Vaud region in Switzerland: It’s the Place to Be for Your Next Family Trip. One of the largest cantons in Switzerland, both in terms of population and size, Vaud is a region of immense visual appeal thanks to its bewildering geographical variety, encompassing all three of the dramatic terrains that make Switzerland such a hypnotic destination — the Alps, the Swiss Plateau, and the Jura Mountains.
With France on its western border, Vaud is one of only four cantons where French is the official language, and where the gastronomy is as renowned as the landscape and the large lakes. For many locals and visitors, the canton of Vaud is considered the culinary capital of Switzerland, known for its fine cheeses, meats and wine from the numerous vineyards that blanket the steep slopes above Lake Geneva.
Beyond meals that captivate the taste buds, the canton of Vaud is a centre of high-end watch-making and home to Lausanne, with its striking Gothic cathedral, and Montreux, famed for its jazz festival that runs this year from July 1-16.
Glacier 3000: A Mountain of Happiness for Young and Old Alike!
As unique as these exciting attributes are the family-friendly activities easily achieved in Vaud region. Few places in the world promise winter activities all year round, but such is the lure of Glacier 3000, a destination blessed with sunshine and snow. This polar paradise of powder is located at the highest point of the Vaudois Alps, rising to an elevation just above 3,000 metres, anchored by a futuristic building that was designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta and that comes with inspirational views of the surrounding mountains, including the Eiger, Jungfrau and Matterhorn.
Glacier 3000 was clearly designed with fun in mind, hence the many different options and adventures available to visitors. Perhaps the most eye-catching part of a visit here is the Peak Walk by Tissot, the only suspension bridge in the world that connects two mountain tops.
The bridge measures 107 metres long and 80 centimetres wide, and links the peaks of View Point and Scex Rouge; it is free of charge, open all year-round, and standing on it, feeling as free a bird, adventurers will drink in stirring Alpine views in every direction.
For families, the highlight of any visit to Glacier 3000 is often the dogsled ride, pulled by Huskies in the spectacular glacial landscapes, generating joy for young and old.
More thrills are in store during the Alpine coaster, with 520-degree circle turns, 10 curves, six waves and three jumps that deliver action-packed speeds of up to 40 km/h along the one-kilometre stretch. This is high adventure on the highest-situated toboggan run in the world, with moments of weightlessness and incredible vistas that will take the breath away of even the most seasoned traveller.
There are many other excursions that await at Glacier 3000, from riding in the Snow Bus (a snowcat that crunches over the crisp snow and can hold up to 20 people for forays into the glacial landscapes) to walks on the glacier, from skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing to taking a scenic flight above the powerful, snow-capped mountains. The obvious question at Glacier 3000 is whether the fun will ever end?
Much more than just sports in the canton of Vaud! Experience the Olympic Museum with your family!
The joy and rigours of competition might be the inspiration for the Olympic Museum, located in Lausanne just off the north shore of Lake Geneva, but this ultra-modern and interactive institution tells a story much bigger than sport. The only museum in the world founded by the International Olympic Committee, whose headquarters are in the city, it features 3,000 square metres of exhibition space, with more than 1,500 objects, 5,000 photos, and 150 screens that all combine to create a unique, immersive dive into everything Olympic.
Here, guests can partake in champions’ thrills, discover the creative genius of the host cities, share the enthusiasm of the volunteers, and truly understand the meaning of the Olympic spirit. As well as its permanent exhibition, the Olympic Museum offers temporary exhibitions and a varied cultural programme onsite and online throughout the year, with special programmes created for each edition of the Games.
The museum experience begins in a 8,000-square-metre park containing sports installations and sculptures by the likes of Fernando Botero and Alexander Calder, a verdant escape with views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. Inside, travellers of all ages will be able to trace the Olympic Games from its origins to a globally televised event, a journey of thousands of years from antiquity to modern day that has transformed into a worldwide spectacle of sport and creativity.
This is also where to experience the dynamism and atmosphere of the Games, through audiovisual shows, exhibits like the first Olympic flag from 1913, torches from every edition of the Games since 1936, clothing worn by some of the greatest athletes in history, and a large selection of medals dating from 1896.
When in Vaud region, Step Into The World Of Charlie Chaplin, A Family Destination For All Ages
Another museum guaranteed to entertain the entire family is Chaplin’s World, situated a little northwest of the city of Montreux. Winning the Micheletti Award from the European Museum Academy in 2018, it is a magical site dedicated to the life and work of Charlie Chaplin, and takes children and adults on a voyage through the comic genius’ rich trove of work via Hollywood-style studios and other artfully created settings.
When Chaplin couldn’t return to the United States in 1952 because of the country’s politically charged policies, he and his family fell in love with Manoir de Ban, a neoclassical mansion built in 1840 in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey and surrounded by 34 acres of parkland.
For the next two decades, the population of this town would see the star wandering along the cobbled streets, or strolling in the famous market square, and Chaplin would call this part of the world home, living here for almost 25 years with his wife Oona and children, four of whom were born in Switzerland.
Love for the star runs deep here, and emblems of the comic giant are still visible today throughout this part of the country, from the bronze statue of The Tramp (one of Chaplin’s most famous films) on the lakeside promenades of Vevey to the 40-metre high murals visible on two high-rise buildings in the district of Gilamont in Vevey that are known locally as the Chaplin Towers.
Visitors to Vevey, a town of 20,000, will also detect references to The Tramp, either in the name of a coffee shop or a window dressing, and a Chaplin Run is held yearly in and around the parkland of the Manoir de Ban.
Chaplin’s World itself comprises the main house, with furnishings and personal belongings that trace his life, a studio with sets that recreate seminal scenes from his films, and glorious grounds that are spectacular at any time of year, from spring blooms to winter’s snowy wonderland, and with views of the mountains and the lake a constant.
The Best Views Of Lake Geneva From Belle Epoque-Style Steamboats
For an even closer commune with the lake, the 150-year old ship operator CGN offers trips on Lake Geneva on Belle Epoque-style steamboats that take passengers back in time. The line offers a range of excursions, from Lunch on the Lake to a trip to Yvoire, one of France’s most beautiful medieval cities, from fondue cruises to a voyage to the terraced vineyards of Lavaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The fleet includes eight boats with paddle wheels (five of them are powered by steam and ply the waters from mid-April to mid-October) and this relaxing method of seeing the wondrous panoramas of the Vaud region allows families to slow down and take in the natural beauty and fresh air from the lake, the Alps always reflected in the water.
Aquatis, the perfect place to spend a family day out in the canton of Vaud
Water is the central theme at Aquatis, the largest freshwater aquarium in Europe. Inaugurated in Lausanne in 2017, the forward-thinking aquarium displays about 10,000 fish and 100 reptiles and amphibians, and takes visitors on an aquatic adventure to the five continents while exploring the fragility of this beautiful blue planet.
Billing itself as an atypical aquarium, it is dedicated to freshwater species, tracing the evolution of water life across the globe from prehistoric times to today. Using digital, interactive, and educational elements, the scenography lets visitors enjoy the many fish on display while learning about their ecosystems. The building itself is a visual treat — futuristic, circular, sheathed in swaying aluminium plates that give the exterior the appearance of being coated in fish scales.
Switzerland, regarded as Europe’s freshwater reservoir, is the starting point for a visit, with a look at the glacial periods that formed Lake Geneva and the river Rhône. The exhibits continue on to the evolution of species that carry characteristics of prehistoric animals, an immersion into the crocodiles and vipers of Africa and Asia, and sections that uncover the Komodo dragon and the rich flora and fauna of the Amazon forest. Like the rest of the Vaud region, Aquatis is enriching, entertaining, filled with fun and deeply connected to nature, an escape tailor-made for all the family.
If you’re looking for a place that offers an amazing variety of landscapes and activities, look no further than the canton of Vaud. This Swiss canton has something to offer everyone, from young children to retirees. Whether you want to experience the thrill of skiing down an alpine slope or take a leisurely cruise on Lake Geneva, the canton of Vaud is sure to please. So pack your bags and get ready for some family fun in one of the most beautiful regions in Switzerland!
Best Places to Stay when in the Canton of Vaud
Lausanne: Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa, Beau-Rivage Palace, Château d’Ouchy and Lausanne Palace.
Mont-Pèlerin: Le Mirador Resort & Spa.
Vevey: Grand Hotel du Lac and Hotel Des Trois Couronnes.
Montreux: Hotel Victoria Glion, Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic and Royal Plaza Montreux. ◼
© This article was first published online in May 2022 – World Travel Magazine.