If you are looking for a stunning historic town to visit in northern Switzerland then Stein am Rhein is one of your best bets.
Stein am Rhein sits on the Rhine River, just where the river leaves Lake Constance. It couldn’t be more picturesque as it is also one of the best preserved medieval villages in Europe.
Between the stunning architectural heritage and its amazing location, it is one of the most beautiful towns in the country and is somewhere you should certainly see when you visit Switzerland.
Join me as I run through everything you need to know about visiting Stein am Rhein from how to get there, its history, and great things to do and see while you are there.
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History of Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
Stein am Rhein started out as a fishing village, which makes sense considering its location downstream of Lake Constance and on the Rhine River.
It wasn’t until Emperor Henry II moved Benedictine St. George’s Abbey to Stein am Rhein in 1007 that things in the little fishing village began to change.
The emperor gave the monks who ran the abbey rights over the town and its trade, and over the next few centuries, the village flourished into a wealthy town and commercial center for the region.
This gave rise to the stunning Old Town with its half-timbered houses, frescoes, murals, and painted facades as affluent people moved into the town. The architecture flourished, as did the art scene, and it eventually created the charming town that you can see today.
How to Get to Stein am Rhein
Stein am Rhein is located in northern Switzerland right next to the German border. It is very easy to get to from the major cities of Switzerland. You can even visit Stein am Rhein on a day trip from Zurich.
It takes just over an hour to get to Stein am Rhein from Zurich by train from Zurich HB train station. Simply take the train to Schaffhausen and change trains to Stein am Rhein station.
Driving from Zurich is also a great way to reach Stein am Rhein as it takes just 45 mins to an hour.
From Bern, it is a 2.5-hour journey by train to Stein am Rhein. Hop on the train to Winterthur and change onto a train to Stein am Rhein.
Driving from Bern takes about 2 to 2.5 hours and the route is very easy.
Geneva is not the best place to fly into if you are looking to visit Stein am Rhein unless, of course, you want to see the stunning sights around Lake Geneva.
The train takes 4 hours from Geneva to Stein am Rhein. It is a very easy journey as you can take a direct train via Bern to Winterthur and change onto the train to Stein am Rhein.
Driving from Geneva to Stein am Rhein takes between 3.5 and 4.5 hours depending on the traffic.
Things to Do in Is Stein am Rhein
Rathausplatz – Be Amazed By The Painted Houses
The number one thing to do in Stein am Rhen is to see the incredible old houses in the town hall square, Rathausplatz. If you are only on a day trip to Stein am Rhein, be sure to start your day of exploring here.
The entire town hall square is surrounded by unique builds that date back to the 15th Century and beyond. Each house is unique in its own way both in their decorated frescoes, facades, and murals.
One of the most beautiful buildings is the town hall, called the Rathaus in German. It was built in the mid-1500s and features paintings from 1900 that were painted by Carl Von Haberlin. The series of paintings showcase the history of the town of Stein am Rhein.
Close to the Town Hall is the amazing facade of the Weisser Adler building which features the oldest Renaissance Mural in the country painted by Thomas Schmid in the early 1500s.
There are lots more stunning buildings to see around the Town Square so be sure to take your time and see them all as you explore.
Hohenklingen Castle – See The Magical Views
Hohenklingen Castle sits about 200 meters above the town of Stein am Rhein. It is home to one of the best views of the town and is one of the most historic buildings in the town too.
The castle has been sitting above the town since 1225 and was used as a military post to help protect the trade routes of the town. It underwent a lot of restoration in 2007 and today is home to a restaurant and is open to the public to explore.
The castle is free to enter and is open all year round. While there you can enjoy lunch or dinner at the castle restaurant, see incredible views of Stein am Rhein and the river, and see the oldest place of worship in the area, which dates back to the 3rd century A.D.
Getting to the castle is easy. Simply hike up the hill which takes about 40 minutes or take a bike or car.
St. George’s Abbey – Explore The Building That Started It All
Saint George’s Abbey is the Benedictine monastery that Emperor Henry II moved to Stein am Rhein in 1007 and it was this move that turned the fishing village into the stunning town you can see today.
Taking a tour around the abbey, which today is a museum, is a must while in Stein am Rhein. Entrance costs just 5 euros and you will see the stunning interior, and gardens, and learn all about its history.
While St George’s Abbey dates back to the 11th Century, it was renovated in a Gothic style in the 15th century and features beautiful Renaissance frescoes.
Located right on the shores of the Rhine River, as you explore the museum, you can sit in the beautifully landscaped gardens right on the river and take in the lovely views. You will also have a chance to see the abbots’ house, and the convent too.
As you stroll around the interior, you will find beautiful murals and carvings on the walls, the most stunning of which are in the Banquet Hall. These are one of the earliest forms of Renaissance art in the region.
- Address: Fischmarkt 3, Stein am Rhein
- Opening Times: 9th April – 30th October, Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm (until 6 pm June – August)
- Ticket Prices: Adults: CHF 5, Pensioners/Disability: 3 CHF
- Free Entry: Children under 16, Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Museums Association
Untertor – See The Town Gate
Untertor is the gate to the Old Town of Stein am Rhein and you can find it on the northwestern side of the town, a short walk out of the Old Town.
The first mention of Untertor is in historical texts from the 14th century but no one knows exactly when it was built. It once had bailey trapdoors which were added in the 16th century but sadly it was destroyed in a bombing during WWII in 1945.
Since the bombing, it has been fully restored for you to see today. The gate features an archway beneath a tower with a beautifully decorated clock face on top of it.
There are quite a few places around the Untertor where you can have a drink or a coffee while overlooking it.
Lindwurm Museum – Dive Into The Past
The Lindwurm Museum is an excellent place to visit with small children as it is a lot of fun, and it is also very interesting for adults too. You can even book special tours for kids which I highly recommend.
The museum is all about showcasing how the locals of the region lived during the 1800s. You will learn about how they lived without electricity or running water, how they farmed, and lots more.
The museum is set up as a house would have been in the 1800s. During your tour, you can dress up in 19th-century clothes, play old games, and even try out a straw bed.
The tour takes you through the dining room and parlor, decorated accurately with 19th-century furniture and interiors, where tea and cards are on the menu.
You will also see the laundry room as it would have been, the kitchen, stables, cellar, and more, interacting with the exhibits and seeing how daily tasks of the time were done. It is a very cool immersive experience where you will learn a lot.
- Address: Understadt 18, Stein am Rhein
- Opening Times: March – October, Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 5 pm
- Ticket Prices: Adults: CHF 5, Pensioners/Disability: 3 CHF
- Free Entry: Children under 16, Swiss Travel Pass, Bodensee Card, Swiss Museums Association
Obertor – See The Other Town Gate
Obertor is the other town gate of Stein am Rhein and it is located on the easter side of the town right on the edge of the Old Town.
This town gate was built in 1363 but was burned to the ground in a fire in 1688. It was completely rebuilt to its former glory soon after and was then used as the local prison in the 1800s.
In the 19th century, a stunning fresco was added by F. Vetter and it is worth the short 5-minute stroll to see. The area around the gate is also lined with many bustling streets also filled with beautiful architecture worth seeing.
Rhine Falls: Experience The Power Of The River
Just down the river from Stein am Rhein is the Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe by volume. Rhine Falls pumps out an astonishing 500, 000 liters of water a second, and this amount of power has to be seen to be understood.
It takes just 30 minutes to get to the falls by car from Stein am Rhein or you can take a boat cruise down the Rhine River to see them.
Once there, you can hop on a boat that takes you right up to the falls or there are viewpoints from either side of the river where you can experience the sheer power of the falls too.
It is the perfect place to spend a day or half a day. There are lots of great restaurants around the falls and if you stay until dark, the falls are lit up with a very cold light display.
Where to Eat in Stein am Rhein
There are plenty of excellent restaurants in Stein am Rhein, and a lot of the restaurants are on the banks of the Rhine River offering wonderful views.
La p’tite crêperie sits in the heart of the Old Town and it is known for having incredible sweet and savory crepes. This a great spot for brunch or lunch, sitting outside taking in a wonderful atmosphere having explored the Old Town.
Burg Hohenklingen is another great restaurant. It is located at Hohenklingen Castle with stunning views over Stein am Rhein and serves up delicious Swiss and European cuisine.
Uferlos – An der Schifflände is located right on the banks of the Rhine River, offering amazing views along with great food. This is a great spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus it has an excellent bakery where you can pick up some pastries.
Frequently Asked Questions About Stein am Rhein
How old is Stein am Rhein?
Stein am Rhein dates back to the 11th Century and is around 1015 years old. But it was a fishing village before the Emperor moved the Abbey there, so it is likely older than 1015 years old.
How far is Rhine Falls from Stein am Rhein?
Rhine Falls is just 23 km from Stein am Rhein which means you can visit the falls easily on a day trip. It takes just 30 minutes to drive to the falls and about an hour on a direct train ride.
Is Stein am Rhein Worth Visiting?
I would say that Stein am Rhein is 100% worth visiting, even if you go for just a day or a few nights. Its location is to die for sitting just down from Lake Constance on the crystal blue waters of the Rhine.
Spend your days exploring the old town with its stunning architecture and historical sites. In the evenings, walk along the river bank stopping at bars and restaurants and enjoying the views. Day trips to Lake Constance and Rhine Falls take things to the next level.
A trip to Stein am Rhein will be like no other and something you remember for years to come.