The biggest toy train museum in the world
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!”
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.
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
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 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.
- 12€ for an adult
- 10€ for a senior
- 6€ for a child under 16
- Daily: 9:30am – 6pm
- Tuesdays: 9:30am – 9pm
- Saturdays: 8am – 9pm
- Sunday/Public holiday: 8:30am – 8pm
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.
Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the German National Tourism Board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.