If, after seeing a dozen cities in Switzerland, one more comes along that makes you swoon with delight and doesn’t want to leave, then you’ve probably come to the most beautiful city in Switzerland. For us, such a city was Stein am Rhein. See what it captivated us with.
The more one travels, the more difficult it is to get another delight. By force of nature, being in a new place we compare it to other similar places. Having previously seen all those guidebook NAJs, TOPs and Must See places around the world, we sometimes stop noticing the charm and beauty of these lesser-known and popular places.
In our opinion, Swiss cities lag far behind in terms of popularity. Arguably, the cost of traveling in Switzerland causes visitors to focus on winter madness, and few people from Poland choose to vacation in Switzerland in the summer. Since we try to see the glass half full, for us, the fact that we were able to explore the cities in a leisurely fashion almost during the peak season, without standing anywhere in lines or worrying about restaurant seats or parking spaces, makes Switzerland a suitable vacation destination for us.
Circling Switzerland by camper van in less than two weeks, we saw not only natural wonders, but also more than a dozen Swiss cities and towns. Some more Italian, some more German, those better and worse preserved, historical and modern. We had quite a cross-section and could afford to make comparisons, although we are still far from saying we got to know Switzerland intimately.
>> See also our entry: Switzerland – what to see, TOP 5 most beautiful places.
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Stein am Rhein
The city that we remembered best and impressed us the most was definitely the eponymous Stein am Rhein. Although we saved it for last, it definitely trumped all the others we saw along the way. Even the famous Lucerne ;-) Surprised? Lucerne is a unique city, there are more sights to see here, but it was the atmosphere of Stein am Rhein that appealed to us more.
Stein am Rhein attracts primarily with its medieval buildings in the center. The historic part of the city, once surrounded by walls, now with buildings adjacent to a historic gate with a clock tower, after crossing which you enter a completely different world (unfortunately, the gate was destroyed in a bombing during World War II, and the object visible is its faithful reconstruction).
Paved roads, beautifully decorated facades of townhouses, bay windows, wooden structures, sculptures, a fountain in the square. All this creates a unique character of the city. You can spend a few hours here walking around the relatively small historic downtown area, but time flies much slower when you come across little works of art at every turn. And believe us, there is much to admire here. The paintings on the buildings date from different periods, but the oldest dates to 1520 (the Weisser Adler house).
We couldn’t take our eyes off the paintings and decorations, especially those in Rathausplatz. What else is worth paying special attention to? In addition to the aforementioned Weisser Adler house, look out for the Monastery of St. Francis of Assisi. Take a walk over the Rhine River to St. Gregory’s Cathedral and ascend the Rheinbrücke Bridge; a stone bridge once stood here, then a wooden one. The current bridge was built in the second half of the 20th century.
And above all, it is peaceful and very clean here. Each townhouse, each building is well-kept, full of flowers, often with additional decorations and details.
In addition to restaurants and cafes, you will find small stores and many handmade products.
Also worth a visit in the area is Hohenklingen Castle, located on a hilltop, which offers views of Stein am Rhein, the Rhine River and even Lake Untersee. The road on foot from the town takes about 40 minutes.
The historic city center is quite small, but you can easily spend two hours here. If you decide to walk to the aforementioned castle, it is best to plan a full day on site.
You do not enter the most beautiful part of the city by car, but there is a large municipal parking lot (paid) just outside the gate on the northwest side. There were plenty of empty seats, even the camper we could easily fit in. You will not need a car to move between the most interesting sites in the city.
If you’re traveling with a stroller baby, you don’t have to worry about moving – the local pavement is easily passable. It can be harder when it comes to restaurants, stores, cafes – many are cramped and entry may require more acrobatics.
It gives us incredible satisfaction to discover such places. Places not so popular, a little undiscovered. Places that are deeply memorable despite the many, other cities and towns visited.
Let the best summary be a sentence from the Lonely Planet guidebook, with which we fully agree: Why this place is not yet a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
You can see more photos in our gallery:
Zobacz galerię wszystkich zdjęć z Stein am Rhein >>>
We also recommend our post After Switzerland by camper – first impressions and the practical post Campsites in Switzerland, or Switzerland by camper!