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The Pretty Town of Stein am Rhein, Switzerland

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Darla

In Europe, especially in Switzerland, you can find a lot of historic and well-preserved towns. But Stein am Rhein is particularly notable for its incredibly beautiful old town. With beautifully painted houses, little shops, the Lindwurm Museum, abbey, and a castle, Stein am Rhein offers a respite from the daily grind. If you would like to learn more about the pretty town of Stein am Rhein in Switzerland, then this article is for you.

View of Stein am Rhein Switzerland
Image of Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

Embarking on a journey to Stein am Rhein, we will delve into the captivating allure of this charming town, uncover its top attractions, and navigate the convenient routes to reach this idyllic destination.

Stein am Rhein is also a charming destination for visitors of all ages. In Stein am Rhein, families with young children take their children to the playground or to the shops.  Elderly people often walk together around Stein am Rhein and have a good time. Cycling enthusiasts might come in for a refreshing drink after they’ve ridden some local bike routes.  Although foreigners may not be familiar with Stein am Rhein, it is a popular destination among Swiss and Germans who live nearby.

Overview: Stein am Rhein

Stein am Rhein's Old Town by TouringSwitzerland.com
Image of Stein am Rhein, Switzerland by TouringSwitzerland.com

The Swiss canton of Schaffhausen includes Stein am Rhein, a pretty historic town. It is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Switzerland.

Schaffhausen, a Canton in northern Switzerland near the German border, held a strategic position along the important trade route connecting northern and southern Europe. Consequently, the region’s prosperity was aided by the flow of goods, merchants, and cultural exchange. As a whole, these things and resources contributed to the city’s economic growth and development.

Schaffhausen’s popularity stems from a variety of factors, including its renowned attractions like the majestic Rhine Falls, the prestigious IWC Watches, and the intriguing prehistoric Kesslerloch Cave. Within the Canton of Schaffhausen, one of the most beloved destinations for visitors is Stein am Rhein. Located on the Upper Rhine where it flows from Lake Constance, Stein am Rhein is in close proximity to both the German border and the Canton Thurgau border.

Having a total area of 6.05 km2, it is a very walkable town, and you can certainly get around on foot. Additionally, it is a very popular destination for cyclists; you can see them coming into and pushing their bicycles once they get inside the historic old town. 


Things to Do: Stein am Rhein

Stein am Rhein is not merely a picturesque town for strolling and capturing stunning photographs; it offers a wealth of experiences beyond its charming streets. Visitors can delve into history at the Hohenklingen Castle, perched atop a hill with panoramic views of the town below as well as the Rhine River. Museum Lindwurm invites exploration into the town’s past with its fascinating exhibits (I really liked this museum!). And for nature enthusiasts, there is a nearby island accessible by a wooden footbridge called Werd Island that offers tranquil walks amidst lush greenery.

Visitors to Stein am Rhein can experience its rich heritage, explore cultural treasures, and embrace its beauty. The following is a list of things to do and discover in Stein am Rhein. 

Stein am Rhein Old Town by TouringSwitzerland.com
Image of Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

In Stein am Rhein, they have been very successful in preserving the beauty of their town for many years. As a matter of fact, it is among the most aesthetically pleasing and well-preserved historical sites in the country.

The facades of buildings such as the Steinadler, Adler, and Roten Ochsen have been renovated over the years by professional restorers, and the costs are shared among the state, Canton, and the town of Stein am Rhein.1

The historic center remains much as it was in medieval times. Many of the medieval buildings in this idyllic Upper Rhine town have painted facades. The facade paintings date from the Renaissance, Baroque, and period around 1900.

The buildings boast a rich architectural style, characterized by high gable roofs and charming small dormer windows. Not only do these row houses exhibit exceptional craftsmanship, but they also seamlessly blend practicality with stunning external aesthetics.

Hotel Adler, Stein am Rhein
Image of Hotel Adler by TouringSwitzerland.com

The Hotel Adler is adorned with a painting by Alois Carigiet. His name might sound familiar because he illustrated the popular children’s book A Bell for Ursli. The facade of Hotel Adler is a visually enchanting composition, adorned with a delightful array of elements. Colorful fruits, lush plants, graceful birds, delectable food, and more can be seen here. The brushstrokes capture the vibrant nature of life and create a charming facade.

You will find the most impressive buildings on the side of the bridge after crossing it, and near the abbey. There are also attractive half-timbered houses. In the epicenter of Stein am Rhein is the Town Hall.

The town is so well-preserved that much of it was used for one of the most expensive Swiss film productions, called Zwingli. This film focuses on Huldyrch Zwingli, the main figure in Switzerland’s Protestant Reformation. 

Windler Foundation, which is the town’s main financial supporter, has greatly assisted in preserving its beauty. 

Saint George's Abbey, Stein am Rhein
Image of Saint George’s Abbey, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

Also worth a visit is Saint George’s Abbey – it is one of the best-preserved Medieval monastery complexes. Having been founded around 970 by Duke Burkhart III of Swabia, the abbey underwent renovations in succeeding centuries. The building dates from the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, making it one of the most important Swiss architectural monuments.

Image of Saint George's Abbey, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com
Image of Saint George’s Abbey, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

Originally a Benedictine Abbey of St. George, it was dissolved during the Reformation in 1525. Now that the abbey is no longer in use by monks, it is open to visitors interested in seeing how monks lived in the past. The remaining rooms have been well-preserved and provide a real glimpse of how the place used to be during the time it was an abbey.

If you would like to read more about Saint George’s Abbey, check out our article Saint George’s Abbey, Stein am Rhein Visitor Guide.

A painting cycle found at Saint George's Abbey, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com
A painting cycle found at Saint George’s Abbey, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

One of the rooms in the building contains one of the most important painting cycles of the early modern period. The small garden outside offers a picturesque view of the Rhine River, as well as flowers and herbs.

Saint George’s Abbey is open from April to October, from Tuesdays to Sundays.

3. Learn about Local History at Lindwurm Museum

In Stein am Rhein, you can also visit the Lindwurm Museum – Stein am Rhein’s only Empire House from 1279. A beautifully reconstructed bourgeois house from the mid-19th century, it illustrates the lifestyle of the upper class in small towns. In addition to the old furniture, you can also keep a lookout for portraits of people who once inhabited the place.

While the front portion of the museum portrays a lovely, idyllic atmosphere, the back portion depicts a more realistic way of life experienced by most of the population.

Work Tools of Lindwurm Museum, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com
Image of Work Tools, Lindwurm Museum, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

In the back of the house, it shows farm life in the 19th century and agricultural work. Imagine working in the stables, watching chickens in the yard, or standing in the laundry room. A playroom at the back of the house offers historical toys and costumes for children to play with (note that household helpers traditionally occupied the back part of the house).

If you would like to read more about Lindwurm Museum, you can check out Museum Lindwurm, Stein am Rhein: A Window into the Past.

Lindwurm Museum is open from March to October, from Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Images of Hohenklingen Castle overlooking the town Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com
Images of Hohenklingen Castle overlooking Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

In the area is a magnificent old castle called the Hohenklingen Castle which takes you back in time to the Middle Ages. Hohenklingen Castle dates back to the year 1200; it is the town’s most prominent landmark.

Upon reaching the top of Hohenklingen Castle, you will enjoy stunning views of the Hegau, Lake Constance, and Rhine River. As of today, the castle is used as a location for weddings, family gatherings, Christmas parties, seminars, and other events. It is a Gilde Restaurant.

Image of Hexenturm as seen from Schiffländi, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com
Image of Hexenturm as seen from Schiffländi by TouringSwitzerland.com

The German word Hexenturm means witch’s tower. The Hexenturm was used to house witches and thieves. Possibly constructed in the 14th century, Hexenturm was used until about 1800.

The belief in witches lasted for many years in this region and some witches were executed here in the middle ages up to 1667. In Stein am Rhein, 17 people were executed for witchcraft.

Images of the islands near Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com
Images of the islands by TouringSwitzerland.com

On the Rhine, three small islands can be seen. One of these three islands, Werd Abbey Island, is inhabited.

Otmar, the first abbot of St. Gallen Abbey, was held there as a Frankish prisoner. The former tomb of Saint Otmar was converted into a chapel and is now a pilgrimage site. Since 1957, Franciscan monks have lived in the priest’s house. 

Werd Abbey Island can be reached by a wooden jetty. It is located within walking distance of the old town.

7. Ride the Steiner Liliput Bahn

Stein am Rhein’s garden passenger train Steiner Liliput Bahn takes guests for a ten-minute trip around the city. It goes from the river bathing area, past the engine shed, and back to the station. Model steam trains run from April through October. 

8. Enjoy Ticiland’s Attractions

Ticiland is a small theme park in Stein am Rhein that is perfect for small children. It has a roller coaster, bumper cars, a wave flyer, a drop tower, a Kontiki tree trunk, a carousel, a water mania, a soft play area, bumper boats, a game center, and a magic bike. There is also a toddler playground and a game center.

9. Marvel at the Nativity Scenes (KrippenWelt)

A building in Stein am Rhein, built back in 1302, is one of the oldest buildings in the town. There are up to seven hundred nativity scenes displayed here at Krippenwelt every year, showing the origin of Christmas.


How to Get to Stein am Rhein

Boat, Stein am Rhein
Image of a Boat in Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com


With its convenient location, Stein am Rhein is easily accessible by train from St. Gallen, Winterthur, and Schaffhausen, making it a perfect day trip destination. If you happen to be in Schaffhausen during the summer months, you can embark on a leisurely cruise along the Rhine River all the way to Stein am Rhein.

By TrainDirect trains run from St. Gallen, Kreuzlingen, Steckborn, Winterthur, and Schaffhausen.
By BoatFrom April to October, you can take a boat from Schaffhausen to Stein am Rhein.
By CarFor those coming in by car, you can park near Untertor or near the train station.

GetYourGuide offers a great city tour of Zurich alongside Rhine Falls & Stein am Rhein. This is a decently priced tour with a professional multilingual guide and a comfortable bus. You can buy it from GetYourGuide with this link – Best of Zurich City Tour: Rhine Falls & Stein am Rhein.


Final Thoughts: Stein am Rhein, Switzerland

Located in Switzerland’s north, Stein am Rhein is a beautiful medieval town that exudes timeless beauty. Within easy reach of Zurich and Schaffhausen, it makes for an ideal day trip for those seeking a delightful escape from bustling city life. The town’s breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and diverse attractions make it a captivating destination for visitors of all interests.

Image of St. George's Abbey Garden, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com
Image of St. George’s Abbey Garden, Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

The beauty of Stein am Rhein lies definitely in its meticulously preserved old town. The charming row of houses, each adorned with colorful frescoes and ornate details, creates a picture-perfect sight.

This preservation effort undertaken by the town itself has resulted in a picturesque atmosphere that captivates every visitor. Whether it’s the relaxing promenade on the Rhine or the intricately painted facades, the Stein am Rhein embodies a sense of history and beauty that is truly remarkable.

When it comes to things to do in Stein am Rhein, the options are plentiful. Aside from exploring the old town, you could also wander through the hallowed halls of Saint George’s Abbey, discovering centuries of spiritual and cultural heritage. Dive into local history at the Lindwurm Museum, where artifacts and exhibits shed light on the town’s past. For a panoramic view, climb to Hohenklingen Castle, perched on a hill overlooking the Rhine River.

Easily accessible from many cities in Switzerland, Stein am Rhein is totally worth visiting. You can also combine it with a trip to Schaffhausen or the Rhine Falls. In conclusion, a visit to Stein am Rhein is highly recommended. I have been here three times and have always liked its beauty and rich history.

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Resources

  • 1 Fassadenrenovation in Stein am Rhein. Unsere Kunstdenkmäler : Mitteilungsblatt für die Mitglieder der Gesellschaft für Schweizerische Kunstgeschichte, 1961.
  • Stein am Rhein. Schaffhauserland From the Rhine Falls to Lake Constance. 2020/21. Schaffhauserland.
  • Saint George’s Abbey Guide. Saint George’s Abbey Stein am Rhein, Swiss Confederation.

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Darla is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country. Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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