Spring has arrived, which means easter holidays and free time for children. Before you find yourself in a position where your kids are constantly complaining of boredom, Le News has drawn up a guide to spring activities to keep them busy and happy.
Outdoor swimming: It is probably too soon yet but when temperatures soar, there’s nothing better than taking the kids to the pool and enjoying the sun. There are dozens of outdoor pools from Lausanne to Geneva including Piscine de Bellerive-Plage, Piscine de Montchoisi and Piscine de Colovray. Pools are open daily, with prices varying from CHF 5 to CHF 7. French-side pools, such as Divonne and Piscine plein air d’Yverdon-les-Bains are popular, but parents regularly complain of ear infections because of poor hygiene. And don’t forget, virtually every Swiss and French commune along the lake has its own public beach with picnic areas, often with BBQ facilities.
Zoos: Basel, Bern and Zurich are the top zoos in Switzerland, and all differently unique. Bern has a good zoo, but is better known for its Bear Park along the banks of the Aare. Basel Zoo features a wide variety of indigenous and exotic animals ranging from African ground squirrels to lions. It also has one of the world’s best endangered-species breeding records, particularly for gorillas. Zurich Zoo boasts over 4,000 animals in habitats designed to be natural where the animals can roam freely. Closer to Geneva and Lausanne are smaller, more specialized zoos, such as La Garenne in Vaud with European species, Parc Challandes animal refuge in Bellevue near Geneva, and Marécottes Alpine Zoo near Martigny. The big zoos are open daily: Bern from 8h30 to 19h00 and tickets cost CHF 10 for adults and CHF 6 for children; Basel zoo is open from 8h00 to 18h30 with tickets costing CHF 18 and CHF 7; and Zurich zoo is open from 9h00 to 18h00 with tickets costing CHF 26 and CHF 13.
P’tit Train: While exploring on foot can be tiring and a bore for children, an alternative is taking a P’tit train to visit Nyon or Geneva. Trains run daily from 10h30 to 18h00 and allow passengers to discover the two cities. Tickets cost CHF 7.90 and CHF 4.90.
Parc Aventure/Forest Land: For adventurous kids, rope courses and “zipping” are a great summer activity full of tree-top fun. There are multiple rope courses that vary in height above the ground for the youngest of kids to the near adults. Locations around the area can be found in Aigle, Bougy-Villars, Bern, Crans-Montana, and Divonne in the Pays-de-Gex. Parc Aventure is open daily and costs CHF 15–39. Forest Land is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and costs between EUR 12 and EUR 20.
Foxtrail: Families in Lausanne get the opportunity to act as a team to discover the city’s most charming nooks and crannies. Every Foxtrail course is different and is followed by deciphering messages, interpreting clues and coaxing secrets out of unique and baffling puzzles. There are also Foxtrails in Basel and Bern, as well as other Swiss cities. The Short trails take 2–2.5 hours, while you can spend 4–4.5 hours on a Long trail. Foxtrail is available daily and costs CHF 16–41.
Lake Geneva Boat Trips: The CGN now sells family tickets for its lake trips, so why not take a day trip to Yvoire, where the journey via boat is half the fun? Hop aboard a boat at one of its several start points from Geneva to Montreux. Once you get there, you can explore Yvoire, its famous medieval village and enjoy great French cuisine. Boat trips are daily and a family ticket costs CHF 49.
Vitam Parc/Aquaparc/Bernaqua: Rain or shine, Switzerland’s water parks have something to offer for everyone. Vitam Parc in France on the outskirts of Geneva has everything from indoor and outdoor water parks to a spa, a fitness centre, a climbing wall and squash courts. Aquaparc near Villeneuve at the far end of Lake Geneva is known for its thrilling adrenaline-fuelled rides while also including family activities that everyone can enjoy. Bernaqua is located at the Westside Shopping Mall virtually overlooking the Lausanne to Bern autoroute. Aquaparc offers a family ticket for CHF 149; BernAcqua charges CHF 85 for two adults and one child; Vitam Parc costs EUR 17–23. All three are open daily, apart from Bernaqua, which is closed during the first half of July.
Caverns of Vallorbe: To add a bit of underground exploration to your children’s holidays, why not visit the Caverns of Vallorbe? The round-trip tour leads visitors along the subterranean course of the river to stalactites, stalagmites, dripstone structures, columns and galleries. An impressive sight that’s great for rainy-day boredom. Caverns are open daily and cost CHF 15 for adults and CHF 7 for children. If you want to do more, then go trout fishing at the nearby ponds (well-fed, easy to catch fish with rods laid-on) or visit nearby Juraparc with its wolves and bears in large wilderness enclosures.
Fun Planet: With centres in Villeneuve and Bulle, Fun Planet has 20 bowling lanes, a 600m go-karting track, 18 mini golfing holes, and an arcade with more than 35 games to enjoy. It is open daily and costs vary between activities.
Grass Scooters: For an adrenaline kick, Chateau-d’Oex offers a variety of activities including Grass Scooters. A cable car takes you from Chateau-d’Oex to La Braye, and once there you can speed down the slope while enjoying the great mountain views. After you’ve finished, why not take the cable car back up to the top and go again? Open from Tuesday to Sunday; prices vary.