Schaffhausen may not ring a bell when it comes to choosing a holiday destination in Switzerland. But when you walk amidst its renaissance-era architecture or take a stroll by its riverside promenades you will feel the magic of Schaffhausen cast its spell over your heart. It is not a large city and that’s a part of its rustic charm. It is located close to Switzerland’s largest waterfall and offers a range of outdoor activities that will let you explore the best of what Schaffhausen has to offer.
Schaffhausen’s medieval Old Town is a treasure-chest full of cultural, historical and artistic riches that have been lovingly preserved in their original forms. The fountains in the squares and the stone clock towers add character to this grand old quarter. The intricately decorated bay windows and the gaily painted facades lending them a special brand of old-world charm. All these elements come together beautifully to give you an unforgettable experience on your explorations.
Schaffhausen’s architecture seems to be an inseparable part of its appeal. Even amidst the opulent decor of the old town, the Haus sum Ritter (House of the Knight) is a stunning structure that is a real treat for the eyes. Its exterior is decorated with one of the most significant murals north of the Alps depicting civil virtues. The current art is a recreation since the original frescoes are preserved in the All Saints Museum.
The Munot is a 16th-century fortress that is yet another symbol of the city. The round fortress is the perfect vantage point that affords the best views of the city and its surroundings. Though there’s nothing much else to see inside, the views from here are definitely worth the climb. The Munot Rose Garden near the fortress offers you the same fantastic views amidst the sweet fragrance of around 170 species of roses. The Rhine’s waterfront offers a fresh perspective of Munot and indeed of the entire town. Güterhof, a restored warehouse near the waterfront is now converted into a cocktail bar, lounge, restaurant and cafe. A dinner here is served with fantastic views of the Rhine under the canopy of stars.
Head to the 11th-century Abbey of Allerheiligen for a taste of Schaffhausen’s history. What was once a Benedictine Monastery is now an important centre of Schaffhausen’s art, history and culture. The complex is home to Switzerland’s largest cloister and the impressive Schillerglocke (the Schiller Bell). The bell cast in 1486, weighs in at an imposing 4.5 tons and was in use until 1895 in the Allerheiligen Cathedral.
With so many attractions awaiting you at Schaffhausen, it is important that you know the best time to visit this Swiss wonder. Here’s a brief look at Schaffhausen’s seasons that will help you decide.
Peak Season : Summer (June to August) is the peak season in Schaffhausen. The weather is a pleasant mix of warm temperatures and intermittent rainfall that doesn’t deter you from your plans. The whole town wears a green cover and soaks in the warmth that lasts during the season. Nature is in full bloom and so is tourism. As tourists keep streaming in, you might find the town to be a bit crowded. But then this is the season to be in Schaffhausen and enjoy the variety of delights that the town puts up every summer.
Shoulder Season : If you want to enjoy Schaffhausen without the crowds, the two shoulder seasons: spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are the best seasons to visit. Though not as warm as the summer, it is not as cold as winter either. The rains let up a little and the weather stays pleasant. You can still enjoy outdoor activities and indulge in some retail therapy. Between these two seasons you can save quite a bit on your travel and accommodation and still enjoy the best Schaffhausen has to offer.
Low Season : As winter (December to February) approaches, the temperatures fall dramatically and stay in single digits throughout the season. January and February receive the most snow while January is the coldest month of the year. Though this is a low season for regular tourists, it is the perfect season for thrill-seekers to appease their need for speed on the slick, snowy slopes around the town. But even if you’re not interested in any of the outdoor activities, Schaffhausen will keep you entertained with its cultural and artistic opulence that is a treat for culture vultures. And you can enjoy all of it without the usual crowds of tourists.
|March - May
|9 to 18°C
|Plesant with Rainfall
|June - August
|21 to 23°C
|Wartm with Rainfall
|September - November
|8 to 19°C
|Plesant with Rainfall
|December - February
|2 to 3 °C
|Cold with snowfall
Temperature - The pleasant spring of Schaffhausen sees temperatures averaging between 9 to 18°C. The start of the season sees lower temperatures during the night.
Weather - Schaffhausen gradually warms up as summer approaches and the rains make a comeback to replace the snow. The days grow longer and the weather begins to shed the last vestiges of winter. By April, spring completely takes over the town.
Significance - As the snow melts away, greenery starts taking over. The winter crowds fade away with the snow and serenity takes over Schaffhausen. The town starts preparing for the busy summer season even as hiking trails begin waking up after a cold, snowy winter. Some hotels won’t open until late spring but the ones that open offer good discounts on their services.
Why you should visit now - This is one of the two seasons to enjoy your time in Schaffhausen without its usual crowds. Though outdoor activities won’t start until late into the season, there’s plenty to be explored in and around the town. The All Saints Museum in the Old Town is one of the most important ones in Switzerland. With exhibits dating back to prehistoric times, it chronicles the region’s history quite comprehensively.
The IWC Museum pays homage to the timeless art of Swiss watchmaking. It is an exclusive museum dedicated to the company’s history and lineage which is over 150 years old. You can also buy yourself a Swiss watch to remember your Schaffhausen holiday. The Doll Museum is a fairyland full of dolls, teddy bears and plush toys from the olden times. Remember your visit with a Heide Ott Doll at the end of your museum visit.
A visit to Mondglas glass studio at Hallau will introduce you to the beautiful craft of glass blowing at close quarters. You will get behind-the-scenes access to creating some of the most exquisite works of art in glass. You can also try your hand at creating your own masterpiece with a little guidance from the experts.
Things to know before the visit - Your itinerary will be a busy one as you explore the art, history and culture of Schaffhausen. You can even enjoy outdoor activities in the latter part of the season as summer approaches near. If you’re planning your holiday during this time, you should know that not all activities are open until the peak tourist season.
Tips - Early spring is a chilly time. So, even though you need not carry your heaviest woollens, a jacket will come in handy in keeping the chill at bay. If you plan to explore the outdoors make sure you take along sturdy trekking shoes suited to long treks.
Temperature - The warm summers of Schaffhausen see the temperatures average between 21 to 23°C during the day. The evening and night temperatures see an average dip to 3 to 4°C.
Weather - The warm, sunny days are perfect for sightseeing and outdoor adventure activities. It never gets too hot even as temperatures can sometimes go up to 28°C. This is also the wettest season of Schaffhausen.
Significance - This is the season to experience everything that the town has to offer as one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. You can enjoy a host of outdoor activities, from trekking to river rafting and even a leisurely swim in the Rhine.
Why you should visit now - Explore Schaffhausen accompanied by the sweet summer smells of nature in full bloom. This season allows you to pack your holiday with a selection of experiences, some of which are exclusive to summer. The roaring Rhine Falls throw up a perpetual mist that lends an aura of power to the cascades. Experience their majesty from the viewing platform as the falls thunder beneath your feet. Savour unusual flavours of ice cream at El Bertin Glacé, a local institution. Enjoy your ice cream with a walk along the river.
Another way to cool down in summer is to head out to the Rhybadi. It is a natural swimming pool on the River Rhine. It is the biggest and the oldest of its kind in Switzerland. Open since 1870, this is where generations of locals have learned swimming. Fenced off from the main river, it is a safe place for the whole family to enjoy a summer swim. It is well-equipped with showers, changing rooms and even a sunning deck.
Outside the city, the region is criss-crossed by a network of trekking trails. These will take you through some of the most breath-taking sceneries in all of Switzerland. Trekking is one of the main attractions of Schaffhausen in summer.
Things to know before the visit - There’s plenty to explore in and around the town at this time of the year. Start your trip with the outdoors and gradually work your way inwards. Schaffhausen’s Old Town is especially vibrant during this time of the year and needs at least two days for a thorough exploration.
Tips - Light summer dresses will be well-suited to Schaffhausen’s summer weather. But do carry a jacket along for cool evenings and nights. If you’re in Old Town, you can safely drink the water from the fountains. Out on the trails, it is best to keep a water bottle with you call the times.
Temperature - As soon as summer ends, the temperatures start their descent and steady between 8 to 19°C.
Weather - As the days start eating shorter, the mercury dips. As the season progresses, it starts becoming colder. It starts snowing by the end of November and the days leading to it see single-digit temperatures.
Significance - Autumn again sees an exodus of tourists after the peak season in summer. As the weather cools, down Schaffhausen follows suit and starts preparing for the winter. The outdoor activities begin to shut down one by one and all the sightseeing moves indoors in its museums and art galleries.
Why you should visit now - Autumn is the season of peaceful explorations and long evening walks. There are a few tourists around to disturb you and you can enjoy the town at your leisure. Climb the Munot Fortress on crisp autumn mornings for a spectacular panorama of Schaffhausen set against the serene River Rhine. The Munot Rose Garden might not be in bloom, but the views from here are as magnificent as in summer. This is a highly recommended experience in autumn.
Take a day-trip to the nearby wine growing village of Hallau and explore its idyllic squares and cobblestoned alleys. The village’s main street is lined with fountains and warm, inviting inns. The village has the region’s largest vineyards and hosts numerous wine festivals throughout the year. Take vineyard tours by horse-drawn carriage and go on a wine-tasting tour around the village. Other attractions include the Schaffhauser Weinbaumuseum, the glassworks factory and the 14th-century St. Moritz Church.
The Adventure Park Rheinfall is fun for the entire family with its beautiful views of the Rhine Falls and Switzerland’s largest rope park. Test your skills on fast zip lines and high banana jumps. You can experience a different side of Schaffhausen in autumn away from all the hustle and bustle of the peak season.
Things to know before the visit - You may find good deals on your travel and accommodation during this season. Some outdoor activities like the Adventure Park may close earlier than usual due to weather. Prepare for this eventuality while planning your day.
Tips - Though it doesn’t get cold, it is still chilly. Dress in layers and dress warm. Pre-book your museum and theatre tickets online to get discounted prices.
Temperature - The winter temperatures in Schaffhausen average between 2 to 3°C, but goes below zero during the coldest part of the season.
Weather - With such low temperatures, the weather encourages you to limit your excursions to indoor explorations. It snows about 8 to 10 times per month severely curtailing outdoor activities.
Significance - Skiing and snowboarding are the main drivers of tourism during a very cold winter. Though museums, theatre and art exhibits are open, no other outdoor activities are possible. But the cold weather makes a wonderful background to some flavourful culinary explorations.
Why you should visit now - Winter is the season of magic in Schaffhausen. The town completes its transition from an Alpine fairytale into a winter wonderland. The sparkling snow covers the town under a pristine white blanket that provides a beautiful contrast to the colourful architecture and the dazzling shopping avenues. The Old Town is a thriving shopping destination that houses local shops selling cheese, wine, jewellery, glassware and other souvenirs. If you’re missing the larger shopping centres, you’ll find these in the newer parts of the town or on its outskirts. Shopping in Schaffhausen is all about the experience rather than the actual shopping itself.
You simply must not miss skiing in Schaffhausen. The Randenspur is a prime skiing location that sits snugly between vast unspoiled stretches of the forest and comes with some impressive views to complement the impressive skiing track. It passes through forests and meadows to lead up to the Schloss Randen Castle. When the evenings get too cold for skiing, head to Stadttheater Schaffhausen for an evening of entertainment. Here you will be treated to a variety of performances that include theatrical renditions of The Wizard of Oz and the famous Così fan tutte.
Things to know before the visit - Since this is an off season for regular tourism, you will have most of the town to yourself. While you may need to pre-book your theatre tickets, museums and other indoor attractions are not crowded at this time of the year.
Tips - There’s no way of getting around the fact that Schaffhausen is cold in winters. So cold that you will need your best woollens to stay warm. Book your theatre tickets online to avoid queues and enjoy discounts. Wear waterproof shoes to keep your feet dry and warm. If snow does get in, change your socks immediately to avoid frostbite.
Schaffhausen doesn’t figure high on the list of holiday destinations in Switzerland. But with its amazing medieval architecture, stunning natural beauty and the winter adventures, it definitely deserves to be on it. Thomas Cook’s carefully curated Swiss holidays will show you the best of Schaffhausen that will keep you coming back for more. Book your holiday online or visit your nearest Thomas Cook branch for a customised holiday package.