The famous Rhine falls in Switzerland, not far from the German border between Schaffhausen and Zurich, is the most powerful waterfall in Europe and a majeur tourist attraction in Switzerland. In summer, the water flows at a rate of 600,000 litres per second and boats take you right on the bottom of this amazing natural site which was formed in the last ice age, more than 15,000 years ago.
When arriving by car, you can easily park on the huge and free parking area at the Laufen castle (Schloss Laufen). There are even special places for campervans and, even though you cannot spend the night, that’s always very much welcomed.
Just behind the parking area you can get your tickets for the panoramic platforms for 5 CHF per adult (3 CHF per child). From there, you can go down the stairs and stop at one panoramic platform after the other until you reach the most spectacular place.
The last platform is the biggest and definitely the most exciting one as it brings you right to the bottom of this powerful nature. You can feel the strength of the water that crushes from a height of 23 meters down to the Rhine river. Don’t be afraid of getting wet as this definitely is part of the experience.
After extensively enjoying this great place and after taking tons of pictures and videos, we would recommend you to follow the signs to the boats by staying on the same side of the river.
You will then reach a very small harbour where you can buy your tickets for a boat ride to admire the Rhine falls close by. There are different options available:
Rhine crossing (no. 2 – red line): This is the only boat leaving from this side of the river and it crosses the Rhine in order to get you to the main harbour where the other tours leave. Even though the normal ticket costs 3 CHF (5 CHF round trip), you get a round trip for free if you buy one of the other tours, so we definitely recommend you to do so.
Rock Tour (no. 1 – yellow line): The Rock tour is the most complete adventure as it brings visitors to the Rheinfallfelsen, the rock in the center of the Rhine falls. Visitors can then climb up the rock and enjoy a panoramic view on the falls. The tour costs 20 CHF per adult and 10 CHF per child.
Short tour (no. 4 – blue line): This is a very short 15 minutes cruise that gets you very close to the falls. When the boats approach the strong current of the falls, they bounce back and this is what makes the tour such a fun experience. It costs 7 CHF per adult and 4 CHF per child.
Audio Tour (no. 5 – pink line): This 30 minutes long river cruise takes you along the Rhine river and includes an audio guide with comments in all kind of languages (DE, EN, IT, ES, FR, RU, JA, HI, ZH, NL, PL, TH, PT, AR). However, it is only available during the summer months (June, July, August) and costs 11 CHF per adult and 7 CHF per child.
Rhine River Cruise (no. 3a): This tour is similar to the audio tour mentioned above as it takes you around the Rhine river and all the way to Germany. You won’t have an audioguide but the captain will give some explanations in German and English. At the end of the tour you still get the fun experience to approach the Rhine Falls very closely and bounce back with the current of the water. The cruise takes 30 minutes and costs 9 CHF per adult and 4.50 CHF per child.
This is the cruise that we chose during our visit to the Rhine Falls and, I must say that first we were a bit disappointed because we immediately left the Rhine Fall area for a very calm cruise on the Rhine without much to see. However, at the end of the tour, we still got the exciting part of getting close to the Rhina Falls which was a fun experience.
Big Rhine River Cruise (no. 3b): If you have more time and also want to discover the surroundings of the Rhine Falls, you can opt for the big Rhine River Cruise that is quite similar to the tour above but that brings you all the way to Rheingau where the boat stops so that you can visit the Abbey.
Bathing boat: If you are up for an adventure and you visit the area during the summer months, the bathing boat might be a great option for you. It leaves from the Badi Dachsen, the public swimming area, and brings visitors all the way to the Rhine Falls where they can jump into the water and swim with current back to the swimming area.
We could not try this cruise because we visited after the summer months but it sounds like so much fun!
In order to complete a successful visit of the Rhine Falls you can walk from the Wörth castle right at the main harbour back to the car park at the Laufen castle. Just walk along the Rhine river and enjoy several viewpoints on the falls. At the end of the walk, you will take the pedestrian path of a rail bridge that crosses the river and offers another beautiful panoramic view. Another must-do when visiting the Rhine Falls.
worth a visit?
In our personal point of view, the Rhine Falls are definitely worth a visit. Even though the place can be quite busy and we normally prefer a quiet and unspoiled nature, the power of the waterfall is impressive, the landscape is beautiful and the boat cruises are super fun. When travelling to Switzerland or Southern Germany you should definitely come by this place.
We visited the Rhine falls during our Switzerland trip in September 2020. If you want to find out more about our itinerary you can also read this: Itinerary: 10 Days Switzerland road trip in a campervan.