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Things to do in Geneva with kids!

Geneva is our hometown, and is set on the shores of Lake Geneva with the beautiful Mont Blanc and Salève mountains as a backdrop! It is a city with a lot of parks, a beautiful Old Town with the Saint Pierre Cathedral towering over it, playgrounds for kids, and interesting museums! Whether you have just one day for a family trip to Geneva, or more days to explore, our list of best things to do in Geneva with kids could be useful for you!

The lake and the cute yellow boats

The city of Geneva surrounds the narrow part of Lake Geneva, before it turns into the Rhone river. Walking around the lake on a sunny day in this beautiful setting is always a popular activity. And you can do quite a long walk, from park to park on the right bank, crossing the Mont Blanc bridge to the left bank, or you can take one of the cute yellow boats to cross the lake and continue to explore there. The yellow boats, called ‘Mouettes’, are part of the public transport system and therefore quite cheap to take. If you have a bus ticket valid all day, it is valid on the boat as well, and otherwise you just purchase your ticket on site. You can view the timetable of the yellow boats here: http://www.mouettesgenevoises.ch/pw/en/

In Geneva, people always speak of the right bank or the left bank of the lake to indicate the area they are talking about. We will do the same in this article, and also add Old Town area and Carouge.

Old town of Geneva and the Cathedral

We love Geneva’s Old Town! We like walking around on the old streets and visiting its interesting sites. The cathedral in Geneva is a must-do when in Geneva! You can go all the way up on the towers by taking the stairs, and enjoy the beautiful view over the city and the mountains. While going up you will see the historic cathedral bell called ‘La Clémence’. Observe the bell, because later on, you can also go all the all the way down, under the cathedral, and visit the impressive archeological site of years and years of churches, and Roman ruins which were once built on the same spot where the cathedral stands today. At this archeological site, you will also see a part where they think the tower bell was moulded, you will see the shape of the bell on the floor. What I like about the archeological site is that all is well indicated with colors showing the different periods in time. And the most beautiful area for us is the Roman mosaic floor which is still very well preserved.

Pancakes in front of the Cathedral: there is a small pancake restaurant in front of the Saint Pierre Cathedral called Creperie Saint Pierre.

Other Geneva attractions in the Old Town are the historical cannons, and, the City Hall of Geneva. You can go on and peek inside, because the interior court of the City Hall has beautiful architecture and an interesting ‘stairway’ which isn’t really a stairway, but actually a small path going up, used in the old days to go up to the city’s meetings by horse!

Our favorite museum that we love in the Old Town is Maison Tavel. Maison Tavel is actually the oldest house of the Old Town of Geneva and a very nice museum. The entrance is free, the staff is friendly, and they have an explanation of the museum in various languages. New in Maison Tavel and only running until 14 July 2019 is a Virtual Reality Tour of Geneva in the year 1850. This is however only for children ages 12 and up, and tickets are booked quite fast, so make sure to try and get them in advance. Link for tickets: https://etickets.infomaniak.com/shop/VoyageVirtuel/

Another place worth noting is the small street called ‘Passage de Monetier’. Part of this street is very narrow, and what is so special about it is that you can only go through one weekend a year, during the annual ‘Fete de l’Escalade’ celebrations in the second weekend of December.

Promenade de la Treille and the longest bench

You can access, or leave the old town by passing through the Treille Gate and this will get you on the Promenade de la Treille where you will have a beautiful view, and where the longest bench of the world is located! There is also a small playground for children here. If you walk down from the Promenade de la Treille, it will take you to the Parc des Bastions.

Geneva, ‘Rive Gauche’, LEFT BANK

Parc des Bastions

Parc des Bastions is a nice park centrally located in Geneva. It is where you will find the Reformation Wall. A wall with statues of the main persons of the protestant reformation. Parc des Bastions has a nice playground for children, a restaurant, sometimes smaller food stands with pancakes, and a big chess play area.

Museum of Art and History of Geneva

We like this museum in Geneva, especially the part on Egypt which will probably interest your children. They also organize special activities for kids in the museum on Wednesdays.

Museum of Natural History

We would recommend this museum for smaller children, and we think it is less interesting for bigger children. They have great temporary exhibitions though, so we sometimes do go back for specific exhibitions.

Plaine de Plainpalais

Plainpalais area, and its big square has a big skate park for bigger kids, and a playground for smaller kids. Events are often organized here during the year and it has a weekly market and food trucks on Sundays. On the first Sunday of each month there is also a flea market on this square.

Bains Bleus

Bains Bleus is a spa and hot pool with an indoor area and an outdoor pool on the roof with views on Lake Geneva. You can go to Bains Bleus with kids, although it doesn’t have any slides or play areas, it would be just to enjoy the warm water and the views.

Genève-Plage

Genève Plage is a swimming pool with an access to the lake, giving you the option to swim in both. It has a big slide and a kids pool. Genève Plage is open from 15 May until 15 September, like most public swimming pools in Geneva.

Miniature Port

If your children would like to navigate on the lake themselves, on the left bank, right after the famous landmark, the water sprout ‘Jet d’Eau’, you will find ‘Port Miniature’. Address: 35 Quai Gustave Ador.

Milkshake at Blacktap

Located on the big roundabout of Rive, Blacktap is an american style burger and milkshake bar. Kids will love the choices of milkshakes they serve here! They are quite big though…

Geneva, ‘Rive Droite’, RIGHT BANK

Bains des Paquis

On the right bank, approximately in front of the Jet d’Eau, is a public swimming area that has existed for decades already. And because it has existed so long, it still has a part for women (and children) only, and a mixed area. In the middle, a restaurant with reasonable prices, where you can enjoy a lunch or snack in summer, and a covered area where you can enjoy a cheese fondue in winter.

Geneva’s Botanical Gardens, Jardin Botanique

Geneva has beautiful botanical gardens, and they are quite big. A part from the variety of plants and trees you can obviously see here, it also has a part with animals, like goats and ducks, a historic carrousel for children in summer, a playground, and you can access the lake from the botanical gardens as it has a tunnel going under the main road to access the lake shore. There is a small restaurant inside of the Botanical Gardens.

Science Museum

Geneva has a small science museum located in the Perle du Lac park. Since it’s very small, don’t expect to spend hours here but it is nice to visit and they organize exhibitions and events.

Red Cross Museum, United Nations, and Ariana Museum

There are museums on the right bank of Geneva, although some more suitable with older children. There is of course the ‘Palais des Nations’, where the United Nations Office in Geneva is located. Guided tours can be taken here. The most beautiful part of the UN building is the Human Rights Room with its impressive ceiling created by the Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo. To access the Palais des Nations you would need to show identification, so make sure you have that on you.

Then there is the Red Cross Museum, a very interesting museum, but in my opinion with bigger kids. And in between those places is the beautiful building of the Ariana Museum, a museum of ceramics. In the park of the Ariana Museum are some cherry blossom trees which are offered by Japan, so make sure to check that out in spring time.

CERN

Science and the Big Bang! CERN is an interesting place to visit for anyone interested in science, although it sometimes is a bit difficult to understand what exactly they do there… The Globe of Science and Innovation can be visited year round and has a permanent exhibition called the Universe of Particles which takes the visitor into the world of particles and the Big Bang. Tours at CERN can also be organized and they have their annual Open days on 14 and 15 September 2019, don’t miss it!

More information about visiting Cern: https://visit.cern/

Carouge

Carouge is often referred to as the Italian quarter of Geneva. Colored houses, lots of restaurants, and a street decoration, often with umbrella’s which is quite a hit on Instagram 😊. Carouge has small boutique shops and is a beautiful area for a walk with the kids.

Of course, there is plenty more things to do with kids in Geneva! Check out below articles on Stand up paddling in Geneva, Family Hikes around Geneva, castles to visit, Swiss Food, and day trip suggestions from Geneva!

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Website: https://www.bellinzonese-altoticino.ch/en/commons/details/Castelgrande/2793.html

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.

Website: https://www.schloss-lenzburg.ch/

Lenzburg castle entrance fee: CHF 14 for adults and CHF 8 for children above 4 years old.

Nearby activities:

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.

Website: http://www.chateau-ferney-voltaire.fr/en/

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

View from Nyon castle’s terrace

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.

Other activities

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?

 

 

 

Gelato and Cantucci – a cooking class in Rome with kids!

Of all the things kids will love about a trip to Italy, the food will probably top that list! Pizza, pasta, the pastries, and …Gelato! The Italian ice-cream, which just doesn’t taste the same as any other ice-cream.

No difficulty for kids to eat in Italy. The only challenge would be to have them try out what they don’t know already as Italy has so many delicious dishes!

When visiting a big city like Rome, a cooking class with kids is a great way to combat some museum fatigue and to give them some hands-on experiences. Our kids loved Rome, and exploring all its beautiful historic sites, but the cooking class was definitely one of their favorite things we did!

In a historic building, in front of the Italian Senate, and not far from Piazza Navona, we took a Gelato and biscuits class with InRome Cooking. The cook that helped us was really nice and loved working with kids. The course was in English, and we had plenty of time to translate to our children when they did not understand. Our chef taught us how to make our own Italian Gelato and while we waited for the ice-cream to freeze up, showed us how the famous Cantucci biscuits are made.

Gelato

 

Not everyone has a machine at home, and so we were taught how to make Italian ice-cream in two different ways. One with, and one without the use of the Gelato machine. The Gelato machine mixes the ice-cream while at the same time freezing the ice-cream on the sides. We made a delicious strawberry ice-cream with that machine, but to be able to try making our own Gelato at home, we also made chocolate and pistachio gelato with a regular mixer and freezer. It was actually not that difficult and we will definitely try to combine our own flavors at home. Without the machine, you cannot use fresh fruit, as fruit will lose a lot of liquid, but you can use for instance vanilla, herbs or Nutella.

Cantucci recipe

Cantucci are the delicious Italian bisuits which are so good with a cup of coffee or tea. Our cooking teacher showed us how to make Cantucci while our Gelato was freezing up. The Cantucci dough is quite sticky, so it is important not to knead it too thoroughly when you mix up the dough, but to touch it quickly and sort of toss it around.

We all loved the Cantucci and were surprised about how easy it was to make them, so try it out for yourself by following this Cantucci recipe of InRome Cooking:

Ingredients:

  • 250 gr of flour
  • 150 gr of sugar
  • 125 gr of nuts, or almonds
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 25 gr of butter
  • ½ tea spoon of Baking Powder
  • Optional: Marsala, wine from Sicily
  • Optional: during our cooking class we added a bit of grated lemon to the dough. At home we have also tried this with grated orange which was really good as well.

Preparation:

 

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Toast the nuts in the oven until fragrant and lightly golden, for 8 to 10 minutes. Once they’re ready, set aside to cool.
  • For the dough: Beat 2 eggs with the sugar. Pour in the butter, and beat until combined. Add the flour and the baking powder. Mix until well combined, then stir in the nuts or almonds. Refrigerate it until firm, for about 1 hour. (We did not do that during the class, which was probably why the dough was sticky).
  • When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven again to 180 degrees.
  • Transfer the dough to a work surface with a bit of flour, and cut the dough into two equal portions. Shape each portion of dough into a log.
  • Whisk the remaining egg, and brush it lightly onto the top and sides of the logs, cleaning the brush of egg in excess so it doesn’t drop down the sides. Bake the logs of dough in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow them to cool.
  • When the logs are cool, use a sharp knife to cut them at an angle into slices about 1,5 cm thick.
  • If you would like the Cantucci to be harder, you can bake the slices again in the oven for a few minutes.

These crunchy cookies can be kept for up to one week in a tightly‐covered tin. Serve with Vin Santo, coffee, or tea.

The Cooking Class

 

We finished the cooking class by tasting what we made in a dining room with an beautiful ceiling. We had our different Gelati, tasted our Cantucci, and were able to take the rest of our biscuits back home, yum. The cooking class lasts for about 2 hours, and they send you the recipes afterwards by e-mail. They also offer lots of other classes, in case your kids would be more interested in pizza or pasta making, and they have classes for adults as well of course. Really an excellent experience of cooking with kids in Rome!

Would you like to read our other tips on Rome, it’s all in our Rome with kids article!

                   

 

 

Zermatt – Matterhorn

Home to the most photographed mountain of Switzerland, the Matterhorn, Zermatt should be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit! The cute car-free town has beautiful streets with historic wooden buildings, and views on the iconic mountain. Even though we live in Switzerland, we are still in awe every time we see the Matterhorn mountain.

You will have a view on the Matterhorn from Zermatt and the town center, but for the best views you will of course go up. There are several possibilities for that from the center of Zermatt.

Things to do in Zermatt

Sunnegga mountain metro

We decided to go up with the mountain metro Sunnegga. We knew that there were walking trails up there, and restaurants with views. When you arrive on top on Sunnegga, you are immediately treated to the beautiful Matterhorn view. We took the cable car shaped lift down to get to the walking path in direction of Findeln (signs will lead you the way). Findeln is a well preserved, historic part of Zermatt with a lot of typical wooden mountain barns. Make sure you have enough battery on your camera as this is a very picturesque place! The walk down to Findeln takes approximately 30 minutes. It is a bit steep down though, so remember you will also have to walk back up 😊.

You will find several mountain restaurants on the way, most of them with their terrace facing the Matterhorn. A well-known restaurant on the way is Chez Vrony which looked very nice, but we decided to continue a bit more down to Restaurant Findlerhof. The last part to Restaurant Findlerhof is in between the dark brown little chalets until you get to the restaurant with its sun terrace. Remember to reserve in advance, because restaurants with views like this can of course get a bit busy on sunny days! The food was really good and they have a small playground with a slide where small children could play.

After our lunch we hiked back up to Sunnegga again. It was mostly only climbing, but it was definitely worth it!

Our children saw that you could exchange your Sunnegga metro card in town for one of those typical Matterhorn shaped chocolates of Chocolaterie Fuchs, and so we did. We wandered through the streets of Zermatt which are full of bars, tea rooms and shops with typical Swiss products. The cute Matterhorn shaped chocolate was a nice treat.

Gornergrat

This may be the most done train ride in Zermatt as it takes you all the way up to the Gornergrat viewing platform near the Matterhorn. On top of the Gornergrat (3089 m.) you will have 360 degrees views on the mountains surrounding you, a restaurant and hotel. We decided to save the Gornergrat trip for a next visit, which gives us a good reason to come back!

What is the best season to visit Zermatt?

Zermatt is a great destination all year round. It has beautiful ski slopes in winter, an ice skating rink in the town center and definitely caters for children with their beginners area called Wolli park. Zermatt is also good to go to for non skiers. We didn’t go skiing in Zermatt but enjoyed our winter walk and the beautiful scenery.

In summer there are plenty of hikes to be done in Zermatt, and we may go back to do that!

Zermatt day trip:

It is possible to go to Zermatt on a day trip if you live in Switzerland, or if your Swiss holiday is based elsewhere, but if you have the chance to stay overnight it would give you more time, as it does take a bit of time to actually get to Zermatt.

Zermatt hotels:

There are plenty hotels in Zermatt. There is even a hotel on top of Gornergrat. Even though children are welcome, it seems a perfect place for a romantic getaway.  I’m mentioning it anyway as the views from the rooms seem really stunning!

Family friendly hotels in Zermat:

                          

How to get to Zermatt:

You can go to Zermatt by train or by car. If you go by car, you will arrive in the town of Täsch where a big parking lot for Zermatt visitors is created. It is all very well organized as you will immediately get to an arrival hall where you can buy your train tickets for the 12 minute train ride to the center of Zermatt. Arriving in Zermatt, you will see the little electric taxis on the train station square. The tourism office is also located on that square and you can buy your tickets there to go up with the Sunegga metro or the Gornergrat train.

Panoramic train:

You can also come to Zermatt on the Glacier Express which is one of Switzerland’s panoramic train lines that runs between Zermatt and St Moritz.

You may also like to read on other beautiful destinations in Switzerland:

               ticino

There are some affiliate links on this article. If you book through one of those links it will not cost you anything extra, but it will give me a small commission which helps me to run this blog. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Saas Fee, skiing in the Swiss Alps!

Saas Fee is one of Switzerland’s most famous resorts for an active mountain holiday. Its car-free center has those cute little wooden mountain huts which are so typical of Switzerland and stunning views are everywhere around you. Saas Fee holds a few records as it has the highest Alpine Metro which takes you all the way up to the highest turning panoramic restaurant in the world. From the restaurant in Mittelallalin, you will see peaks of over 4.000 meters high everywhere around you.

The town also has lots of restaurants, shops, two supermarkets, and a lot of activities to cater for the whole family.

Saas Fee in Winter

We went on a ski holiday to Saas Fee twice and loved it! Saas Fee has everything a family may need, from a good ski school that caters for little ones, to cool and fun snow parks where bigger children can practice their jumping skills. Saas Fee has received the Swiss ‘Family Destination’ label, which means it is a resort which is specifically good for families.

Saas Fee Ski School

There are two ski schools in Saas Fee. One is the ESS ski school, the national Swiss ski school, which caters for all levels, the other one is the Eskimo Ski School. We always have our kids in the ESS ski school, because their system and levels are the same in all the Swiss resorts. Our youngest son started to ski in Saas Fee on the magic carpet, and our eldest son was in the Swiss Snow Academy in Saas Fee where children are also taught important things like ‘what to do in case of an avalanche’. We think it is very important that the ESS has included such things for bigger children who are already confirmed skiers.

Saas Fee Ski School meeting point

If you have your children in a ski class in Saas Fee, it may be a good idea to check out hotels that are close to the ski school meeting point so that you don’t start your morning with a big walk in uncomfortable shoes. The Ski School meeting point is right in front of the ice-skating rink in the Stafelwald beginners area.

Restaurants on the slopes

We have one favorite restaurant on the slopes in Saas Fee, which is accessible from the beginners area. Restaurant ‘Zur Schäferstube’ is located on the right side of the t-bar which takes you up on the blue slope on Stafelwald. You will see the sign indicating the restaurant when you are on the t-bar or button lift. You go up, ski down a bit and you can ski all the way to the restaurant which offers great food for a reasonable price and which has a beautiful sun terrace.

We also ate at the Morenia restaurant once, up on the mountain (take the Felskinn cable car up, and ski down, or take the Alpin Express down for those who don’t ski, and then you will be at the Morenia restaurant. This is a typical self-service restaurant, but with a very large choice. Morenia restaurant also has a picnic area for those who would like to bring their own lunch.

Is Saas Fee good for beginners?

Yes, Saas Fee is a good ski resort for confirmed skiers as well as for beginners. At the bottom of the resort you have the Stafelwald area which has 3 different blue slopes to learn to ski on. It also has the Snowli area for the youngest children with magic carpets and cool ski carousels. You can also go up the mountain and still decide to only do blue slopes. Check out the ski slopes map, but in the Morenia area after taking the Felskinn gondola you can definitely ski.

Get cool videos of you skiing down

In Saas Fee, in Stafelwald, and on top of the mountain, you can get your run filmed by the Adrenaline Cup and watch the video later by logging in with your ski pass number on their website, or by simply swiping your card in one of the restaurants like the one in Morenia. This is a nice way to get some quality videos of your skills. You can also do a speedcheck:

Saas Fee in Winter for non skiers

So, what are things to do in Saas Fee when not the whole family is fond of skiing? Saas Fee has an ice-skating rink and a separate area where you could try out your curling moves. The town center has a lot of shops, restaurants and there is a swimming pool and spa near the tourism office which is called Aqua Allalin. There is also a museum called the Saaser Museum which is open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, so you can learn a bit about the area and its history. You can go all the way up with the highest Alpine Metro and visit the ‘Eispavillion’ which is a really big ice cave with statues made of ice. There are winter walk ways and there is a long sledging run in Saas Fee. The sledging run is a long and sometimes steep run. We did that one with our children when they were small and maybe they were too small back then, but it really is a cool run.

Hotels in Saas Fee

There are several great hotels in Saas Fee, of which some are particularly family friendly, with kids clubs, indoor pools, and other activities. Check out two recommendations here:

                               

How to get to Saas Fee?

By car: You can drive to Saas Fee until the big parking lot at the entrance of the village. There, on one of the platforms, you unload your luggage and call an electric taxi vehicle by calling the number indicated on the platform. Costs are approximately CHF 25 to bring you to your hotel with all your luggage, and from there, your holidays will be car-free!

By public transport: You can take the train to Visp and then a bus to Saas Fee. The bus station is at the entrance of the village.

Magic Pass

Good news for those that go skiing often, is that Saas Fee has decided to partner with Magic Pass from the winter season 2019/2020! Magic Pass is a season ski card valid in several resorts. Other resorts that are included in the Magic Pass and that we have been to as a family are Les Mosses and Leysin, and for hiking in summer: Crans Montana, Villars and Moléson.

Short video of the Alpine Metro and Snow Park with kids:

 

 

Day trip to Chamonix

A day trip to Chamonix in France

A Chamonix day trip from Geneva is definitely a must-do! Nestled at the foot of the famous Mont Blanc mountain, Chamonix is close by, and one of the most known French towns for mountain activities. We have been in summer and in winter and it’s beautiful in both seasons.

Things to do in Chamonix:

You should take a walk around in the town center of Chamonix as the village is charming, with nicely decorated buildings that breathe a mountain atmosphere, plenty of restaurants and cute shops with local products.

There are plenty of possibilities for activities in Chamonix in all seasons. Chamonix has different cable cars or trains to go up. And if you are seeking for a particular adventure, there are plenty of guides and activities you could book.

Mont Blanc’s ‘Aiguille du Midi’ is a beautiful place to go to by cable car with a panoramic terrace with a 360 view, but it is a bit expensive for a family. If you do go up, there is a part where you can step on a glass floor which is called ‘les pas dans le vide’.

The cute cogwheel train going up towards the glacier ‘Mer de Glace’, is really worth it and suitable for children as well. The scenic train ride takes about 20 minutes before you arrive at the Montenvers mountain train station at 1913m. From there, you can soak up the views of the glacier and surrounding mountain tops!

At Montenvers you will have a bar for drinks and snacks, as well as a little shop. There is also a nice Restaurant ‘Refuge de Montenvers’ on top if you would like to have a good lunch: https://montenvers.terminal-neige.com/en/#!chamonix-hotel/our-restaurants

From Montenvers you can take the gondola down towards the glacier (same ticket price as the train), and then there is a big stairway going to the ‘Grotte de Glace’, the ice cave. The stairs are quite steep and some 400 steps, but it is worth your while since the ice cave is impressive and beautiful. There are chairs made of ice, benches, animal statues, and signs and posters showing a bit of the history of the glacier.

Of course, like with other glaciers, along the way going down the stairs you will see signs indicating the glacier level in previous years. It is impressive and a good opportunity to talk to children about climate change and the shrinking of the glaciers.

Other family activities in Chamonix:

Chamonix in winter: skiing in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc’s different areas like Les Houches, Servoz, Argentière or Vallorcine. We have tried Les Houches and liked that area. Ice skating (year round), several sledging runs.

Chamonix in summer: numerous hikes, of which plenty are suitable for families, an adventure rope park, alpine sledging run open all year, more glaciers to discover like the Bossons Glacier which is reachable by a chair lift, or Merlet animal park (open from May to September).

How to get there:

Like for all cable cars or mountain trains, make sure you check opening hours and time tables before you set off.

Check out some of our other day trip from Geneva suggestions:

                  

 

 

 

 

Summer 2019 Family Destinations!

What type of summer would you like to have in 2019? Would you like to go to the beach? Or, escape the heat by going north? Would you like to head for the mountains? Or go far away? Get inspired by our suggestions and start dreaming of Summer 2019!

Go to the Beach:

Are you dreaming of lazy summer days, but would you still like to explore some nice areas during your holiday? Would you like your summer to be warm and the food to be good? Popular family summer destinations in Europe are Corsica, Sicily, Croatia, Mallorca or the Cote d’Azur in France.

We have been to Mallorca twice with our children, and highly recommend it with little ones as there is so much to do and almost all hotels cater for little ones! Most hotels have pools with slides, there are cute towns to visit, beautiful cliffs and coves to see, and a big aquarium with play area, just to name some of the possibilities!

 

We know the Cote d’Azur region very well. Make sure you don’t get stuck going to too crowded beaches and check out our list of favorite beaches on the famous Route de la Corniche d’Or! The region is really beautiful and we specifically like the red rock mountains ‘Massif de l’Estérel’. If you would not like to spend every day on the beach, there is a lot of sightseeing to do from here. We particularly liked our daytrip to the Gorges du Verdon a bit inland.

 

Escape the Heat:

Did you not like how hot it was last summer? If you want to escape the heat, you’re better off going to northern Europe. Even though in the summer of 2018 it got really hot there as well, but that was hopefully an exception. We really like escaping the heat sometimes. I am originally from the Netherlands and a lot of our summer moments have been spent there. Imagine cycling with a cool cargo bike on the safe cycle paths, visiting windmills, and going to one of Europe’s hidden gems by visiting one of the islands in the north! We went to Texel, the largest of the islands. Wide beaches, seal observation and loads of things to do with kids! The Netherlands beaches have a great vibe in summer anyway with all the nice beach bars and restaurants.

Head for the Mountains:

Active family holidays in the mountains are some of the best holidays ever! Go hiking, climbing, visit natural sites and tuck in early as the kids will be tired and zen of all the fresh mountain air. We have been lucky to head for the mountains in the hiking season quite often last year. Here are two beautiful places in Switzerland!

First we visited the cute town of Blatten, Belalp, from which you will be able to see the famous Aletsch Glacier. Blatten is a very family friendly mountain village with a playground and walks all in the theme of witches. It is one of those places where you would like to sit and daydream! With bigger kids you can decide to go back down on a Trotti-bike scooter, which they will surely love!

Then we visited the Kandersteg area which was also stunning. Especially if you take the cable car up to Oeschinensee and hike around there. The dreamy fairytale lake of Blausee is also close by, as well as a cool suspension bridge.

Go far away:

Would you like to go further away? So far, we have done Thailand and New York with our kids, but we are definitely dreaming of other far away destinations. Sometimes it seems a pity to go in summer since we have a beautiful season in Europe then as well, but when you have kids that go to school, these holidays of course give you the most time to explore a far away destination. Thailand is the far away trip we liked most, and which is totally accessible for families with children. In New York we liked the museums, skyscrapers, and the streetart scene!

                                     

And you? What has been your favorite trip with kids? And where are you off to in 2019?

 

Windmills in Holland

It’s the image that comes to most people’s minds when they think of the Netherlands: windmills, bicycles and flower fields. When you go on a city trip to Amsterdam, and you would like to see some of these typical postcard sceneries, you would need to get a bit outside of the city. So where to go to see beautiful windmills in Holland?

Zaanse Schans is the best place to go and see some typical Dutch windmills at a day-trip distance from Amsterdam. It’s only a short drive away from the city and it is an area with historical green wooden houses and some of the most beautiful windmills. All the houses are inhabited and the windmills are still in use. Some windmills are used to saw wood, some produce oil, paint or flour. The windmills can be visited for a small fee (about 4 euros for adults and 2 euros for children).

 

The area, along the river the Zaan is really picturesque and you will definitely see the images you expect to see in Holland!

Some of the historical houses hold shops or tiny museums, like a bakery museum, or a museum shop of the Dutch well-known supermarket Albert Heijn which originated in this area of the Netherlands. At various places you can also learn about old Dutch handicrafts and see for instance how the wooden clogs are made.

Apart from museums, there are also shops that sell cheese, typical mustard from the region, and of course souvenir shops. In case you buy some of the local mustard there, you get a recipe with it for a traditional mustard soup!

At Zaanse Schans, you can rent a bicycle to discover more of the area, or hop on a tour boat to enjoy the view on the windmills and the houses from the water while learning more about the history of the region.

 

How to get there?

If you are staying in a hotel in central Amsterdam, you can get to Zaanse Schans by boat, but it does take a while (https://www.zaanferry.com/en/). Consider it to be a mini-cruise.

You can also get to Zaanse Schans by bus from Amsterdam, which takes about 40 minutes: https://www.dezaanseschans.nl/en/plan-your-visit/accessibility/.

                             

Our Family’s Swiss Bucket List!

We live in Switzerland, and yet, there are still many beautiful places we have not explored! Geneva’s location maybe makes it less easy as it is not centrally located in Switzerland. However, we have decided we would like to discover Switzerland more, as it is so beautiful! If you ask a Swiss where you should absolutely go, they come up with numerous suggestions! And so, I have created our Family’s Swiss Bucket List! How many have you done? And what did you love, but that is missing on my list? Feel free to comment on my list! Let’s inspire each other!

Our list is divided in Places and Experiences! I will keep our Bucket List status up to date, so you can see how we’re doing 😊.

Places:

1. Blausee, Status: 

You can not have missed the beautiful images of the Swiss alpine lake Blausee in the Canton of Bern. The water is crystal clear, and you can hop on the glass bottom boat to go onto the lake. We have waited specifically for this Bucket List place for it to be autumn, because the lake is surrounded by a forest, so we wanted to see it with beautiful autumn colors, but it’s supposed to be really beautiful with snow as well.

Read all about what we thought of it here:

2. Lauterbrunnen waterfall, Status: not been yet.

Lauterbrunnen is one of Switzerland’s most famous ‘postcard’ images. The Lauterbrunnen waterfall which comes out of the mountain in the center of an ideal Swiss village. Have you been?

3. Zürich, Status: not been yet, will take any tips!

4. Ticino region, Status:

IMG_9492

The Ticino region has won our hearts! We have been to several places, but there is still more we need to discover! For instance, number 25 on this list 😊. See our blog post on the Ticino here:

ticino

5. Aletsch Glacier, Status:

We felt so lucky to be here, and sit at the dreamy viewpoint location on the Belalp mountain with the cute little church and the majestic glacier behind.

You can read our review on this place here:

6. Zermatt, Status: not been yet, and I don’t know how come as I have thought of going so often already!

7. Lucerne, Status: 

The beautiful old town with medieval wooden bridges, and the Swiss Transport Museum, one of the best museums in Switzerland!

8. Mount Rigi, Status: not yet been!

Can be combined with Lucerne, but we were in lack of time, so we will need to go back for this one!

9. Lake Brienz, Status: not yet been!

10. Lake Constanz, Status: not yet been!

11. Schaffhausen, Rhein fall, Status: not yet been! High on our list!

12. Lavaux Vineyards, Status:

Most beautiful time of the year must be Autumn. We walked in the vineyards in Summer and had a drink on the beautiful terrace of Le Baron Tavernier in Chexbres.

13. Oeschinensee, Status:

This was actually not on our Bucket List, but since we have been and thought it was the most beautiful place in Switzerland, I’m putting in on, for your inspiration! A must-do in Switzerland and can be combined with Blausee!

14. Emosson Dam, Status: not yet been but heard a lot about it!

15. Hike Ebenalp and have lunch at Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, Status: not yet been, but the images of this restaurant are so amazing that we would really like to go!

Experiences:

This is where we have work to do! Below is what I would like to experience in Switzerland, but what we have not done yet! Have you done any of this? And what do you recommend?

16. Swimming in the Aare river in Bern in Summer.

17. Take the steepest funicular in Stoos and see the view on Lake Lucerne.

18. Walking through the ‘Passage de Monetier’ during the Escalade weekend (this is do-able, we live in Geneva!). This narrow street in Geneva’s Old Town can only be visited once a year.

19. Sleeping in an igloo.

20. Panoramic train ride. Which one do you recommend?

21. Suspension bridge, Status: , only one so far, but there are ones that are higher up, so we may do some more!

22. Spa with a view.

23. Fondue in a cable car.

24. Mountain hut trekking.

25. Swimming in Valle Verzasca in the Ticino region.

What am I missing on my Switzerland Bucket List? Feel free to comment below! I’m looking forward to your replies 😊.

Explore the cities around Geneva or Vaud

From Geneva or Vaud: Explore the cities around you!

If you live in Geneva, or somewhere near in Switzerland, you know that one of the advantages is its central location. You can easily explore a Swiss city, or a city in France or Italy. Some cities have some great museums and sites to explore as a family. Here are some of our favorite weekends away!

Turin

Turin is a beautiful and very family friendly city! Its Egypt museum is a must-see for families and has a captivating audio guide in several languages for children. Our family also loved the glass lift that takes you up right through the dome shaped landmark of Mole Antonelliana, we had never been in such a lift before! There is a lot of choice when it comes to food in Turin, a part from famous Italian ice-cream and plenty of restaurants, we also loved the antipasti you could order everywhere. Bonus for Turin is in case you or your children like soccer… Our children loved watching a Juventus game 😊.

To see the complete article on Turin:

Lucerne

Lucerne has something for everyone! Its beautiful location by the lake, an old town center with an authentic feel, mountain tops, and historical bridges. Lucerne is also home to a must-see museum in Switzerland for families: the Swiss Transport Museum. You can easily spend a day here and your children will love it!

Article on Lucerne, see the article here.

Aosta

Easy and quick Italian get-away from Geneva as Aosta is really close by. It is not a big city, so can very easily be explored by families with small children. There are beautiful Roman ruins accessible from the car-free town center, hotels with spas, and nice restaurants.

Our article on Aosta:

Chambéry

Lovely city close to Geneva! We loved exploring Chambéry with its traboules (narrow passage-ways), historic town center and shops. If you would like to explore nature the next day, there are plenty of sites near Chambéry.

To find out where to go:

Annecy

Annecy is easily feasible on a day trip. A walk on the beautiful lake side with the many mountains as a back drop, or a walk in the old town center which is very picturesque! Annecy also makes for a great city for some shopping as there are plenty of cute boutique shops in the old center, and there are many great restaurants.

Chamonix

Another possibility for a day trip from Geneva or Vaud is the city of Chamonix, nestled at the foot of the Mont Blanc. The cute cogwheel train going up towards the glacier ‘Mer de Glace’, is really worth it and suitable for children as well. The scenic train ride takes about 20 minutes before you arrive at the Montenvers mountain train station at 1913m. From there, you can soak up the views of the glacier and surrounding mountain tops!

Zermatt

Another famous mountain is of course the Matterhorn! It is the most photographed mountain of Switzerland and definitely a town to visit at least once! We loved having lunch in one of the restaurants with a beautiful terrace facing the Toblerone shaped mountain peak!