WHAT TO DO IN STEIN AM RHINE
Stein am Rhein is exquisite. Stein am Rhein is an exquisite small town in Switzerland. And while I rarely use the word “exquisite,“ it is actually the best way to describe this place. A beautiful, exquisite town!
In this post, I share my tips on the best things to do in Stein am Rhein. Find out how to spend one day Stein am Rhein (or Stein am Rhein in English) and how to see the best this town has to offer. And while it might not be the most famous town/village to international visitors, it attracts quite a large amount of visitors from Switzerland, as well as Germany.
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STEIN AM RHEIN TRAVEL TIPS
Before talking about what to do in Stein am Rhine in one day (or longer), here are some quick travel tips.
LOCATION OF STEIN AM RHEIN
Stein am Rhein is located in the canton of Schaffhausen, in the very northern part of Switzerland – close to the German border. It lies on the Upper Rhine between the Black Forest (Germany) and Lake Constance (which is located in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria). Zurich is just about one hour drive away. Schaffhausen is just about 20 km west of Stein am Rhein.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT STEIN AM RHINE
Most of the activities mentioned here are outdoors. So, a warm sunny day definitely helps to enjoy Stein am Rhine even more. However, each season has its charm. We cannot rely on the seasons and the weather – 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, but since it is not the main tourist destination in Switzerland, you can also come here in the summer months. What I have noticed – on both of my trips in summer, were the many bike riders though.
In fall (October) it looks lovely too with the fall foliage – especially great if you hike up the main castle in the area. However, some attractions might be closed in October. Even December seems great with all the Christmas Markets around. Again, some places might not be open to visitors in the winter months though. The months I would probably not visit are November, January, February, and early March.
HOW TO GET AROUND STEIN AM RHEIN
- Stein am Rhein´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 Stein am Rhein is quite easy. You can walk to most of the attractions.
- For Hohenklingen Castle, you could drive if you do not want to hike up.
- If you road trip Switzerland, check out my guide on driving in Switzerland.
WHERE TO STAY IN STEIN AM RHEIN
Stein am Rhein is expensive – like the rest of Switzerland, accommodation prices are quite crazy! However, it would be lovely to stay overnight and see the town without the crowds. Also, it makes a good base for a couple of day trips.
There are no luxury hotels in Stein am Rhein and the choice of hotels is limited.
- This hotel seems to be a good option – it is directly located in the town center and has good reviews.
- This youth hostel might be a more budget-friendly option in Stein am Rhine.
If you visit Stein am Rheine just for a few hours, you could stay in a town/city close by.
- Here is an accommodation tip if you visit Stein am Rhein as a day trip from Schaffhausen. I stayed there when I visited Schaffhausen and enjoyed my stay.
- If you visit Stein am Rhein as a day trip from Zurich, check out my guide on places to stay in Zurich.
TIP: Most activities mentioned here are free to do. That is one great way to save money. Another way is to bring a water bottle and just refill it at some of the several fountains throughout the town. Yes, it is drinkable (unless it specifically states, it is not).
THINGS TO DO IN STEIN AM RHEIN IN ONE DAY
I will focus on a couple of places: The old town with its preserved, half-timbered medieval houses with painted facades; the St. George’s Abbey; the banks of the Rhine River; and a medieval castle on top of a hill overlooking the town. Also, you will find a few suggestions on where to visit close to Stein am Rhein for half a day or a day.
Stein am Rhein Town Center
The town center of Stein am Rhein is quite small and yet stuffed with wonderful architecture. For tiny places like this one, I normally recommend just taking your time and strolling around. It will not take much of your time to admire the houses – yet there are a couple of buildings I want to highlight.
Town Hall and Town Hall Square
The Town Hall is a pretty building that was erected in the 16th century as a large merchant house and cloth and grain store, as well as a town hall. Now, it is home to the city council.
Another stunning building here is the Weiser Adler – it was mentioned first in the early 15th century and has the oldest mural painting of the Renaissance in the country! It includes paintings by Thomas Schmid from the 16th century and motifs about power and unity.
If you are standing at the town square, however, you will see some pretty and unique buildings all lined up beautifully – including a historic fountain that dates back to the 16th century! Though the statue on top of the fountain was replaced in the 19th century, it still looks authentic.
However, the square will probably not take long to see each building in the city center. Thus, it is time to also pay notice to the other attractions in town.
Outside the town center, just a 5-minute walk northwest of the town hall square is the Untertor.
It is also known as Zeitturm and was mentioned for the first time in the 14th century. The Untertor was part of the town gate, and was destroyed in 1945, but was rebuilt true to the original.
If you have lunch/dinner/coffee at Unterstadt Street, you might even enjoy your drink with a view of it.
Diebes- or Hexenturm
The Thief / Witch Tower was probably erected in the 14th century, though its first documentation is from the 15th century. It was used as a prison until 1800, often for so-called witches. Witch-hunting was quite common in Stein am Rhein and there were quite a few witch trials. The last known “witch“ got executed here in the 17th century.
Another gate to watch out for is the Obertor, east of the town square. This gate, dating back to the 14th century, was completely destroyed in a town fire in 1688 but was restored shortly after. It was also used as a town jail in the 19th century. In the late 19th century, a fresco by Prof. F. Vetter was added. Either way, make sure to stroll the side streets, too. There are many cute buildings in town!
- Open from March to October, from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm
There are a few museums in Stein am Rhein, one of them is the Lindwurm Museum which offers theme events and special tours for children and adults. It is located just a stone´s throw from the town hall square.
You can dress up in clothes from the 19th century, slip into the life of old, discover historical games and try lying on straw beds. It is all about this and questions like: How did people live without heating, electricity, or running water? How did they till the fields or harvest the crops without tractors?
- Open: from 1. May to 30. September from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 11 pm (and Sundays to 6 pm)
- There is no entrance fee for the castle
- There is a car park in front of the castle (free)
- You can hike up (about 35-45 minutes) or get there by bike or car
While the town center is exquisite – look, I said the word again – it is time for a highlight for your Stein am Rhein itinerary: Hohenklingen Castle which has been towering above Stein am Rhein since the year 1200 and has been spared from war damage throughout the course of its history.
Enjoy superb views from there while roaming the castle or having dinner/coffee. The views are really fantastic – the castle sits at almost 600 meters above sea level (and thus, about 200 meters higher than Stein am Rhine).
P.S. If you drive up there, it is good to know that the street is windy but wide enough to drive with a bigger car. Just take it slowly as oncoming traffic is not much fun.
St. George’s Abbey – Klostermuseum St. Georgen
- Open hours for the museum: April to October from 11 am to 6 pm, closed on Mondays
- Guided tours for groups upon reservation
St. George’s Abbey was a Benedictine monastery. It was in the early 11th century when the Benedictine Abbey was moved from a place near Singen to Stein am Rhine.
Large parts of the former monastery are well preserved, though there have been major renovations and expansions (the last ones were done in the 15th and 16th centuries). It was resolved in the 16th century with the reformation. Then it was used as the official residence of bailiffs appointed by Zurich until the early 19th century. You can get access to the former convent, the abbot’s houses, and the gardens. The gardens were recently restored and enlarged to include a garden for medicinal plants.
Stroll Along the Rhine River Banks
The Rhine River is one of the major rivers in Europe, with a length of 1230 kilometers. It originates in the southeast of Switzerland and then runs through Stein am Rhine before it flows through Germany.
And in Switzerland, it actually still looks absolutely clean, clear, and beautiful (I cannot say the same for the river in general). Take your time and walk along the river – and enjoy nice views along the way. There are plenty of options to sit down!
Rhine River cruises from Stein am Rhine are very popular – apparently, they are very scenic. I have not done any myself, but that is something you may want to enjoy! You can board in Schaffhausen or Stein am Rhine and get all the way to Lake Constance. This cruise takes a couple of hours, but it is said to be amazing! But of course, you can do shorter cruises, too, and just get from Stein am Rhein to Schaffhausen or the Rhine Falls.
And of course, you should visit the Rhine Falls, which are 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 Stein am Rhine.
There are also a couple of things to do around the Rhine Falls. Check out my more detailed guide for more information.
- Getting to Schaffhausen takes about 20 minutes (20 km/12 miles) by car or train.
Schaffhausen is a beautiful city close to Stein am Rhine and it makes a perfect day trip. It is known as the city of Erker (oriel bay windows), and there are 171 of them. So, make sure to look up when you stroll the colorful old town.
There are also beautiful fountains, the Munot Fortress, churches, vineyards, and more. Schaffhausen, the capital of the canton Schaffhauserland, is a lively city with many cafes. Though it is close to Stein am Rhine and is also a medieval city, it actually is really different from Stein am Rhine. Check out my more detailed Schaffhausen guide for more travel tips.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON VISITING STEIN AM RHEIN FOR ONE DAY
Stein am Rhine is beautiful – actually, it is stunning! If you ever visit Switzerland, I highly recommend stopping by here. Yes, it is small and there are not a lot of attractions, but here we have quality over quantity. And it is, for sure, one of the most unique towns, not just in Switzerland, but probably in all of Europe.
- Here are more amazing towns and villages to visit in Switzerland!
- Zurich itinerary for 2 days
- 5-day Switzerland itinerary
- Lucerne – top things to do and see