Day two of train touring across Switzerland led us firstly to Schaffhausen and Rhine Falls in the early morning. From Zurich the train ride up to Schaffhausen is about 40 minutes and the train station sits about a five minute walk away from the centre of the town.
Schaffhausen is a beautiful town in northern Switzerland near the German border, sitting on the Upper Rhine. We were treated to another lightly snow covered morning as we wandered the township past an endless amount of intricately painted buildings and baroque style architecture. The charming Old Town is one of the prettiest places we visited in Switzerland, offering wonderful courtyards and shopping. After exploring the town we next hiked up the hill to go to the Munot Fortress.
The Munot is a 16th century, ring-shaped fortress on the hill of Schaffhausen and is surrounded by vinyards. It is the symbol of the city, as well as a great point from which to take in the view.
I felt like I was in some sort of fairy-tale town as I took in the view from the top of the hill. The snow, dusted like icing sugar on the rooftops, gave a sense of magic to the town as you feel like you are peering into a snow globe. After we descended the hill, we made our way to the Rhine Falls.
It was a beautiful, albeit slightly below freezing day when we visited the falls but they are a magnificent site to see when in Schaffhausen. The Rhine Falls is the largest waterfall in Switzerland and in Europe.
It can get quite slippery walking down to the Falls so baby steps were taken to get to each level. After about half an hour at the falls we hiked back up the hill to the train station, off to our next destination.
We had a frosty arrival in Lucerne as icy winds greeted us upon exiting the train station. Though I was very cold, the sun was shining and the skies were clear so we had a great afternoon in store. We began by walking across one of Lucerne’s most famous landmarks, the Chapel Bridge.
The Chapel Bridge is a distinctly recognisable monument of Lucerne, famed for its paintings depicting the history and legends of Lucerne, as well as for being one of the oldest wooden bridges in Europe. Though the fire of 1993 destroyed some of the paintings on the bridge, most of the paintings have been restored and the bridge still stands.
Side Note: The water from the bridge looked crystal clear and I wanted to jump in, though I wouldn’t recommend swimming in sub zero temperatures!
Lucerne is strikingly beautiful and manages to find a balance between structured and natural beauty. Sitting on the waters edge of Lake Lucerne, this medieval city, compact and historic, is unsurprisingly one of the most visited cities in Switzerland, no matter the time of year.
Whatever you do, don’t look at the prices in the watch stores! I already knew Switzerland was an incredibly expensive city but any ambition I may have had for shopping quickly dwindled when I began to look at the price tags…but, window shopping will suffice!
Lucerne also offers a stunning view of the Swiss Alps, amongst grand views of Lake Lucerne of course. Many a tourist can be spotted here trying to capture photos of the Alps…and the swans.
Ah yes, the Dying Lion Monument. We had a little session of getting lost before we found the statue carved into rock. Characterised by Mark Twain as the “saddest and most moving rock in the world”, this Lion is a dedication to the Swiss mercenaries who defended the French royals and gave their lives during the French Revolution of 1792. He was a lot bigger than I expected and the site was very sombre.
Lucerne is a great city begging to be explored. Beyond the fact that I couldn’t feel my face from the cold, I greatly enjoyed wandering the streets of Lucerne, though I still didn’t manage to make it inside any restaurant selling raclette cheese!