The Swiss Museum of Transportation is easily reachable by bus, train or even by foot from Luzern, and a fun way to spend a day. Our original plan was to visit Mt. Pilatus but the weather turned on us and we decided to stay indoors instead, and we were glad! Interactive and enjoyable, the museum is definitely worth a stop during your time in Luzern.
Admission is CHF 30 for adults, 15 for those 16 and younger. The museum opens at 10 daily, and closing times are 5 PM in winter, 6 PM in summer. Of course, check the website to verify prices and operating hours for the museum as well as the café and restaurant.
It’s divided into various areas, or “Halls,” each focused on a type of transportation. The first hall, also the biggest, explores rail transport. There is an amazing collection of trains from different eras in Switzerland’s history. You can climb into the trains, walk underneath them, find out how they work. There is even an area where you can build a track out of paper and see whether you understand the physics of it all. Cool stuff.
Right outside the rail transport hall is one of the most fun things I’ve ever encountered in any museum, and made me wish I was still a kid. There is a little “construction zone” where children can put on safety helmets and vests, and pretend to be at a construction site. There are child-sized “tractors,” wheelbarrows, and cranes. There are conveyor belts on which kids can dump dirt. There were (shallow) pits and little plastic barriers and cones. From what I could tell, the children were having a blast, and I probably would’ve too! If you’ve got kids, this is most certainly going to be one of their favorite parts.
Also next to the construction zone is a pool with child-sized sailboats. Kids wear life jackets and get wafted along by the wind and current.
The next hall is dedicated to the automotive industry. The museum has collected a LOT of road signs and they are displayed all over this building. They also have a car theater:” for each show, people get to vote on an electronic system and choose which cars will be picked out from the fairly large gallery.The selected car is then brought on a rotating platform where its features are discussed. The cars are life-sized and range from old carriages to single-passenger bullet-looking contraptions.
There are also many interactive islands where people can explore things like vision and road signage, driving personalities, and car construction. There’s even an area to climb into a car and feel what it’s like to be in a crash.
The hall for navigation and cable transport is smaller, but no less interesting. Water transport and cableways are pretty important to Switzerland. In keeping with the interactive theme, some of the exhibits here allow you to watch a boat go through a “lock” similar to how the Panama canal would work, as well as write your name in Morse Code and practice your knots.
The last building houses commercial aviation. There are various kinds of flying vehicles all over the building, from barely motorized gliders to rescue helicopters. You can learn about flight safety and air traffic control too, and play games that simulate airport and aircraft movements.
We ran out of time and were not able to check out the planetarium or the Hans Erni Museum, a building dedicated to the Swiss artist. There is definitely a lot to this museum and you will want to spend at least a whole day when you visit Luzern. On your way out, buy some Swiss chocolates from the massive shop at the front, or perhaps a model to remember the fun day you had at the Swiss Museum of Transportation.