How do you hike in Switzerland? – SOLVED

If you have never been to Switzerland, are planning to, are interested in hiking in the country, or have wondered what all the yellow signs and tags are, then keep reading. Switzerland is perhaps the best place on earth to hike. The trails are well marked, there are restaurants along the way, and water is never too far away. This makes minimalist hiking quite easy to the point of only carrying some cash for incidentals.

One of the best resources, and not just for parents, are the Fresh Air Kids Switzerland books. These guides break down the barriers and help you get started out of the gate, and if you are a parent, give you and entire chapter for keeping you children entertained along the way. For more advanced hiking families, the Hikes to Huts book will be coming out in May 2020!!

If you don’t plan ahead, you will perhaps remain lost. Below are some other options, which all require a bit more work on your part.

Great View of the Valley

Option 1) Memorize the names of the last train stop and follow the yellow signs anywhere. Most of them have many options with the walking times listed as well as indicating train or tram stops. The intermediate signs will point you in a direction, you might feel lost, but you’re never far from water or a public transportation stop. Keep in mind the three types of Wanderweg (hiking trail) signage; yellow is normal walking trails, red and white blazed trails are alpine walking trails (where some can be daunting depending on your adventure/skill level), and the blue and white blazed trails which are in our opinion, reserved for the skilled hiker/climber. For the blue and white, only a detailed map will show the difficulty level and may necessitate crampons and ropes in some cases.

Option 2) Buy an old map from a Brocki* for a couple of Francs. This is handy if you know how to use maps, and some of the old maps you find at a Brocki will make a great souvenir of your visit; if you’re not that much of a minimalist. We have often found maps with reasonable detail for areas we have been or plan to go. A used map can be an asset if your GPS dies, your memory fails, or you just so happen to drift off the grid. If you’re too far off the grid, then any map you have in any case may not help. If you tend to drift, you’ll need to resort to your boy/girl scout instincts, ask for directions, or take our advice in Option 1: locate the nearest point of interest.  If you’re concerned that an old map in Switzerland might be outdated, consider that most of the trails have been around for a really long time, though some new buildings may exist.

*A Brocki is the Swiss-German word for Brockenhaus (in German) and is equivalent to a thrift store found in the US.

Option 3) Feeling cheap? Why not print out a map from online? Although this is possible if you like low quality or to cut and paste, it all depends on how much time you want to spend doing this versus other things. With the links below, you can find free access to some incredibly detailed maps, complete with hiking trails, elevations, points of interest, cliffs and scree delineated, peaks, towns, etc. Great for planning and while online, but perhaps not so practical if your hiking with patchy reception. It might be cheaper to just buy a map if you do not live in Switzerland; your data plan on your cell phone, with or without roaming, would outweigh the cost of paper. But if you’re choosing this option, you’re probably not bringing your phone on a hike. 

(Note: you should compare the details of the photographed maps above, to the online data below.  I used the same location to compare)

Option 4) Carrying a map is sooo last year! OK, maybe not, but whether you’re a techie, a geek, an iNerd, or an I-can’t-leave-home-without-it sort of person, then perhaps an App is more your style. These can be great! Some are free with canned routes while other are Lexus versions with in-app purchases that would prevent you from sending your kids to college (if college is not free in your country). All have their pluses and minuses, but perhaps the biggest down side is battery life! If you use your iDevice for everything from taking photos, bragging about where you are on Facebook, using GPS to track your route, or attempting to achieve KOM on Strava, then your battery will die in less then four hours. Make sure your excursion is shorter than this, or you can default to Option 1, or just play it safe and carry the map you passed up in Option 2 and 3. If you’re battery dies, the only souvenir you’ll have is the memory of looking lost to the farmer who you asked directions.

The links here are great resources, we hope you find them useful.

Maps online:
http://www.swisstopo.admin.ch/internet/swisstopo/en/home/products/maps/leisure/hiking.html
http://www.wanderland.ch/en/hiking-in-switzerland.html

Easy to use map, make sure you click “Pixel Maps” in the Themes toolbar
http://map.geodataviewer.admin.ch/geodatenviewer.php

Great Map for Delineated Hiking Trails (perhaps the best I’ve found!)
http://map.geo.admin.ch/?selectedNode=node_ch.swisstopo.swisstlm3d-wanderwege1&Y=635299.00&X=154039.33&zoom=6&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo.pixelkarte-farbe&time_current=latest&lang=en&topic=ech&layers=ch.swisstopo.swisstlm3d-wanderwege

Interested in through hiking or cycling or mountain biking… all of Switzerland…
http://www.swisstrails.ch/swisstrails_engl/wanderland/wanderland_national.asp

Swiss Map Apps…
https://www.schweizmobil.ch/en/summer.html
http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/about-switzerland/apps-panoramas.html
https://www.swisstopo.admin.ch/de/karten-daten-online/karten-geodaten-online/swisstopo-app.html

Fresh Air Kids – Hikes to Huts

We are happy to announce that the sequel to our first book, Fresh Air Kids Switzerland – 52 Inspiring Hikes That Will Make Kids and Parents Happy, is coming out in May 2021!

Hikes To Huts

Fall into the gentle rhythm of hiking and enjoying some of Switzerland’s most beautiful mountain inns in scenic locations. The alpine meadows, picturesque lakes and snow-covered peaks you will encounter are certain to impress. Take the time to slow down as a family and enjoy nature like never before. With this easy to use and well-crafted resource, the planning has been done, so you can hit the trails and make the most of the hiking seasons.

This book offers:

32 hand selected routes in gorgeous locations for experienced hiking families

Diverse overnight offerings including sleeping on straw, SAC huts, and charming mountain hotels.

Family – friendly activities and locations throughout.

Checklists, practical advice from a family who has spent countless hours on the trail

GPX files for effortless planning and hiking

Pre-order today at HELVETIQ.com

New Location

It’s been a hot minute since we last wrote on this site. While we no longer really maintain this location, we are happy to announce that we are trying our best to maintain our new website – Fresh Air Kids.

If you are still interested in following our adventures, please pop over to one of the following:

freshairkids.com

https://www.freshairkids.com/

or

https://www.instagram.com/fresh_air_kids/

2020

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been quite the year. For so many reasons, we have a lot to reflect upon, a great deal to ponder and so very much to be grateful for. We have spent our days, like everyone else, doing our best to navigate this precarious year. We have missed flights and felt further away from family and friends than ever before. We’ve moved offices into our home, home schooled without much grace, resumed normal work schedules, submitted projects that felt herculean and spent more time than ever before together. We contemplated “what-if” scenarios and fell even closer together as a family residing in a relatively small flat.

We do our best to remind ourselves of the gifts that have wrapped themselves in so many forms of crazy in 2020. Our greatest take-away from this year has been gratitude. We are grateful for some many tiny elements that create most of our days and that often go unnoticed. Now, we take the time to appreciate the work we have, the warmth of our tiny home, the groceries that fill our fridge, the education our children receive from very committed teachers, our health, our friends and our family. We are better for having endured this year, together. And as we always say in our home, “learn the lesson or repeat the lesson.” This this year, we are learning so many of life’s valuable lessons. Mostly, we are learning to look at the little things, which have always turned themselves into the greatest joys of our everyday lives.

*On a side note, we have been away for a very long time from this space. Filling pages and curating content felt overwhelming. But perhaps, we will return in some capacity. In the meantime, we created another site, though not terribly attended to either, to promote our books: https://www.freshairkids.com/.

Holidays!

2017-08-27-Botnl_073e

I cannot take any credit for this idea, but what a fabulous idea it is. If you need a bit of holiday inspiration…here you go!

4 Gifts – 4 Gifts

Something they want

Something they need

Something to wear

Something to read

And something fantastic to read this year is…droll roll please, Fresh Air Kids Switzerland! Not only is it a fun read, but also great for your health with everything you need to know about hiking as a family in Switzerland. Available through https://www.helvetiq.com/fresh-air-kids-switzerland.

fresh-air-kids_EN_lifestyle

Bam…genius in the mix!  Thank you to whomever devised this plan and thanks for making holiday shopping focused, easy and hopefully excess free because heaven knows the planet doesn’t need more waste.  Also, if you are not interested in tangible gifts, consider gifting experiences.  More on experience gifts to come soon.

Please do not forget to be generous to those that are less fortunate.

2 X Christmas –  Did you know that each year the Swiss Post in conjunction with the Swiss Red Cross and SRG SSR, ships (free of charge) the items you donate (food and useful items) to those families with limited means in Switzerland and abroad?

This year to help celebrate their 22st year of giving, the Swiss Post, the SRG SSR and the Swiss Red Cost will be donating items to those less fortunate.

If you are looking for a way to contribute to the holiday cheer by helping those in need, all donations can be dropped off in a box at your local post office from the 24th of December through the 11th of January. This is a great way to teach children empathy and the power of giving.