Literally translated as “Little Stone on the River” in German, Stein am Rhein is a whimsical, quaint ancient town flooded with a rich “Disney-like” atmosphere. Think about Beauty and the Beast and the amusing town where Belle lives with her father! This is exactly what Stein am Rhein reminds me of.
Located where the Constance Lake joins the Rhine River, Stein am Rhein preserves a mind-blowing collection of Fresco buildings where ancient paintings have been intact ever since they were created in the 16th century.
This quaint little town seems to be a place where time doesn’t exist. You instantly forget the world out there and transport yourself back to the Middle Ages. Emerging from an old fishing village at the dawn of time, Stein am Rhein today is a beautiful destination in Switzerland that you’ve gotta see once in a lifetime. This Stein am Rhein guidebook will reveal my favorite places to see and how to get there.
3 Best Ways to Get to Stein am Rhein from Zurich
Driving takes less than an hour to arrive in Stein am Rhein from Zurich. Since Stein am Rhein is a small place to visit, you can cover most of the sites on foot after parking your car at one of the lots outside of the town walls at a fee.
If you don’t have a car (like most tourists), taking a train from Zurich is a handy way to get to Stein am Rhein. It’s an hour-long train ride starting from Zurich HB Station and getting off at Stein am Rhein Station. Even though it’s a public train, it’s completely modern, clean, and stocked up with coffee machines on board.
By an Organized Day Trip
Consult this day tour to Stein am Rhein from Zurich if you’re traveling with kids and seniors or if you simply need a tour guide to help you learn as much as possible.
A day tour like this also comes in handy when it eliminates all the hassle of self-navigating. They will inform you’re a meet-up point and start the tour in the morning before taking you back to Zurich later in the afternoon.
Therefore, if you’re not keen on the idea of catching and switching trains, let a local guide take care of the hard work so all you need to do is fully enjoy the experience.
5 Best Things to Do in Stein am Rhein: A Day-Trip Ideas and Itinerary
Walk the Old Town and Cross the Rheinbrücke Bridge
After visiting Rhine Falls in the morning, I switched the train around noon time before binding to the Stein am Rhein Station. After getting off, I followed the signs for ” Altstadt Historic City Center” in about 5 minutes and the city center was already there.
Keep following the cobble-stoned streets and they will lead you to the Rheinbrücke Bridge, a starting point for local swimmers for bridge jumping and swimming with their floating pool noodle foam tube and inflatable boats down the Rhine River.
The Rheinbrücke Bridge connects two parts of the city together. The old quarter of Stein am Rhein is located on one side of the bridge, steeped in history, with colorful half-timbered houses splashed with vivid Fresco paintings.
Walking around the old town with the Rathausplatz town hall square serving as the centerpiece seems as if it transports you back to the medieval era in Europe. Rathausplatz town hall square serves as the centerpiece of the old town. Each building has its own story to tell and is beautiful in its own way. The old town has been awarded the Wakker Prize, a Swiss Heritage Society, to a municipality of Switzerland for the making and saving of its historical buildings.
Chase the Fresco Buildings
One of the coolest things to see in Stein am Rhein is embracing the Fresco collection around the town. Fresco houses have become a cultural practice of artistic painting dating back to the 16th century. It seems as if each of the houses tells a different story, with every painting lingering to one another that keeps you coming back for more.
Learning about the painting technique makes it even more exciting. The alkali-resistant pigments need to be dissolved in water and applied to the plaster walls when it’s still wet. This is a crucial step to ensure the colors stay intact on the walls right afterward and to help the shades pop out even more.
Visit the Museum Kloster Sankt Georgen
Looking out to the scenic river, the museum opens a door to the Medieval era with a huge collection of intricate Renaissance frescoes and historical artifacts dedicated to Roman history. I was so glad that I made it here and embraced the chance to soak in the beauty of the 15th-century paintings of Saint George and other religious figures as well as the winemaking tradition.
It fits in beautifully into the village of Stein am Rhein. As the crowds faded by the time I popped in, I could literally smell and feel the history flowing through and admire the arches and ceilings. You can literally spend more than an hour here.
Take a Step Back in Time at the St. George’s Abbey (Kloster St. Georgen)
Neighboring the museum and looking out to the Rheinbrücke Bridge, the St. George’s Abbey is a small monastery celebrating Stein am Rhein’s history and architecture. The building has nothing to envy other world-renowned churches or basilicas. The simplicity and serenity themselves are the key factors that set St. George’s Abbey apart.
This abbey dates back to the 11th century, promoting a peaceful and sacred environment where the monks used to settle a thousand years ago. Most of the rooms and interior spaces are flooded with ornate fresco paintings.
As soon as I left the abbey behind, the tremendous town hall square began to pop out, beckoning my attention towards the old houses, windows, frescoes, and huts that enclose the cobble-stoned streets (again).
I decided to spend a while here resting up around the fountain at the town hall square. Surrounding this area is a heap of open-air dining holes where tourists dine out with a view on a breezy afternoon.
Take on a Hike to Burg Hohenklingen Castle with a View
At the end of the day, I took a short climb uphill to visit the Burg Hohenklingen, a stoned castle opening out to a majestic view over the Stein am Rhein down below.
This is such a whimsical place to soak up the view and admire the rustic beauty reflected by all the washed-out roofs. From above, the whole town is flooded with a simple mashup of colors including beige, white, and green. Despite the simplicity, Stein am Rhein is still colorful and gorgeous in its own way, delivering a dream-like atmosphere of an old Swiss city.
The hike up the castle was not bad at all. There’s a set of stairs along the way to make the hike easier. They also have a restaurant on the top where you can sit out on the balcony and munch on a mouthful meal.
Final Words: Where Can You Go Outside of Stein am Rhein?
Less than half an hour eastbound, Rhine Falls is a famous attraction in the country for a getaway from history. The magnificent waterfall is located between the cantons of Zürich and Schaffhausen, beckoning hordes of visitors in spring and summer.
And while Schaffhausen is not the first place popping into your mind when it comes to the best places to visit in Switzerland, this small historic town is dotted with fine Renaissance-era buildings decorated with exterior frescos and sculptures that history buffs and architecture fanatics love to see.