Basel is the third most populous city in northwestern Switzerland with about 166,000 inhabitants. It borders France and Germany and gives rise to the large international Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport. My visit to the city was short. First, I visited Geneva and then went by train to Basel. At first, the trains in Switzerland seemed expensive to me because I paid about 80 euros (in 2007) to travel 250 km, but after having travelled around Finland, I think they are normally priced. The city seemed lovely. I stayed, like in Geneva, in a HI HOSTELS chain in town. The major attractions of the city are the cathedral, the town hall, the Rhine, and the Spalentor. Its old town is also lovely.
One of the biggest attractions of Basel is the Rhine, it's one of the most important rivers in the world and the only to the sea across the country. Probably because of that, historically the city became a very important strategic point. For tourist purposes, the Rhine gives color and life to this city that it splits in two. One of the things that you can't stop doing in this city is to cross by ferry: Ecological. A group of artists takes, you pay just over a euro for maintenance and it takes you from one place to another. It's cool to say you've crossed the Rhine by boat.
In the historic heart of the city is the fascinating Tinguely Fountain, a quirky artist who left his mark in via mechanical fountains, some of which are like machines or robots that generate a great water movement. It may sound strange but this work grabs you, it's also the most photogenic. The fountain is in the former space occupied by the municipal theater and, therefore, the fountain simulates the movement of the actors on task. Delightful.
I had never visited Basel despite having visited Switzerland a few times, and I quickly regretted not having visited earlier once I started to walk through the old town. It was undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of my adventure through the seven Swiss cities. It's wonderful and I don't know why it's not more popular. White streets with colourful houses, charming hills and the feeling you get strolling through a historic town are just some of the many memories that I will have forever. Don't hesitate to spend half an hour there. From City Hall, go up the hill, and just let it take you.
One of Basel's main sights, this old church is located on the Rhine River. While the church has been restored, it remains an icon of Romanesque and Gothic art. Musical events and masses are still held here.
Bar Rouge is one of the highest bars in Europe, located on the 31st floor (the last one) of the tallest building in Basel. This bar can be compared to the Guinness Museum in Dublin. As the name suggests, the décor is all red. The best thing about this bar is that you have a magnificent view of Basel from way up high, and in addition it is very welcoming.
There are museums that are much better than what you expect them to be, which is how I feel about this interesting paper museum. It is located in a former paper mill and, therefore, in a place with lots of history where many books have been produced in recent centuries. The museum gives an overview, with different rooms and reconstructions, of the history of paper and printing. And best of all is that you can participate in each of the stages. That is, on the ground floor, you can put yourself in the shoes of a paper manufacturer, and using traditional tools, they teach you to make your own page so that later, on the upper floors, you can write about it with different elements. It's really very cool, and when renovations are finished on the exterior, it will be even better. It's also right next to the river in a beautiful neighbourhood.
What today is the history museum of the city, was formerly an ancient cathedral and a visit is most curious. It's a strange feeling to find instead of benches facing the altar, a counter selling books and memories. You walk around where there should be found faithful, ancient fountains (the original ones of the city are located here) and pieces of great historical significance. Curious and recommended at the same time.
Located near the fair grounds, the Museum of Contemporary Art has quite a reputation in Switzerland. In fact, the city of Basel itself is known for its cultural importance, so it's no wonder that the city houses today's great works and exhibitions. It's in a huge building that already attracts attention from the outside.
The figure of Erasmus of Rotterdam was of vital importance in Switzerland and, in general, for all of Europe. His role in religious reform was historically recognized. An interesting thing to see is this nomadic Dutchman's house, which today has become a museum. Walking through the streets of the city it's easy to find this normal-looking house, which once housed one of the most famous personas in old continental history.
One of the most interesting sights in Basel is located at the border between Germany and France. In fact, its airport is shared by the three countries. This happens with the railways as well. There are several train stations, the Swiss, German and French. The Swiss, of course, has trains that connect the country internally and, is located in the heart of the city.
Formerly called "Pig Square" because this animal has always been a great protagonist in traditional markets (because of how useful it was). Today, market square is the hub of the city, many trams pass by to take you anywhere, it houses the History Museum (in the church) and it's easily accessible from areas such as the City, shopping streets and theaters - it's undoubtedly the transit zone of the city.
From the top of the city, right at the foot of the cathedral, there are the best views of Basel. This viewpoint is a must for the traveler, from here you can get carried away by the rushing waters of the Rhine that, right at this point, divides the city into two parts. Ideal for an aperitif while letting time pass.
The Morgestraich of Bale is celebrated on Monday morning at four in the morning, when they turn on all the lights of the city and the Queen of Carnival takes possession. For 3 days, the city is turned upside down, it's totally uncontrolled, driven by the sound of 1000s of instruments and drums. The carnival is also the local time for multiple culinary specialties, the traditional meal is soup, onion and a cheese pie.
We passed the border between France and Switzerland at Mulhouse and Bale. It's a special place because it's actually a triple border. There is an airport in the middle, Bale, Mulhouse, Freiburg, and there you are actually between France, Switzerland and Germany. By car, you can cross the border very quickly because most people have daily passes. Most people work in Switzerland to make more money, but live in France because rent is cheaper in Alsace. The only concern for customs after seeing our English license plate was to sell us the highway pass for 35 euros annually. The only problem is that there is nothing cheaper for just a week. They didn't even ask to see our passports or car registration, but I imagine that from time to time they ask for them. Switzerland is not part of the European Union, but the European Economic Area, so you can live and work there without any problems.
I love discovering special places in cities. This is one of them. It is certainly the most attractive place at first glance, but it has a very cool story. It turns out that in this little store there is an artisan ve makes, that the figures of the Nativity of the Vatican or even the White House in the United States. He is a very peculiar man ve has become an institution and the name of his shop, by the way, is the longest word in the German language. It means something like: "shop of artesan figurines for christmas trees.
Another curiosity of the city of Basel is this tiny museum that boasts, with success, to be the smallest of the city. It's in a beautiful, historic and steep street, and when I visited, it was showing miniatures, but it's a bit like a traveling museum and, over time, changes its contents and exposure. Another advantage, of course, it's free and fast. Just go ahead, look at it, and you've seen it all.
Ask most experienced travelers what to do in Basel and they'll point you straight to the museums. And no wonder. With nearly 40 museums throughout the city, visiting them all can be a Herculean task. The most popular of these Basel activities are the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Beyeler Foundation, Tingley Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. And do not miss the House-Museum of Erasmus of Rotterdam, one of the key figures in the history of Switzerland.
The Old Town of Greater Basel (the old town on the left bank of the Rhine) is another of the essential places to visit in Basel. There we find Basel attractions like the Münster Cathedral and City Hall (Rathaus), both of which are in Market Square (Marktplatz). Lovers of modern architecture will also find things to do in Basel, with buildings designed by prestigious architects such as Renzo Piano (Beyeler Foundation), Herzog & Meuron (St. Jakob), Tadao Ando (Congress), Zaha Hadid (Weil am Rein), and Richard Meier and Mario Botta (headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements).
Outside the centre, there's even more stuff to do in Basel, like visiting the Jura hills, known as the Swiss Siberia, and the Laufen Valley. Browse among minube users' experiences of things to see in Basel, and perfect your list of the top attractions in Basel to suit you!