Day 1 in Basel
Welcome to Basel, the third-largest city in Switzerland nestled
in the north-western corner of the country!
Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your
hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not
give in to jet lag! There is so much for
you to see and do.
Basel shares a border with France and Germany. The city is split in two by the river Rhine and connected by 6 bridges. Basel is fairly compact and easy to get around on foot. It is famous for its world-class art galleries, fairytale-esque old town, and delectable chocolate.
Start off by exploring the old town of Basel, this is where most of the tourist attractions of the city can be found. If you don`t know where to begin, consider taking a guided walking tour and learn about the history and its rich cultural heritage.
The historic Marktplatz with the beautifully colorful Rathaus (town hall) is located right in the center of Basel`s old town. Although the 500-year old Rathaus building is still used for administrative purposes, you can walk around the entrance courtyard and view the murals on the walls. The Marktplatz square is where you`ll find the market stalls filled with delicious local products, fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers. This is a lively place and a good way to spare some hours wandering around.
Continue to meander through the quaint alleyways and fairytale-like buildings of old town. While here, grab a bite to eat at any of the numerous restaurants offering up delicious regional dishes. We recommend you try the traditional Swiss dish Rosti, a potato dish that has a simple elegance to it and is delicious washed down with a cold beer. Proscht!
After lunch, take a walk up the cobbled Spalenberg hill to the Spalentor, the most impressive of the three remaining old city gates. It dates back to the 14th century and the central square tower features colorful green tiles.
Wander back down Leonhardsgraben to Barfusserplatz (or `Barefoot Square` in English). `Barfi`, as it is now affectionately known by locals, is named after the Franciscan monks who established an order here during the 13th century. Visitors and locals alike will generally use it as a meeting point, due to its central location and the fact that it has no less than eight tram lines passing through. It is also the site of the Historical Museum of Basel.
Walk towards the Elisabethenkirche, stopping to admire the strangely hypnotic Tinguely fountain. Constructed by local artist Jean Tinguely in 1977, the fountain is made up of nine mechanical sculptures and is a famous Basel landmark. It is peculiar and mesmerizing sight!.
Rising majestically above the fountain and the theatre is the Elisabethenkirche itself, a beautiful 19th century neo-Gothic building. It was actually commissioned by a wealthy Swiss businessman and remains one of the more underrated Basel tourist attractions.
Spend your first evening in Basel enjoying the city`s fantastic theaters. The Theatre Basel showcases an eclectic mix of opera, ballet and theater performances, including Tweje, the ballet of Richard Wherlock. The Musical Theater Basel offers a diverse range of high-quality theater productions, such as Disney`s Lion King and The Beauty and the Beast. Both theaters represent the best of Swiss, international arts, and culture and are definitely worth a visit.
Day 2 in Basel
Wake up early
today to continue exploring Basel and make your way to the St Alban neighborhood,
considered to be the greenest district in Basel and also the most prestigious.
With grand mansions guarded by ivy-colored gates, picture-perfect windowsills
overflowing with flowers and pockets of greenery amongst the charming,
pastel-colored buildings, St Alban is truly a treat for the eyes.
For the love of geography, head to the far north side of the city to stand on the border of three countries. Located on a walkway jutting out into the Rhine is the Dreiländereck. This represents the geographical point where the borders of the three countries of Switzerland, France and Germany meet. The precise geographical point is unfortunately in the Rhine itself, but this point is the closest you can get. There is a small monument there, representing peace between the three countries. You can actually also walk between the three countries. Make sure you have your passport with you, just in case.
In the afternoon, stop over to the hipster district of Klybeck situated beside the old train tracks along the Rhine. Here you will find a makeshift outdoor hangout with an eclectic array of colorful pop up bars in shipping containers and junkyard fins. Walk a bit further down and you`ll also find Club Nordstern, a really cool large boat bar.
The Markthalle Food Court is a great place to stop in for lunch. This is a large food court located in an old converted market, offering a great casual dining atmosphere with a diverse range of food choices on offer. The prices are still quite expensive, but a bit cheaper than eating out at a restaurant in the old town. At night the bar is open and the lights are dimmed creating a relaxing ambiance, complete with music, and candles on every table.
Enjoy the remaining part of your afternoon just meandering around and taking in all of the sights! Admire the many beautiful buildings and take in the natural beauty. There are also so many shops to walk in and explore, if you`re looking for treats or souvenirs.
Make your way to the Rhine river for sunset, the action moves north to Uferstrasse. During the summer months, more than half a dozen makeshift bars pop up to occupy a strip running between railway lines and industrial architecture on one side and the Rhine river on the other.
The main stretch of the Rhine through Basel city center is home to four river ferries, all at different intervals. Each ferry goes from one bank to the other in about 5 minute and is well worth the small fare to get a unique view of the city.
The other way to take a boat ride on the Rhine is on a city and harbor tour. There are various tours you can take with regular cruises on the Rhine from March to October. There`s a one-hour harbor tour that`s perfect for seeing the major sights from the water.
At the end of the day, enjoy a delicious dinner at any of the atmospheric restaurants that sit on the Rhine River. There are a many to choose from offering beautiful terrace seating with a view of the river.
Day 3 in Basel
On your last day in Basel spend your
day visiting a few of the many museums that Basel has to offer. You will find
over 40 museums and exhibition centers plus some world-renowned annual
festivals within the city offering a hefty dose of culture. There`s a toy museum full of doll
houses, teddy bears and other toys, displaying how toys have changed over the
years. There is also the Fondation
Beyeler, which boasts some really unique art pieces on display.
They offer special classes and guided tours. The building itself is a piece of
art on its own and also features a gorgeous outdoor garden.
We recommend a visit to the Papiermuhle (Paper Mill Museum) set on a medieval canal with an operating waterwheel, an old paper mill has been turned into a museum of writing, printing and paper, show the printing and papermaking processes with actual working machinery. You can watch the laborious production of handmade paper, explore the evolution of printing from before Gutenberg's press through the demise of lead type in the 1980s, and see how books are bound. Displays follow the development of writing from primitive pictographs through modern typography.
Another highly recommended museum worth visiting is the Kunstmuseum Basel (Museum of Art). This museum, enhanced by the added exhibition space of a 2015 wing, is considered the finest collection of paintings in Switzerland, representing both old masters and modern art. On the first floor are the old masters and a collection of French and Dutch paintings. Outstanding among these are the 15th-century Heilsspiegelaltar (Mirror of Salvation Altar) by Konrad Witz, 16th-century portraits by Holbein the Younger, Crucifixion by Mathias Grünewald, and Rembrandt's David with Goliath's Head from 1627. You'll find major works by Gauguin, Van Gogh, Corot, Cézanne, Braque, Picasso, Kandinsky, Léger, Chagall, Klee, Dali, Max Ernst, and others, along with later works and special exhibitions.
If history is more your thing, pay a visit to the Historisches Museum (Historical Museum). The 14th-century Barfüsserkirche (Church of the Barefoot Friars) was renovated in the 1970`s to house the Historical Museum with significant collections on local history and culture. It showcases particularly the city`s unique position at the crossroads between Swiss, German, and French cultures. In the nave of the church are the Late Gothic tapestries and the curious Lällenkönig (Babbling King), a crowned head with a movable tongue and eyes that was the emblem of Gross-Basel in the 17th century. Remarkable exhibits deal with the importance of silk ribbon manufacture in Basel from the late 18th through the 19th century.
If time allows, finish your day at the Basler Münster (Basel Minster) set atop the highest point on Münsterhügel (Minster Hill). This red sandstone building with a gorgeous mosaic roof has a mixture of gothic and roman architecture. The cathedral is free to enter buit to climb the 250 steps to the top for panoramic views of the city you have a pay a small entry fee. Once you climb to the very top you will be rewarded with the best views of the Rhine and the city.
End your day checking out some of the breweries and pubs in Basel, there are a good number of them to choose from. If you really want to get to know Basel`s beer culture, you need to check out Feldschlösschen brewery is in Rheinfelden, about 6 miles east of Basel, in what looks like a giant castle, complete with brewery horses. They offer tours Monday to Friday, twice a day at 9 am and 2 pm. The only problem is, the guided tours are not given in English. Even if you can only go on a tour in German, it`s still worth it to see the magnificent brewery.
If craft beer is not your thing, there are plenty of other things to choose from after a hard days cultural sightseeing. There are a variety of dance clubs and live music venues across the city. You`ll also discover numerous smaller cocktail bars and pubs.
For more sophisticated entertainment tastes, the Basel Symphony and Basel Chamber orchestras have regular performances. Basel`s music school often has excellent and reasonably priced concerts and recitals from students and visiting musicians.
Additional Days in Basel
Should you be able to spend additional
days in Basel we recommend you continue to explore in and around the city. Go
on a chocolate tasting tour. There is a 2.5 hour chocolate
walking tour in the old city that brings you to some of the top chocolate shops
and traditional confectionaries, plus a stop at a chocolate factory to see the process
of making chocolate. Of course, there`s a lot of tasting and sampling going on
during the tour too.
You may consider taking a day trip to German wine country. Although this part of Switzerland is not particularly known as a wine region, there is, nonetheless, a lot of wine produced in the surrounding area. One of the wine regions closest to the city is in neighboring Germany, called Markgraflerland, where the Gutedel grape is grown. Other popular grape varieties in the region include Müller-Thurgau, Grau Burgunder, Weiss Burgunder, and Spätburgunder, which is also known as Pinot Noir.
You can easily take a day trip to this wine growing region of Germany. You can rent a car in Basel and drive the 20 or so kilometers to Mullheim, the center of Markgraflerland, or you can take a train and get around by taxi once you arrive. There are a number of great wineries you can stop by for a tour and tasting, within a few minutes of Mullheim.
And yet another attraction worth discovering is the Zoologischer Garten (Zoo). Basel`s large zoo is affectionately known as the Zolli by locals. Founded in 1874 with 510 European animals, today the zoo is known more for exotic species. With predators, primates, mammals, reptiles, birds, and aquatic life, the population ranges from seahorses to elephants, the latter now enjoying a new elephant enclosure added in 2015 with wallowing pools, showers, and a savannah-like environment. The lion enclosure and monkey house are highlights, along with the penguins in the vivarium, which also houses fish and reptiles. The aviary houses both indigenous and exotic birds, as well as birds of prey. The zoo has been particularly successful in breeding rhinoceros and cheetahs.
Your Last Day in Basel
Depart your hotel for the airport for your return home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer, if so a representative will meet you at the hotel in time to take you to the airport for your flight out.