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Ice Age Experience (Erlebnis Eiszeit) Open Air Museum

Updated: Feb 14

Open Air Museum dedicated to the Ice Age. Balwil (Luzerne, Switzerland).

The "it" factor

Munggeweg Amden hike Amdo Mugg Groundhog

What makes it special:

What needs to be considered:

  • Plan for a 25-minute walk as there's no on-site parking or public transport available.

  • The site is quite small. If you're not a local, consider pairing your visit with the Ramseier Erlebniswelt for a longer family adventure.

Don't feel like reading? Watch a video instead!

The fun factor

We stumbled upon the Erlebnis Eiszeit (Experience Ice Age) open air museum while searching for family-friendly destinations, and it turned out to be a delightful hidden gem. We were genuinely impressed by its cool atmosphere and immersive experience, especially considering it's completely free to visit.

At the Erlebnis Eiszeit, you'll meet the Mammoths, explore how glaciers shaped our landscapes and journey into the world of Neanderthals during the Ice Age. This engaging adventure is made possible through a collaboration between Lucerne Cantonal Archeology and Lötscher Kies + Beton AG, with support from many others.

Keep in mind, the site is relatively small—we spent around 2 hours there, but can be walked through in 15 minutes—and requires a 20-minute walk if you arrive by car since there's no nearby parking. However, the walk itself can be enjoyable, and we found the entire experience well worth it. We recommend it, especially if you're in the area. Additionally, you can combine your visit with the Ramseier Experience World, just a 20-minute drive away, for even more family fun.

Here are our top 5 Erlebnis Eiszeit experiences, with a fun factor:

1. Meet the mammoths

For our four-year-old, the highlight of the visit was definitely the mammoth statue. We were greeted by a large one near the entrance, which our child was thrilled to see, and there were several mammoth accents ones scattered throughout the park. We even found a flyer that explained the story of mammoths and elephants, including a clever trick to tell the difference between Asian and African elephants (hint: it has to do with the size of their ears). It was a fun and educational experience for the whole family!

2. Uncover the secret word

Just beside the towering Mammoth statue, you'll find a map with an exciting quest awaiting you. Your task? Arrange your four travel destinations in the correct chronological order and jot down the corresponding code letters below. With the correct code word, you'll earn a stamp for your time travel pass. Be sure to check the time travel suitcase in the cave for your stamp!

3. Step into the past

Imagine this: 85,000 years ago, right where we stood at the Experience Ice Age open air museum, mammoths roamed freely alongside Neanderthals and other ancient creatures. It's mind-blowing to consider that this spot was once their home. Archaeologists have even discovered mammoth tusks and other artifacts here, bringing that ancient world to life. As we strolled along the skywalk, overlooking the gravel pit, it sparked so many imaginative games and fascinating conversations among us. It's incredible to think about the history beneath our feet and the stories it holds.

4. Become an archeologist

Another highlight for the kids was the station where they could grab digging tools and unleash their inner archaeologist. Our toddler was particularly thrilled to don protective goggles and attempt to break stones with a hammer and nail—with a little help from us, of course!

5. Dive into stones

True to any excellent archaeological site, there was a diverse array of stones from various locations and areas. Each stone was accompanied by a map, description, and accessible audio and visuals via QR code. The best part? All the stones were touchable, creating an engaging and stress-free interactive display for both kids and parents alike. It was a hands-on learning experience that made history come alive right before our eyes.

The fitness factor

The site itself is relatively small and doesn't require any particular fitness level. You can easily walk through the entire area in about 15 minutes if you don't stop at the various stations and walk at a normal pace.

However, to reach the site from the train station or car park, you'll need to walk for about 25 minutes (approximately 1.6 km each way). The walk is completely flat, starting on an asphalt road, then passing by horse stables and cows before continuing along a field road. We found that this walk truly adds to the experience, making it more of an event and allowing us to soak in the surroundings.

The path is off-road stroller-friendly, so families with young children can easily navigate it. Overall, the journey to the site enhances the adventure and sets the stage for an enjoyable outing for all.

The food factor

One of the highlights of our visit was the picnic area, complete with a large table, benches, a firepit, and plenty of wood available for use. Despite it being a sunny but chilly January day, we decided to bring along some sausages just in case, though we initially thought it might be a bit too cold to barbeque. To our delight, it turned out to be a fantastic idea!

As an added bonus, there's a little digger nearby that kids can play with. A tip for fellow visitors: bring along some kids' shovels. We noticed some families had brought their own, and their kids were happily digging away next to the digger. Our 4-year-old was a bit disappointed that she didn't have one, so we had to get creative and fashion some makeshift shovels from stones and sticks. It added to the fun and spontaneity of the experience!

The value factor

  • Entrance is free, and if you'd like to support, you can contribute via TWINT.

  • There's no staff on-site, but we were impressed by how well-organized and well-maintained everything was. It truly felt like walking into a place that is cared for and respected by its visitors.

  • Just note, the area isn't very large, but it's still a great place to explore and enjoy.

Ice Age Experience (Erlebnis Eiszeit) practical info

  • Address: Unterhöhe, 6275 Ballwil

  • Parking address: 6274 Eschenbach (LU) Train Station

  • Arrival by public transport: Take the train to the Eschenbach LU station

  • How to get there: It is a c. 25 minutes (1.7 km) easy walk. Ignore the Google Maps route. Instead, follow the yellow signs to Balwil, then continue following the yellow signs for walking. You'll pass through the town, then along the road, eventually reaching a field. Once there, you'll see a large fence—that's the Erlebnis Eiszeit. Follow the tiny "Eingang" sign to reach the entrance. More info & map here.


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