The biggest toy train museum in the world

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

The biggest toy train museum in the world

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This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

When you think of Germany’s most popular tourists sites you think of castles and nature and beer festivals and historic town centres. You don’t think of toy trains. Well, I certainly didn’t. Not until I visited Miniatur Wunderland, that is.

The promotional brochure puts it like this:

“It’s the only time you’ll see Mount Rushmore next to Cape Canaveral. And it’s the only place that’s managed a direct train from Hamburg to the US!”

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

It’s easier to defy spatial rules when everything is smaller and the model train museum in the Germany city of Hamburg has mastered that. Unfortunately they are yet to work out how to miniaturise the crowds and it’s busy inside. More than 11 million people have visited since it opened and on some days there are long queues to get in.

So why is Miniatur Wunderland so popular yet so unknown? Well, partly it’s because the majority of visitors are German, not international. And partly because it’s in Hamburg which, despite turning out to be a very cool city, is not on the typical tourist path through the country.

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Those who know about the museum clearly feel the long waits are worth it. I’ve decided to head inside to see for myself.

Inside the old building in the Speicherstadt part of town, the displays take up two large floors. The train tracks with their model engines and carriages run through entire lands that have been created with small figurines, cityscapes, cultural events and realistic natural panoramas.

At the moment there are seven lands: Middle Germany, Knuffingen, Austria, Hamburg, America, Scandinavia and Switzerland. In the coming years they plan to open Italy, France, the UK and Africa.

It’s hard to get a sense of how large this miniature world is until you see it for yourself. But, to help, let me throw a few facts and figures at you:

  • There are 13 kilometres of track
  • There are 930 locomotives
  • There are 215,000 figurines
  • 64 computers run the whole thing
  • And it’s taken 580,000 work hours to build

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

One of my highlights is the airport they’ve built where model planes pull out from the terminal, taxi to the runaway and then take off, disappearing behind the set. Eventually they will come back to land and a departures and arrivals board shows you what’s coming and going.

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Miniatur Wunderland is a fantastic place for train-lovers and for families. You could definitely spend a long time looking at all the small details. The displays even turn from day to night every fifteen minutes as the lights in the building are dimmed.

If you like model trains, this would be heaven. If you don’t like crowds, it could be hell. Either way, here are some photos to show you some of the highlights.

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany

Price

The admission price for Miniatur Wunderland is:

  • 12€ for an adult
  • 10€ for a senior
  • 6€ for a child under 16
Opening Hours
The opening hours change depending on the business of the season. The standard opening hours for Miniatur Wunderland are:

  • Daily: 9:30am – 6pm
  • Tuesdays: 9:30am – 9pm
  • Saturdays: 8am – 9pm
  • Sunday/Public holiday: 8:30am – 8pm
Book Tickets
The address of Miniatur Wunderland is Kehrwieder 2-4, Block D, Speicherstadt, Hamburg.

It’s a large building that is hard to miss. Use the entrance to the right of the Hamburg Dungeon entrance and take the stairs up two floors.

The closest public transport station is Baumwall on the U-Bahn line 3.

Tips
The inside of the museum is extremely busy and it’s quite likely you will lose the people you came with. It might be a good idea to arrange a meeting place and time… or don’t let go of each other’s hand!
You can find out more information here about Miniatur Wunderland

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the German National Tourism Board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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11 Comments
  • Cathy Sweeney | Apr 26, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I wish you hadn’t told everyone that Hamburg is cool. I was trying to keep it to myself. Loved Miniatur Wunderland. The exhibits are amazing. I’m not necessarily a model train fan — I was mostly dazzled by all of the settings. I was there on a very cold and wet winter’s day and didn’t have to wait in line at all.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Top 3 Budget Places You Can’t Afford to Miss in ChinaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 4, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Ha ha – I’m sure there’s still enough there to share :)
      I had the same reaction to Miniatur Wunderland as you. The trains are kind of cool but I was really amazed by all the detail that had gone into the huge settings. You could stand there and study them for so long and still be discovering new things. Oh, and the airport – that was the coolest!!

  • Alouise | Apr 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I’m not a huge toy train person, but I went to a miniature museum in Victoria, Canada last year and thought it was fantastic. This one in Hamburg looks great as well. Definitely not something I would have thought to check out before, but it seems like a fun way to spend a few hours.

    • Michael Turtle | May 4, 2014 at 8:36 am

      I think if you don’t have kids it wouldn’t be an obvious place to go but I really enjoyed it as an adult. I haven’t heard about the one in Victoria but I would be curious to compare them now. This Hamburg one is supposed to be the biggest in the world… but not sure what that actually means! :)

  • Mark | May 2, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Better not tell my nephews and Dad about it. They will be clamoring for a family vacation there next year with their model train hobby. Great shots.
    Mark recently posted..Learning From the Master of ProcrastinationMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 4, 2014 at 9:34 am

      Well you should definitely tell them about it. They can go and play with the trains and you can explore the cool artistic side of Hamburg’s nightlife! :)

  • Greta | May 6, 2014 at 7:34 am

    This is amazing! I didn’t even know I loved miniature train sets until I saw your photos! Now I might turn out to be obsessed and it will be all your fault :c) It looks like a must-see destination, but I would have read about it and ignored it… Until I saw fantastic shots like yours. This is definitely going on the ever-growing list so thanks for sharing!
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  • Miniatur Wunderland | May 6, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Thx for this wonderful post about Hamburg and the Wunderland. Greetings from the Speicherstadt. ;-)
    Miniatur Wunderland recently posted..Große Schiffsparade und SchlepperballetMy Profile

  • Jess | May 9, 2014 at 12:20 am

    I still have two videos of the planes landing on my phone. Loved it

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Jul 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    The train sets are amazingly detailed. I never knew this was at Hamburg before! People must be trying to keep it secret! Thanks for sharing this!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..TAHITI: Swimming With Sharks in Bora BoraMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jul 12, 2014 at 6:52 am

      The Germans certainly don’t think it’s a secret – it is packed full of them most of the time! But it’s weird how it doesn’t have a bigger international reputation. There are plenty of train nuts in the world who would love it!

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