Grüezi Basel, we had no idea how beautiful you are! A picturesque old town with impressive sights, the fantastic location on the Rhine and not to forget the many great museums and architectural highlights – yes, Basel is definitely worth a visit.
The city is lively and sparkling in summer with the Rhine almost Mediterranean flair. Spoiler: You can also swim in it. Pretty cool stuff.
So if you’re looking for a destination for a city break away from the classics, then off you go to Basel. In this blog article we show you the most important sights and reveal our personal tips for your trip.
1. Basel: Things to know & first travel tips at a glance Exciting facts about Basel Basel is (after Zurich and Geneva) the third largest city in Switzerland. Approximately .000 People live here – pleasantly manageable.Basel is located at the border triangle. Switzerland, Germany and France meet here. Quite strange: You can take the tram across the border without getting off or changing trains. The Rhine flows through Basel. And you can actually swim in it. Rhine swimming is the name of the event where you drift down the river in summer. Later more. Thanks to the high density of museums ( Incidentally, the highest in the country) Basel is also called the “Cultural Capital of Switzerland” . And then of course there is the famous Art Basel, the world fair of the international art market. And last but not least: Basel has a beautiful historic old town with narrow streets, hidden squares and some architectural highlights such as the town hall or the cathedral. How many days should I plan for Basel? The old town of Basel is pleasant manageable, so you can see many of the main sights in a full day. In principle, you can explore many highlights in two nights.
We ourselves were three nights in Basel and found this time frame ideal. This way you can also take enough time for one or the other museum and not forgetting to try out many of the great restaurants. Our tips on this will of course follow in the course of this blog article.
Bucket list for Basel: You can experience this in Basel Before we introduce you to the most important sights in Basel, we would like to give you a brief overview of what awaits you in Basel. Here is our small but fine bucket list for your trip:
Enjoy the view from the Münster to Basel.Swimming in the Rhine: Let yourself drift downstream. Stroll to Sunset on the shore in Kleinbasel.Explore the pretty district around the Spalenberg and its great shops.Visit the renowned Kunstmuseum Basel. 2. Sights in Basel: Our tips First a few brief information for orientation : The Rhine divides Basel into two parts: Großbasel (left bank) and Kleinbasel (right bank).
Most of the classic sights (e.g. the cathedral or the town hall) are located in Grossbasel. But Kleinbasel is also well worth seeing. There are many great restaurants located here and you can also enjoy what we think is the best view of Basel from this side.
Several bridges (especially the Mittlere Brucke) connect Greater and Lesser Basel with each other. And then there are the legendary Rhine ferries, that take you from one bank to the other solely by the power of the current.
Basler Münster, Münsterplatz & Palatinate Let’s start at one of the most important sights in the city, the Basel Munster. It is one of the central landmarks of Basel and characterizes the cityscape like no other historic building.
The mighty sacred building made of red sandstone already impresses from the outside. But you should definitely also look inside the former bishop’s church. We especially loved the cloisters.
Our tip: You can enjoy a fabulous view over Basel from the two Towers of the Minster. The narrow and yet quite long ascent via 250 Stages It’s not for claustrophobic people, but it’s worth the effort. From the top you have a wonderful bird’s-eye view of the city and the Rhine.
The spacious square on which the cathedral is enthroned, the Münsterplatz, is very worth seeing. It is lined with centuries-old canons’ houses. In summer, a gigantic open-air cinema takes place here. What a setting!
You shouldn’t miss the view terrace called Pfalz at the northern end of the Minster. From here you have a nice view of the Rhine and Kleinbasel.
Town Hall & Market Square A second notable building in of the old town of Basel is waiting for you at the market square. The striking town hall is enthroned here. We have already seen many town halls in the world, but the one in Basel really catches the eye with its rust-red facade .
You should definitely make a detour to the courtyard. If you are interested in the history and would like to see the interior, you can also book a guided tour.
Spalenberg & Spalentor One of the prettiest neighborhoods in Basel’s old town is Spalenberg, which stretches around the alley of the same name. Not only beautifully decorated old town houses await you here, but also really great shops.
Here are a few specific tips for the area:
Interiør Butik: Fantastic beautiful home accessories in Scandinavian style.Jakob’s Basler Treats: Here there’s the famous Basler Treats, which are reminiscent of gingerbread.Gemsberg fountain: A picturesque, hidden fountain.Andreasplatz: A romantic square with a few cafes and shops. And last but not least, you should definitely have another walk a few minutes further to the Spalentor. In our opinion, this listed city gate is one of the best photo opportunities in Basel.
Middle Bridge Basel’s most beautiful and best-known bridge is the Middle Bridge. It prominently spans the Rhine and cannot be overlooked on a walk through the city.
The original bridge at this point was already 13. Built in the 19th century, it is considered one of the oldest Rhine crossings. The current stone bridge dates from 1873.
In the middle of the bridge is the so-called Käppelijoch, a small Gothic chapel. It is a replica of the original Käppelijoch, where death sentences were once carried out.
Quarter St. Alban Another pretty neighborhood is St. Alban, south of the old town. Medieval half-timbered houses, historic mills and a few canals in between – in St. Alban there is a completely different, very idyllic suburban flair.
The most famous sight in St. Alban is the Basel paper mill. In the walls of a medieval paper mill there is today a Museum of Paper, Writing and Printing. You can also try out new things yourself at the active stations and make your own paper, for example.
Also worth a stopover is the St.-Alban-Tor, which once belonged to the city wall of Basel and is slightly elevated above the St.-Alban – valley.
3. Museums in Basel No trip to Basel without a visit to the museum! Admittedly, on city breaks we tend to be among those who prefer to be outdoors than in a museum. But we made an exception in the cultural city of Basel.
Around 40 There are museums in Basel. This means that Basel has the highest density of museums in Switzerland. And then of course there is the renowned Art Basel, that international art fair for which Basel is so famous and which is now also held in other parts of the world (eg Hong Kong or Miami).
Art Museum Basel The Kunstmuseum Basel is one of the most famous museums in the city. At three locations (two of which are connected underground) about 4.000 Paintings, sculptures and other works of art from a total of seven centuries are shown.
So if you catch a rainy day, then you are right here. You can spend hours in the art museum – and still haven’t seen everything.
We were personally very impressed by the architecture both of the old, neoclassical main building and of the modern new building.
More information can be found here: Kunstmuseum Basel (official website)
Fondation Beyeler The second important art museum in Basel is the Fondation Beyeler. The museum is located just outside of Basel in the small town of Riehen, but you can easily reach it by tram in about 08 minutes.
The art collection of the married couple Hildy and Ernst Beyeler is on display with a focus on the art of 20. century. There are also changing special exhibitions.
A little tip: You can reach the Vitra Campus (see next point) from the Fondation Beyeler via the so-called Rehberger-Weg in about an hour. The path is of total 40 lined with sculptures by the artist Tobias Rehberger .
You can find more information here: Fondation Beyeler (official website)
Vitra Campus (Germany) Yes, you read that right: Germany. The Vitra Campus is not in Basel, but just across the border on German soil in Weil am Rhein. That’s the practical thing about Basel’s location at the border triangle: you can just drive or walk to Germany for an afternoon (if you come from the Fondation Beyeler via the Rehberger-Weg.)
You are probably familiar with Vitra. If not: This is a renowned designer furniture manufacturer. The Eames Chair, for example, is legendary.
The Vitra Campus combines production facilities, museum and architecture. In the Vitra Design Museum, for example, exciting exhibitions are shown. The company’s flagship store awaits you in the Vitra Haus. In general, there is a lot to see on the entire, very extensive area and we recommend planning at least three to four hours.
Our tip: For a coffee and cake break we can warmly recommend the Depot Deli next to the Schaudepot.
More information can be found here: Vitra Campus (official website)
Museum Tinguely One of the strangest museums we’ve ever been to is Museum Tinguely. It shows the life and works of Jean Tinguely, one of the most famous Swiss artists of the 20. century.
What is so strange, you ask yourself? Well, Tinguely is famous for his innovative machine sculptures . He built huge, moving machines out of the craziest materials. You can set some of these sculptures in motion in the museum yourself thanks to pedals.
If you like modern art, like to think outside the box and just want to see something completely new, this is the place for you.
More information can be found here: Museum Tinguely (official website)
Jean Tinguely, Big Méta-Maxi-Maxi-Utopia 1987 © 37695 ProLitteris Zurich 4. Tours & Activities City tour You would like to get an initial overview of Basel and some historical details Experienced? Then we can highly recommend a guided tour of the old town. We did this on the day of arrival and were able to take valuable information with us for our time in Basel.
The tour of the old town takes about two hours and takes you to the most important historical buildings of Basel such as the cathedral or the town hall.
More information & booking: City tour of Basel old town stories (Basel Tourismus)
Food Tour We can recommend the self-guided food tour through Basel to all foodies. You make your own way here to four stops in Basel, where you can try something.
The tour starts in the Kult bakery, then it goes on to an unpackaged shop, to Klara for lunch and last but not least to Jakob’s Basler Leckerly.
Because you walk through the city at your own pace, you can also visit one or the other sight during the tour.
Further information & booking: Food Tour (Basel Tourismus)
Shipping on the Rhine You want to observe Basel from the water? The Basler Personenschifffahrt offers a wide variety of trips. The classic ride lasts 20 minutes and runs either in the direction of the old town or in the direction of the port or industrial area.
If the weather is nice, we recommend a evening trip at sunset. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t quite play along during our visit.
You can find more information here: Boat trip on the Rhine (Basel Tourismus)
Swimming in the Rhine Curious but true: In summer, swimming in the Rhine is one of the most popular activities in Basel. You can go swimming at any time, but there is one day a year when the official Rhine swimming takes place.
How it works? Very simple: You put on your bathing suit, pack your clothes in the so-called winding fish (a dry bag in the shape of a fish), go to an entrance (e.g. at the Wettstein Bridge) and leave leisurely float down the Rhine. You can then get off at several points.
During the official Rhine swim, the Rhine is closed to shipping (and there are also lifeguards on the road in case of an emergency). In this respect, this event is ideal for all newcomers.
Alternatively, there is also the possibility to take part in accompanied swimming in the Rhine. This takes place every Tuesday in the summer.
You can find more information here: Swimming in the Rhine (Basel Tourismus)
5. Eating & drinking: Tips for cafés & restaurants Za Zaa: One of our very favorite restaurants in Basel. Lebanese-inspired, vegetarian cuisine is served in a very nice atmosphere. We chose the mezze for two people – a big recommendation! The service staff is also very courteous, so that you feel completely at ease.
Lauch: Creative vegetarian-vegan cuisine of a very high standard is served in this great restaurant. The prices are rather high, but so is the quality. Make a reservation.
Klara: Culinary delights from all over the world can be found in this hip market hall. Several food stalls offer their delicacies here, from Vietnamese to Israeli cuisine, everything is included. You just get what you feel like – and a drink from the bar.
Bäckerei Kult: This sells at two locations in Basel hip bakery delicious bread, sandwiches and sweets like cinnamon rolls or cakes. Perfect for a coffee break in between.
Cantina Don Camillo: This very nice restaurant is located in the Warteck workroom, a former brewery. The menu features many internationally inspired dishes – mostly vegan, but also with meat. It’s very nice to sit outside on the terrace in summer. Make a reservation.
Market hall: In the chic, 1929 erected market hall today there are a lot of food stalls that are ideal for a quick, uncomplicated lunch. The offer ranges from Thai to Indian to Afghan. A really great concept!
Lora: If you want to eat something at Basel train station before you leave, we can highly recommend this Italian restaurant. There is pizza, focaccia and salads – all the dishes we ordered tasted delicious.
Bruno Lorenzo Gelato Lab: Perhaps the best ice cream in Basel is produced and sold in this hip gelateria. Classics such as pistachio or vanilla are included as well as more unusual or vegan varieties.
Basel market hall Bakery Cult Clara Za Zaa Bruno Lorenzo Gelat o Lab 6. Arrival & local transport Arrival: How to get to Basel Basel’s train station is quite centrally located. Thus, the train is a great means of transport for all those who travel from the south-west of Germany or the west of Austria, for example.
An alternative is the plane. Basel owned t an airport located on French territory. There are direct flight connections to Vienna, Berlin or Hamburg, for example. You can reach Basel quickly and easily from the airport by bus (approx. 20 minutes) or taxi (approx. 15 minutes).
Local Transport: Getting from A to B You can easily explore many sights in Basel on foot . (Don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes – your feet will thank you.) For slightly further distances you can take the tram (called Tram) as well as the bus to use.
Cool thing: If you stay overnight in Basel, you will automatically receive the BaselCard. This means that public transport is free of charge. (By the way, this already applies to the journey from the airport/railway station to the hotel – simply have your hotel booking confirmation ready.) And by the way, the BaselCard gives you discounted entry to some sights. You can find more information here: BaselCard.
Our tip: To find the fastest connection from A to B, we prefer to use Google Maps. This works very well in Basel. (Caution: Data roaming can be extremely expensive in Switzerland! So please check your mobile phone contract here.)
7. Our hotel tip for Basel We spent our time in Basel in the dreamlike Hotel Kraft Basel, which we can warmly recommend. This great boutique hotel is in the best location, right on the banks of the Rhine, just a stone’s throw away from Basel’s most important sights.
The Rooms exude a touch of retro charm and are very comfortably furnished. Our very personal highlight was the incredible view from our terrace. Hence our tip: definitely book a room facing the Rhine – it’s worth it.
Small exciting detail: In the Hotel Krafft, more precisely in the room 401, Herman Hesse once wrote the “Steppenwolf”. We lucky children were allowed to stay in this room!
In general, the entire house tells a story – it dates from 1873 – a story. The staircase is a highlight in itself. The prominent location directly on the Rhine naturally means that there is often a lot going on in front of the hotel in the evenings. That didn’t bother us personally – on the contrary. The windows are also well insulated.
The great visit is rounded off by extremely friendly staff. We have both at reception and at breakfast always felt very welcome. We would not hesitate for a second and would stay here again at any time.
You can book the hotel here: Hotel Krafft Basel
Transparency: Advertising & Affiliate Links This trip and our blog article were created in cooperation with Basel Tourismus. Thanks very much! Of course we are free to report. This cooperation has no influence on our honest opinion.
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you ever been to Basel? Did the city surprise you as positively as it did us? Which sights did you particularly like? We look forward to your additional tips and experiences in the comments!