Overlooking the High Rhine, Schaffhausen is an atmospheric Swiss town on the border with Germany. It was first mentioned in 1045 as “Villa Scafhusun” and became part of the Old Swiss Confederacy in 1501. Today, Schaffhausen is renowned for its frescoed Renaissance buildings and proximity to Europe’s largest waterfall, the Rhine Falls.
Things to do in Schaffhausen
Spend an afternoon wandering around Schaffhausen’s medieval Old Town and admire its beautiful Baroque buildings with decorated bay windows. Don’t miss the House of the Knight, which is covered with frescos by the Swiss painter Tobias Stimmer. Baroque stucco work adorns the ceiling of the St. Johann Reformed Church, which is renowned for its exceptional acoustics.
Watching over the pedestrianised streets of Schaffhausen is the 16th-century Munot, a ring-shaped fortress that has become a symbol of the town. It offers magnificent views across the Rhine River and the surrounding vineyards and regularly hosts cultural events. Listen out for the ringing of the fortress’s tower bell at 9 pm each evening.
Sprawling west of town is Schaffhausen Regional Nature Park, which can be explored on foot, by bicycle or by boat. Its rolling hills and valleys are dotted with traditional villages, many of which feature well-preserved half-timbered houses. For elevated views across the region, climb to the top of the Beringer Randenturm or the Siblinger Randenturm, from where you can see all the way to the Vorarlberg Alps and the Black Forest on a clear day.
Getting around Schaffhausen
Schaffhausen is around 40 minutes’ drive from Zürich and 35 minutes from Zurich Airport, which has flights to destinations across the globe. Regular trains connect to the Schaffhausen railway station and buses travel through the town. The centre of Schaffhausen is compact enough to explore on foot.