Schaffhausen and the Reinfall

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May 26, 2023: The Northernmost Canton 

After a day in Appenzell and St. Gallen, I returned to Zurich with a couple days to spare. When looking for fun day trips, I discovered that the largest waterfall in all of Europe was just a 1-hour train ride north. When looking for train tickets, I discovered a combo ticket that included the roundtrip train plus entry to both a castle next to the falls and a miniature museum. The combo ticket was basically the same price as a roundtrip train, so I decided to go for it. 

Again, I headed to Zurich´s Hauptbahnhof station and took the hourly train north. Among the many stops on the train were 2 in Germany before returning to Switzerland. I disembarked in Neuhausen am Reinfall in Switzerland´s northernmost canton of Schaffhausen. From the train station, I followed the crowds down to the Rhine River to get my first glimpse of the falls. 

The Rhine Falls are only 23 meters tall, but they are wide and gosh they are powerful! 

Boats go to an island in the middle of the maelstrom for 12 CHF, but I decided to first wait and see everything that my combo ticket gave me. 

I then headed over to the miniature museum, which contained three rooms of miniature landscapes of Switzerland based on real places. The first room contained a mini-Appenzell complete with the square for voting, the Aescher restaurant and even the Santis cable car. 

The miniatures didn´t overly romanticize Switzerland, as they even contained mine pits, construction sites and boring suburban industrial areas. 

The second room contained most of northern Switzerland including Zurich, St. Gallen and even the Rheinfall which I had just seen. 

The final room contained more of the mountainous areas of southern Switzerland such as Zermatt, Luzern, and the Eiger. While I never would have paid for this sans combo ticket, I was extremely impressed and glad I visited. 

To reach the castle viewpoint at Schloss Laufen, I had to cross the Rhine via a pedestrian bridge. The south side of the river is actually in Canton Zurich. After claiming my ticket, I entered the mediocre castle and walked down to the viewpoints…which are right next to the falls. The views are so close you can easily get sprayed by the falls. These views were considerably more interesting than the far view in Canton Schaffhausen. 

At this point it was about 12:30 and I had plenty more time to explore. I realized that Schaffhausen, the cantonal capital is just a 1-hour walk upriver. The pathway along the river was beautiful and it only took me 40 minutes because I just so happened to catch an hourly train for the last 2 kilometers. 

Schaffhausen has a gorgeous medieval core full of locals, Swiss tourists, and Mormon missionaries from America. I had a chat with two of the “Elders” who told me that Switzerland would not grant them missionary visas and so they are officially there as tourists.  

After eating a doner kebab, I headed over to IWC headquarters. IWC, officially International Watch Company Schaffhausen, is one of the premier Swiss watchmakers. It was founded in 1868 by an American businessman named Florentine Jones. He picked Switzerland because it was the poorest country in Europe at the time and had cheap yet high quality labor. 

The watch company gained global prominence for its pilot watches, which could withstand the incredible G forces and altitude shifts in the air. The headquarters contains a museum of their most iconic, innovative and expensive watches. While I am not a watch person, I was still impressed by the stories and complexity of each watch. 

Schaffhausen has one more major landmark, the Munot fortress. It is located on a vineyard-covered hill above the old town. The fortress itself did not have much to see, but the views from the walk up were spectacular. 

I then headed back to Zurich to rest up for my final day in Switzerland: Canton Schwyz.

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed my day. The waterfall is impressive. Given that people fly from all over North America to see Niagara, taking a 1-hour train to see something maybe half as impressive is a great return on investment. The castle viewpoint is essential and while I thoroughly enjoyed the miniature museum, I would call it a “try hard to see”, as a day to the falls would be complete without visiting. 

Schaffhausen is also a beautiful town and worth a stroll. I probably would not go without combining with the falls, but it is quite nice. For me a couple hours was enough here, but I´m sure a completionism can figure out a way to occupy the entire day here. 

Schaffhausen is also the center of the canton and can be used a launching point to see the rest of this delightfully non-touristy region. One town that gets lots of praise is Stein am Rein which has regular trains from Schaffhausen. 

In short, this was a great Zurich day trip. I would recommend exactly the itinerary I did, but you can also add on Stein am Rhein if you move fast. 


One response to “Schaffhausen and the Reinfall”

  1. […] a week in Zurich, Liechtenstein, St. Gallen, Appenzell, and Schaffhausen, it was my last day in Switzerland. Since it was finally the weekend, my hosts Marilyn and Rafa […]

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