WHAT TO DO IN SCHAFFHAUSEN IN ONE DAY + TRAVEL TIPS
If you are wondering about the best things to do in Schaffhausen in one day (or longer) then this post is for you!
Schaffhausen, in the northern part of Switzerland, is a great Swiss destination! It is often overlooked in favor of cities like Zurich, Lucerne, or Interlaken. However, Schaffhausen is a beauty! If you plan your Schaffhausen itinerary, this post will help you find out about the top places to visit, and more travel tips.
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SCHAFFHAUSEN TRAVEL TIPS
Schaffhausen is a canton (state), and its capital is…Schaffhausen.
Schaffhausen is mostly known for the Rhine Falls, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. It was mentioned in writing for the first time in the 11th century, and today Schaffhausen is one of the best-preserved cities/towns dating back to the Middle Ages and one of the most charming towns in Switzerland.
WHERE IS SCHAFFHAUSEN
Schaffhausen in Switzerland is located on the Upper Rhine between the Black Forest (Germany) and Lake Constance (which is located in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) and is surrounded by vineyards. Zurich is just about one hour drive away.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SCHAFFHAUSEN
Most of the activities mentioned here are outdoors. So, a warm sunny day definitely helps to enjoy Schaffhausen even more. However, each season has its charm.
We cannot rely on the weather in Switzerland – it can be rainy in the summer months while it is dry and sunny in spring or fall. I normally suggest visiting during the off-peak season. However, since Schaffhausen is not the main tourist destination in Switzerland, you can also come here in the summer months. And though it was summer, I still experienced some rainy days.
When I visited Schaffhausen for a second time, I visited in the fall (October) and it looked lovely too with the fall foliage.
Still, even December seems great with all the Christmas Markets around.
The months I would probably not visit Schaffhausen are November, January, February, and early March – it may be grey and the scenery less beautiful.
Here is my full guide on the best time to visit Switzerland.
HOW TO GET AROUND SCHAFFHAUSEN
- Schaffhausen´s old town is car-free. If you arrive by car, you can just park your car at the river in one of the car parks (for a fee).
- Getting around Schaffhausen is quite easy. You can walk to most of the attractions.
- For my last recommendation, you will have to hop on a train or bus. But, of course, you could also drive yourself to the last stop.
- If you road trip Switzerland, check out my guide on driving in Switzerland.
SWISS TRAVEL PASS
Before talking about the best Schaffhausen activities, I like to introduce you to the Swiss Travel Pass.
If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. Swiss Travel Passes are available for non-Swiss residents and are absolutely amazing. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip.
- It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs – so basically, you can use almost all trains and buses for free.
- You can also do boat cruises without additional costs.
- It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price, and if you follow my tips, you will need it twice), some mountain excursions – like Mount Rigi near Lucerne – are even included.
The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high – but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you.
For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
WHERE TO STAY IN SCHAFFHAUSEN
Accommodation prices in Schaffhausen are lower at the weekend – normally. So, if you are on a budget, visit at the weekends instead of during the week. There are no luxury hotels in Schaffhausen but some decent mid-range hotels.
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.
If you visit Schaffhausen as a day trip from Zurich, check out my guide on places to stay in Zurich.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN SCHAFFHAUSEN
Okay, let´s start with the top things to do in Schaffhausen. Good news: most of the Schaffhausen activities are free!
STROLL THE OLD TOWN OF SCHAFFHAUSEN
- Free thing to do in Schaffhausen
The old town of Schaffhausen is home to beautiful historic and colorful houses and is considered one of Switzerland’s best remaining medievals towns. It is quite small, and yet wonderfully charming with many interesting buildings.
As usual, I do not give a certain itinerary for exploring a town. Just get lost and stroll through the old town streets. Keep looking up so you do not miss many fine guild houses and merchants’ houses, dating from Gothic and Baroque times. However, here are a few attractions you should keep an eye on when roaming the old town.
The most famous and unique building is probably Haus zum Ritter (House of the Knight).The original exterior dates back to the Renaissance, but they were removed in 1935 for preservation. The façade you see today is a recreation and the original is the All Saints Museum.
But there are more beautiful facades to watch out for! A really important tip I have for you: Keep your head and eyes up – this is where the magic happens.
Schaffhausen is also called the city of Erker (oriel bay windows) as many old houses have these oriel bay windows. Make sure also to look up while strolling through the streets – you will find 171 of them.
Also, look out for fountains spread all over Schaffhausen! There are plenty and many are really pretty!
Also, visit the Fronwagplatz, a central square with cafes and shops around that are perfect to have a coffee and sit down. Because this is what I have noticed: Though Schaffhausen is small, there is no shortage of cozy cafes! Even in the side streets, the cute picturesque alleys, there are many cute restaurants!
Then head to the Church of St. Johann right in the city center – its construction began around 1000 and it is still well preserved though it had to undergo renovations.
Then it is time for the next attraction, which is also easily accessible from the old town.
- It is free to visit the Munot and the garden!
Munot, an impressive fortress from the 16th century, offers the best views as it is built on a hill.
The ring-shaped stronghold was built between 1564 and 1589 to a design by Albrecht Dürer. Steps lead up through vineyards to this fortress. Actually, there are quite some steps (I did not count but I guess it is way more than 100) but if you take your time, you will still enjoy your walk up!
There are a small vineyard and a moat surrounding the Munot. In the moat, you will find some deers. Yes, deers right in Schaffhausen. Do you see them in the picture below?
You can walk inside the fortress and learn about its history, and the view is just a gorgeous extra. Even though there is not much on display and it is not one of the fortresses where you will learn a loooot about history, it is still worth it.
Every evening at 9 pm, the Munot guard, who lives in the tower, rings the Munot bell. Back then, it was a sign that the town gates and inns close.
You will also find a little rose garden with approximately 170 species of roses surrounded by hedges and trees there.
- From May to September open from 8 am to 8 pm
- From October to April open from 9 am to 5 pm
- Another free activity in Schaffhausen
Münster Allerheiligen (Saints Abbey) – a former Benedictine monastery – should also be on your Schaffhausen itinerary. The church Münster Allerheiligen, dating back to the 11th century, is the oldest building in Schaffhausen. Parts of the abbey were destroyed in World War II by US bombs, but they got rebuilt.
In the backyard, you will also find the Schiller Bell (Schillerglocke) on display. The bell was used in Allerheiligen Cathedral until 1895 – it weighs 4.5 tons!
It also houses the monastery herb garden, which you should check out. Make sure to take your time as there are some lovely places hidden in that area.
- Prices are about 12 CHF for adults
Museum Allerheiligen is a museum about archaeology, history, art, and natural history with permanent exhibitions and several temporary exhibitions every year.
A large part of the museum is actually housed in the former Allerheiligen Benedictine monastery.
RHINE RIVER BANKS AND RHINE CRUISE
- Walking along the river is free
- You can buy boat cruise tickets on the spot (from April to October)
Also, I recommend a nice walk along the Rhine River. The Rhine River is one of the major rivers in Europe with a length of 1230 kilometers. It originates southeast of Switzerland and then runs through Stein am Rhine before it flows through Germany.
There are some cafes and restaurants but not that many. However, you can just sit down on a bench and enjoy the views.
The weather was not my best friend when I visited, but it was still fun to walk along the Rhine, which definitely looks much better here than anywhere else. For the best view of the Munot get to the other side of the Rhine.
Rhine cruises apparently are very scenic. I have not done any myself but that is something you may want to enjoy!
You can board in Schaffhausen at the foot of the Munot Fortress and pass by Hohenklingen Castle in Stein am Rhine before reaching Lake Constance. This cruise takes a couple of hours (about 5) but it is said to be amazing! But of course, you can do shorter cruises too and just get from Schaffhausen to Stein am Rhine or the Rhine Falls.
RHINE RIVER BATH – RHYBADI
- Adults pay only around 4CHF entry
- Open from May – September
If you happen to visit on a warm day and want to take a dip in the Rhine River, come to Rhybadi!
It is a cool place with a view of Munot. While you could just swim in the river without going to a lido (pool), this offers a safe and fun way to swim.
The historic river bath consists of springboards, various pools in the Rhine water, a solarium, and a Finnish sauna. The top end with the intermediate floor is suitable for non-swimmers.
Switzerland might be landlocked with no ocean access – but there are plenty of options to cool off in the water and this is one of the most popular ways!
RHINE FALLS IN NEUHAUSEN
- You can see the Rhine Falls for free
- Getting on the viewing platform costs about 5 CHF
And of course, you should visit the Rhine Falls, the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. The falls are located on the High Rhine on the border between the cantons of Schaffhausen and Zürich – thus, it is a perfect (half) day trip from Schaffhausen.
You can watch the waterfalls from a platform, from different other angles, go on a boat cruise, walk around the area… There are quite a few things to do near the waterfalls.
Stein am Rhein
Another day trip idea I have for you, is the stunning town of Stein am Rhein. It is a very small town with only a little more than 3,000 inhabitants but it has some of the most distinctive architecture in the country.
Also, the views from Hohenklingen Castle are superb! And you can include it with a short hike up. But Stein am Rhein is also a great place to try some wine tasting. It is a perfect place to visit for a day or so. Check out my Stein am Rhein travel guide for more information.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN SCHAFFHAUSEN
Schaffhausen is a beautiful Swiss town – it has everything a town needs. Interesting architecture, a lot of cultural sights – and if you visit, you can also enjoy nice views and you also have some great outdoor places nearby. Also, most main Schaffhausen activities are free – in an expensive country like Switzerland, this is great news, right!?
Hopefully, this post has helped you find out about the best things to do in Schaffhausen and you will have a safe and fun trip!