Orderly, clean and not overly commercial, Switzerland is a dream for family travel.

  • The Swiss tourist board's meaty Families brochure is packed with ideas; its website, www.myswitzerland.com, lists kid-friendly accommodation, family offers and so on.
  • Family train travel with Swiss Railways (www.sbb.ch) is staggering value. Kids under six years travel free and those aged six to 16 years get free unlimited rail travel with an annual Junior Card (Sfr30) or – should it be grandparents travelling with the kids – the Grandchild Travelcard (Sfr30). Otherwise, buy a one-day child's travelpass (Sfr16), which allows unlimited rail travel. Cards include travel on many cable cars in mountain resorts.
  • Switzerland’s mountain of scenic journeys by train and boat enchant children of all ages. Upon arrival at point B, dozens of segments of the perfectly signposted hiking, biking, inline-skating and canoeing trails designed strictly for non-motorised traffic by Switzerland Mobility are flagged as suitable for younger children.
  • In mountain resorts, tourist offices have information on pushchair-accessible walking trails and dozens of other activities for children of every age, toddler to teen.
  • Staying in a B&B is family fabulous: little kids can slumber sweetly upstairs while weary parents wine and dine in peace downstairs (don’t forget your baby monitor!). Pick a B&B on a farm or sleep on straw in the hay barn for adventurous kids to have the time of their life.
  • Those with kids aged six to 12 years should buy Dianne Dicks’ Ticking Along with Swiss Kids, part children’s book about Switzerland, part guide for parents on what to see, where to eat and what to do. Also check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.

Practicalities

The Swiss are mostly very accommodating when it comes to families.

  • Many large hotels have dedicated family or interconnecting rooms, and even some smaller places will often squeeze in a cot or an extra bed at a moment's notice.
  • Most of the major car-hire companies rent out child, baby and booster seats equipped to the latest safety standards for an extra fee of around Sfr45 to Sfr65.
  • Nappy-changing facilities are widespread and disposable nappies (diapers) can be readily purchased in pharmacies and supermarkets.
  • The Swiss are generally tolerant when it comes to breastfeeding in public provided it is done discreetly.
  • Many hotels and tourist offices can point you in the direction of local childcare agencies and babysitting services.
  • Some – but by no means all – restaurants provide high chairs and special children's menus. If in doubt, check ahead.