Magical Adventures for Little Explorers

by Christen Fleming, March 04, 2024

Recently, I was lucky enough to spend some quality time on a mother-daughter trip with my 6-year old in western Switzerland. It was her birthday, so while I of course played travel planner and compiled a list of possible activities and excursions, she got the final say on what we did each day. The result was a family-focused holiday that we both really enjoyed!

We chose Montreux as our base for a few nights and stayed at the Eurotel Montreux which is located directly on the famous lakeside promenade. The view from our balcony was breathtaking by day and magical by night – we’ll both be daydreaming about it for many years to come!

Views from Eurotel, Montreux

I asked what her favorites activities were, and here is what she chose:

Chateau de Chillon – The top spot on her list was a tough choice, but she loved visiting Chillon Castle so much that she requested we go there twice in our very short trip (which actually was very easy to do as it’s only a few minutes by bus from the hotel and entry is free with the Swiss Travel Pass).

This iconic lakeside castle is said by some to be the inspiration of Prince Eric’s castle from The Little Mermaid. We loved exploring the rooms and grounds, seeing the artifacts, and learning about its history. There’s even a special map that kids can pick up at the entrance to make the castle exploration even more engaging. On a clear day, it’s a beautiful lakeside stroll along the promenade either to or from the Chateau, so while we opted for the bus on our trip, I’d highly recommend walking there and savoring the views of the lake.

Gruyeres – From one princess’s castle to the next, walking into Gruyeres feels like walking directly into the setting of Beauty and the Beast. This charming village is officially considered one of the most beautiful villages of Switzerland and has a beautiful (yet smaller) castle of its own overlooking picturesque fields dotted with cows below. The factory where the famous cheese of the same name is produced sits conveniently across the street from the train station for those who would like to learn more about the production and possibly do some tastings too. Bonus tip: stop into one of the restaurants to try the incredible meringue with double cream and fresh berries that is a specialty of the village. Entrance to Gruyeres Castle is free for holders of the Swiss Travel Pass.

Maison Cailler – A very short trip from Gruyeres to the village of Broc, the Cailler Chocolate factory tour gives a look at the history of chocolate, shows how chocolate is produced and packaged, teaches how to properly do a chocolate tasting, and then will provide you with more samples than you could possibly eat. An obvious choice for chocolate-lovers of all ages. Entry is free for holders of the Swiss Travel Pass.

Papiliorama – This one is typically not on any tourists’ lists, but we adore butterflies so for us it was a “must-do” and was actually my daughter’s choice for what to do first on her birthday. As the name suggests, the main attraction here is the large butterfly dome with a tropical garden housing over 1,000 butterflies and birds. In the same spot, however, they also have several other exhibitions including an indoor Jungle Trek which mirrors the tropical habitat of Belize and houses animals like toucans, iguanas, and a variety of fish, and then also the Nocturama which is a unique exhibition almost completely in the dark where (after the few minutes it takes for your eyes to adjust) you can see nocturnal animals like sloths and porcupines.

It was a little too chilly (for us) to visit the outdoor petting zoo they have as well, but I can easily see spending half a day here to enjoy all of the different attractions!

Bonus tip: if you’re looking to fit in a charming village visit in the area, be sure to stop by the lakeside village of Murten and take a stroll along the medieval city walls.

My daughter had a hard time accepting the fact that we couldn’t stay in Switzerland and visit these places every day, so I’ll definitely take that as a measure of it having been a very successful trip for her. Between the hospitality of our hotel, the scenic train rides to and through beautiful places, and more chocolate than either one of us could dream of consuming, I would highly recommend these destinations for travelers of all ages and I look forward to returning again very soon.

All photos by Christen Fleming of Magic Switzerland