If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring Switzerland with kids, then the region (they call it a canton) of Valais in the Swiss Alps is the perfect place to start. Home to the Matterhorn mountain, the resort town of Zermatt, upper Rhône River Valley vineyards, the Aletsch Glacier and the scenic Glacier Express train, you are going to love exploring Switzerland with kids.
Who better to tell us about all of the amazing things to do in Valais, than local parent Corina Swan. Here is her guide to Valais.
Best hikes and activities Valais, Switzerland with kids
The canton of Valais in the southern part of Switzerland is our favorite place for hiking and kids activities, due to its breathtaking beauty and range of things to do for all ages. More than 8,000 kilometers of marked hiking trails lead you through meadows, vineyards, along historic irrigation channels, and to mystical alpine lakes. For the more advanced hikers, paths-ways will guide you up to several mountain huts and glacier viewpoints which are nestled between the majestic four-thousand-metre peaks unique to the Valais.
There is a true love relationship between the Valais and the sun. With 300 days of sunshine a year, more than the Côte d’Azur in France, your outdoor days are almost guaranteed to be filled with sunshine.
The Valais is also home to the famous Toblerone shaped mountain – the Matterhorn in Zermatt and the start of the scenic Glacier Express train.
But the Valais has more to offer! Below you will find a great selection of our favorites hikes and activities mainly based in the Central-Valais. All hikes and activities listed can be adapted to the ability of the whole family.
Summit the Mont-Fort peak 3330m
Ever wanted to feel like you’re standing on top of the world? Situated in the centre of the 4 Vallées domain, is the Mont-Fort. With its 3330m altitude and breathtaking 360° views, the summit offers the feeling of being on top of the world.
On a clear day, the panorama offers an endless list of visible mountains which includes the famous Mont Blanc in France, the Matterhorn or Cervin as it’s called in the Valais area, and most of Switzerland’s 4000m peaks.
And now this is the best thing of all, no hard training for week after week to have this experience. To reach the top, you simply need to purchase a day pass at the ticket-office in Siviez. Kids up to 6 years old are summiting for free, I call this a great advantage!
The journey involves firstly a chairlift from the bottom station in Siviez which is at 1760m up to Tortin. How exciting is this! I suggest you start your day as early as possible, best to go up with some of the first chairs, and you will be greeted by some of the cutest locals, the Mountain Marmots.
The early warmth of the sun will lure them from their homes and if you’re lucky there are plenty of these funny looking mammals to be seen. Remember you must be quiet, so they don’t hide from you. Spot them literally just below the chairlift as you’re riding up. Hop off the chairlift and into the larger cable car which will carry you up to 2950m altitude, to Les Gentianes.
Take out your binoculars and search on the right-hand rocky face for the Alpine ibex, also known as the Steinbock, Bouquetin, or simply Ibex. Ask the cable-car person if he or she have already spotted some on their first ascent. If they see you’re interested they will try to help you spot them.
The next cable car, yes there is another one, I told you this is a jam-packed fun activity day, will be your last one and will take you up to 3330m. It rides above the Tortin Glacier. Check out the crevasses along the ride, especially if you have never seen one before.
Voila, you’ve made it. The top of the world, or should I say the top of the Valais.
Getting back to the carpark in Siviez
You can choose whether you go back down by the two cable cars to Tortin from where you can then catch the chairlift to the car park in Siviez, or walk down with the family. The walk will probably take about 1-2 hours depending on the ages of your children. It is a gentle downhill path, leading you along a mountain stream, down by alpine meadows and past a real alpine cheese making cabane.
Families with older kids could hang their mountain bikes on to the chairlift for free and bring them up to Tortin, leave them there whilst summiting the Mont Fort and cycle down to the car park at the end of the day.
Travel Advice for Mont Fort
Bring warm jackets, even if it is a hot summers day. Remember, you’re going up to 3330m.
Check the timetable for the lifts, as the Mont Fort transportation system is only open a limited time of the year. And honestly, if the weather is not clear, save this for another day when the rewards will be better. You can still go up to Tortin and walk or cycle down for example.
If you’re not sure about bringing your very young ones up to this altitude, check with your pediatric clinic. As we live here and are used to the altitude, we see things a bit differently. Our doctors always say as long as the kid can express himself and tell you how he/she is feeling, a visit to greater altitude is ok. But you have to be the judge on this.
Good to know about Mont Fort
If you are patient and a bit lucky, you will be able to see marmots, ibex, chamois, or deer.
Learn and discover along the Sentier des Sens “Trail of the Senses”
We feel as long as there is a point of interest or an activity on a hike, the kids are much more interested and willing to walk. And this is why our next proposal is just perfect as it has interaction for the whole family. The hike itself can be adapted to your family’s walking abilities, and no matter what you decide, it stays a great hike. Perfect for the little mountain hikers that are just starting to train their tiny leg muscles. Also accessible with a stroller or pram, how great is that! The entire loop is 2.7km long.
The start of this walk is in the Village of La Tzoumaz which is part of the 4 Vallées domain. Arriving in La Tzoumaz follow the signposts “Maison de la Forêt”. The “Maison de la Forêt”, the forest house, itself is an attraction and a worthwhile stop on its own. Situated on a plateau overlooking the Rhone Valley with views only rarely seen, awaits this little gem, feeling like a house in a children’s fairytale book.
Tucked away in corners are comfy cushions allowing you and the family to get cosy, whilst mum or dad can read to the family one of the many books available for guests use. Crayons and paper are also available, so have the kids draw this amazing view and keep it on paper for a souvenir.
On the upper level, there are many interactive learning displays, a whole exhibition of the kinds of birds native to the area, with soundtracks of their differing calls. In a lower room, a great selection of stuffed mountain mammals can be observed. Very educational for all ages.
If you can get the kids away from this great place, you can now start the walk. Nicely signposted, it guides you through the forest area along a water stream, which is called the “Bisse de Saxon” the longest Bisse in Europe.
Along the path are 11 question posts with quizzes, so you can get to know the forest better. At the beginning of the path, there is a free booklet to take to write your answers. At the end of the walk, you can collect a prize, but only if your answers are correct. This is a great way to keep the older kids interested.
Halfway along the walk is a great picnic area with shelter and a waterwheel. Another perfect place to stop and let the kids play and have your lunch break. If you have little hikers in your family, this is a good spot to turn around and walk back. Further along are some more posts to answer and a tiny barefoot path to feel the different sensations on your feet. You have to return the same way.
Alternatives to Sentier des Sens full walk
The whole route can be reduced as mentioned. One suggestion would be; instead of parking your car be the “Maison de la Forêt”, carry on driving until you reach the picnic area and park there. This gives you two options, especially with younger kids, to start with the second part of the walk, then turn around and walk back to the Maison de la Forêt. Someone would need to drive the car back. Or have your picnic there, play in the water stream and visit the Maison de la Forêt afterward for a dessert, a coffee, and all the interactive displays.
Travel Advice for Sentier des Sens
Bring extra clothes for the kids, as the water stream is so tempting that the chance of having wet children is highly possible.
Good to know about Sentier des Sens
Stroller/pram accessible all along!
Tracouet with Kids
Tracouet and its’ Lac Noir can be reached by taking a ride up in a gondola cable car, offering stunning views down to the bottom of the Rhone Valley. A highlight on its own for everyone.
The gondola station is situated in the centre of the Village of Haute-Nendaz and runs from June to October non-stop. Tickets can be bought directly at the cash desk by the entrance. Remember kids are free up to 6 years of age!
Colourful alpine-flowers, snowy peaks, and a crystal shimmering mountain lake will make you feel like you have entered a little paradise.
The play area at Tracouet
Probably one of the best playgrounds and nature areas above the altitude of 2170m in the Valais.
For sure with their shiny eyes wide open, the kids will at first admire the play-area just outside the gondola station. Whether it is the great trampoline, or the cool fire engine, and not to forget the two slides and climbing tower, a fun time is pretty much guaranteed.
Drinks and food can be ordered in the adjacent restaurant right by the play area.
An exciting venture around the Lake “Lac Noir” is our main attraction. Seeking the salamander with their bright orange belly or catching and observing the tadpoles. Curiously watching the other creatures residing in the lake which look more like they come from another planet, makes this such a great educational nature activity.
And on top of it all, you’re surrounded by stunning scenery and breathtaking mountain views! I mean seriously, 360° of un-spoilt nature at its best. Take a picnic by the lake or have lunch at the restaurant by the play area, no matter what it will be an absolutely great day.
Alternative activities in Tracouet and Lac Noir
With older kids in your family, you could fit in some of the marked hikes before discovering the lake area. But this is also a great place to bring your bikes and cycle down, instead of taking the gondola back down to the village.
Travel advice for Tracouet
For all Tracouet activities, make sure to bring an extra jacket no matter the weather in the village. I also advise to check the timetable for the last cable car down to town. You do not want to miss it, as this is an area where I do not recommend to walk down. Sorry for spoiling this for you, but I believe it is too steep at the end and too hard on your and your little hiker’s knees.
Good to know about Tracouet
Tracouet summit is stroller/pram accessible, even down to the lake. When you are at the lake, there are toilets in the little cabin partially hidden by a hill behind the lake towards the valley. So, no need to walk all the way back up to the restaurant.
Hiking the historical Bisse de Savièse Torrent-Neuf
I mentioned it before, but as long as there are some interactions on a hike, the kids will walk. At the Bisse de Savièse Torrent Neuf, situated in Savièse there are a bunch of suspension bridges and a bear that will make your little one’s hike without having to bribe them.
A quick explanation on what a “Bisse” is? Bisses are historic irrigation channels of the Valais. An open ditch delivering priceless and much-needed water from mountain streams, often by daring routes, to provide water for the agriculture fields and vineyards. Some are still in use today.
Before you consider this hike, you must be sure to love suspension bridges! There are four in total all about 100m long.
When arriving in Savièse, follow the brown signposts for Bisse du Torrent Neuf. Ignore the first two parking areas and drive to the very last one. This way, you will save yourselves a fair bit of time and walking.
You have to decide on how long you want to hike, as it is a there and back route. With our three-year-olds, we normally go past the second bridge before we turn around. We always make sure to say hello to the bear!
The full hike along the 6km path leads first through the forest and alongside the water stream. We like to call this the Harry Potter forest. It looks like a hobbity, witchy area to us. Once at the chapel and the Buvette (restaurant), the official Bisse will start. Have a look around the chapel; you can still see the ancient kitchen which provided food for the workers. In memory and respect for all the people who were involved in the original build, you can ring the church bell.
All along the Bisse you have historic photographs and explanations of how it was built plus other important facts. This makes the hike such a great family adventure.
You will be rewarded with impressive views and landscapes. The sheer drop below the bridges will give you an understanding of how difficult it must have been to build this irrigation system.
Alternative hiking routes Bisse de Savièse Torrent Neuf
For families with younger kids, you can park even closer to the bisse. Continue past the last parking place and keep on driving up the road until you get to a 180° bend. Just after the bend you will see where the walking path crosses this road. Carry on another 20 metres or so, and park on the left-hand side. Start your hike from here! We normally have one hour from here to the second suspension bridge, which gives a good two hours hike for the 3 years old. This includes throwing thousands of stones into the Bisse, picking up nearly ever bug we find on the way, playing by the chapel and having some other great stops to take in the full beauty of this hike.
Travel Advice for Bisse de Savièse Torrent-Neuf
Up to a certain age I recommend to have a 1:1 ratio of adults to children. I was super nervous at first when we started this hike as it has some sheer drops. But having said that, all was perfectly under control. Just keep an eye on them and where you see it is necessary, hold their hands, not negotiable!
This hike is not accessible in wet weather or just after a heavy rainfall. There are actually gates blocking off the path when conditions are dangerous.
Good to know about Bisse de Savièse Torrent-Neuf
There is a great Buvette which offers lunch and drinks but they do not have ice-creams! If you offer the kids an ice-cream reward after their walk you need to drive down into Savièse afterward and buy some in a local supermarket.
Parc Aventure Sion
What would be an activity holiday without a visit to an aerial adventure park up in the trees? Les Iles in Sion is situated next to a lake and shaded by many of the pine trees which support the whole adventure park – Parc Aventure Sion.
The park offers 11 courses (3 suitable for children aged 4-7), 176 challenges, 40 zip wires, and a drop off Quick Jump to provide even mum and dad with a challenge! All participants wear a harness and the system does not allow you to unclip between the start and finish so you are safe at all times.
It is signposted “Les Iles-Parc Aventure” There are two parking areas, both are situated about a 10 min walk from the park.
Alternatives to Parc Aventure Sion
There are no real alternatives as you either like an aerial adventure park or you don’t. But there are many other attractions Les Iles has to offer (see below).
Travel Advice for Parc Aventure Sion
I would suggest wearing long trousers and good shoes for this activity.
Good to know about Parc Aventure Sion
Apart from the adventure park, the area offers tennis, mini golf, giant trampoline (peak season only) volley-ball field, rock climbing wall, swimming in the lake, paddle-boarding and a great play area. You could take your bikes and cycle around the bicycle path or just relax and observe it all. There is a designated bbq area and a miniature train runs in peak season and at weekends.
Great area to bring your picnic basket and blanket. Stroller/pram accessible!
I hope you have enjoyed our BEST hikes and activities for kids in Valais Switzerland.
Author: Corina from Packed Again
My name is Corina, a mum of twins, a wife to my amazing husband, and a passionate traveler and founder of Packed Again, the Family Travel and Adventure Blog. We live in the most amazing mountain valley in Switzerland, the Valais.
Being out there as a family, either locally or whilst travelling is super important for our well-being and sanity. There is nothing more rewarding than taking in the fresh mountain air on a local hike, being mesmerised by some amazing landscapes and astonished by interesting facts about a new country, together as a family.
And most of all, learning to see all the above from the viewpoint of two very funny toddlers!
It is our aim to encourage all families who are daunted and uncomfortable taking the kids travelling, to go out there as a family. Do it once and you will not regret it!