Rhine Falls in Switzerland
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5 of the BEST waterfalls in Switzerland to visit

April 3, 2024 Last Updated on April 25, 2024

If you love the sight and sound of cascading water, then you need to know all about the best waterfalls in Switzerland to visit. 

This scenic country is home to the biggest waterfall in Europe. Astonishingly, you can also find 72 waterfalls in Switzerland in just one valley, Lauterbrunnen, which is also known as the Switzerland waterfall village. 

Whether you want to visit the most famous waterfall in Switzerland, or a slightly lesser-known one, this guide to five of the best will show you where to go.

This article is packed with information, including the location, how to get there, when they’re open, whether entry is free or paid, what to do there, and what makes each one special. 

The five Swiss waterfalls covered here are Rhine Falls, Trümmelbach Falls, Giessbach Falls, Reichenbach Falls, and Engstligen Falls. 

All of these have something unique to offer, whether it’s the height or vastness of the falls themselves, or the Alpine setting. One is even located underground.

Getting to the falls is all part of the fun, as you can use funicular railways, cable cars, and scenic hikes to reach them. Read on so you can plan your Swiss waterfall adventure!

🇨🇭 This article is a modified transcript of episode 95 of our podcast with special guest Melinda Schoutens of Fresh Air Kids.  Listen here.

[This post may contain compensated links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.]

Rhine Falls

Location: near Schaffhausen

View over Rhine Falls
Rhine Falls seen from above.

Though not very high, Rhine Falls is the largest waterfall in Europe, due to the vastness of the site.  The single drop waterfall is 150 metres wide and during the summer months the water flows at an impressive rate of 600,000 litres per second!

The falls can be found in the Schaffhausen area, and, not surprisingly, visiting the Rhine Falls is one of the most popular things to do in Schaffhausen

There are many easy hiking trails for exploring and you can also take a variety of boat tours to see the falls from the water, while escaping the crowds. 

The ideal time to see Rhine Falls is between April and November. July and August are the best months, but also the busiest.

The falls are open all year round, subject to satisfactory weather conditions. Boat tours only operate from late March or April onwards, however. 

Rhine Falls boat trips include Rhyfall-Mändli, a half-hour trip with a shorter 15-minute option. You’ll get very close to the thundering falls, so expect it to be a noisy experience.

These boat tours normally commence at the end of March, running throughout the summer and into autumn.

Another boat tour option is the 30-minute or one-and-a-half-hour Schiffmändli trips. These can get you out onto the water from early April. The longer tour allows you to learn more about the local area. 

Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen in Switzerland
Boat trips at the Rhine Falls allow you to get very close to the falls.

A third option is to take a brunch boat trip, lasting for around two hours and 30 minutes. This includes a meal, and a longer tour around the falls.

Allow at least two to three hours at Rhine Falls to fully appreciate them. You can arrive in two places, either Neuhausen am Rheinfall or Schaffhausen on the northern banks, or Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall at the southern banks. 

If you want to spend longer at Rhine Falls, the site offers a museum, a climbing park, and an adventure park for kids aged four plus. The falls are also illuminated during the evening, except when there’s a full moon. 

Some visitors hike to the falls from the train station in Schaffhausen, which is a few miles away.

This means passing through the downtown, and arriving via different viewpoints than you would when alighting at Neuhausen am Rheinfall or Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall train stations. 

If you want to see these waterfalls in Switzerland from Zurich, Basel, or other Swiss or European cities, then you could drive there instead of taking the train. You can reach the car park by following the Rheinfall signs. 

> We recommend this Rhine Falls day trip from Zurich

There is no fee to enter the Rhine Falls site. However you will have to pay for parking, if applicable. As you would expect, boat trips also incur charges. 

🇨🇭 Read more: A Guide to Visiting the Rhine Falls

Trümmelbach Falls

Location: Stechelberg

Trummelbach Falls near Lauterbrunnen
One of the waterfalls that form part of the Trümmelbach Falls.

Trümmelbach Falls can be found in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, also known as the Valley of Waterfalls. This valley is known for tumbling water features as there are 72 waterfalls here. 

Trümmelbach Falls are unique because they are the largest underground waterfalls in Europe and are reached by an elevator inside the glacier cave. 

Seeing the falls is a memorable experience, and the sound echoes loudly around the subterranean setting. The 10 underground falls are fed by glaciers in this part of Switzerland, and around 20,000 litres of water are pumped per second. 

You can reach the falls by taking the train to Lauterbrunnen, then hiking for a couple of miles or so. It’s an easy, flat route, taking you past pretty meadows and steep cliff faces.

Alternatively, a local bus service can take you directly from Lauterbrunnen train station to the Trümmelbachfälle stop at the falls, or you can drive. There is free parking. Once you arrive at the site, there are stairs to navigate. 

Entry to Trümmelbach Falls is paid. At the time of writing, this is CHF 14 for adults and CHF 6 for children. 

People standing on a viewing platform inside a glacier cave to see the Trümmelbach Falls near Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland
Inside the glacier cave to witness the Trümmelbach Falls. © Fresh Air Kids

Allow around two hours or more for your visit to the falls. If you want to pack a picnic to enjoy here, as many people do, you might like to allow extra time for that. You can also buy food at the falls, as there’s a small kiosk selling drinks and snacks.

Do note that kids aged under four cannot visit Trümmelbach Falls, for safety reasons. Dogs aren’t permitted, either. 

As with all waterfalls in Switzerland, it can be cold and wet at the site. Hiking boots, layers and a waterproof jacket are all recommended. 

Trümmelbach Falls are normally open between April and November from 9 am to 5 pm. In the peak summer tourist season during July and August, they’re open for a little longer, between 8.30 am and 6 pm. 

One thing to note about Trümmelbach Falls is that they’re located underground, and reached by elevator. They might not, therefore, be the best falls to visit in Switzerland if you suffer from claustrophobia. 

The falls can be subject to closure due to inclement weather conditions, so always check before embarking on your journey. 

🇨🇭 Read more: 8 Spectacular things to do in Lauterbrunnen

Giessbach Falls

Location: Lake Brienz

Giessbach Falls on Lake Brienz Switzerland
Giessbach Falls cascade down the hillside into Lake Brienz.

If you want to find waterfalls in Switzerland in the Interlaken area, Giessbach Falls are the most spectacular. With 14 tiers, the sight of the water thundering into Lake Brienz is pretty impressive. 

Getting to Giessbach Falls is also a special experience. Whilst you can access them by car, the most spectacular way to get to Giessbach Falls is by taking a boat trip over Lake Brienz.  Boat trips on Lake Brienz are free for holders of the Swiss Travel Pass, Berner Oberland Pass and Jungfrau Travel Pass.

On arrival at the Giessbach See (lake) boat pier, you can then board a funicular railway, one of Europe’s oldest, in fact, for the short ride to the Grandhotel Giessbach for your first glimpse of the falls.

The Giessbach Bahn (funicular) dates back to 1879, and was fully renovated in 2019. It can carry up to 40 passengers to the falls at any one time. 

As well as an easy 20-minute circular trail from the Grandhotel, there are numerous other hiking trails in the area. The loop, though, does offer breathtaking views from beneath the waterfall, and is easy to access as it commences from Grandhotel Giessbach. 

If you do drive to Giessbach Falls there is a fee for the car park, though some visitors do manage to find free parking on the road close by. The route is well signposted and entry to Giessbach Falls is free.

Giessbach Falls at Lake Brienz near Interlaken, Switzerland
Giessbach Falls are at their most impressive from April to October.

Ideally, visit Giessbach Falls between April and October, though they are normally accessible all year round, but not always by boat. You’ll need to allow at least an hour or two for your visit to the falls. 

Allow additional time if you want to take a boat trip on Lake Brienz, would like to spend some time at Grandhotel Giessbach, or wish to take a longer hike. 

There is a restaurant at the hotel where you can enjoy a meal or a snack or coffee. It’s an attractive and historic property, dating back to the 1870s. If you do want to dine there, note that the restaurant is open daily between April and October only. From November to March, it closes on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

If you feel like taking another longer, circular hike, a narrow and twisting trail through the forest, via a set of stone steps, will lead you to a superb viewpoint. This is about 200 metres above Lake Brienz, and offers sweeping panoramas over the lake. 

Like Rhine Falls, Giessbach Falls are illuminated at night, offering a different perspective during hours of darkness.

It’s best not to head to Giessbach Falls if you have young children in tow. The routes are only suitable for kids aged six plus, and aren’t really appropriate for buggies or strollers. 

To make the most of visiting Giessbach Falls, why not stay overnight at the Grandhotel Giessbach? That way you can enjoy views of the falls when all the day trippers have left, including when they’re illuminated at night. 

🇨🇭 Read more: Lake Brienz – Top Sights and Attractions

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Reichenbach Falls

Located: Willigen, near Meiringen

Reichenbach Falls near Meiringen in Switzerland
Reichenbach Falls near Meiringen.

A visit to Reichenbach Falls is a must for anyone who wants to follow in the footsteps of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1893 novel The Final Problem, the falls were where Holmes duelled his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, to the death. 

A commemorative plaque marks the spot of the fictional fight, and the falls are 110 metres high. Reichenbach Falls are located in the Meiringen area, and you can reach them by car, public transport, or on foot. 

Swiss PostBus services can deliver you from Meiringen train station to the Reichenbachfall-Bahn station. The stop you need is Willigen, Klinik Reichenbach. Alternatively, it’s about a 20 minute walk.

Once you get there, you’ll need to climb stairs to access the funicular railway, making it unsuitable for the mobility impaired or child strollers. 

Due to safety concerns, it’s not recommended that children under six visit Reichenbach Falls. 

If you do drive, there is some parking by the Reichenbachfall-Bahn’s base station. The Alpbach car park, which is about five to 10 minutes’ walk from the bahn, provides more spaces. 

Taking the Reichenbachfall-Bahn is a fun way to arrive at the falls. It dates back to 1899, and you’ll travel in heritage wooden carriages. There are three viewing platforms close to the summit station, too. 

The best time to visit Reichenbach Falls is between early May and early October. During winter, there isn’t really sufficient water for the flow, and certainly not the full effect. 

A sign showing the funicular and waterfall at Reichenbach Falls near Meiringen in Switzerland
Reichenbach Falls can be reached by funicular.

The funicular railway operates during May and October, between 9 am and 5.30 pm daily. Currently, tickets cost CHF 8 for an adult single or CHF 12 for a return, and child fares are CHF 6 or CHF 8 for a single or round trip ticket.

Combined tickets for the funicular, plus other attractions like the Sherlock Holmes museum or Aare Gorge, are also available. 

Discounted rates on the Reichenbachfall-Bahn apply to holders of the Berner Oberland Pass.

While the falls are technically free to visit, even those arriving by car should factor in the cost of the funicular train ride, as you’ll need to park your vehicle close to the base station. 

If you want to hike, a trail leads from the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Meiringen to Reichenbach Falls.

The trek will take you via Willigen, Schwendi, and Zwirgi to the funicular’s summit station to the location of Holmes’s and Moriarty’s battle. 

Fans of the fictional detective won’t want to miss the museum, in any case!

An alternative route leads from the summit station of the Reichenbachfall-Bahn to where Sherlock Holmes entered the water. You can descend via the family trail (T1), or the direct trail (T2). 

If you hike up, you can always take the funicular back down, as many people do. Hiking boots and trekking poles can be useful for the steep ascent and descent. 

Note that there are steps at the start of the hiking trail, and you’ll also be walking on the road at the beginning. Some sections pass close to the falls, so be very careful if hiking with young children. 

🇨🇭 Read more: Things to do in Meiringen

Engstligen Falls

Location: near Adelboden

Engstligen Falls
Engstligen Falls are the second-longest falls in Switzerland. © Fresh Air Kids

Engstligen Falls are lesser known than the other Swiss waterfalls listed here, but are absolutely beautiful and well worth visiting.

The falls are listed within the Swiss Inventory of Landscapes of National Significance, and have had protected status since 1948. 

Engstligen Falls lie in the Adelboden area, in the Bernese Highlands. You can hike for an hour-and-a-half to reach them from Adelboden, or jump on the 232 bus to the Unter dem Birg stop by the cable car station.

From there, you can walk to the falls in about 45 minutes, via a hiking path through the mountains that’s accessible in summer.

It’s also possible to view the falls from above, by taking a cable car ride at Engstligenalp. If you’ll be driving, you can find parking at the gondola station too. There’s also a kids’ playground and a restaurant here. 

The cable car will take you up to the Alpine plateau of Engstligenalp, for superb views over the surrounding area and glimpses of the falls. Once you arrive at Engstligenalp, there are several places to eat. 

There is also a fixed rope route, Chäligang, right by the cascading falls. As this isn’t too challenging, it’s suitable for all ages and skill levels. 

Engstligen Falls near Adelboden in Switzerland
View of the Engstligen Falls when approached on foot.

The setting of the thundering falls is lovely, with alpine meadows and rocks or benches to sit on. In spring, the meadows are filled with colourful wildflowers.

Children will also love seeing the cows grazing in the fields in summer. There’s also wooden alpine huts you can have coffee at, or even stay in. 

Some family-friendly themed trails can also be found in the area, including a Globi themed trail (Globi is a popular Swiss kids’ cartoon character). Bouldering fans will also love the fact that there’s plenty of boulders here to have a crack at. 

The best way to see Engstligen Falls is to take a hike. There is a short walk from the lower gondola station to the lower falls, and it’s only around a kilometre.

If you can, the longer downhill hike is more rewarding, and is around 2.5 miles (or four kilometres) long. 

This is a moderate to difficult trail, so sturdy hiking boots, a rainproof jacket, and trekking poles are helpful. This hike commences at the top cable car station, Engstligenalp.

It takes around an hour-and-a-half to complete the steep descent, and you can expect to get quite wet! 

As a nature reserve, there’s no charge to visit Engstligen Falls. Do budget for your cable car tickets, though, which currently cost CHF 26 one way or CHF 37 return for adults. Child prices are CHF 13 or CHF 18.50. 

Holders of a Berner Oberland Pass travel free on the cable car and bus.

As with other waterfalls in Switzerland, summer is the best time to visit Engstligen Falls. Though cable cars run all year round, hiking trails are only generally accessible between April and October. 

🇨🇭 Read more: Berner Oberland Pass guide

Top 10 tips for visiting waterfalls in Switzerland

  1. Check webcams and the weather forecast before setting off, and for safety reasons, don’t hike when it’s too wet or windy. 
  2. The main hiking season is between June and September, and it’s best not to visit most waterfalls between December and March. 
  3. Plan all public transport connections ahead of time – and always know when the last cable car or funicular train departs.
  4. Wear layers for the changeable weather, especially in the mountains. 
  5. A rainproof jacket is a must when visiting waterfalls, unless you want to get soaked.
  6. Strong hiking boots, offering a good level of grip, are also essential. 
  7. Always bring plenty of water – more than you think you’ll need. 
  8. Sun protection is also necessary, even when it’s not sunny. 
  9. Many Swiss waterfalls aren’t suitable for young children, and hiking routes may not be stroller or wheelchair friendly. 
  10. The European emergency services number is 112.
Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen is considered amongst the top 10 waterfalls in Switzerland. © Fresh Air Kids

The top 10 waterfalls in Switzerland 

Whilst this list is of course subjective, the following are regarded as the 10 best waterfalls in Switzerland.

  1. Rhine Falls – Europe’s largest waterfall, located in the Schaffhausen area
  2. Trümmelbach Falls – 10 underground falls with elevator access near Lauterbrunnen
  3. Giessbach Falls – 14-tier falls at Lake Brienz accessed via the Giessbach Bahn
  4. Reichenbach Falls – The Sherlock Holmes falls in the Meiringen area
  5. Engstligen Falls – In the Adelboden area with a cable car and Alpine setting
  6. Staubbach Falls – One of the the most popular waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen area
  7. Mürrenbach Falls – Tall waterfall close to the car-free village of Mürren
  8. Cascata della Piumogna – Small but stunning waterfall in Ticino
  9. Foroglio Waterfall – Close to Locarno in the Italian-speaking region
  10. Rosenlaui Glacier Gorge – With rock formations, whirlpools and waterfalls

Best Waterfalls in Switzerland – Final Thoughts

Visiting at least one waterfall in Switzerland surely belongs on the itinerary of every summer season visitor.

Whether you venture underground to see unique subterranean falls, visit at night to see an illuminated waterfall, or head for one of the biggest waterfalls in Europe, cascading natural wonders await. 

Pack a picnic, take a cable car ride, book a boat trip, or board a funicular railway, and you can enjoy spending time outdoors in the scenic Swiss landscape.

Wherever you go, just don’t forget to carry your rain jacket along with you!

🇨🇭 Ready to plan your Switzerland vacation? Start with our Planning a Trip to Switzerland guide and then discover the many amazing Things to Do in Switzerland. If you plan to travel around Switzerland by train, be sure to read our guide to Using the Swiss Rail System.

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