On our second day in Zurich, we decided to explore Rheinfall (Rhine Falls) and Stein am Rhein (a small town on the banks of the Rhine River). It was cloudy for most of the day, so the pictures all came out a little gloomy looking. But hey at least it wasn’t raining!
Rhine Falls was our first stop for the day. It’s the largest waterfall in Switzerland! Which might not seem like a super hefty title, cause Switzerland is pretty small, right? But these falls are huge! Not that impressive length-wise, but it has so much…PRESENCE. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s very wide…and it’s made up of series of mini falls. And all of the water just cascades down along these mini falls. You can hear the power of the current from quite far away. It’s a gorgeous sight to take in! You’ve got the arches in the background, as well as a castle perched on top of a mini island in the middle of the falls. I hear there are two sides that you can admire the falls from. We were on the northern side, cause it was free haha. But the southern side is just 5 CHF per person (entrance fee), so really not too bad either. They also offer boat tours that range from 10-30 min in length. Since we were in a rush to get to Stein am Rhein, and also since it was raining, we skipped the boat tour. The boat tour isn’t covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, for those of you who might have been wondering.
There are some souvenir shops by the base of the falls. Some food options as well, but everything food-wise is pretty overpriced. I think we paid $5 each for a small cup of coffee. Instant coffee. But it’s a nice area to walk around 🙂
Our second (and last) planned stop of the day was the beautiful town of Stein am Rhein. This town is about an hour away from Rhine Falls (via train), and once you get off the train, it’s only a short 7 min walk to cross the bridge and get to the town square. If you prefer to take the more scenic route by boat, budget about 2 hours to get here from Rhine Falls. Anyway, the square itself is called Rathausplatz. The entire perimeter of the square is lined with old houses–all of them with uniquely painted facades. They’re gorgeous! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. And they’ve been maintained pretty well over the years! We took our time and spent a good 3-3.5 hours here, first trying to find a lunch place that wouldn’t break the bank, and then just wandering the shops 🙂
Funny story from the night before…so we got back from exploring the old town of Zurich around 8pm, and decided to eat somewhere around the hotel that we were staying at. My bf found a Chinese place so we figured it probably couldn’t be too expensive…(this was our first restaurant dining experience in Switzerland, btw). So we get there, and the restaurant is basically empty…it was a beautiful restaurant, though! Very nice interior decorations, super modern, etc. Welp. We took one look at the menu…saw that curry was the cheapest thing on the menu at ~$30, and freaked out. Of course, we managed to find a way to justify the meal, convincing each other that we would find more reasonable options the rest of the trip. Surprise surprise…it was like that at every restaurant. Food is just hella expensive there, and the locals there don’t really eat out (I can see why now…). But anyway, our restaurant hunting experience in Stein am Rhein confirmed that it wasn’t just our bad luck the night before. We ended up getting two slices of quiche from a bakery and got it to-go (otherwise there was like a 12% or 15% additional dine-in fee). Not a bad option, though, cause we got to eat in the middle of the town square and people watch to our hearts content 🙂
We left around 8am that day and got back around 4:30pm. The trains leave roughly every hour or so, so make sure you plan accordingly.
And for those of you who haven’t yet read about our first day in Zurich (and want to), you can find that post here.