Laufen Castle, or Schloss Laufen, is a mediaeval period castle located upon the magnificent Rhine Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in Europe. It is easily accessible by a 40 minute metro train from Zurich.
The entrance fee to tour the castle and get a close up view of Rhine Falls is 5 francs. The coffee shop located on site is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so if you will be making the trip on one of those days, I recommend getting coffee and breakfast prior to visiting Laufen Castle and Rhine Falls, especially considering there is not really anything else at this train stop. There is a restaurant on site (actually located inside of the castle!), but it is only open later in the evening for dinner.
Laufen castle has a great deal of history, however, it is not well presented. The self-guided castle tour reminded me of a creepy, out dated fun house. Inside you will find paintings with the eyes cut out which seem to follow you around the room, weird dioramas, and peculiar mechanical apparatuses. For example, there was a dining table on display set with nice dinnerware. The plates on the table were on mechanical tracks and set on a timer to move around the table. There was also a room designed to look like a train car, which was intended to make you feel like you are really moving. It was a very strange experience, and one that I wasn’t expecting. The one good thing about the castle is that there were some placards placed around the rooms explaining the real history of the castle, but they didn’t do enough to take away the fun house vibe.
Although the castle was a bit of a disappointment, the 5 franc fee was well worth paying just to get up close and personal with Rhine Falls. At 75 feet high and 450 feet wide, this gorgeous waterfall is the largest plain waterfall in Europe. There is a staircase with viewing platforms going up the entire height of the waterfall, so you can see the majestic beauty from both the top, the bottom, and in between. Towards the bottom, there is also a platform that goes out over the river a little bit, so you can almost look at the waterfall head on. This also happens to be a great location for a photo-op!
I can’t describe the breathtaking beauty of Rhine Falls with words, so I’ll just let the pictures do the talking:
Stunning indeed, isn’t it?