TRAVEL TIPS FOR A DAY TRIP TO RHINE FALLS
The Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen are a must-see in Switzerland. They are only 23 meters high, but with a width of over 150 meters, and up to 700’000 liters of water that fall over the rocks every second, the Rhine Falls are the biggest waterfall in Europe.
Actually, the Rhine Falls are between the towns Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Laufen-Uhwiesen but most people call it the Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen, so we will do that as well in this post. The Rhine Falls make a wonderful day trip from Zurich or Lucerne, but the town center of Schaffhausen is also charming and worth a visit.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.
TIPS FOR VISITING THE RHINE FALLS
If you plan to visit Rhine Falls, then this post will help you plan your Rhine Falls trip.
The Rhine Falls are located in the every north of Switzerland – close to the German border.
As mentioned in the beginning, the Rhine Falls are actually not on Schaffhausen but very close (about 3,5 km away). Neuhausen am Rheinfall (1 km) is the nearest village.
WHERE ARE THE RHINE FALLS
There are two entrances and each offers different activities and views of the Rhine Falls. If you have time you can and should see the Rhine Falls from both angles and if you ask me, I deeply believe it is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.
THE RHINE FALLS – FACTS
- Width of the Rhine Falls – 150 meters
- Height of the Rhine Falls – 23 meters
- Depth of the basin – 13 meters
- Age of the Rhine Falls – approx. 15’000 years
- The capacity of flow in summer – approx. 600’000 liters per second
- The capacity of flow in winter – approx. 250’000 liters per second
- The lowest capacity of flow – In 1921: 95’000 liters per second
- The greatest capacity of flow – In 1965, 1’250’000 liters per second
HISTORY OF RHINE FALLS
The history of the falls goes back several thousand years – however, I will keep it very short. Due to tectonic shifts in the Ice Age, the Rhine River was forced into a new riverbed over 15,000 years ago. The Rhine Falls came into being at the transition point where hard chalk turned into soft gravel.
LOCATION OF THE RHINE FALLS
The Rhine Falls are located in the very north of Switzerland – close to the German border. The falls are actually not in Schaffhausen but Neuhausen but it is known as the waterfalls in Schaffhausen.
HOW TO GET TO THE RHINE FALLS BY CAR
It depends on whether you want to visit the Northern banks of the Southern Banks of the Rhine Falls.
- Southern Bank (Laufen Castle): GPS address: Areal Schloss Laufen, 8447 Dachsen
- Northern Bank (Schlössli Wörth): GPS address: Rheinfallquai 32, 8212 Neuhausen am Rheinfall
- FROM BASEL ABOUT 2 HOURS
- FROM ZÜRICH ABOUT 1 HOUR
Walking from one car park to the other – Southern to Northern Bank – takes about 15 minutes.
HOW TO GET TO THE RHINE FALLS BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
The Rhine Falls are easily accessible by public transportation. You can get from many cities, like Zürich, to the Rhine Falls without changing or just a minimum of changing trains.
- Southern river bank (Schloss Laufen): SBB train station «Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall»
- Northern river bank (Schlössli Wörth): SBB train station «Neuhausen Rheinfall»
The train stations are close to the Rhine Falls (you can see them from the train already), and there is not much walking included.
HOW TO GET TO SCHAFFHAUSEN BY RHYFALL EXPRESS
A little train. the Rhyfall Express brings you to the Rhine Falls from several places close by. The ride starts/ends in Schaffhausen. One way takes about 25 minutes and a one-way ticket is around CHF 6 (CHF 10 for a return ticket), children (6-12 years) pay CHF 3,50 for one way.
- Operating hours: 1st May to 2nd October 2022 – Five times a day.
How to Visit the Rhine Falls
If you plan to visit the Rhine Falls, you can either use the “entry” Schloss Laufen (Site Dachsen/Zurich) or Schlössli Wörth (Site Neuhausen/Schaffhausen).
It will make a difference whether you visit from the southern or northern banks in regard of parking, entrance fee, and more. So you might want to think about how to see the Rhine Falls. I suggest visiting both sides of the Rhine Falls.
SOUTHERN BANKS OF SCHAFFHAUSEN – SCHLOSS LAUFEN (SITE DACHSEN / ZURICH)
I have visited Rhine Falls probably about five times. On my first trip, I decided to use the entry at Schloss Laufen. And here is what you need to know if you choose this entry.
- Parking is free
- There is an entrance fee of about 5CHF
- Dogs are permitted (and free)
- Wheel-chair friendly for the most part (there is a lift to get to the platform)
RESTAURANTS / SHOPS
There are some souvenir shops and cafes. and an older castle – Schloss Laufen. If you are hungry or thirsty, you will not have to worry. Of course, everything comes with the typical price tag, but you can also bring your own snacks and drinks.
SCHLOSS LAUFEN + HISTORAMA
On this site of the Rhine Falls, you can visit the castle and also see the historama – which is an interactive exhibition about the Rhine Falls. A visit is included in your ticket.
To get to the platform, you have to pass the castle. The highlight of the Rhine Falls is surely the platform’s view. This is why I suggest paying the entrance fee and using this entry. It is quite impressive because you get quite close to the waterfall.
NORTHERN BANKS OF RHINE FALLS: SCHLÖSSLI WÖRTH /SITE NEUHAUSEN / SCHAFFHAUSEN
Another option is to see the waterfalls from the northern banks. Schlössli Wörth is the other entrance – there is no entrance fee, but the parking fees are quite high.
- No entrance fee
- Parking fee (first 1 hour= 5€, each additional hour 2€)
MY TIP: Park your car at the southern shores for free and get on the viewing platform before doing a stroll to the northern banks.
RHINE FALLS BOAT RIDES/TOURS:
There are a number of Rhine Falls boat tour options available on this side of the Rhine Falls. Here are some popular ones:
- Rock tour: 30 minutes including climbing – the rock
- Rhine crossing: 3 minutes
- Short tour: 15 minutes
- Audioguide: 30 minutes
Hours of operation:
April + October (11 am to 5 pm); May + September (10 am to 6 pm); June, July, August (9:30 am to 6:30 pm)
I was with a dog, so I could not do the rock climbing boat cruise (the huge rock in the middle of the waterfalls), though it would have been my preferred choice. Instead, I did the 15-minute boat tour (about 6€), and it turned out that the heavy rain of the previous days was my luck because the waterfall was much more powerful than on my last trip.
I got actually also got scared about the people on the platform as it seemed they would be washed away by the water.
Check out this combined ticket – you have different activities for the Rhine Falls included.
There are plenty of other activities (soft rafting, canoeing, etc.) you can do. But with a dog that is easily scared and not well-behaved (so I could leave him alone), I was not free in my actions and just walked around a bit. Okay, honestly, I am also not into watersports, but if you are, plan accordingly.
There are also restaurants where you can have drinks/food with great views of the waterfall. There are also spots where you can picnic.
On this side, you will have one of Switzerland´s largest forest rope courses, where you will have unique views of the Rhine Falls. There are courses for beginners to advanced ones.
- Hours of operation: Open daily from April to the end of October from 10 am to 7 pm
For the little ones, you will also find a playground on this side of the waterfalls.
RHINE FALLS ILLUMINATION
I have yet to see it myself but every night, the waterfalls get illuminated. I saw Niagara Falls illuminated years ago and it looked spectacular so I guess, it is worth getting here before the sun sets, walking around, and then staying until it gets dark and the spectacle begins. Check out the times for the illumination here.
Things to do Around Rhine Falls
The Rhine Falls are a must for any Switzerland itinerary – they are easy to visit and make a great day trip from places like Zurich, and they can be visited at any time of the year. So, a quick recap of what to do at the Rhine Falls.
- Admire the Rhine Falls
- Do a boat tour
- Do a castle tour of Schloss Laufen + Historama (interactive exhibition about the Rhine Falls)
- Visit the Adventure Park
- Eat and drink in restaurants / Picnic (at both sides of the waterfalls possible)
- Rent canoes
- Hiking options around Rhine Falls
- See the illumination of the waterfalls
Whether you do a boat trip, walk around the waterfall, stand on the platform or have a picnic/dinner around the Rhine Falls, there are a couple of things to do at the Rhine Falls. But what happens once you have seen the waterfalls from all the different angles? You can then visit places nearby, including the beautiful town of Schaffhausen, the fun city of Zurich, the art city of Basel, or even do a day trip to Lucerne.
If you see the Rhine Falls from the southern and northern banks (and do a boat tour), I assume it will take 2-5 hours.
WHERE TO STAY AT RHINE FALLS
I suggest staying either in Schaffhausen – which is a beautiful city to explore – or Zurich.
- SCHAFFHAUSEN: I recommend staying at Sorell Hotel Rüden. This is where I stayed at. The location is central, it is a more traditional Swiss hotel and it had everything I needed for one night. You can find out about rates and get more information here.
- ZURICH: Zurich has some great luxury hotels which are amazing to get spoiled and enjoy life. Baur au Lac is one of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
- ZURICH: Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. I once stayed at this well-rated hostel in Zurich and was not disappointed. It is located right in the heart of the old town and you can get to many places within minutes.
- If you visit Schaffhausen as a day trip from Zurich, check out my guide on places to stay in Zurich.
ARE THE RHINE FALLS WORTH VISITING?
Yes, overall the Rhine Falls are definitely worth visiting. I love the Rhine Falls and I think, they are great to visit if you are close by. As mentioned, I have visited them a couple of times already and will probably visit again in the future. However, I visited as day trips from Zurich or when I came from Southern Germany to Switzerland.
I think it is a great place for families – the Rhine Falls are pretty at any time of the year, and very accessible. Would I make it a priority when I have only 3-5 days in Switzerland? I guess I would not, because there are just so many other stunning places nearby.
It is worth it if you combine it with a trip to Schaffhausen or/and Stein am Rhine and stay for 2 days or so.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON RHINE FALLS VISIT
Rhine Falls is a must-see Swiss waterfall, offering unparalleled views and breathtaking beauty. The falls are an impressive natural wonder and the perfect place to take a break from city life and appreciate nature’s power.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day of sightseeing or an exciting adventure, visiting Rhine Falls should definitely be on your list of things to do in Switzerland. With its incredible views and stunning scenery, Rhine Falls is a great destination for anyone looking to explore the Swiss countryside and experience the full beauty of Switzerland.
Stay safe and enjoy!