Visiting Luzern with kids: Transport Museum Luzern (Verkehrshaus)
The Verkehrshaus in Luzern, also known as the Transport Museum (or literally translated: Traffic House), is the most visited museum in Switzerland and a not to be missed attraction when visiting Luzern with or without kids. The museum isn’t just popular with tourists but you will find it filled with locals as well. We loved our recent visit so much we just signed up for an annual pass.
The Verkehrshaus has exhibits dedicated to cars, trains, planes, boats, spacecraft - really anything to do with things that move. In addition to the regular exhibits, the Verkehrshaus is also home to an IMAX theatre with the largest screen in Switzerland, Planetarium and the Swiss Chocolate Adventure (all at an additional cost to museum entry).
You can spend the entire day at the Verkehrshaus and still not see it all, so decide if you want to see a little bit of everything or deep dive into a topic or two.
On our most recent visit we spent the majority of our time in this exhibit. The Boy tried his hand at being an air traffic controller, we spelled our names in morse code, and flew our planes from Zurich to Geneva (not until we had checked the luggage for suspicious packages). The ceiling of the large hall is filled with more than 30 historic aircraft and is also where you’ll find an airplane and helicopter simulator.
Before leaving the aircraft hall, head upstairs to learn all about space and space exploration. The kids loved imagining they were in the international space station, experienced what it was like how to move things around while wearing spacesuit gloves and discovered what astronauts eat. Models of various spacecraft are also on display.
From ancient dugout canoes to more modern paddle steamers, water has played an important transportation role in Switzerland over the years. You can view original boats like the Rhine Ferry or learn about the history of navigation in Naturama. Our kids could have sat for hours watching the built-to-scale model of a lock with its boats moving around.
Switzerland is not just famous for its train system, but also for its cable cars that take us all safely to the top of its many mountain peaks. Learn about the history of cable cars and all about the wire rope that keeps the cable cars moving along. Don’t miss the Tourism Flipper, designed by artist Charles Morgan in 1984—a unique marble run representing all the different parts of tourism here in Switzerland. But a word of warning, it’s mesmerizing and once they start watching, it’s hard to drag the kids away!
The Road Transport Hall is located inside the building with all the road signs and has plenty to see. Check out the last Swiss Automobile manufacturer “Monteverdi”, the history of bicycles, and of Swiss racing cars. Step into the arena and join your fellow museum goers to vote for the vehicle you want to know more about. The impressive Display Store presents different modes of road transport from 1860 to 2005 on a huge automated parking system. The kids all shouted for joy when the old post sled was slid out of its display case by forklift and brought forward for the crowd to inspect. Little Z and I also enjoyed getting lost inside the maze of mirrors which was actually an exhibit designed to demonstrate how alcohol affects your ability to operate a vehicle. If you need a breather, hang out with the kids at the car exhibt.
For example: If you need a breather there is a fabulous station with loads of toy cars where kids, especially the younger ones, will enjoy making them fly down the various ramps. Stools provided for parents while the kids play and play.
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. We didn’t spend a lot of time in this section this time around, but had a quick look at the model of the famous Gotthard railway.
During the warmer months, 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 can be the highlight of the visit!
For aspiring builders, check out the road construction area where they can get their hands dirty. Put on a hard hat and get to work on an excavator or use a 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 outside area is where you’ll also find a traffic garden created by the Swiss Touring Association (TCS) to teach kids all about Swiss road rules. Younger kids age 3-5 are in the mini group, 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 even get a TCS drivers license.
OTHER THINGS NOT TO MISS
The Verkehrshaus is about more than just things that move.
Slip some funky red slippers with a Swiss cross over your street shoes and enjoy Switzerland up close and personal as you take a walk over an 1:20,000 aerial photo of Switzerland. You will find the map at the boating exhibit and is included in the price of museum entry. Our kids went straight to looking for our house on the map!
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 the action. There is also a 3D camera as well as an interactive section where you can use the provided iPads to bring your own drawings to life. The kids especially loved the interactive virtual reality goggles. Located upstairs from the main entrance it is also included in the price of museum entry, or you can choose to visit this particular visit on its own for a reduced entrance fee.
SWISS CHOCOLATE ADVENTURE
Reserve ahead of time if you are interested in taking a trip through the Swiss Chocolate Adventure, experiencing chocolate through all your senses. Start with the harvest of the cocoa bean to the final production of the finished Swiss chocolate product. The adventure begins with guests sitting inside a chocolate praline where they are transported around the different stages of the chocolate making 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 Planetarium, so much so the boy got a voucher to visit for his last 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, so check the programme ahead of time and make sure you book tickets before you visit.
In the past we’ve even seen concerts on the planetarium screen. The shows run in the German language, but you can 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 2D and 3D. The main language is German, but headphones are also on offer for this attraction if you want to hear the film in another language. Check out the programme ahead of time.
They also often live-stream Opera live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, 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 Verkehrshaus is across the lake from the city centre of Luzern and is easily accessible with a 30 minute lakeside stroll. But what would a transport museum be without be accessible by a variety of transport possibilities?
TAKE THE BOAT
Take a 10 minute boat ride from Luzern and get off at the Verkehrshaus-Lido stop. Departures depends on the time of year, check the Lake Luzern website for actual departures.
TAKE THE BUS
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.
TAKE THE TRAIN
Trains run regularly from Luzern Main Station stopping at the train station just across the road. Take the S3 or the Voralpenexpress to the “Luzern Verkehrshaus” stop. Check the SBB website for timetable information.
Swiss Rail Pass holders: Your Swiss Rail Pass entitles you to 50% off the entry price.
TAKE THE CAR
For those coming by car, a large carpark can be found out front or just to the side of the Verkehrshaus (opposite the Lido along the lake).
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 (and posh!) 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 allows for unlimited entrances 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 in the vicinity of the Verkehrshaus. It is a great place to swim and enjoy a picnic as the sun sets in the summer months, but the Kisok is alsoopen daily during the winter months and can be an ideal place to catch a quick lunch.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
This is an extremely popular family friendly destination, so during the school holidays it pays to get there early. Insider tip: February is a great time of year to visit, we nearly had the place to ourselves.
If you want to visit the planetarium, chocolate adventure or IMAX theatre, it’s best to book in advance, or if you want to be more spontaneous, immediately upon 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 or Swiss Museum pass, you receive a 50% discount on entry.
Video of our visit to the Verkehrshaus