It is a country of peaks and of water, the Alps covering more than half its landmass and the source of many of Europe’s major rivers within its borders.
With this rich topographical mix, it’s perhaps not surprising to discover that there’s a wealth of waterfalls in Switzerland, ranging from towering maelstroms to tranquil trickles. The question is, what are Switzerland’s best waterfalls?
In this article, we explore some of the best waterfalls of Switzerland. We seek out the tallest and the biggest as well as the most beautiful examples of these watery wonders. So let’s dive right in.
Rhine Falls, Schaffhausen
Approximately 15,000 years ago, around the end of the last Ice Age, tectonic activity forced a shift in the course of the River Rhine. And, at the part of the river where the ground changed from hard chalk to soft gravel, a waterfall was formed. Located near the German border, today the Rhine Falls or “Rheinfall” is one of the most famous waterfalls in Switzerland. With a height of approximately 75 feet and a width of 450 feet, this segmented block style cataract is often cited as the largest in Europe, based on its overall area. What’s more, with a top flow of over 21,000 cubic feet per second, it is believed to be the continent’s most powerful waterfall.
Staubbach Falls, Bern
Some of the best waterfalls in Switzerland are neighbours; residents of Lauterbrunnen, the Alpine valley whose name translates as “many fountains”. There are in fact 72 waterfalls in this part of Bern, of which this article covers three. We begin with Staubbach Falls. At around 1,000 feet high, Staubbach Falls, or Staubbachfall, is widely considered the third highest of all unregulated Swiss waterfalls. Staubbach charmingly translates as “dust stream”, the name offering the first hint as to the waterfall’s ethereal quality. It refers to the image of Staubbachfall in summer when, in full flow, the wind whips its waters into a hazy mist. In his poem ‘Spirit song over the waters’, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described it as “cloudy billows”.
Mürrenbach Falls Bern
The highest free-flowing cataract in Switzerland also has its home in Lauterbrunnen Valley. Mürrenbach Falls drops around 1,370 feet in five tiers. Whilst certainly qualifying as one of the best waterfalls of Switzerland, Mürrenbachfall is dependent on melted snow and is thus much more impressive in warmer months.
Trümmelbach Falls Bern
Located just across from Mürrenbach Falls is an extraordinary collection of some of Switzerland’s best waterfalls. Trümmelbach Falls is not one, but a series of ten glacier-fed waterfalls located inside a mountain. What’s more, tunnel lifts have been created to reach them. It’s said that this is Europe’s largest accessible assembly of subterranean falls. The height of the falls is unclear, but they flow at an astounding rate of 100 cubic feet every second.
The waters of Foroglio Falls descend in a horsetail drop of some 350 feet into the Val Calnegia in the canton of Ticino.
Seerenbach Falls St Gallen
This successive trio of thundering waterfalls barrel their way down the cliffs overlooking Lake Wallen. Together, they’re believed to reach a total height of between 1,820 and 1,920 feet, with the middle one thought to be the second tallest of all Swiss waterfalls at around 1,148 feet.
Until 1928, the source of this pretty waterfall in Jaun village in the canton of Fribourg was a mystery. Then an experiment was carried out, dyeing the waters of a stream some 10 miles away. Eleven days later, the dye appeared in the waters of Jaun Waterfall, revealing the answer. The water had seeped into the ground and travelled along an underground river to the cascade.
The waterway of Fätschbach brook has carved three waterfalls into the 150-million-year-old Wintner limestone in the Swiss canton of Glarus. It’s the middle of this trio which is the subject of this entry. Sandwiched between the falls of Unterer Berglistüber and Oberer Berglistüber, Berglistüber is a plunge waterfall with a drop of 144 feet and regarded as one of Switzerland’s best waterfalls.
Engstligen Falls is a magnificent natural attraction located in the municipality of Adelboden in the canton of Bern. Known locally as Engstligenfälle, this two-tiered waterfall along the Engstligenbach towers to a total height of 1,320 feet. Its tallest single drop is 560 feet.
The Best Waterfalls of Switzerland
It’s clear that Switzerland is overflowing with fantastic falls. From the famed Rheinfall to the lesser-known Foroglio Falls, each of these Swiss waterfalls offers its own unique charm and beauty.