Verkehrshaus - Luzern with kids.
The Verkehrshaus in Luzern, also known as the Transport Museum (or literally translated Traffic House), is the most visited museum in Switzerland, especially by locals. It is a not to be missed attraction when visiting Luzern with kids.
The 58 year old museum is such an everyday part of our life here, that it wasn’t until I was recently listening to the Thoughtful Travel Podcast and one of their guests mentioned a trip to the Verkehrshaus that I realised I had never chatted about it in depth here on the blog. Today we’ll change that!
You can spend an entire day at the Verkehrshaus— learning about everything from cars, trains to planes and everything that moves. In addition, the Verkehrshaus is home to the largest screen in Switzerland, Planetarium and the Swiss Chocolate Adventure. Don’t forget to pop up stairs and pretend you are on Swiss TV in the Media World. Most exhibitions are inside, but there is a big outdoor area that connects the exhibits and also contains some really fun stuff in and of itself so suits both a rainy and sunny day.
There is so much to explore at the Verkehrshaus that to really do it properly you need to give it at least a whole day. But if you only have half a day to spare, here is a list to help you prioritise what to see- you have a LOT to choose from:
Learn about the history of aviation while viewing more than 30 historical aircraft, try your hand being an air traffic controller, or hop on the airplane or helicopter simulator.
With ancient dugout canoes to more modern paddle steamers, the water has played an important transportation role over the years. View original boats like the Rhine Ferry or learn about the history of navigation in Naturiama. Young kids will love watching the scale model of a lock.
Switzerland is not just famous for its train system, but also its cable cars that take us all safely to the top of it’s many mountain peaks. Learn about the history of cable cars and all about the wire rope that keeps the cable cars moving.
Don’t miss the Tourism Flipper, a unique marble run representing all the different parts of tourism here in Switzerland. My kids could stand for hours watching this marvellous invention designed by artist Charles Morgan in 1984.
The Road Transport Hall which is located inside the building with all the road signs has recently had an overhaul. The three story museum takes you on a 7000 year trip through the history of mobility.
Check out the last Swiss Automobile manufacturer “Monteverdi”, the history of bicycles and Swiss racing cars. The impressive Display Store which presents different modes of road transport from 1860 to 2005 on a huge automated parking system will bring the car of your choice to the forefront and show it off for all to see.
Switzerland is famous for its punctual and reliable train network and here you can learn all about how rail transport has influenced the development of Switzerland. It also includes a model of the famous Gotthard railway.
Micro Scooters are provided in the outdoor area and you can use them free of charge to move around between the exhibitions or just for fun. For some kids this is the highlight of the visit!
For the aspiring builder check out the road construction area where they can get their hands dirty. Put on a hard hat and get to work on a excavator or shovel to help make and repair the roads. You could be here a while, so bring a book and let the kids have a ball.
The Swiss Touring Association (TCS) has created a traffic garden to help teach kids all about Swiss road rules. Younger kids are in the mini groups from age 3-5 and older kids age 6-12 can get on go karts and learn all about giving way, how to go around a roundabout and stopping at a stop sign. At the end they get a TCS drivers licence.
Other things not to miss
The Verkehrshaus is about more than just things that move.
Put on some funky red slippers and enjoy Switzerland up close and personal as you take a walk over an 1:20,000 aerial photo of Switzerland. Included in the price of museum entry.
Take a journey through the world of Swiss media where you can practice your TV studio skills—or perhaps you prefer to be behind the camera and direct. Included in the price of museum entry.
Reserve a trip through the Swiss Chocolate Adventure where you will learn through your senses all about how chocolate is made. Start with the harvest of the cocoa bean and learn the process of how it ends up as yummy Swiss chocolate.
You sit inside a chocolate praline and are transported around the different stages of the process. Two Adults and two children cost CHF 42 with your choice of language (German, French, Italian, English, Spanish and Mandarin)
My kids LOVE visiting a Planatarium, so much so the boy got a voucher to visit for his past birthday. It’s a 360 degree experience where you lay back in your seat and are transported to a galaxy far far away!
You can choose shows that suit the age of your kids, for example Planets, Zodiak, and Invaders of Mars are suitable from age 10 and Polaris and Art, Moon and Sun are suitable from age 6. View the programme and book tickets online.
In the past they have even put on concerts on the planetarium screen. The shows run in the German language, but you may ask for headphones where you will hear the translated version into English, French or Italian.
The largest screen in Switzerland shows many nature movies in 2 and 3d. The main language is German, but headphones are on offer if you want to hear the film in another language.
They also often live-stream Opera, Ballet and Theatre events from around the world, like the ballet Giselle in April next year and will replay a performance of The Nutcracker this December, all from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. The Opera pieces are live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The Verkehrshaus is across the lake from the city centre of Luzern and is easily accessible by foot, boat, train, bus or car. You can take a nice leisurely lakeside stroll and will reach the museum in about 30 minutes of the city centre. Otherwise you have these options:
Take a 10 minute boat from Luzern across the lake and get off at the Verkehrshaus-Lido stop. Departures depends on the time of year, check the Lake Luzern website for actual departures.
The Number 6, 8 or 24 bus drops you at the “Verkehrshaus” bus stop, taking around 10 minutes from the city centre. Use the SBB website for more information.
The Train Station is across the road from the museum and trains run regularly from Luzern Main Station. Take the S3 or the Voralpenexpress to the “Luzern Verkehrshaus” stop. Check the SBB website for timetable information.
If you travel by car, you will find a large carpark to the side of the Verkehrshaus (opposite the Lido along the lake) as well as a couple of spots in front of the entrance.
Swiss Rail Pass holders: If you have the Swiss Rail Pass or the Swiss Museum Card, you will receive a 50% entry discount.
FEEDING THE KIDS
The main Verkerhaus restaurant is self service and has a good range of food. If you want to avoid the lunch time rush, start eating before 12pm (the Swiss love punctuality and most like to eat exactly at 12pm) or after 1pm once the rush is over. A less family friendly but delicious option is Restaurant Piccard.
Picnics are allowed to be brought into the Museum but can only be consumed in the outdoor areas away from the displays. But as your ticket will let you come in and out all day, why not pop across the street and enjoy a picnic by the lake?
The Lido Luzern, a sand beach with a large grass area and playground, is located just down from the Verkehrshaus. It is a great place to swim in the summer months, but the playground a Kisok is open daily during the winter months. It’s also a great place to enjoy a picnic as the sun goes down in Summer.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
This is an extremely popular family friendly destination for Swiss locals, so during the school holidays (see my page) it pays to get there early. If you want to visit the planetarium, chocolate adventure or IMAX theatre, its best to book in advance, or if you want to be more spontaneous, upon your arrival. These activities are also only suitable for kids 6 years of age or older.
Check out the SBB Railway for special offers that include both transport and entry. Or if you have the Swiss Rail Pass, you receive a 50% discount on entry.
So on your next visit to Luzern, don’t miss a visit to the Verkehrshaus. I can guarantee your kids it will be a museum your kids will thank you for taking them too.
Have you been to the Verkehrshaus before? Which exhibition would you recommend? What are your other favourite things to do with kids in Luzern?