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Swissminiatur: Shrinking the Best of Switzerland

Last Updated on September 29, 2023 by Darla Uhl

Although the majority of museums are indoors, there are a few that are also located outside as well. One of these museums is the Swissminiatur. Located a few kilometers away from Lugano, Swissminiatur is an open-air museum in Melide that showcases miniature models built over the years. This article is all about Swissminiatur in Melide and how wonderful it is to discover beautiful places in Switzerland through such a museum.

Image of Swissminiatur by
Image of Swissminiatur by

Overview: Swissminiatur

Image of Swissminiatur by
Image of Swissminiatur by

In 1959, Swissminiatur opened its doors to the public with the help of Pierre Vuigner, a visionary and passionate entrepreneur who was instrumental in creating the institution. An open-air museum, Swissminiatur is located near Lugano in Melide, Switzerland. Swissminiatur has been a resounding success since it was opened. It has been visited by many people, including Italians, who were here on weekends and public holidays.

The museum houses models of famous Swiss buildings and transportation, including the Lausanne Cathedral, Saint Pierre Cathedral, and Kleine Scheidegg Train Station. They also have replicas of pretty villages such as Stein am Rhein and Appenzell. Whether you are a child or an adult, this park is a great place to visit to see miniature replicas of Switzerland’s famous sights.

There is some similarity between Swissminiatur and the Swiss Open-Air Museum at Ballenberg, where you can see many structures under the open sky, as opposed to being confined within a building. However, unlike Ballenberg, the focus is more on well-known landmarks and not so much on the daily life of a farmer. A further difference between Swissminiatur and Ballenberg is that Swissminiatur displays miniature replicas of these landmarks, whereas Ballenberg presents the original structure rather than just a copy of it.

Swissminiatur: What to Expect

Image of Federal Parliament Bern by

Switzerland’s most famous destinations will be represented by miniature models, as you might expect. The collection currently consists of 129 models built at a scale of 1:25.

You’ll see mountains, trains, cable cars, castles, cathedrals, villages, and landmarks. To put it simply, you will be able to see a lot of the best that Switzerland has to offer, but undoubtedly not everything. The models are highly detailed and authentic, with pathways for walking and plants for decoration. Visitors can see all the interesting models up close as they explore the park.

Highlights of Swissminiatur

Image of Kleine Scheidegg Model at Swissminiatur by
Image of Kleine Scheidegg Model at Swissminiatur by

Among the highlights of Swissminiatur are the following:

Historical BuildingsMountains, Trains, Cable CarsTowns or Villages
Lausanne CathedralKleine Scheidegg StationStein am Rhein Square
Avenches AmpitheaterTitlis RotairHeidi Village
Basel MinsterGrindelwald-Männlichen Cable CarAppenzell Main Street
Federal Parliament BernGemsstock Cable CarPiazza Grande Locarno
Chillon CastleSurlej-Silvaplana-Corvatsch Cable CarBremgarten
Highlights of Swissminiatur

Shop, Games, and Workshops at Swissminiatur

Apart from miniatures, they also have arcade games. The machines are mostly coin-operated and you have to handle them yourself. When we were there, there was no employee present to help start and stop those machines. But these were easy to operate and did not pose any problems whatsoever. It’s also possible to use water boats.

The museum’s shop is also available to those who wish to take something home to remember Switzerland or Swiss Miniatur. Swissminiatur also offers workshops on selected dates throughout the year.

How to Get to Swissminiatur

Image of Avenches Amphitheater at Swissminiatur by

Swissminiatur is located in Melide, only a short drive from Lugano. There is ample parking available near Swissminiatur itself.

You can also take the train or even a boat to get there. It is easier to get the train because the boat does not run regularly. Swissminiatur is only a 5-minute walk from Melide Train Station. In any case, should you wish to take the boat, you can depart from the boat station at Lugano or Lugano Paradiso.

6815 Melide
BusMelide, Stazione

Swissminiatur is open starting mid-March until the beginning of November.

Final Thoughts: Swissminiatur

Image of Swissminiatur by
Image of Grossmünster in Zurich at Swissminiatur by

One pleasant thing about seeing so many structures in one place is that you can view models from all over Switzerland. And then you can decide which ones you’d like to see in real life. Swissminiatur offers the opportunity to experience miniature Switzerland in the comfort of one location.

Children and adults alike will enjoy a fun and exciting time at Swissminiatur. This open-air museum has miniatures of famous Swiss buildings and landscapes and is well worth a visit. It’s awesome and I hope you enjoy it.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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