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Families visiting Lugano, Switzerland, can take in the top sights of the country’s other regions — and feel like Gulliver while doing so — at Swissminiatur. This attraction on the shores of Lake Lugano, in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, sits on 3½ acres and features 120 miniature models of locations all over the country re-created in amazing detail.
Swissminiatur opened in 1959, and it has retained that classic, midcentury feel. It claims to feature “the most important buildings, monuments and forms of transport in Switzerland,” all built to scale. The grounds themselves are lovely, with 1,500 plants and 15,000 flowers throughout. Plus, an 11,000-foot-long railway with 18 different model trains runs through the attraction.
It’s impossible not to be charmed by the painstaking detail in each tableau. The model of the Jungfrau Railway — the train to the “top of Europe” — and the observatory at the peak captures the beauty of the snowy Alps, while Appenzell Main Street shows a street festival in a typical Swiss village complete with cows walking in a parade. There are cathedrals with amazing stained-glass re-creations, ornate castles and historic buildings.
“I know Swissminiatur well since I loved going there as a kid,” said Mirko Capodanno, manager of the Western U.S. for Switzerland Tourism and a native of Lugano. “It’s a local favorite, and families from across Switzerland go there to see ‘their’ part of the country in miniature, and maybe discover other spots they haven’t visited yet. It’s a place for the whole family.”
In addition to its models, Swissminiatur features coin-operated rides and games for kids. There is also a self-service restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating, featuring Swiss, Indian, Chinese and Halal cuisine.
Tickets can be purchased in person or online (for a discount). Admission is about $19 for adults and $12 for kids ages 6 to 15. Children under 6 are free.
Swissminiatur is the type of unique, local attraction that provides a delightful surprise for visitors. And it may just end up as a highlight of your client’s visit.