Switzerland’s Basel is a city of gentle and peaceful beauty, however, if you take a closer look, you will discover that Basel is also a very multicultural and creative place. And it is the blend of gentle beauty mixed with a bit of personality that makes Basel an interesting place for visitors to explore and admire. Join us to find out what’s special about Basel tourism! So, is Basel worth visiting, what to do in Basel and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Basel for the first-time? Let’s check out our Basel blog (Basel travel blog) with the fullest Basel travel guide (Basel guide, guide to Basel, Basel city guide) from how to get to Basel, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and top things to do in Basel to find out the answer!
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Basel is also sometimes called the flower by the poetic Rhine, this is the second longest river in Europe rooting in the Alps. The Rhine River divides the city into two parts, one side is the old town – a long-standing commercial center, quaint architectures, museums, and the other side focuses on modern architecture, restaurants, bars, exhibition areas, galleries. Along the city, there are 4 bridges spanning the Rhine, the most famous of which is the oldest Mittlere Brucke bridge in Basel (dating over 800 years old), which plays the role of connecting the two parts of the city.
During your journey to Switzerland, if you have the opportunity to visit a few places including Basel, take a day or two to go and fully experience the beauty of natural scenery, architecture, culture of this city, you will find a lot of worth things to do while in Basel.
Basel blog: Overview of Basel
Basel is a beautiful city located in the northwest of Switzerland by the poetic Rhine river. With a population of more than 560,000 people, Basel is ranked as the third largest city in Switzerland and plays an extremely important role in Switzerland’s industry and chemicals. Not only that, but Basel is also a great tourist destination of Switzerland. Coming to the city of Basel, visitors will discover a quaint but modern city as well with many big museums, zoo, beautiful churches and especially will enjoy a lot of delectable food.
Basel is the Switzerland’s second largest economic center, after Zurich. Basel has two key economic sectors: Banking and pharmaceuticals. Almost all of the world’s major pharmaceutical giants have their headquarters in Basel.
It is located where the borders of Switzerland, France and Germany meet. The city also has suburbs in France and Germany.
The city of Basel also has a very special location when it is located right at the junction of the Swiss – French – German border. From Basel, you can walk to Germany, or take a train to cross the river to reach France, or vice versa. So during a trip to Europe, some tourists often arrange an itinerary to be able to visit these three beautiful countries together.
In Basel, the common language is German, in addition, English is also used here to communicate with tourists.
Although it has a small population, it is a city of knowledge when it comes to Switzerland’s oldest university, many exhibition areas, six major museums, and many great theatres. In addition, the city of Basel also plays an important role in the Swiss economy as it develops a strong industrial and chemical industry. Indeed, Basel is an extremely developed city, both in terms of economy, culture and knowledge, art, promising this is the “Switzerland destination” attracting a large number of tourists to visit.
For peace-loving sportsmen, Basel is the birthplace of Roger Federer, Federer is Switzerland’s greatest pride in talent, will and morality.
For collectors and traders of high-end fashion items (jewelry and watches), the annual watch fair in Basel is a highlight that few people do not know. The watch enthusiast flock to Basel to see latest models, place orders, and brainstorm high-end watch collections here. Because of the class, to attend to this fair, you hardly have to spend money to buy tickets, but you also need an invitation card and background to participate in. This is also the meeting place of people with millions of money.
For a tourist who likes to explore culture, Basel brings the traditional beauty of architecture and culture between Switzerland and Germany – a cross between traditional and modern beauty.
When to visit?
Thanks to the protection of the River Rhine, the climate of the city of Basel is quite mild, sunny and less foggy in the summer. The average annual temperature in Basel is only up to 10.5ºC, in which the coldest month is January with a temperature of 1.6ºC and the month with the highest temperature of 19.7ºC falls in July.
The average annual rainfall here is only about 842 mm, this climate feature has created favorable conditions for exotic plants and trees to thrive.
And the best time to visit here is in the summer. In the summer, the weather in Basel is not too hot, little rain, dry, very suitable for journeys to discover famous tourist attractions in Basel. Not only that, summer in Basel is also the season of exciting festivals.
For the Swiss, Basel is characterized by the traditional Carnival. The special thing about this city’s festival is not in aristocratic costumes or mysterious masks like in Venice but the parade time. From 4 a.m., when the sun has not yet risen, the whole people of Basel have woken up, all the lights in the street are turned off and the impressive parade drums begin to resound throughout the city (if you want to participate in this event). To participate in this unique festival, you should come to Basel around the end of February or the beginning of March every year).
Basel travel guide: How to get to Basel?
Whether by air, rail or road, traveling to Basel is also easy.
EuroAirport is the closest airport to Basel, only about 3.5 km (15 minutes by car) from the city center. One thing that you may not know, EuroAirport is an airport located entirely on French territory but operated by both France and Switzerland because it is located right near the border of France, Switzerland and Germany. The full name of this airport is EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (combined from the names of 3 border cities of Switzerland, France and Germany).
High-speed trains: Train stations connect Basel with other cities across Switzerland and Europe. There are quite a few trains to Basel such as: TGV Paris Gare de Lyon – Zurich stops in Basel, TGV from Gare d’Est or from Charles De Gaulle airport also runs to Basel but has to change trains in Strasbourg.
Flixbus or Euroline also running to Switzerland and will stop at Basel as a mandatory stop after crossing the border.
By self-driving car
It doesn’t matter when the roads here are very open and flat, almost all hotels have their own parking lots. Traveling by private car is easy as long as you have the necessary documents, you can completely drive yourself to travel around Europe easily.
On foot (Basel travel guide)
It can be an economical option depending on your destination, no matter when you are already close to the French-German-Swiss border.
Basel guide: Transportation in Basel
Basel is a city that is not too big if not too small, enough that you can walk around the city just by walking. In case you need to travel by public transport, you can use tram, train or bus, some vehicles operating up to 20/24 hours.
In particular, at each station there is always a countdown timer so you can keep track of how long it takes for the next ride to appear, these clocks are accurate to every second so you can you can rest assured to use them.
Note: There are ticket vending machines at bus stations, you need to buy this ticket before each time you get on the bus. Although, there is no need to present the ticket for the driver or the ticket validator to check, but if you do not buy it and are detected, you will be fined with a fine of up to 60 CHF (around $62.30) instead of buy tickets only 2.2 CHF (about 2.28).
The cost of traveling in Basel is also among the most expensive cities in Europe. Therefore, you should book train tickets in advance to get a cheaper price.
The perfect way to get around Basel in particular of in Switzerland in general is buy Swiss Travel Pass. With this pass you can traveling with any vehicle through Switzerland, you can see more and buy it here.
Trains in Basel: InterCity (IC) / InterCity Neigezug (ICN) / InterRegio (IR) / EuroCity (EC) / Bernina Express (BEX) / Glacier Express (GEX) / RegioExpress (RE) / RegioExpress (RE) / InterRegio (IR).
Night trains: CNL 478 Zürich – Hamburg / EN 415 Zürich – Belgrade / EN 40467 Zürich – Budapest / NJ 467 Zürich – Vienna.
Basel travel blog: Where to stay in Basel?
There are countless lovely hotels in Basel, both in the city center and in the suburbs, and here are your top picks:
Luxury: SET Hotel.Residence by Teufelhof Basel, 4-star hotel (€150-180/night) is located right in the city center. This bright, airy hotel is a great place to rest and unwind after a day of exploring the city. See reviews on Agoda or Booking.
Mid-range: East-West Riverside Hotel (3-star hotel) (€105-125/night) is located on the waterfront with a view of Middle Bridge. This hotel is a great place to stay as it is quite close to most of the main attractions in the city with only a few minutes walk. See reviews on Agoda or Booking.
Budget: Ibis Budget Hotel Basel (1-star hotel) (€50-80/night), cheap, clean and cheerful, 1.5km from the city center and a great place to stay if you want to save your budget Books are spent on sightseeing, enjoying food rather than spending on accommodation. See reviews on Agoda or Booking.
Basel blog: Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- GAIA Hotel Basel (Agoda or Booking)
- Hotel Basel (Agoda or Booking)
- Hyve (Agoda or Booking)
- Hyperion Hotel Basel (Agoda or Booking)
- The Passage (Agoda or Booking)
- Steinenschanze Stadthotel (Agoda or Booking)
- Der Teufelhof Basel (Agoda or Booking)
Basel blog: Where to go, what to do in Basel?
Explore the poetic Rhine river
The first thing to do that you should visit when coming to Basel is the poetic Rhine river. The Rhine River plays a particularly important role in the lives of the people of Basel. Walking on the riverbank, looking at this peaceful river, you will see boats running slowly on the river, on both sides of the river, you will see houses lying close to each other. It is a very peaceful and romantic scene indeed. Watching the sunset on the banks of the Rhine is an extremely romantic and worth thing to try if you have time.
Watching the sunset on the banks of the Rhine is an extremely romantic and sweet thing that you should try once in your life.
The Old Town of Basel is located on the West side of the Rhine where there are so many beautiful street corners with poetic cobbled streets that you will want to spend hours wandering on them. Here you will find houses with distinctive Gothic and Renaissance architecture, completely different from the architecture of other cities in Switzerland. In the old town, there are two places that you must visit: the Rathaus town hall and the Basel cathedral.
The Rathaus town hall was built in 1501 to celebrate Basel’s accession to the Swiss confederation. This building stands out in the middle of the old town square with its striking and distinctive red paint. The inside of the building is decorated with many symbolic drawings of law and politics, and intricately carved statues.
If the old town is the soul of Basel, then the old church of Basel, the ancient cathedral located near the banks of the Rhine River is the soul of the old town.
The thing to know is not be too surprised by what you will see here. Take an around walk or join a guided tour to learn about the history of this old town.
Visit the Rathaus town hall right in the central square, built to symbolize the event Basel joined the Swiss Confederation in 1501.
Dreilaendereck Border Triangle
Those who have a lot of time, want to learn and admire the European border can take tram number 6 or number 8, to the terminus in Kleinhuningen, then walk to the a tri-country point landmark called Dreiländereck to take pictures. Standing here, you will see that this side is the Swiss port area, the other side is the French countryside and far away from the tall German buildings, very open and interesting.
Basel Cathedral (Basel Minster)
Address: Münsterpl. 9, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Basel Cathedral was built between 1019 and 1500 in Romanesque and Gothic styles. The church stands out with the extremely elaborately sculpted and built gate. The church is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm on weekdays, so please arrange your time and come as early as possible.
Address: Binningerstrasse 40, 4054 Basel, Switzerland
It is the oldest and largest zoo (by number of animals) in Switzerland. If you are a nature lover, love animals, then visit Basel Zoo. To enter this zoo, you will have to pay a fee of around 21 CHF. The zoo is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to welcome visitors.
Attend Basler Herbstmesse (Autumn Fair)
This fair takes place in October and features rides, walks, alley shots and plenty of food at several locations in the city. Places include Messeplatz (the largest with the most attractions, with rollercoasters and alike), Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz (where you get nice views from the Ferris wheel).
Visit the Tinguely Museum
Address: Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, 4002 Basel, Switzerland
Hours: 11AM–6PM/Monday: Closed
This museum features sculptures by Jean Tinguely, a Swiss artist. There are a lot of strange sculptures here so if you are into exotic art, this is the place for you. The museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 11am to 6pm. Admission is 18 CHF.
Located on the banks of the Rhine, with one side of the highway connecting Basel to Geneva and the other side of the Solitute park, Jean Tinguely has maximum compatibility with its surroundings. Although the museum’s architecture is a square block, there is very little iron in this work and especially the museum is very harmonious with the poetic old trees of the park next door. The people of Basel often joke that the Tinguely museum is the work of a friendship between an architect and a painter.
Walk through Tierpark Lange Erlen
Address: Erlenparkweg 110, 4058 Basel, Switzerland
Walk through Tierpark Lange Erlen, a large park that contains the inside of a zoo that is completely free to visit.
Fine Arts Museum Basel (Kunstmuseum Basel)
Address: St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Hours: 10AM–6PM/Monday: Closed
One of Basel’s most famous museums, it is home to art collections of 19th and 20th century, including a Picasso gallery. Admission is CHF 16 and admission is free for select collections from 5pm to 6pm every day except Thursdays and Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays.
In addition, you can also visit some other museums when traveling to Basel such as: Swiss Architecture Museum, Museum of Cultures, Basel Paper Mill Museum…
The Basel Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday. It’s a good idea to buy some fresh local vegetables early on (to save money on meals), flowers, and specialty items. The market is always something to see and this is no exception.
University of Basel
In addition, Basel is also known as a university city, home to the oldest University of Basel in Switzerland, founded in 1460. This school has a long history of academic achievement, teaching and research, among the best universities in the world. The University of Basel has produced nine Nobel laureates and two Swiss presidents.
Attend the Basler Fasnacht
Summer in Basel is the season of festivals. One of the most famous festivals in Basel is the Baslar Fasnacht carnival. This is a very special street carnival lasting for about 3 days and nights. Attending this event, you will enjoy countless delicious food, dance along with music…
This is one of the most unique Swiss event. The carnival is held annually in February – March in Basel, the parade team can be up to 10,000 people, they wear colorful costumes, wear funny masks and parade around the streets the vibrant sound of drums and trumpets.
What to eat in Basel?
You will never be short of great food and drink options in Basel! There are many fancy restaurants and cafes along the river near the Mittlere Brücke bridge.
However, the prices at restaurants are very expensive, especially drinks such as wine, even more expensive. You can save money by eating street food, which is quite delicious but also more affordable.
Some Basel specialties, Swiss cuisine that you should try are:
Baseler Läckerli: A mouthwatering biscuit made with ingredients such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, nutmeg, almonds, and Kirsch cherries. You can find Baseler Läckerli in any bakery and supermarket in Basel.
Basler Mehlsuppe: A flour soup made from beef, brown flour, onions, topped with grated cheese, often appearing during the Basel carnival of Fasnacht.
Breads like Schlumbergerli, Brot, Fastenwähe, Hefegugelhopf, Schoggiweggli, Brunsli… will also make you fall in love.
Notes when eating in Basel
- You should eat street food: The street food in Basel is quite delectable and attractive along with the price is also very cheap, only about 3 to 5 CHF for a snack.
- Absolutely should not eat beef: In Basel, beef is very expensive, so you should eat a lot of vegetables or chicken, don’t eat beef if your budget is limit.
- Lunch at a cafe: A lunch at a cafe only costs you 10-19 CHF but if you have lunch at a Chinese, Indian, Thai restaurants… the price is much more expensive.
- Remember to bring a reusable water bottle: Drinking water in Basel is also quite expensive, so remember to bring a water bottle with a reusable water bottle because the water here is so clean you can drink from the tap.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Basel you can refer to
- Walking Tour through Basel Old Town
- Swiss Travel Pass: Unlimited Travel on Train, Bus & Boat
- Basel History Tour for Groups
- Basel: Self-Guided Food Tour
- Basel: Nighttime Walking Tour in German
- Welcome to Basel: Private Tour with a Local
- Basel History Tour for Groups
Read more Switzerland guide here.