If you’re looking for the world’s largest model railway, you will find it here in Speicherstadt, Hamburg. A large stretch of warehouses by the docks of the river Elbe. This is home to Miniatur Wunderland, where the best things really do come in small packages.
The entrance to Miniatur Wunderland is easily missed in the shadow of The Hamburg Dungeon. Walking up a few flights of stairs, almost as if you are walking into an apartment block, the signs stated that the entrance was currently under renovation.
An area to purchase tickets sits alongside a cloakroom, where you can leave items for €0.50. A stroll through the gift shop gives a flavour of what is to come. Many t-shirts, hats and souvenirs can be found here alongside miniature train carriages, planes and keyrings.
The exhibits begin with historic scenes made in miniature. The striking detail and effort that has gone into these designs is astounding. A model of The French Renaissance shows characters in a market square with each individual vegetable defined on the market stalls, this must have taken an incredible amount of time.
That is just a taster of what’s to come. The next display area features model railways from across the world. The mood lighting changes in the room to reflect the scenes both in the day, at dusk and at night. My jaw was permanently on the floor throughout.
Predictably, this attraction brings out families. Children were spellbound by the scenery from all corners of the globe. A section dedicated to the city of Hamburg had everything from the main station to a live football match going on at The Volksparkstadion.
Stadiums were arguably my favourite part of the whole works in this museum. Each and every spectator had been handcrafted along with soundtracks playing to create the true atmosphere of a rock concert or football match. This is skill on an extreme scale.
The Swiss railway section of the exhibit is huge. The whole mountainside continues down two floors of the museum with multiple trains on an impossible length of track. The detail of the cable cars, ice skaters and city life continuing around the whole display is mind blowingly good.
Other railway exhibits in the upstairs section cover Las Vegas, Miami Beach, Norway, Sweden and other parts of Germany. The ambition of the creative force behind Miniatur Wunderland seems to be to create the whole world in miniature. Good luck to them, I say.
Just before going downstairs, there is a real sight to behold. An actual functioning airport modelled on Knuffingen Airport between Germany and Switzerland. Here, you can actually witness planes taking off and landing with realistic sounds coming from the jets. Unbelievable, especially with the day and night lighting.
Downstairs, you can follow the route of the Swiss railway going through the mountains from the upper levels to the base level. The landscapes also change as Italy now comes into view. Full displays of The Amalfi Coast, Rome, Tuscany and Venice are all beautifully crafted. As a traveller whos journeys have included these places, it really brought a smile to my face.
There are displays that are a work in progress such as Provence and London but the work achieved here so far is mesmerising. The skilled hands that have made these displays come to life deserve tremendous plaudits. You cannot leave Hamburg without stopping here.
The bistro at the end of the tour serves the traditional German staple, currywurst. There are other options but many go for this popular sausage in curry sauce with fries meal, and why not?
Prices in the bistro are fair and the seating arrangements are a lovely touch – exactly the same as on a train. Along with the quirky setting, the food was actually very tasty and at a fair price.
A visit to Miniatur Wunderland will cost you just €15 for an adult ticket with child tickets coming in at €11 for school children over 16 and €7.50 for under 16’s. Outstanding value for an attraction such as this.
It’s hard to find the superlatives to express just how good spending time at Miniatur Wunderland really is. I have nothing but admiration for the skill, effort and vision of the people behind these incredible displays. Do yourself a favour and catch a flight to Hamburg.
Opening Times: Daily 0930-1800
Nearest U-bahn Station: Baumwall
*Our visit to Miniatur Wonderland was through media accreditation