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 castle, Stein am Rhein offers a respite from the daily grind.
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
The Swiss canton of Schaffhausen includes Stein am Rhein, a pretty historic town. It is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Switzerland.
Located on the Upper Rhine where it flows from Lake Constance, Stein am Rhein is also near the German 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
The following is a list of things to do and discover in Stein am Rhein.
Old Town of Stein am Rhein
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. Facade paintings date from the Renaissance, Baroque, and period around 1900.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the back of the house, it shows farm life in the 19th century and agricultural work. A playroom at the back of the house offers historical toys and costumes for children to play with. Household helpers traditionally occupied the back part of the house.
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.
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.
Three Islands on the Rhine River
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.
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, back to the station. Model steam trains run from April through October.
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.
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
|By Train||Direct trains run from St. Gallen, Kreuzlingen, Steckborn, Winterthur, and Schaffhausen.|
|By Boat||From April to October, you can take a boat from Schaffhausen to Stein am Rhein.|
|By Car||For those coming in by car, you can park near Untertor or near the train station.|
Final Thoughts: Stein am Rhein, Switzerland
With its colorful buildings and superb frescoes on its facades, the Abbey, and the castle, Stein am Rhein is one of Switzerland’s most fantastic getaways. It’s not just the old town that’s beautiful, but you can also go on a boat ride, walk to the island, cycle, or hike.
Consider spending a day in Stein am Rhein if you are staying in Zurich for a few days. In addition, you can combine it with a trip to Schaffhausen or the Rhine Falls.
- 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.