Getting to Europe’s largest waterfalls – the Rheinfall near Schaffhausen – is easy by car, or a variety of public transportation options including traveling by boat, bus, or train. Cycling and hiking are also popular.
The Rhine River waterfalls (Rheinfall) are easy day-trip destinations from Swiss cities such as Zurich, Schaffhausen, St Gallen, and Winterthur, or from German towns such as Konstanz on Lake Constance (Bodensee). Bus tours from Zurich are available to the waterfalls but driving and public transportation are also pleasant options. Swiss Railways’ Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall station is right next to the falls. Rhine River boats from Kreuzlingen and Stein am Rhein arrive in Schaffhausen with buses running to the waterfalls.
Transportation to the Rhine Waterfalls near Schaffhausen
Europe’s largest waterfalls, the Rhine Falls (Rheinfall), is in the community Neuhausen am Rheinfall just 3 km downstream from the Swiss city Schaffhausen. Many visitors walk or cycle along the Rhine River from Schaffhausen to the Rheinfall.
Transportation is available to either side of the Rhine at the waterfalls. In practice, there is little difference in facilities and most visitors will cross the river at some stage anyway – either via the railway bridge (free) above the waterfalls or by passenger ferry boat (small charge) below the waterfalls.
Pleasure boats cruise on the lower basin of the waterfalls but Rhine River excursion boats arriving from Lake Constance stop in Schaffhausen. Buses meet the boats for quick transfers to the waterfalls.
Note that the left bank of the Rheinfall is usually to the right of the Rhine River on most maps – it is also referred to as the northern bank or the Schloss Laufen side. Similarly, the right bank is left on maps and also referred to as the southern bank or the Schlössli Wörth side.
Driving to the Rhine Waterfalls in Switzerland
Getting to the Rheinfall by car is fast from many cities in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. The Rhine Waterfalls are very popular with bus parties as well as day-trip visitors from these larger cities.
Driving distances and times to the Rheinfall are from:
- Zurich – 50 km / 45 min (via Autobahn A1 & A4 in Switzerland only)
- Zurich Airport – 36 km / 30 min (via a shortcut through Germany)
- Stein am Rhein – 20 km / 25 min
- Winterthur – 30 km / 25 min
- St Gallen – 80 km / 50 min
- Basel – 130 km / 1h30
- Bern – 170 km / 1h50
- Konstanz (Germany) – 70 km / 45 min
- Lindau (Germany) – 110 km / 1h40
- Stuttgart (Germany) – 170 km / 1h40
- Bregenz (Austria) – 120 km / 1h20
Parking (charged) is available on both sides of the Rhine River.
Travel by Swiss Railways Train to Rheinfall
Getting to the Rhine Waterfalls by train is both easy and convenient. The SBB train station Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall is only a few meters from the waterfalls at the lower level of the left bank, very close to the boat landing.
Trains link Schaffhausen and Winterthur generally twice per hour via the Rhine Waterfalls. These two cities offer very good railway connections to other cities in Switzerland.
Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall is the second station from Schaffhausen (travel time around 5 minutes) while Winterthur is just over half an hour by train to the south of the waterfalls.
Traveling times from Zürich Hauptbahnhof or Zurich Airport (ZRH) are around an hour (if necessary, transfer in Winterthur or Neuhausen) and 1h20 from St Gallen (transfer in Winterthur). Train traveling times from Basel or Bern are around two hours.
The simplest routing to Rheinfall from German cities on Lake Constance is usually via Winterthur, for example just over an hour from Konstanz and two hours from Lindau or Bregenz (Austria). Train rides from Stuttgart via Schaffhausen take around 2h30.
An alternative to Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall station is Neuhausen train station itself on the right bank. From here, it is around a kilometer to the waterfalls. The most pleasant walk is along the banks of the Rhine River on the Rheinquai.
Bus tours are often available from Zurich — include further sights such as beautiful Stein am Rhein for added value.
Access to the Rhine Waterfalls for Disabled Visitors
Special parking spaces are available on both sides of the Rhine River for wheelchair users, which is fortunate, as traveling by public transportation is not recommended for disabled travelers. Parents with strollers or buggies will similarly have to deal with steep inclines and numerous staircases.
Wheelchair access to the panorama platforms on the Schlössli Wörth side of the Rhine River is very good and a ramp is available at the boat landing.
On the Schloss Laufen side, wheelchair access is possible to the Belvedere Trail via an elevator from the upper level. A marked route leads wheelchair users to accessible viewing points. However, steep inclines and stairs make it impossible to reach by wheelchair the boat landing and Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall train station.
See also Rhine Waterfalls (Rheinfall) near Schaffhausen for more details on visiting Europe’s largest waterfalls.