children kids families free activities excursions switzerland
Everyday Money

Free Activities for Kids in Switzerland

January 25, 2024 - Daniel Dreier

Enjoying fun experiences with your children in Switzerland does not have to cost you a fortune. Check out this list of free excursions for kids in Switzerland to get more out of your family time and weekends.

Switzerland has a lot to offer families, and prices for family activities are just as diverse. While it is possible to spend hundreds of francs per month on activities for your kids, there are numerous options for family excursions that do not cost anything at all. Here, moneyland.ch lists ideas for completely free activities for kids in Switzerland.

1. Crash the spring carnivals

In Switzerland, springtime is carnival time. From late February through early March, Swiss carnivals deliver a cacophony of candy, cosplay, crowds, culture, and curiosities. Couple those with marching bands, free treats, and adults being silly, and you have all the ingredients for a fun day out with the kids. Best of all, it does not cost a thing.

2.  Go camping

If your children are okay with roughing it, then camping can offer a fun and free activity. You can find detailed information about free camping options in the financial guide to camping in Switzerland.

3. Take a hike

Hiking may not be everyone’s thing, but if you can teach your kids to enjoy exploring the outdoors, you will tap into a bottomless source of free weekend fun. Switzerland has an excellent network of free-to-use hiking trails which are well maintained. Many of them cut through very exciting landscapes. Some free Swiss hiking trails include theme-based games or interactive experiences which make them more interesting. 

For kids who need more action, Switzerland has numerous via ferrata climbing trails which can be used free of charge, as long as you have your own harnesses. Rope bridges (like the Charles-Kuonen-Hängebrücke) can also add a touch of adrenaline to your alpine hikes. 

Take a look at the guide to hiking in Switzerland for useful financial tips.

4. Go swimming

A number of Swiss towns have outdoor swimming pools which you can use free of charge. In Bern, for example, nearly all outdoor public pools are free of charge, while Zurich offers a dozen free splash pools for young kids and a free public pool at Unteren Letten. There are also guarded bathing areas or “badis” by lakes and rivers which have no entry fees. A few municipalities even have free indoor swimming pools, which is great in the cooler seasons.

5. Check out free wildlife parks and zoos

Most children love animals. Wildlife parks give them a chance to see animals reasonably close up in a natural setting, and usually offer playgrounds and barbecue areas. Some have petting zoos, attractions, and activities.

Swiss wildlife parks which have free entry include:

  • Alpenwildpark Interlaken (near Interlaken)

  • Alpenvogelpark Grindelwald (near Interlaken)

  • BärenPark (in Bern)

  • Hirschpark Luzern (in Lucerne)

  • Muzoo (near Neuchâtel)

  • Naturerlebnispark Zürich Sihlwald (near Zurich)

  • Parc de Sauvabelin (near Lausanne)

  • Tierpark Augusta Raurica (near Basel)

  • Tierpark Bad Zurzach (in the canton of Aargau)

  • Tierpark Biel / Parc zoologique Bienne (near Biel)

  • Tierpark Grizzlybär (near Thun)

  • Tierpark Kreuzlingen (in Kreuzlingen)

  • Tierpark Jeuss (near Bern)

  • Tierpark Lange Erlen (near Basel)

  • Tierpark Tschugg (between Biel and Neuchâtel)

  • Tierpark Waldmatten (near Sierre)

  • Tierpark Weihermätteli (near Basel)

  • Wildnispark Zürich Langenberg (near Zurich)

  • Wildpark Brienz (near Interlaken)

  • Wildpark Heitern (near Zofingen)

  • Wildpark Mühletäli (near Olten)

  • Wildpark Peter und Paul (near St.Gallen)

  • Wildpark Roggenhausen Aarau (near Aarau)

  • Wildpark Bruderhaus (near Winterthur)

Aviaries which are free to visit can also be found in many Swiss towns.

6. Tour free historical attractions

Switzerland is “littered” with archeological sites which can set the stage for journeys into either history or fantasy – whichever way your child is inclined. A few prominent examples of historical sights which do not cost a thing to visit are the:

  • City walls and fortifications in Lucerne
  • Mesocco castle ruins in Ticino

  • Munot fortress in Schaffhausen

  • Passage Simplon gallery in the Stockalper palace in Brig

  • Prada abandoned village in Ticino

Many castles and other historical sites have entry fees. But in some cases, you can still visit large parts of the site free of charge. Prime examples of this include the:

  • Augusta Raurica roman ruins near Basel

  • Castelgrande castle in Bellinzona

  • Roman amphitheater in Avenches

7. Get creative

Building yards in which kids can work with wood and build their own huts, tree houses, and other creations can be found all over Switzerland. Some have activity programs in which children can learn special handicrafts. Called chantier des enfants in French and Kinderbaustelle or Robinsonspielplatz in German, these sites are typically community projects and most do not charge entry fees.

Many community centers in Switzerland have indoor workshops equipped for carpentry and/or other handicrafts, and these can make for a great rainy-day excursion. Many are staffed by professionals who help supervise and even instruct in some cases. These generally are not completely free to use, as you pay either an annual membership fee or a small per-visit fee for adults (4 francs, for example).

8. Go green

Not all children are fascinated by plants, but for those who are, visiting a botanical garden can be a fascinating experience. Swiss botanical gardens which do not charge entry fees include:

  • Fribourg botanical garden (in Fribourg)

  • Gärten im Grüental (near Zurich)

  • Geneva botanical garden (in Geneva)

  • Grüningen botanical garden (near Rapperswil-Jona)

  • Jurassica botanical garden (in Porrentruy)

  • La Linnaea alpine garden (near Martigny)

  • La Rambertia alpine garden (near Montreux)

  • La Thomasia botanical garden (near Montreux)

  • Lausanne botanical garden (in Lausanne)

  • Les Tussillages alpine garden (near Montreux)

  • Merian Gärten (in Basel)

  • Meyrin alpine garden (near Geneva)

  • St. Gallen botanical garden (in St. Gallen)

  • St. Triphon botanical garden (near Montreux)

  • Succulent gardens (in Zurich)

  • University of Basel botanical garden (in Basel)

  • University of Bern botanical garden (in Bern)

  • University of Neuchâtel botanical garden (in Neuchâtel)

  • University of Zurich botanical gardens (in Zurich)

For children who prefer a more hands-on approach to gardening, community gardens provide a place to grow things if you do not have a garden of your own.

9. Take a bike ride

Switzerland has more than 12,000 kilometers of dedicated bicycle tracks which are completely free to use. If you and your kids enjoy cycling tours, you will hardly run out of interesting rides to take. 

If you need more action, you can use many of Switzerland’s more than 100 pump tracks free of charge, as long as you bring your own bikes and protective gear. Major pump tracks without entry fees include the Bikepark Allmend (in Zurich) and the Swiss Bike Park (near Bern). 

You can find useful tips for bicycle savings here.

10. Visit a museum

Many Swiss museums charge entry fees, but there are also museums which can be visited free of charge. For example, the Zoological Museum in Zurich has no entry fee. Nor do the natural history museums in Frauenfeld, Lugano, and Solothurn. Zurich alone has more than 30 free-to-visit museums. Some Swiss museums do not charge entry fees on specific days of the week, or run special promotions for free visits during a certain time frame.

More on this topic:
Financial education for kids: Get ideas here
Financial tips for families with kids in Switzerland
Smartphones for kids: Tips for parents

Editor Daniel Dreier
Daniel Dreier is editor and personal finance expert at moneyland.ch.
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