Zürich ticks all the family-travel boxes when it comes to order, cleanliness and safety. It has efficient, reliable transport systems and ubiquitous amenities such as baby-changing facilities and parks with play areas.
Many hotels have dedicated family or interconnecting rooms, and it’s usually no problem squeezing in a cot or an extra bed at guesthouses and self-catering accommodations.
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But there’s no glossing over the fact that Zürich can be expensive. The single best savings tip is to invest in a Zürich Card available online or from tourist offices. The card, which is valid for either 24 or 72 hours, covers second-class public transport across the city, short cruises on the lake and the Limmat River, as well as free admission to some museums and discounts at others.
You can also use it to get a discount on guided city tours (there’s one specifically designed for children), cinema tickets, and some cafés and restaurants.
Best things to do in Zürich with babies and toddlers
Seek out parks and playgrounds
With over 150 playgrounds dotted across the city, you won’t have to go too far to find a green space for your toddlers to blow off some steam. A favorite one of local parents is the Blatterwiese playground in Zürichhorn, the leafy park on the eastern shore of the Zürichsee. It offers a big sand pit, four different-sized slides and plenty of swings. There’s also a splash pool in summer.
Over in trendy Zürich-West, adjacent to the Im Viadukt food market and shopping area, is Josefwiese, a park that offers soccer, pétanque, table tennis and beach volleyball. It’s also a great people-watching spot while having a picnic or simply sunbathing. Kids will love the playground and the chance to splash around in the water fountains.
Set sail on the Zürichsee
There are few more relaxing ways to spend time in Zürich than on a cruise across the lake. The city’s navigation company ZSG runs many regular and themed cruises throughout the year, some including meals. A great one to consider is the sailing to Uffenau Island, in the upper part of Lake Zurich near Rapperswil-Jona.
Home to the 10th-century Einsiedeln Monastery and 12th-century Church of St. Peter and Paul, the island is a nature reserve with a stroller-accessible trail. Fun fact for the kids: it’s Switzerland’s largest island.
Zürich has lots of fun activities for every age group © Getty Images
Best things to do in Zürich with kids and teens
Marvel at a giant chocolate fountain
You won’t get many arguments when suggesting a visit to Lindt Home of Chocolate. The star of the show at this impressively designed facility is the 9.3m-tall (30.5 ft) chocolate fountain. Go behind the scenes to learn how chocolate is made and make some yourself in a range of courses. It’s educational, too, with an interactive tour that explains how cocoa made it across the Atlantic to Europe many centuries ago.
Try out your soccer skills
Fans of the beautiful game will be thrilled to know that Zürich is home to the official FIFA World Football Museum. The exhibitions here cover the game’s origins in the UK to its global domination as a team sport. There are plenty of hands-on displays, including one about eFootball. Test your own footy skills on a giant walk-in pinball field where you get to kick the ball.
Learn about art and geology
Zürich does a fine job of making its museums and galleries relevant and fun for all the family. At the city’s premier art gallery, Kunsthaus, there’s a free audio guide specifically designed for kids aged between 5 and 12 years old. Everyone is sure to get a thrill from the earthquake simulator at Focus Terra,a hands-on university museum with the lowdown on what makes volcanoes erupt, where gems come from and what fossils tell us about the origins of life.
Have a wild night in the zoo
It’s possible to hang out with the residents of Zoo Zürich after the sun goes down by joining a Nighttime Ramble. Take a nocturnal stroll through the enclosures, bed down in a yurt, then have breakfast in the Pantanal restaurant alongside animals from the South American wetlands. This is a very popular attraction – booking ahead is essential.
A beautiful hike is never far away when you’re in Zürich © Westend61 / Getty Images
Go for a hike in the hills
Uetliberg is the 869m (2851ft) peak on Zürich’s doorstep. Head up here for incredible views, hiking, jogging or mountain biking on the trails that crisscross the woods, such as the Planetenweg – a 6km (3.7 miles) route across the mountain ridge that’s marked by 1:1 billion scale models of the planets.
Another option for a family hike is along the Elefantenbach. This 7km (4.3 miles) well-marked circular route through a cool ravine landscape was formed 10,000 years ago towards the end of the last ice age and is easy to follow. It gets its name from the small statue of an elephant in the middle of the stream, its trunk spouting water.
Branch off from this hike to join the Loorenkopf Trail, which leads up Adlisberg to a 30m-high (98ft) wooden observation tower – the information panels provide a geography lesson on the names of the distantly sighted Alps.
- Bicycles can be hired for free through the Zurirollt program, which has e-bikes, children’s bikes, child seats and trailers.
- There are plenty of restaurants serving kid-friendly meals, including a good range offering healthier vegetarian options such as the chain tibits.
- If you’re using Zürich as a base to go further afield, train travel with Swiss Railways is great value for families. Kids under six travel for free and those aged 6 to 16 years old can also travel free if they have an annual Junior Card or are with their parents and/or guardians who have a valid pass.
- Other useful sources of information include Kinder Region with ideas for family activities across the wider Zürich area and Swiss Family Fun.