At Rhine Falls, sheets of white water tumble from a height of 75 feet (23 meters) across a 492-foot-wide (150-meter-wide) rock ledge. Created by the movement of the Earth’s crust about 15,000 years ago, this natural wonder is among Europe’s biggest waterfalls. The riverbanks near it are laced with walking and biking trails.
Rhine Falls is a popular excursion for visitors based in the Swiss city of Zurich. Coach and train tours often stop at additional sights, such as Laufen Castle (Schloss Laufen) and the medieval Swiss town of Schaffhausen. Some longer tours even cross the German border and enter the Black Forest region. Day tours departing from Basel, Lucerne, and Munich often combine the falls with tours of Zurich and the medieval-era town of Stein am Rhein.
Some Rhine Falls tours include boat trips along the Rhine River to the rock in the middle of the falls. Another way to experience the falls is from riverside trails and lookouts, such as the Känzeli viewing platform, which will put you close enough to hear the roar and sometimes even feel the spray.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be prepared to get wet, especially if you elect to take a boat ride.
- Wear sturdy shoes so you can comfortably explore the scenic riverside trails.
- The falls are accessible to wheelchair users via the Neuhausen am Rheinfall entrance on the north side. Wheelchair users can drive right down to the Rhine Falls basin, and an elevator provides access to the boat landing.
How to Get There
Rhine Falls is situated near Switzerland’s border with Germany. Ride the train to either Neuhausen am Rheinfall on the north side of the falls or to Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall on the south side of the falls. From Zurich, the train ride takes 45–60 minutes. It’s possible to walk between the two sides via a path on the railway bridge.
When to Get There
The best time to visit is during summer, when the volume of water is at its peak and the full power and ferocity of the falls can be seen during boat tours. Summer is also peak visitor season. Come on a weekday or early in the morning to escape the crowds.
Things to Do Nearby
If you have time to spare during your visit, wander the historical center of the town of Schaffhausen, upriver from the falls. Surrounded by vineyards, Schaffhausen is known for its pedestrianized old town, where medieval buildings with pastel paint jobs abound. Also nearby is the medieval-era Laufen Castle, which—thanks to its elevated riverside setting—offers unobstructed views of the falls.