Whether you call it autumn or fall, the season starting from mid-September to mid-December is a stunningly beautiful time in Switzerland.
Although I’m reluctant to say goodbye to the warm 30 degree summer days of gelatos, swimming in the lake and 10pm sunsets…Another part of me is excited to get out my knit sweaters and scarves, don on some boots and head out to enjoy the magical season of autumn!
This is the period when you wake up to cool, misty mornings, the mood in the air is slower, calmer…and the leaves start changing from green to vibrant hues of orange and gold.
If you are thinking of visiting the Rhine Falls in autumn from nearby Zurich, Schaffhausen or anywhere else in Europe, you’re in the right place! As part of Destination 6 of my Grand Tour of Switzerland: I will be sharing with you all the important tips and information you’ll need to enjoy a memorable trip to the Rhine Falls 🙂
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Why is the Rhine Falls Famous?
Well, because it happens to be LARGEST waterfall in Europe! There’s already a fair share of mountain sceneries in Switzerland, the sounds and sights of the roaring waters are very unique, unlike any other natural sceneries in Switzerland and truly a feast for the eyes!
Where is the Rhine Falls Located?
The Rhine Falls is situated on the Upper Rhine Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Laufen-Uhwiesen in northern Switzerland, close to the town of Schaffhausen.
It is also just 45 minutes away from Zurich by train, making it a very feasible addition to your Swiss itinerary if you are flying in from Zurich international airport.
How Big is the Rhine Falls?
At 150m wide and 23m high, the Rhine Falls are remarkably massive. During summer, its flow rate can gush up to 600,000 liters per second in summer! It gradually reduces to about 250,000 liter per second in winter.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Rhine Falls?
In my opinion, while any season is great, summer from July to August in particular is the best time to see the Rhine Falls in its full magnitude, since the average flow rates nearly double during this season.
TIP: If you have time, stay until night after sunset, when the rocks in the middle of the Rhine Falls are illuminated! Golden hour also happens to be an extremely beautiful time to capture great pictures of the Rhine Falls, so hopefully that gives you enough reason to linger long enough to catch the bewitching spectacle.
You can check for the timings of the illumination here.
BONUS: Every July 31st on the eve of Swiss National Day at 9.45pm, a massive fireworks display is held above the Rhine Falls, illuminating the skylines with stunning firework bouquets and lighting effects. The last spectacular fireworks display I’d seen was at the Fête de Genève in 2019, and I think this one at the RhineFalls is similar in size and grandiosity.
Unfortunately this event has been cancelled last year and this year due to Covid-19 measures, but I hope they will resume it in 2022!
How do I get to the Rhine Falls?
If you are coming to the Rhine Falls by car, you can find parking at the carparks on both side of the river banks.
The northern bank (Schlössli Wörth) car park costs CHF 5 for the first hour and CHF 2 for each additional hour, while the southern bank (Laufen Castle) provides free parking.
If you are coming by train:
- To Southern river bank (Schloss Laufen): Take to the SBB train station «Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall»
- To Northern river bank: Take to the SBB train station «Neuhausen Rheinfall». Once you get out from the train, turn right and walk towards the metal lift that will brings you down to the promenade.
Getting Around the Rhine Falls
There are two sides to the Rhine Falls:
Neuhausen am Rhine Falls (Northern Bank)
Neuhausen am Rhine Falls is a beautiful, long promenade along the Rhine river. There are many public benches along the river bank, where you can just chill, sit and admire the waterfalls from a distance.
Unlike the Southern bank, this area is 24/7 publicly accessible, so you don’t have to pay an entrance fee.
If you are intending to take a boat tour, take note that this is also the starting point to get to Schlössli Wörth where the boats depart.
Schloss Laufen am Rhinefall (Southern Bank)
The star attraction is the Schloss Laufen. if you really want to experience the full force of the Rhine Falls, I’d say the Southern Bank is definitely the more worthwhile choice: It is much closer to the waterfalls, and from the castle, there are multiple terraces viewing platforms that allows you to view the Rhine Falls from different vantage points.
To get to Schloss Laufen am Rhinefall, take a 10 minute walk across the train bridge that connects the two banks. To enter, there is an entrance fee of 5CHF. Dogs are allowed.
Once you are inside the castle, go down the Belvedere trail. there are three different platforms where you can look out from: Only the Belvedere platform is wheelchair and stroller accessible via the paranomic glass lift, while the Känzeli and Fischnetz can only be reached by foot. This is about as close as you can get to the waterfalls!
I look like I’m gonna be swept away by a tsunami and still I’m so thrilled about it!
Grand Tour of Switzerland Sign: you will find it after climbing back up the stairs above the platform!
Covid Certificate obligation in all indoor rooms on the premises
Valid Covid-Certificate (CH) or EU-Covid-Certificate, for all persons over 16 years.
The certificate can be presented in an app or in paper form.
Exceptions: Shop and Take-away: Mask compulsory.
Dogs are permitted
Payment is accepted in euros throughout the Castle site
(except at the ticket machines)
Access 24 hours a day to the viewing platforms
ITINERARY TIP: I would recommend arriving first at Schloss Laufen am Rhein Falls, then walking across to Neuhausen Rheinfall, have lunch or dinner, then leaving by train from the station to Schaffhausen.
Boat Tours to the Rhine Falls
If you want to get up and close to the Rhine Falls, or to climb up to the middle rocks: taking a boat tour is your best option.
There are 4 different boat tour options from April to October. The opening times are as follow:
April and October – 11:00am – 17:005pm
May and September – 10:00am – 18:00pm
June, July, and August – 09:30am – 18:30pm
The boats departs from the docking platform at Schlössli Wörth. To get there, go to Neuhausen am RheinFalls (the Northern Bank) and walk down the promenade towards the castle.
Here are more detailed information about each boat tour option:
|Yellow||Stops at the Rheinfallfelsen where you can get off and climb to the top of the rock.||CHF20|
|Red||Fastest way to cross between the two banks of the River Rhine, transporting you from North to South (vice versa)||CHF 3 |
|Blue||Experience the power of water as the boat takes you as close as possible to the mighty water masses. Get ready to be soaked wet!||CHF 5 (Return)|
|Pink||longer audio guide tour which goesa few hundred metres downstream, fascinating information about the Rhine Falls, their history and the surrounding area. Audio available in multiple languages.||CHF 11|
Here’s a sneak on how the views are like from the top of the rocks!
Where to Eat around the Rhine Falls
Schloss Worth (Neuhausen)
This is the same castle where you board the boats for the boat tours. It is situated right beside the waterfalls so you can enjoy the impressive views while having your lunch. Yes, the restaurant is pricey here… but then so is Switzerland!
Food Area outside Schloss Laufen
If you are looking for a (slightly) cheaper option, you can head to the food area outside Schloss Laufen. This is a self-service area where they sell assorted hot and cold food, beverages and dessert. Selections are typical swiss-german food e.g. Schnitzel or Fish fillet with fries. There is also an asian pop-up selling fried noodles, rice and thai food outside. We reached the Southern bank by noon so we settled for a quick lunch here.
Other Places and Activities to Visit Around the Rhine Falls
Wii Express Wine Tour
With the start of autumn season, the vineyards are heavy with grapes and the fields are exploding with fall colours. We went on a wine tour around the Chläggi wine-growing region on a magic red school bus!
The bus stopped us in the middle of the scenic vineyards and we spent a good 1.5 hours sampling four types of wine by the wine producer, Domain Bosch. This is such a unique experience for the fall season!
Language: Swiss-German (You might want to take note of this if you are an international tourist.We could not understand the language spoken by the guide, but luckily there were 2 other locals who were with us on the tour and translated for us! )
45 CHF per pax, including transportation and wine tasting
Note: Valid COVID Certificate required before boarding
Stein am Rhein
At the point where Lake Constance becomes River Rhine lies a cute little town (one of the prettiest in Switzerland) called Stein am Rhein. This unique gem is perfect daytrip idea to combine with your trip to the Rhine Falls!
The Rathausplatz is the main attraction of the tiny town, with visitors flocking from all around the world to see the intricate, colourful wall paintings and half-timbered houses. The oriel windows especially reminds me of our last trip to St Gallen!
Other parts of the town were equally beautiful as well, and it was fun simply wander through cobblestone streets and see what I could find! This was when I spotted that even the drain covers are decorated by the facade of the town’s patron saint!
St George’s Abbey Museum
To have an inkling of how Stein Am Rhein was like during the Middle Ages, head to the St. George’s Abbey Museum, one of the best preserved medieval abbeys in Switzerland and now a great site of history, art and culture.
This former Benedictine monastery was founded in the 11th century, when the Emperor Henry II moved it from its previous location to Stein am Rhein for strategic purposes.
Inside, you will find cloister buildings with a chapter house, the winter and summer refectory, the cloister, a dormitory, the abbots’ parlours, a celebration hall and the abbot’s chapel.
Did you know? The St George’s Abbey was the setting of one of the most expensive Swiss film productions, Zwingli! The movie was an epoch about the most important reformer in the Swiss Protestant Reformation by the same name, Zwingli. The ancient yet pristine conditions of the abbey was perfect for re-creating a credible, medieval setting of Zurich, so the producers didn’t have to create expensive sets from scratch.
Schaffhausen is the closest town to the Rhine Falls. This pretty compact town and doesn’t take long to explore, so if you are spending your first day at the Rhine Falls, consider coming either Stein am Rhein or here on the second day (or combine both!)
The car-free Old Town is worth exploring with fountain statues, intricately painted facades, decorated oriel windows nd stone clock towers.
This 16th century fortress is the symbol of Schaffhausen. Perched on a hill overlooking the Old Town, there are steep steps to climb but the sweeping views at the top makes it so entirely worth it!
The Munot is surrounded by a small vineyard, and a moat which is now emptied of water and home to a group of fallow deer. Fun fact: the male stag is always named after the city’s current mayor! The current mayor is called Peter now, so that’s the name of the stag, but wonder what’s gonna happen in future….When there is a female mayor?
I had the unique opportunity to meet Carola, who happens to be the very first watchwoman of the Munot Fortress! She lives in this huge fortification and i think that’s about the coolest place you can reside in the world!
As part of her job, she maintains the upkeep of the fortress, tends to the deers in the moat, and also conduct tours around the fortress for visitors during summer period.
Her most important task? Going up to the Munotglöggi (the tower bell above the fortress) every day at 9pm and ringing it manuallly for 5 mintues!
During the Middle Ages, the ringing of the bell at night announced the closing of the city gates, or the closing for the bars in the city taverns. That’s why Carola has to extremely precise on the timing, because if rung at a different time, it sends to the city inhabitants a wrong signal: a warning about a fire or enemies approaching!
Where to Eat in Schaffhausen: Gutërhof
Located right by the banks of the river Rhine, this place is formerly a huge salt warehouse that’s has since been restored and is now a restaurant, café, cocktail bar and lounge. A romantic setting for dining by the river (especially during warmer days) and to soak in the views.
Dinner was splendid here (although I still found the portions abit small), and at 8pm, there is also a live band performance.
Where to Stay when visiting the Rhine Falls
Schaffhausen is a good base point for accommodation, since it is just a stone’s throw away from the Rhine Falls.
We stayed at Best Western Plus Hotel Bahnhof in Schaffhausen for our weekend, and it is excellently located literally right across the road from the train station! Perfect for hopping onto trains for daytrips.
The Old town of Schaffhausen and the Rhine river is also just 200m away from the hotel, so it’s easy for you too if you decide to spend half a day exploring the quarter.
We were delighted to be staying in the hotel’s single suite and it was huge, even with a walk-in wardrobe! I also had a lovely time soaking in the warm bathtub. I do have a bath-tub at home….but I like to save this ritual as a pampering treat for myself on vacations :B
Breakfast buffet was included for our stay and it was a great spread of continental selection, plenty of food to fuel us for our activities for the day.
Here’s the bottom line: The Rhine Falls is gorgeous, both north, south and the region beyond!
If you’re looking for a place where you’ll be mindblown by nature, where you’ll fill up your memory card with photos and a place that you’ll dream about for years to come, then THIS IS IT!
This post is part of my Grand Tour of Switzerland series. If you’d enjoyed this post, check out my other Swiss itineraries!
St Gallen and Appenzell, Switzerland: Top 10 Things to See + Where to Eat and Stay
I also share everything about myself and Swiss travels on Instagram, so be sure to follow along there!
Until next time!