Compared to many of its European neighbours, Switzerland is a relatively small country. Despite this, no trip truly is long enough to visit all highlights the country has to offer. So what’d you say if I’d tell you that you can visit all of Switzerland in just one hour? That is exactly what the miniature open-air museum of Swissminiatur offers its visitors.
Swissminitatur is located in the village of Melide in Ticino, just a short train ride from Lugano. During the summer months, you can even take a boat to the Swissminiatur museum from downtown Lugano. Its close proximity to Lugano makes the open-air museum a popular tourist destinations for both domestic and international travellers.
The history of Swissminiatur museum
Swissminiatur was the brain child of grocery store owner Pierre Vuigner had a seemingly ordinary life in the Canton of Valais until he got the idea to create an open air museum with famous Swiss landmarks in miniature form. His idea was inspired by Madurodam, a dutch miniature open-air museum opened in The Hague in 1952.
After a long search for the perfect location for the new park, he convinced the mayor of Melide in Ticino of his idea and gets permission to build the park in the village. Swissminiatur first opens its doors in 1959 and is now a loved tourist attraction in the region.
Nowadays, the museum is home to 129 models of Switzerland’s most famous buildings, landmarks and transportation methods such as trains and cablecars. All of these models are built on a 1:25 scale, allowing you to see much of Switzerland in as little as one hour. The miniatures in the park include tiny versions of the castle of Chillon Castle, the Parliament Building in Bern and Zürich Airport. The museum even has its very own miniature version of the famous Matterhorn mountain!
In addition to these famous landmarks, the park also displays the impressive transportation network that Switzerland has. In Swissminiatur, you can see functional tiny replicas of the steam ships touring Geneva lake, cablecars and more than 10 miniature trains running on rail tracks crossing the park. These miniature rail tracks span over 3 kilometers throughout Swissminiature!
On selected days of the year, Swissminiatur opens up their manufacturing workshop to the public. On these days, you can take guided tours to see up close how the scale models are created. In the workshops, the decorators work on creating new models and renovating existing ones.
The park also has a restaurant to visit for lunch with a play area for young visitors. In the museum shop, you can get typical Swiss souvenirs to remember your trip by.
All in all, the Swissminiatur park is the perfect day trip destination from Lugano, especially with kids. But considering how detailed the scale models are, even adults will have plenty of fun visiting Swissminiatur!
Visiting the park
The Swissminiatur season stretches from from mid March until the beginning of November. During this period, the museum is open daily between 9 AM until 6 PM. For exact opening dates and hours, we recommend you to visit the Swissminiatur website. The paths of the park are stroller friendly and the park even welcomes dogs.
As mentioned earlier, the park is reachable by train from Lugano, with the trip take a mere 10 minutes. You can also hop on a boat in Lugano to reach the park. For train timetables visit SBB.ch, you find boat timetables on lakelugano.ch
Entrance tickets for the park range from CHF 12.50 for children to CHF 19.50 for adults. You get 10% discount if you purchase your tickets online.