The powerful Rhine Falls are an easy and fun day trip from Zürich. I recently went there with my in-laws for a short winter hike. The loop we did runs along the river banks going from a pedestrian bridge about a kilometer and half down river from the falls to the railroad bridge just above the falls. This easy loop has great views of the falls and Laufen castle, and it also gives you some quiet time along the Rhine river. Note that there is a fee to walk the short section right up next to the falls (5 CHF/Adult). You can skip this section if you want, but if you haven’t been here before, I recommend paying the fee and getting as close to the falls as you can. The immense power of the rushing water is awe inspiring.Detail Summary
On the border between Canton Schaffhausen and Canton Zürich , Switzerland
|Train/Bus:||Depending on where you want to start the loop, you a few options for public transport.|
North Bank across from the Falls
Zürich HB -> Neuhausen am Rheinfall/Schaffhausen – 54 min
South Bank, by Laufen Castle
Zürich HB -> Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall – 49 min
A bit down river and a short walk to the far end of the hiking loop.
Zürich HB -> Dachsen – 51 mins
|Car:||Rheinfallquai 32, 8212 Neuhausen am Rheinfall|
The way to car park is signposted. You can join the trail once you are riverside.
Details available on official site
|What:||Rhine Falls Round Tour (Short Loop)|
Trail Map (german)
Yellow trail markers
Trail Map – wheelchair accessible loop
White trail markers, route 896
|Skill:||Easy – About 1 hrs|
Length 4 km, Ascent 50 m, Descent 50 m
|Cost||5 CHF/Adult to get up close to the falls. |
You can skip the paid section if you want.
With public transportation, you can join the loop on the north bank across from the falls, on the south bank by Laufen Castle, or as we did, in the town of Dachsen, a bit down river. From the Dachsen train station, it is just a short walk to the far end of the hiking loop at the pedestrian bridge. I particularly liked this option as we got some calm before and after visiting the hustle and bustle of the falls area.
To get to the loop trail, we followed the trail markers for trail 896 Rheinfall Rundweg, going in the direction of Nohlbrücke
When we reached the river, we crossed the pedestrian bridge to begin our hike by walking on the north bank of the river. I recommend doing the loop in this direction as it will put the best views of the falls in front of you as you are walking. After crossing the river, you can turn right, as we did, and walk directly along the river bank. (Note: If you need a wheelchair accessible path, follow the signs for the 896 Rheinfall Rundweg and which takes a path higher up the bank.) It won’t be long before you get your first glimpse of the falls and Laufen castle.
The area around the falls is very busy (Rhine Falls is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Switzerland.) There is a restaurant here as well as snack and souvenir stands. As we continued our walk along the river bank, we passed the old mill on the river and got some great views of the falls from above.
Just above the falls is the train bridge where we crossed over to the other side. Once on the other side, we headed up and into Laufen castle.
The castle was beautifully decorated for Christmas and we considered stopping for some Glühwein (mulled spiced wine), but it was more crowded than we were comfortable with, so we continued on our way. After taking the elevator down, we purchased tickets from the machine to enter the area up close to the falls. You can skip this part if you want, but I think it is worth the price of admission (5 CHF/Adult). The volume of water tumbling by is truly impressive up close.
After leaving the paid area, we continued on the path along the riverside, passing the boat dock you see in the first picture below. In the summer, you can take a boat from here to the island in the middle of the falls.
After passing the boat dock, the path simply continues along the riverside until reaching the pedestrian bridge where we started the loop. I really enjoyed this quiet walk after being by the roar of the waterfall.
After reaching the pedestrian bridge, we simply retraced our steps back to the Dachsen train station and headed home from there.