With all of the travel restrictions, we were keen to go on a holiday in Switzerland during the October break from school. Jack had just turned 1 the day before this holiday and it felt like a good way to celebrate his birthday and to celebrate surviving the first year of parenting!
We spent a while looking at different destinations and settled on the beautiful town of Arosa in Graubünden. This turned out to be an excellent choice – it was the perfect place for a family holiday, with something for everyone to enjoy! Thanks to SBB we could take the train from Geneva to Arosa with two changes – in Zurich and in Chur. The final mountain train from Chur to Arosa was spectacular.
We decided to book an apartment in the centre of Arosa. We chose Haus Hermann – which provided a cot and highchair and was perfect for our stay. If you stay in the summer months, roughly between May and October, you will be given an Arosa Card wherever you stay, which is a tourist card giving you free access to many leisure activities, as well as the cable cars and mountain railways. There is a fantastic tourist office in Arosa and you can get hiking maps and further information about the area.
We spent 4 full days in Arosa at the end of October 2020, and this is how we spent each day:
We started the day with a walk to the Kinderspielplatz Arosa in central Arosa – this was a fabulous play area for children with lots of equipment and spectacular views!
We then walked down to the second lake in Arosa – Untersee. This smaller lake is a 15 minute walk downhill from the main town and provides magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. In the summer the Lido Untersee is open daily for swimming and there is a small cafe and play area. Unfortunately it was a bit too chilly to have a dip – but we will certainly return in the summer months to try it out!
Afterwards, we decided to utilise our Arosa cards and take the Arosa Weisshorn gondola lift (a large cable car) up to the top of the Weisshorn (2653m). It was very snowy at the top and the views were incredible.
We stopped for lunch in the 360° Panoramarestaurant Weisshorngipfel restaurant. The restaurant was large, with huge windows to enjoy the panoramic views from the top. The service and food were excellent – highchairs were available and there was even a small area for children to play.
Although there are hiking routes from the top of the Weisshorn, it was too snowy for us to attempt them, but I am sure that in the summer these would be fantastic. Instead, we got the cable car back down to the middle station after lunch and we went to the Arosa Bear Sanctuary.
This bear sanctuary covers a huge area on the mountain side for rehabilitating bears from Albania and Serbia. For a small cost, you can enter the little museum and then walk along the platforms/rope bridges ‘adventure path’ to watch the bears exploring, playing, eating and splashing around in the little ponds. Our son loved watching the bears (as did we!) and we spent a while here – it felt like we were in the wild with the bears. There is also a play area and mini golf just behind the sanctuary for children.
From the bear sanctuary you can take the cable car down to Arosa, but we decided to hike down from there with our son in our trusty Ergobaby. The hike took around an hour, and the paths were wide and easy to follow (with the help of the handy Swiss yellow hiking signs). Some parts were exposed and some parts were in the forest.
On our second day we decided to do some longer hikes. We took the Arosa Weisshorn gondola lift once more to the middle station. However, instead of turning towards the bear sanctuary, we headed in the opposite direction towards Inner-Arosa and the Hörnli Talstation. We followed the yellow sign posts which took us along a relatively flat path along the mountainside. The mountain views changed as we rounded the corner and we could see the top of the Hörnli.
We then dropped down towards the Hörnli Talstation, where we once again used our Arosa Card to take us to the top of this very snowy mountain at 2511m altitude.
It was very snowy and windy at the top, so we didn’t stick around for too long, but we did have chance to get a hot chocolate in the very pleasant Swiss-style restaurant: Hörnlihütte.
Later in the afternoon on the second day, we decided to hike down to Iselsee, which is a bright turquoise resevoir, about 30 minutes walking from Arosa. We then carried on the walk along the Wanderweg Litzirüti-Arosa. This pushchair friendly path weaved along next to the river, until we reached the little village of Litzirüti, where we took the train back up to Arosa.
In Arosa, we had seen a lot of signs pointing to the Squirrel Trail. This is an hour long trail from Maran to Arosa through the woods, where you can feed squirrels as you walk along. We decided to embark on a trail from the Arosa Weisshorn middle station down towards the beginning of the squirrel trail in Maran, Arosa. We passed a lovely dairy and we stopped for fresh milkshakes, cheese and bread.
After asking someone to point us in the right direction we found the start of the squirrel trail and excitedly began the walk along the lovely woodland path. It wasn’t long until we came across some confident squirrels, and having bought some hazelnuts, we were able to feed them from our hands! Our son was very excited and we had a wonderful time looking at all of the wildlife as we walked (there were some keen birds who also wanted to be fed)! It was a lovely experience and we really took our time on this walk to enjoy it all.
Unfortunately on our last day, the weather was not as good, but luckily in Arosa, this is not a problem! We started the day with a pleasant brunch at Brüggerstuba – a lovely restaurant on the mountainside by the bear sanctuary. We then walked for approximately an hour and half from there down towards Inner-Arosa and into Arosa.
By this point the weather had turned quite wet, so we visited the Indoor-Spielplatz Bärenhöhle in Arosa. This was a huge indoor play centre for children of all ages – there was something for everyone! Jack loved exploring the climbing equipment, bouncy castle, ride on cars, slides, balls and toys. He didn’t want to leave! There was even a small cafe for parents to have a cup of tea or coffee while their children played.
So, there you have it – 4 days / 5 nights in Arosa in October 2020 with a recently turned 1 year old. We could have stayed even longer; there were so many lovely walks and places to explore. We will definitely be back in the summer to do some hiking at a higher altitude (when there is less snow!) and to swim in lake Untersee. If you are looking for a perfect family holiday in Switzerland – Arosa is the place to go!