Perched gracefully along the Rhein river in the Canton of Schaffhausen lies a photogenic, handsome little medieval village with historically preserved timber-framed houses, most of which are adorned with spectacular hand-painted frescoes.
As a romantic-at-heart, I would say that December is the best time to visit Stein am Rhein.
The foodtastic scent of roasted sugared almonds and melting raclette cheese wafts through the cobblestone streets in the evening – each of which are literally twinkly with the warm golden light of a small bonfire; presenting plenty of opportunities for an “awwww” moment.
While you warm up with a hot mulled wine near the hospitality of one of these small bonfires, you can take time to admire the hand painted frescoes on the houses surrounding you. The outside of Haus zum Roten Ochsen depicts scenes from the bible under a late-gothic ornate alcove while an indoor renaissance hall depicts scenes from Noah’s ark. The notorious Weissen Adler depicts scenes from Boccaccio’s erotically tragic ‘Decamerone’. Carl von Häberlin painted the Rathaus or town hall with scenes of the Battle of Morat amongst other things.
Before leaving (and before it closes), head over to Chäs Graf (Oberstadt 1, right near the Rathaus). They have one of the best selection of local products, in particular cheeses. This was my go-to place to buy raclette and fondue cheese. Speaking of fondue… here’s a recipe for you to enjoy!
If you’re not awe-struck enough in Stein am Rhein, and have some time to kill, then head over to the nearby Castle of Hohenklingen for some lovely views over the area, the Bodensee and the Alps. If that doesn’t do it for you, then the Rheinfall – the largest plain waterfall in Europe – is not far away either! In winter, chances are it will be partly frozen, which makes for an interesting sight!