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. 

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

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  

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.  See Munot Fortress:  Schaffhausen’s Famous Landmark for more photos.

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: The Best Things to Do in Geneva When You Only Have a Day.

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: Gelmer Funicular, The Steepest in the World: Adventure Junkies Only

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. 

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13 thoughts on “The Top 5 Free Things to See in Schaffhausen, Switzerland”

  1. This post will come in quite handy when I visit Switzerland (hopefully later this year)! I’ll definitely have to bookmark it, as these are great suggestions. 🙂

  2. What an amazing fairytale-looking town. You find the best places to visit, don’t you Laurel?
    I love the herb garden. I’d love to potter around there for a while. (I’m sure Darling Man would feel the urge to dig something up to take home.)

  3. I actually grew up in Niagara Falls–can you imagine what I thought when I got to “Europe’s biggest waterfall”?! Hey, if you are coming through the area, let me know! I live at the Bodensee.

  4. Thanks for your comments everyone.

    @The Dropout – I got really lucky with Schaffhausen as I have a friend who lives there who showed me all the best spots 🙂

    @Gina – LOL! I can only imagine what you thought, too funny! I haven’t been to the Bodensee yet, but am planning to go there this summer, would love to meet up.

    @Mette – It is lovely, just not as big as I was expecting. There’s also a bike path along the Rhine River and Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen that looks really nice, next time.

  5. I really enjoyed Schaffhausen and the falls. They are very different than Niagara but definitely spectacular in their own right. I would like to take one of the boats and the bike path sounds very intriguing!

  6. @Debbie – I agree they are worth a visit. I have mixed feelings about the boat ride, part of me feels it would be a waste of money, while the other part thinks maybe the view from the rocks is so much better. My friend that lives in Schaffhausen says biking along the river is a very popular thing to do for the locals and I can see why.

    @Scott – Waterfalls are one of my favorite natural sites too and I would still recommend seeing the Rhine Falls, just go with expectations in check.

    @Julia – I really want to spend more time exploring Switzerland as well, from the little I did see, I loved it. Let me know if you’re ever in Germany.

  7. Wow–I never thought of Switzerland as a great place to visit medieval buildings, but I was very much mistaken! The cathedral from the 1100s looks pretty neat! And thanks for the info on Europe’s largest waterfall–I’ll keep it handy for trivia night!


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