In the northern part of Switzerland, in the immediate vicinity of the border with Germany, is located the largest European waterfall – the Rhine. Rhine Falls (Switzerland) is shared by the cantons of Zurich and Schaffhausen, and the town of Neuhausen am Rheinfall is very close to it.
Scientists believe that this flat waterfall formed about 500,000 years BC, during the Ice Age. Under the influence of moving blocks of ice, the terrain changed, mountains collapsed, river channels turned. The stormy streams of the Rhine eroded deposits of soft soil, which caused the river channel to change many times, and now two cliffs stand alone in front of the waterfall in its center – this is all that remains of the rocky formations in the path of this river.
Despite the fact that the height of the Rhine Falls does not exceed 23 meters, it is the largest not only in Switzerland, but also in Europe in terms of the volume of overthrown water. At different times of the year, the amount of water changes, and the greatest width of the stream reaches 150 meters. In the summer, the waterfall has the most impressive view: about 600-700 m³ of water rushes down, it falls with a deafening roar, boils and heaves. In winter, the Rhine Falls is not so powerful and full-flowing – the amount of water decreases to 250 m³ – but it still looks majestic and beautiful.
Water mills once stood on the north side of the waterfall. And to the right of it, from the XVII to the middle of the XIX century, a blast furnace worked in which iron ore was smelted. Since the end of the 19th century, the authorities had plans to use the waterfall to generate electricity, but as a result of active resistance from the public, this was prevented, which allowed to completely preserve the nearby landscape. Nevertheless, now a small Neuhausen power station is operating here, with a capacity of 4.4 MW – for comparison: the capacity of the entire waterfall reaches 120 MW.
What to see near the Rhine Falls
The Rhine Falls is a popular tourist destination in Switzerland, able to surprise even the most experienced and experienced travelers.
A little below the waterfall, if you look along the river, on a small island, Wörth Castle rises. The castle has a good restaurant with national cuisine, a souvenir shop, and a pier is nearby. Boats depart from this pier, on which tourists can get to the “heart” of the waterfall – a cliff in the middle of the river. In the middle and at the very top of this cliff two sites are built from which you can admire the famous natural attraction of Switzerland.
On the opposite shore, on top of the cliff, there is Laufen Castle – it has a convenient access to it, nearby there is free parking. Not so long ago, this castle was restored and opened to visitors. In its premises there is an exhibition with exhibits telling about the history of this region, there are numerous photos of the Rhine Falls. For wealthy tourists, a private boarding house was founded in the castle, and for everyone who wanted to buy something in memory of a tour of Switzerland, a souvenir shop was opened.
The fortress Laufen has another observation deck, literally hanging over a raging river. Tourists can reach the main level of the site by elevators, which have a special passage for parents with wheelchairs and for people with disabilities, but you can reach a higher level only by steps. Many claim that it is on this terrace that one can feel the power and strength of the water element, as well as take the most impressive photos of the Rhine Falls in Switzerland. But you can go there only by buying a ticket.
You can admire the bubbling water stream from afar. A little higher up the river in 1857 a bridge was built with railroad tracks along which there is a sidewalk. And this means that it is quite possible for pedestrians to be there, combining a walk with observing the natural elements.
Every year, on the night of July 31 to August 1, when the people of Switzerland celebrate a national holiday, the show “Fire on the Rocks” is held at the largest waterfall in Europe. Here, fireworks are launched and laser light effects are demonstrated, turning the entire nearby territory into a fairy-tale world.
By the way, the lights are turned on here daily at dusk – powerful spotlights installed near the water itself create a bewitching spectacle. Laufen Fortress, standing on a steep bank, is highlighted in colorful blue, acquiring a special mystery.
Tourists who want to not only look at the powerful water stream can diversify their holiday fishing. The local waters are rich in a variety of fish: chub, rudd, eel, river perch, common barbel.
How to get from Zurich on your own
You can get to the Rhine Falls from Zurich in different ways – how exactly, everyone chooses a suitable option.
- You can go to Schaffhausen – the journey takes about 40 minutes. Next, you need to take a bus to the parking lot at Laufen Castle, paying 24.40 Swiss francs for a ticket to the second class. This is the most convenient, but at the same time expensive option.
- From Zurich by train or S5 train you can reach Bulach, which takes about 20 minutes. Then you need to transfer to S22 to get to Neuhausen – for fare in the second class you need to pay 15.80 francs, the journey will take about 25 minutes.
- You can make direct trips from Zurich by selecting the terminus of the Neuhausen route. The fare is 12 francs. From the indicated station to the Rhine Falls, you can walk on foot in 12-15 minutes, focusing on signs. All train tickets can be purchased online at www.sbb.ch.
- You can also drive from Zurich by car – it can be left in a convenient free parking located on the side of the Laufen fortress.
How to have fun at the attraction
The cost of a boat trip to the cliff in the center of the waterfall is 8 Swiss francs for an adult, 4 for a child. A water cruise from Laufen Fortress to Wörth Fortress and from there to the cliff will cost 10 francs for an adult and 5 for a child. All prices are inclusive of a round trip.
The boat departs from the berth as it is full, with a frequency of 10 minutes. Throughout the summer, boats run from 09.30 to 18.30, in September and May – from 10.00 to 18.00, and in April and October from 11.00 to 17.00. At other times, they go only on request, that is, when the excursion group agrees in advance about the trip.
If a group of like-minded people or friends has gathered, you can order a circular tour that begins with a trip through the basin of the Rhine Falls, then a leisurely trip down the river. For a 30-minute cruise on a comfortable boat you need to pay from 7 francs per person, for an hour trip – from 13 francs.
Prices for parking and entrance to the observation deck
You can look at the waterfall from different sides.
On the north shore, access to the observation deck is free, and you will have to pay for parking:
- the first hour – 5 CHF;
- each subsequent hour – 2 CHF;
- from 6 pm to 9 am, no fee will be charged.
On the south coast (from Zurich) – parking is free. Entrance to the observation deck (CHF):
- for an adult – 5;
- children 6-15 years old – 3;
- for groups from 15 to 29 people – 3.
We accept euros for payment.
All prices in the article are for January 2018.
What is useful for tourists to know
- To visit the Rhine Falls in Switzerland, you do not need to buy an excursion at all – you can do it yourself. To go to the waterfall and its environs, as well as swim to it, it is enough to buy tickets at the box office located in a beautiful office building.
- For a boat trip to the observation deck, especially if the weather is not very good, you will need waterproof clothes and shoes.
- To get to the observation platforms located on a cliff in the center of the river channel, you will need to go through the steps. Stone steps lead to the site in the middle of the cliff, and an iron staircase leads to the site at the top of the cliff. In winter, if the steps are covered even with a slight ice crust, it can be dangerous here.
- Depending on the weather, some activities at the waterfall may not be available. On the official website www.rheinfall.ch. You can find information about what you can do “today” and “tomorrow” – it is presented in the sections “RHINE FALLS TODAY” and “RHINE FALLS TOMORROW”.
Rhine Falls (Switzerland) is an outstanding natural attraction that everyone traveling in this amazing country seeks to see.