Whether you are interested in railroad history and vintage trains or just a big Thomas fan, there is something to see and do for all ages at Het Spoorwegmuseum (The Railroad Museum) in Utrecht.

On a day when the weather wasn’t too inspiring for outdoor play, we took our 16-month-old boy to Het Spoorwegmuseum in Utrecht.

Indoors at the Spoorwegmuseum

The museum is located in one of the prettier parts of Utrecht, close to the Utrecht museum. The entrance is a vintage train station beautifully ornate and reminiscent of the art deco era.

Note: Don’t let the entrance building fool you; it’s just the lobby of the museum. Work your way towards the back doors to a set of outdoor tracks where a few vintage train cars await. Go past the train cars and across the working tracks and you will come to where all the action is.

The main part of the museum consists of a HUGE room with 20 varieties of old timey trains. Some you can board to have a look inside, but most are closed off. They are neatly arranged in rows where our happy toddler had a blast meandering in and out of, inspecting anything that was at his level. There are 4 interactive exhibits within the main building, some of them resembling rides/theme park experiences. 

Beyond the trains, there is the obligatory café and museum shop. They are nothing to shout about, but they are a nice space to take a snack break. The shop is chock-full of Thomas memorabilia, so if your children are Thomas fans, they will be in heaven!

The Outdoor Area

Outside is the kiddy train – a favorite for the small visitors. My wee one was a bit too young to ride; children over 3 and under 12 years old are allowed on board. The train takes a small loop that circumnavigates a small lake and play area. There are slides and tubes the kids can climb in and on while they wait for the next train. There is about a 15-minute wait between rides.

Further outdoors there are more trains to explore and real tracks to walk on. We spent quite some time out there just collecting stones to throw in the lake! There’s also a water play area for those elusive warm summer days and a lovely picnic area.

There are some interactive exhibits for older kids that we didn’t visit with our toddler. I suppose they are well worth it judging from the happy faces coming out of the auditoriums.

Practical info

  • You can buy your tickets at the door or online (website in Dutch); Museumkaart members and kids under four get in for free!
  • Plan on spending 2-3 hours at the museum. 
  • Toilet facilities inside the main building are very child/baby friendly. Be warned that the toilets in the outer/entrance building are not so. 
  • You can easily drive to the museum (there is a 200 spot parking lot just outside the building) or take the train directly to the museum (with a transfer at Utrecht Centraal). 
  • Don’t miss the kid’s quest/game available at the information desk in the main building. Also, download the free museum app (in Dutch) for more fun.

There is something to be enjoyed by everyone. Overall I give this museum two thumbs up for toddlers and older kids.

Note: This review was originally written by Silvia Chirinos and updated by Donna Bardsley.

photo credit: bbusschots via photo pin cc

Silvia Chirinos