Last summer on our vacation to France we drove back home through Switzerland. It had some of the most beautiful landscapes we had ever seen and we decided to put it on our list of places to go back and visit when we had a chance. A free weekend finally presented itself and I started planning.
After a quick search on the internet we decided to check out Zurich because not only is it the biggest city in Switzerland, it was the closest to our home and I don’t know about you, but for me 3 small children + long car rides = torture equivalent to gouging my own eyes out with a toothpick. I headed to the library to pick up a travel guide, went on booking.com to find a hotel last minute, loaded up my Esso card, packed our bags and before you knew it we were ready to go! Here’s how you too can do a weekend in Zurich with 3 kids!
- Pick your route. The drive to Zurich from Bavaria is absolutely beautiful… at least I think it is. Kinda hard to tell while you’re doing passenger seat yoga to try to reach behind you to put a bottle in a screaming baby’s mouth while simultaneously opening fruit snacks for your two-year-old and talking your six-year-old down from a near panic attack because he can’t get through this level of whatever the heck he’s playing on his LeapPad. But I imagine there are stunning mountains, lakes and farm fields full of friendly cows. After about four hours in the car we made it to Zurich and our hotel around 3pm. If driving like this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you could try the train like Urban Bliss Life talks about in their post about traveling to Zurich with kids. Looks like fun!
- Find a place to stay. We stayed in the Crazy Cow Hotel because a. It was pretty affordable, b. it had parking and c. uh, hello?! Do I need a reason to stay in a cow themed hotel?! Some other options besides hotels that we use a lot are AirBNB (like we used on our trip to Greece) and staying at campsites (like we did on our trip to the Netherlands). Or, if you prefer books to cows and you have a little more cash to spend check out this freakin’ awesome Library Hotel in Zurich that Points and Travel writes about!
- Take a walk around the city. We checked in, parked the car, and got all our stuff situated in the hotel room before starting out for a walk around the city. Per our travel-guide book’s suggestion we started out at the main train station, walked down the famous Bahnhoffstrasse where we saw some famous chocolate shops (which we could not afford to buy anything at), luxury brand clothing and watch stores (which we could not afford to buy anything at) and fancy hotels and restaurants (which we could not afford to buy anything at). Window shoppin’ like a boss. Then we walked up to see Fraukirchen and Grossmunster – the famous churches of the city. The city is gorgeous, very clean and very expensive. It seemed like everybody was very well dressed and we saw some very expensive cars driving around. I guess banking is working out pretty well for the Swiss. We ended up eating cheeseburgers for dinner because we’re so cultured. Hey, the Swiss are famous for their cows and not only did we eat those famous cows we topped them with fine cheese from those cows. Don’t judge me! After dinner we walked along the lake and then found a park for our little guys to run around in before we walked back up to our hotel for the night.
- Take advantage of your weird sleep schedule. Surely a long day of driving followed by hours of walking followed by staying up late would help small children sleep past 6am on a Sunday morning, right? Ha! Hahahahahaha! You’re funny. Up we rose, that beautiful Sunday morning, at the crack of dawn! All we had on the agenda for the day was to check out of the hotel, go to the Zurich Zoo and make the drive home. However, the zoo does not open at 6am (I know, crazy, right?). Fortunately, there was a coffee shop we had spotted down the road that did open at 6am so us adults grabbed ourselves a couple cups of strong coffee and all of us had some chocolate croissants for breakfast. Then we walked through the city center again because we had some time to kill. It was actually really nice with nobody around; very peaceful compared to the Saturday afternoon traffic. We were able to find a souvenir shop that was open so we could buy another spoon for my collection and take some pictures without a bunch of other random people in the shots.
- Find child-friendly attractions. Our kids love zoos so if I hear there is a good one where we’re going, we usually check it out. The zoo in Zurich was nice, but be prepared because it is pretty pricy (like over $50 for our family) and parking is extra. I think the zoo in Nuremberg is landscaped better, has more shade (we got very hot) and the maps are easier to follow (we could not find the lions in Zurich for the life of us). That being said, it did give the kids a chance to see some cool animals – the elephant exhibit is pretty awesome – play on the awesome playground there, and stretch their legs so it still was a good way for us to spend the morning. Space in Your Case has another good list of kid-friendly attractions in Zurich if the zoo is not your thing.
The drive back home was just as beautiful as the drive there. Ultimately, we enjoyed Zurich. Things that we could have done better: understand that the cost of living is very high therefore everything from food to hotels to souvenirs are more expensive than anywhere else we’d been in Europe; maybe schedule a walking tour so we could learn more about the sights we were looking at. This was a beautiful city in a beautiful country and I hope you get a chance to visit someday too! If you have any questions or comments, hit me up below!