Top 3 activities for teenagers on an Alpine activity holiday

Being a teenager is challenging. Being the parent of a teenager…! After investing xteen years loving and caring for our beloved babies, they suddenly turn their backs on us and prefer to spend time with their mates. If they are not ‘hanging out’ they are glued to the iPad in cyberspace, which, of course, we as their luddite parents can’t begin to understand! We are just good for nothing annoyances that don’t understand anything and get in the way of the important things in life!

Luckily, we have been teenagers ourselves, albeit in a different pre-internet epoch, and we know that deep down they love us really and this is just a stage. A family activity holiday is an ideal opportunity to cultivate the teen parent relationship and create some life long memories that will live on way beyond the teen stage.

For the teens the activities are ‘awesome’ or ‘out there’ adventures with lots of adrenalin that they can tell their mates about and for parents it’s a fun way to spend time en famille. Your teenagers will see you in a different light after watching you go first down the canyon toboggan!

After 9 years’ experience organising family activity holidays, we’ve selected our top three activities that get the best feedback from families with teenagers.


Canyoning involves getting togged up in specialist wetsuits and harnesses and negotiating your way down a dramatic mountain canyon. There are natural water toboggans, abseils down waterfalls and jumps into deep pools of fresh clear alpine water. It is great fun!


Teens can show off their jumping and summersaulting abilities and parents can demonstrate they aren’t too old to have fun! Tip for parents who are not keen on jumping and summersaulting – take the role of photographer! This gives you an excuse to take photos of your kids rather than actually doing too much. They will love being centre of attention and you will love watching them! Lots of laughing guaranteed!

Canyoning family

There are lots of canyons all over the Alps and some are quite extreme. You should always do this sort of activity with a qualified and experienced guide who will choose a suitable canyon that will be safe and fun but still give you the thrills.

Via ferrata

Via ferratas, literal translation ‘iron ways’’, are high level climbing routes on exposed cliff faces with metal ladders, bars and holds. You make your way round the route using the holds and ladders and are attached to a safety wire that follows the course.  You need a head for heights! Some have tyrolean zip wires to get back down again for a bit of added adrenalin and fun!

Via ferrata teens

Even the most outgoing and independent teenager will be grateful for a few reassuring words from their “not scared at all even if putting on a brave face” parents! “Respect to you, Mum”.

Via ferrata

Via ferratas are graded by difficulty and it is possible to do them self guided if you have the right equipment but for peace of mind, it is always better to go with a qualified guide.

Night in a refuge

Imagine a place where there is no phone signal, no TV, no internet access and no plug-in electricity. Just beautiful views, wildlife, flowers and real live human beings for company. To get there you will have to walk which may be the slight sticking point for some teenagers, but there are refuges with just an hour walk in, achievable for even the most anti-walking teen!


The rewards will be worth it, even if your teenager doesn’t think so at the time! Faced with the option of going to bed early or spending the evening playing cards, charades, chatting and maybe even a bit of singing and dancing with the parents and other refuge guests, your sociable teen will come into his or her own. The old fashioned way of entertaining ourselves may actually win some points.

There is an extensive network of high mountain refuges all over the Alps and the majority of them are looked after by ‘guardians’ who cook, clean and manage the refuge so all you have to do is get there and enjoy. Dinner, a bed and breakfast are all provided.

Sally Guillaume is Director at Undiscovered Alps.

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Comments (4)

  1. Aira says:

    They looked really happy. It’s nice to go on an adventure every once in a while and I am sure these teens love it.

  2. John Cutler says:

    Great article! I totally learned something new today by visiting your wonderful blog. I learned about Via ferrata. I’m no ordinary rock climber but that actually looks manageable and a whole lot of fun!


    Big John

  3. Jody Robbins says:

    Some great suggestions here. I think teens would get a huge adrenaline rush from Via Ferrata and also from heli-hiking.

  4. Thanks John, Aira and Jody! Would be a pleasure to show you the ropes in real life if you want to try any of these activities out!!!

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