Stunning sunsets, refreshing mountain lakes and beautiful hikes. Around one third of the total area of Switzerland is taken up with mountains. No wonder that the Swiss Alpine Club can lay claim to over 150 mountain huts. The variety of Swiss mountain huts ranges from emergency bivouacs at over 4'000 metres above sea level to comfortable mountain huts with a serviced restaurant. This gives rise to plenty of different activities for families of all ages.
Overnight stay for the whole family
For families, SAC huts also offer all-inclusive rates with several nights and half board, lunch or guided tours on request. From many huts you can also get to numerous Swiss mountain lakes or even explore glaciers. Some SAC huts even offer childcare so that parents can do a challenging hike alone.
What to note: child-friendly and plenty of variety
If setting out with children, always make sure the hike meets their needs. Six- to ten-year-olds can easily walk for up to five hours and, with a little practice, children over ten are ready to tackle more challenging routes. For younger kids especially, it's important to offer them variety. All you have to do on a normal hiking trail, for example, is to observe the plants and animals or build a dam across a small channel of water.
Plan more time
Plan a little more time when you go hiking with children. The general guideline is to make a break with children around once an hour and multiply the hiking time by 1.5. Schedule breaks at attractive places – such as BBQ areas or lakes – especially on the descent when legs are tired and concentration is waning.
Don't forget to kit your child out properly. All hikers, including the smallest, need the full kit for wind and weather. The child’s backpack shouldn’t be too heavy. Think sensibly about who is to carry what and let your child help decide what they want to carry.
Packing list for the whole family
The weather in the mountains can quickly take an unexpected turn. For this reason, it’s worth writing a packing list. It’s essential to pack:
- Hiking boots with a good grip sole
- Wind, rain and sun protection
- Headgear, sunglasses and sunscreen
- Warm clothes and a change of clothes
- Rain jacket and trousers
- Pocket knife
- First-aid kit
For the overnight stay:
- Comfortable clothes to wear inside the hut
- Indoor shoes or slippers
- Toiletries, plus a towel or wet wipes
- Light indoor sleeping bag made of cotton, possibly a pillowcase
- Headlamp or torch
- Earplugs to block out snoring and disturbances in the dormitory
- Plastic bag for waste and/or dirty washing
Tips for booking an SAC hut
Mountain huts offer an incomparable rustic mountain experience, so don't expect the comfort of a hotel. The flip side is that a cold shower can be refreshing and ease aching muscles.
Check opening times
Many mountain huts aren't occupied all year round. Depending on altitude and weather conditions, many huts open either earlier or later in the year.
Reserve a place
Especially in the high season and at weekends, Swiss mountain huts can get quite full. It is essential that you book your overnight stay. In many cases this can be done online.