Swiss Watching trivia, No 16: Rhine Falls

August 16, 2010, 6 Comments


Jumping into the basin of Europe’s largest waterfalls may seem a very foolish – and therefore very unSwiss – thing to do, but it’s strangely popular with some Swiss teenage boys. Such daredevil acts (do not try this at home!) are both dangerous and only possible in high summer, when the water levels are at their peak: 700,000 litres per second going over the falls. I’d rather stick to swimming in the river Aare.  Far safer, and drier, to hear the roar and feel the spray of the falls by staying on the concrete platforms built out from the cliff face. Better yet, ride on a longboat against the tide to a small outcrop of rock in the middle of the falls and watch the water rush by on both sides. Niagara they are not but at 150 metres wide and 23 m high, the Rhine Falls are Europe’s largest waterfalls. Although the River Rhine forms the Swiss-German border for some of its length, thanks to an abnormal bulge in the border the falls sit completely within Canton Schaffhausen, Switzerland’s most northerly outpost.

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6 Comments on "Swiss Watching trivia, No 16: Rhine Falls"

  1. John Zimmer Monday August 16th, 2010 at 12:13 PM · Reply


    Two comments:

    1. I grew up in Southern Ontario a stone’s throw from Niagara Falls. My parents still live there. Niagara might be more majestic than the Rhine Falls, but having seen the latter, I very much like how one can get so close to it on the platforms you mention.

    2. In the video, I did not see any heads bobbing in the water. People went in but I didn’t see any come out. I’m just sayin’ …



    • swisswatching Monday August 16th, 2010 at 12:37 PM · Reply

      The power of Niagara is amazing, but the Rhine Falls is a bit like Switzerland itself – smaller and more accessible. I love going there, though I’d never be one to jump in. Apparently you get sucked under in the foam and then pop up downstream a bit. Sounds like hell.

  2. Patrick Tuesday August 17th, 2010 at 11:24 PM · Reply

    “Europe’s largest waterfalls” is disputed… in terms of volume discharge, it’s Dettifoss in Iceland, see

  3. Patrick Thursday August 19th, 2010 at 01:05 AM · Reply

    Well, the core of the problem probably is that terms like “large” aren’t clearly defined. You could call the broadest waterfall the “largest”, or the highest, or the one with the largest volume of “falling water”…

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