The Top 5 Free Things to See in Schaffhausen, Switzerland

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Schaffhausen Switzerland is a charming medieval town, located just 51km north of Zürich near the German border. 

However like the rest of Switzerland, food, and accommodation are expensive. Fortunately, you can save money on sightseeing in Schaffhausen. Firstly since many of the popular sights for free.  And secondly, as the city is relatively small, you can walk or bike everywhere. Which will save even more money on transportation costs.  

View of Schaffhausen Switzerland from the Munot Fortress
View of Schaffhausen Switzerland from the Munot Fortress

Here are my top 5 free sights in Schaffhausen Switzerland:

Munot Fortress in Schaffhausen Switzerland
Munot Fortress which overlooks Schaffhausen and the Rhine River

#1) Munot Fortress

The Munot Fortress is Schaffhausen’s best-known landmark looming over the city and the Rhine River.  The circular fortress was built between 1564 – 1589. Furthermore, Munot Fortress was built by Schaffhausen locals under mandatory labor.  Walking into the fortress is an eery feeling. It’s stone walls are dimly lit with only small traces of daylight squeezing in. 

Once you made your way up the circular path of the fortress walls you are treated to a view of Schaffhausen and the Rhine River.  Surprisingly, admission is free.  If I had to pick one favorite sight in Schaffhausen Switzerland, it would be the Munot Fortress. 

Related Reading: Tour du Mont Blanc: How to Plan for this Epic Adventure.

All Saints Cathedral and Cloister in Schaffhausen Switzerland
All Saints Cathedral and Cloister in Schaffhausen

#2) All Saints Catherdral and Cloister (Münster Zu Allerheilligen and Monastery Zu Allerheiligen)

The All Saints Cathedral was built circa 1100 in a Romanesque style. Furthermore, the clean simple lines are reflected inside the church as well.  Apart from this the church tower is also worth a look. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful church towers in Switzerland.   

Located directly beside the All Saints Cathedral is the Cloister. It was once the largest cloister in Switzerland. However in 1524 when it was closed.  Open archways of the cloister enclose the Cloister Garden and Cementary where important civil authorities were laid to rest from 1582 to 1874.  It is unquestionably a very peaceful place and admission is free to both the All Saints Cathedral and to the Cloister.

Related Reading: Tour du Mont Blanc: Hiking Tours

All Saints Herb Garden in Schaffhausen
All Saints Herb Garden in Schaffhausen, a reconstruction of the medieval herb garden where medicinal plants and herbs were grown by the monks living in the cloister.

#3) All Saints Herb Garden (Das Kräutergarten Zu Allerheiligen)

Located directly beside the All Saints Herb Garden and Cloister is the All Saints Herb Garden. It is a reconstruction of a medieval herb garden that was cultivated by monks while living in the cloister.  Furthermore, medicinal plants along those used for seasoning are grown there.  It is a very peaceful place which we had all to ourselves and I could have easily crawled up on one of the benches with a good book. This was undoubtedly the most serene place I visited in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Related Reading: The Haute Route: Hiking Tour

Old Town Schaffhausen
The medieval Old Town in Schaffhausen is lined with gild houses and interesting statues.

#4) Old Town Schaffhausen (Allstadt Schaffhausen)

Walking in the pedestrian-only streets of Old Town Schaffhausen is a treat for the eyes. Especially, with all the guild houses, statues and 171 oriels. For those of you who do not know what Oriels are, they are bay windows projecting out of an upper level. I confess I did not know what it was either until I looked it up.

Old Town Schaffhausen is full of life and one of the cafes is the perfect place for people watching.  I enjoyed my time here very much. And was even fortunate enough to stay in Old Town as I was staying with a friend who lived there.  You can stop by the tourist office for a free city map marking all the tourist attractions. Or you can download the General Brochure.   The map of Schaffhausen, Switzerland is on page 15.

Rhein Falls in Schaffhausen Switzerland
Rhein Falls in Schaffhausen Switzerland, the largest waterfall in Europe.

#5) Rhine Falls

Finally, a stop to Schaffhausen in Switzerland is not complete without a visit to Europe’s largest waterfall. The Rhine Falls.  You can take a boat across to the middle rock or a boat to the other side which you’ll have to pay for.  Or you can just enjoy the Rhine Falls from one of many different viewpoints along the River as we did.

The Rhine Falls are beautiful and powerful. But I guess being from Canada when I heard “Europe’s largest waterfall” I was expecting something much bigger. Perhaps not Niagara Falls, but bigger.   So if you go, expect a really pretty waterfall. However just not the most amazing one you’ve ever seen.

Where To Stay in Schaffhausen

Best Western Plus Hotel Bahnhof is located opposite the Schaffhausen train station. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, a smoking lounge, and bike storage. Enjoy a hearty breakfast each morning. 

Vienna House Zur Bleiche Schaffhausen is located on the edge of the Schaffhausen Old Town. The hotel offers a modern and stylish restaurant and bar. Enjoy comfortable rooms and bathrooms as well as an on-site fitness center.

Schaffhausen is a great place where you can enjoy Switzerland in a budget-friendly way.