, running, or cycling. And in the summer hundreds flock to its pleasant shores for a barbecue or a swim. There are also several places where you can rent stand up paddleboards, pedal boats and even small motorboats (no license needed) and spend a lovely day on the water with spectacular views of the Alps as a backdrop.
But one of my favorite things to do in Zurich is taking a cruise on Lake Zurich and admiring the city and its surroundings from a different perspective. Departing from Bürkliplatz, the short round trip takes around 1,5 hours. Alternatively, you can also take the boat to the picturesque town of Rapperswil, on Lake Zurich’s riviera.
14. Lake Zug
By Kristin from Swiss Family Travel
I may be a little bias as the lake of Zug is the background to my everyday life. It is the first thing I see when I open the curtains in the mornings and accompanies me on my commute and is the scene of many of late summer cooldowns. With the Rigi at one end and the city of Zug at the other, you can not only ride around it on your bike (mostly on the road), but you can also swim in it – year-round if you dare enter with some locals in the winter. For families with small kids, the best place to dip your toes in is at the sandy beach at the Strandbad Zug. But the villages of Oberwil, Cham, Hünenberg, Walchwil, Arth and Immensee are all worthy of a stop. And for those who would prefer to admire from the shores, make sure you don’t miss one of Zug’s famous sunsets. Grab a drink, settle in along the banks in Zug’s old town and bask in the golden hues as the sun sets over the alps.
To read more of Kristin’s articles on the area around Zug: https://swissfamilytravel.com/blog?offset=1512722019006&category=Zug
15. Lake Hallwyl
By Tamara from Part-Time working Hockey Mom
My «home lake» so to speak. Start at Schloss Hallwyl, a water castle built in 1265. If you have six hours, you may hike entirely around the lake. If you want to take it easier, walk 15 – 20 minutes until you’ll arrive at the Seengen jetty, a nature preservation area with lots of ducks, gulls and swans.
Take the cruise boat to Seerose Meisterschwanden, a beautiful resort and spa. It is very popular for weddings but also for offside business meetings, or for a meal in one of the many restaurants.
Just a short walk away there is the less posh “Strandbad” where people swim, enjoy their floating devices and stand-up paddles. You may also rent a pedalo, a rowboat or a motorboat.
When I was in elementary school, one winter was particularly cold, and a good part of the lake was frozen, so we went there to skate – it felt somewhat bizarre!
In summer 2019 there were rumors of several cayman sightings in the lake, and people were worried but also excited and curious to find that creature as well. As it turned out later, it was a 105cm tall wels catfish.
More information about the area around Lake Hallwyl: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/09/top-ten-thursday-hometown.html
Canton Geneva and Vaud
16. Lac Léman
Lac Léman, often referred to as ‘Geneva Lake’ in English, is a very large lake, and stretches from Geneva to beyond Montreux in the Canton Vaud. Lac Léman is partly in Switzerland, and partly in France. It has dreamy castles which overlook the lake, like Chateau Chillon, Chateau de Prangins, or the castles of Morges and Nyon, and the UNESCO world heritage are of the vineyards of Lavaux are located on the shores of this lake as well. Lac Léman is a perfect lake for stand up paddling, for scenic boat rides, and in Geneva, even for boat bus lines ‘les mouettes’ to cross the lake in style for the price of a simple bus ticket. What we love most about Lac Léman is the wide view on the mountains, the Alps with the Mont Blanc on one side, and the Jura mountains on the other side.
If you are visiting Geneva, then check out our article on Things to do in Geneva with kids.
17. Lac de Joux
We really discovered Lac de Joux in the Canton Vaud this summer. One of the advantages of this crazy year, is that we went to find less crowded places. We found that at Lac de Joux, which is a perfect place to chill around the lake on a warm summer day. The lake side is surrounded by nature, with a path in the forest just besides the lake. Just pick your spot to hang out, whether it is a public picnic table, or any spot on the beach where you can grill something on an open fire. We loved to discover this lake, which also has a small sand beach, the Pointe de Sable beach. In winter, the lake sometimes freezes and when it does, people come from far to ice-skate on it!
All about Lac de Joux: https://letsexplore.ch/2020/06/14/lac-de-joux-a-pearl-in-the-jura-vaud/
18. Lago Maggiore
No Swiss lakes tour is complete without a lake in Canton Ticino! The Lago Maggiore is partly in the Ticino in Switzerland, and partly in Italy and is a beautiful and big lake! There are beautiful villages on the lake, like Ascona, and places with incredible views from above like from the Madonna del Sasso sanctuary in Locarno. Another place we loved is a restaurant with stunning views over the lake, called Osteria Borei in Brissago.
To read all our tips on a trip to the Locarno, Ascona, and Valle Verzasca area in Canton Ticino: https://letsexplore.ch/2019/11/07/ticino-ascona-locarno-valle-verzasca/
Of course, there are more beautiful lakes in Switzerland! Lake Lucerne, and Lac Constance for example, just until now not yet discovered enough by us at Let’s Explore. And the lake of Neuchatel, which we have so far just been to on a clouded day. And how about you? What is your favorite lake in Switzerland? Let us know in comments below!
Neuchatel, or Neuenburg in German, is located on the Lake of Neuchatel in Switzerland. Neuchatel is a colorful city! It has narrow streets, colored houses, many frescoes and paintings, a street which makes you think you are in the South of Europe, and cheerful Fisherman’s cabins by the lake. We loved Neuchatel and were surprised we had actually never been here before. Now we know, we will for sure be back soon!
Things to do in Neuchatel
Belle Epoque Scavenger hunt to discover the Old Town of Neuchatel
Discover the beautiful Old Town of Neuchatel through this fun and interactive scavenger hunt suitable for the whole family! The Belle Epoque scavenger hunt is very well done and starts right in the center of town by opening the door of an old tram carriage. After a short movie in that tram which will transport you to the Belle Epoque period in time, off you go for about 2 hours of fun in Neuchatel! You will solve puzzles and search for frescoes which will guide you along the most beautiful places in the town center!
You can get your scavenger hunt kit at the tourism office in Neuchatel. We cannot say more, as you of course will have to discover the rest for yourself.
Where to eat in Neuchatel:
A highly recommended place for lunch in the Old Town of Neuchatel, is the restaurant Brasserie Le Cardinal, which is beautifully decorated in Art Nouveau style. The menu has most things you would find in a Parisian Brasserie, and the staff is super friendly.
Their website: https://www.lecardinal-brasserie.ch
A stroll by the Lake in Neuchatel
At the end of the scavenger hunt, you will be back right where you started, close to the tourism office by the lake. Take a moment to look at all the colorful fisherman’s cabins by the lake. Not one is the same, and we loved their happy colors!
Rue des Chavannes
Make sure you are on the lookout for this street during the scavenger hunt, or your stroll in the old town, because the Rue des Chavannes will transport you to the South of Europe instantly! Colored houses and laundry hanging out, a perfect Instagram spot in Neuchatel!
What to taste in Neuchatel:
Are there any local specialties from Neuchatel we were wondering? Well, several actually! Neuchatel is home to Suchard chocolate. Philippe Suchard opened his first shop in Neuchatel in 1826. What we didn’t know is that Suchard is also behind the candy every Swiss really knows: Sugus. The first 2 letters of Sugus simply come from Suchard. And then there is Absinthe which originates from the Val-de-Travers region in the Canton of Neuchatel. In Neuchatel, you will find several products with Absinthe, like for instance Absinthe chocolates!
Laténium, the biggest archeology museum in Switzerland
Just outside of Neuchatel, in Hauterive, you will find the largest archeology museum of Switzerland, Laténium. The Laténium is located on the lake, in a beautifully designed building. The Laténium takes you through the history of mankind in the region, from the Neanderthaler men, until now. The treasures found in this region are really amazing, and a lot of them were found on the bottom of the lake. The collection of Roman pieces is also impressive, which is not surprising, since Avenches (former Aventicum and Roman capital of Switzerland) is just across the lake. Stones were brought from Neuchatel to Avenches in Roman times to build the city, and some treasures from Avenches also ended up in Neuchatel.
The museum also has a special Menhir stone representing a person, the Menhir has a face, and hands. We had never seen that before!
On the outside of the museum, you can visit reconstructions of pile dwelling settlements, and a small playground for kids.
More information on Laténium: https://latenium.ch/en/
Noiraigue train station, the gateway to hikes and visits in the region of Neuchatel
Noiraigue is in the Val-de-Travers, and is the starting point of many hikes, and cultural visits like museums. At the train station, which also serves as a post office, and as a shop, you will find a great selection of local products to complete your picnic! Cheese, sausages, and chocolate with, or without, Absinthe.
The Pays de Neuchatel is surrounded by beautiful nature. One of the most famous sites is the Creux du Van, which is an impressive cliff. There is also the beautiful hike along the Gorges de l’Areuse. You can leave for this hike directly from the Noiraigue train station. The hike will lead you alongside the Areuse river. The most remarkable sight on this hike is the old stone bridge ‘Pont de Brot’ which is located between Noirague and Champ-du-Moulin (about 1 hour hiking for this part of the Gorges de l’Areuse). In Champ-du-Moulin you will find a cute buvette for some refreshments. If you are motivated to do the entire hike, you could continue all the way to Boudry (less than 3 hours in total), and take the train back to Noiraigue.
The region is not only home to natural highlights, but also to many interesting cultural sites. It will be difficult to choose from the many options! Close to Noiraigue, you will find the asphalt mines which you can visit. Our son had been with school and loved it.
More information: https://www.mines-asphalte.ch
We chose to go to the small town Motiers, which has a lot of local museums for a small town! Motiers has the Musée Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Regional Museum (Musée Régional du Val-de-Travers), and the ones we visited, the Maison de l’Absinthe and the Musée de la Grange.
Maison de l’Absinthe
Maison de l’Absinthe is much more than a museum, and that is one of the things we loved about it. Maison de l’Absinthe is also the local post office (would that not be the most special post office in Switzerland?), a place where you can take cooking classes, and an important regional museum which tells you about the history and culture around Absinthe which has its birthplace in the Val-de-Travers region! I must say before our visit I did not know Absinthe was from Switzerland! What we loved was the sweet smell in the museum, and the Absinthe syrup you can taste and which our children loved.
Musée de la Grange
Just across the street from the Maison de l’Absinthe, you will find another small museum, Musée de la Grange which is specifically dedicated to Aboriginal Art from Australia. You will not need much time for a visit, but it is a beautiful exhibition.
We stopped in the town Gorgier on the Lac de Neuchatel to see the historic ‘Pavillon des Bains’. The pavilion dates from 1907 and has a separate changing room for men and women.
Where to stay in Neuchatel:
We stayed at a Bio Hotel close to Neuchatel. Bio Hotel l’Aubier has an on-site farm with cows and produce and serve their own milk and cheese in their restaurant. The hotel also has a shop with biological products, and their own cheese and dairy products can be bought in the shop. The restaurant is good and a choice is given at dinner between a vegetarian, or meat based menu.
More information on this hotel: https://www.aubier.ch/en/friendly-organic.html
If you prefer to stay in the old town center of Neuchatel, l’Aubier also has a hotel there, at a beautiful location in the historic heart: https://www.aubier.ch/en/organic-cafe-hotel.html
Our trip to Neuchatel was hosted, our reviews and opinions are our own.
If you liked this article, you may also be interested in our article on Murten and Avenches: