The Dutch National Railway Museum (Spoorwegmuseum) is located at Utrecht Maliebaan, just to the east of Utrecht centre. It is one the city’s most renowned museums and makes for a great day out – especially for kids and of course any rail enthusiasts.
Utrecht Maliebaan is a semi-closed station in Utrecht originally dating back to the 19th century. It is possible to reach Maliebaan station by an hourly daytime train service from Utrecht Central, which mainly accommodates museum visitors.
Maliebaan has hosted the railway museum since 1954 and during 2002-2005 the station and museum underwent a major renovation. Today the restored main station hall is adorned with chandeliers and lavishly decorated in a charming late 19th century style.
Around the station hall there are a number of period waiting rooms – 1st, 2nd and 3rd class, the plush Royal waiting room and a dining room. These are used as function rooms, available for events and private hire.
To reach the museum step outside onto the platform and head right. You will pass an authentic old fashioned barber shop – you may be lucky on rare occasion to see the barber in action giving a shave. Cross over the rail tracks to enter the main exhibition area.
The museum is divided into the following sections:
1. The Great Discovery (De Grote Ontdekking) – Take a short but fascinating audio tour (Dutch, English or German) around the beginnings of the steam age in the Netherlands. The first railway line was Amsterdam-Haarlem which opened in 1839 using De Arend steam locomotive.
2. Trip of Your Dreams (Droomreizen) – Theatre show where you can discover how the well-to-do from the 19th century travelled in style by railway – such as taking a trip on the Orient Express from Paris to Constantinople (Istanbul). The show is in Dutch but can still be enjoyed by non-speakers.
There is a superb replica model of Amsterdam Central Station from 1889 on display.
3. Steel Monsters (Stalen Monsters) – A mechanical ride (max 4 persons per car) which takes you through the dark with the Gommers family, 3 generations who worked on the railways. You will experience close encounters with some giant steam trains. The narration is in Dutch only and the ride itself is a little tame.
4. Trains Through Time (Treinen door de Tijd) – Large exhibition hall which houses a comprehensive collection of old locomotives and carriages – from steam trains (19th century/early 20th century) to a variety of electric and diesel units from the 20th century. There is also various railway memorabilia on show and an extensive collection of model trains.
5. Trial by Fire (De Vuurproef) – An audio-visual ride suitable for those 12 and over. Narrated by Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, you are taken on a journey through 2 centuries of rail travel.
6. Techlab – This is a hands-on exhibit which looks at how railways actually work.
The Versteeg’s Children permanent presentation is about the Dutch railway during World War 2.
Heading outside there is a large area around the station to explore. You can climb up the steps of the signal box and get a fine view of the museum.
There is also a children’s train ride (Jumbo Express) and play area.
There are café-restaurant facilities and a museum shop which sells many railway themed items and toys.
Overall the Spoorwegmuseum is an enjoyable place to spend a few hours for both young and old.
It is preferable to pre-book a ticket and timeslot online in advance.
Spoorwegmuseum Essential Info
|Opening Times||Daily 1000-1700.|
|Admission Prices (2021)||€17.50. FREE entry to children 0-3 and Museumkaart holders. Guided tours can be arranged for a maximum group size of 20 people.|
|Getting There||Special trains from Utrecht Central (platform 1) to Utrecht Maliebaan run hourly from around 0930 to 1630. The journey takes about 17 minutes and the day return fare is €4.80. If coming by rail from Amsterdam (or any other Dutch city) then just buy a ticket directly to Utrecht Maliebaan and change at Utrecht Central. Don’t forget to check-out your ticket at Utrecht Maliebaan.|
Alternatively from Utrecht Central there is U-OV bus line 8 to Maliebaan or take a pleasant 20 minute walk through the historic old centre of Utrecht.
A paid car parking facility (€9.50) with 200 spots at the museum is also available, although it fills quickly on busy days.
Spoorwegmuseum, Maliebaanstation, 3581 XW Utrecht
T: +31(0)30 230 6206, spoorwegmuseum.nl
Last update 18 October 2021, first published in 2013.