Schaffhausen Switzerland is a charming medieval town, located just 51km north of Zürich near the German border.
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However like in 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 are for free. And secondly, as the city is relatively small, you can walk or bike everywhere. Which will save even more money on public transportation costs.
You can do a day trip roaming around the city. From 16th-century castles to beautiful gardens historic city walls, and amazing waterfalls, there’s so much to see in this Swiss city.
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Here are my top 5 free sights in Schaffhausen Switzerland:
#1) Munot Castle
The Munot Castle is Schaffhausen’s best-known landmark looming over the city and the Rhine River. The circular fortress was built between 1564 – 1589. Furthermore, Munot Castle or Munot Fortress was built by Schaffhausen locals under mandatory labor. Walking into the fortress is an eerie feeling. Its 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.
Other ancient castles in this Swiss city include Hohenklingen Castle and Laufen Castle.
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#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.
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#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 with those used for seasoning are grown there. It is a very peaceful place where we had all to ourselves.
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.
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#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.
#5) Rhine Falls
Finally, a stop at Schaffhausen in Switzerland is not complete without a visit to Europe’s biggest waterfall. The Rhine Falls. You can take a boat trip 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.
If you’re up for more adventure, you can reach Lake Constance just about 20 km upstream from the falls.
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.