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Basel Tourism And Travel Guide
4.9° C / 40.9° F
May to October
2 to 3 Days
EuroAirport (4 kms)
Basel SBB (1 kms)
Basel, a city filled with history, beautiful architecture, rich landscapes, great food and a lot of tourists! But perhaps the most iconic part of the city is its culture and beautiful blend of Swiss, French and German cultures, as it shares its border with 2 countries. Tourism in Basel is a growing economy and its a popular place to visit all year round - simply because of the number of events and festivities that take place here. It is also the third most populous city in Switzerland, so it is well connected to all parts of Switzerland and has a great and convenient public transport system. Here is our travel guide to this mesmerising Swiss city, that is anything but traditional.
How To Reach
Basel shares its airport with Mulhouse and Freiburg and the airport is located in France, just 4 km north of Basel. The airport is well connected to the western parts of the world including USA, Canada and Europe. However, for eastern connections (Asia, UAE), it is more convenient to fly to Zurich and then take a train or drive down to Basel. Zurich to Basel is 90 minutes by train and 60 minutes by road.
The Swiss Rail Network is well connected. Basel has 2 stations, the popular one is Basel SBB which has frequent trains from Zurich and is connected to other parts of Switzerland as well as France & Germany. The station is located just 1 km from the city centre. The second station is the Basel Badischer Bahnhof that connects Basel to southern Germany.
Basel is easily accessible from all parts of Switzerland. While coming from Zurich, the distance is 80 km and you can drive it down. You can also drive down from borders of France and Germany as Basel shares its border with these 2 countries. If you are looking to use public transport, Buses are convenient. There are buses that connect Basel from different parts of Switzerland, as well as other European countries like Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Not the best way to get into Basel, but the river Rhine is another connection to Basel from its neighbouring friends - namely France, Germany and the Netherlands. There are summer cruise ships that offer 7 to 11 day long cruises along the Rhine.
As the city is not very big, the best, cheapest and probably most hassle-free way to explore the city is on foot. Many of the tourist spots are close to each other which makes it more convenient. However, there are buses and trams in plenty and they are also a good way to get around the city. Remember, inside the Old Town area of Basel, motor-vehicles are not allowed - so if you don't want to walk, a segway or bicycle may spark your interest.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
Spring (March to May):
Springtime is a beautiful time to visit Basel as the city gets quite colourful with flower blooms. However, in March and April, the weather is still quite chilly and for those who prefer a warmer climate, it may not be suitable. The average temperature is 16° C with lows of 6° C, but it gets warmer by mid-May. The most popular event in this season is the Carnival of Basel.
Summer (June to August):
The months of summer are the most popular with tourists as the weather is warmer, pleasant and allows for more outdoor activities and longer daylight hours. The average temperature is 26° C with lows of 15° C. You can expect rain for 9 to 10 days in a month. Festivals like the Basel Tattoo, ImFluss Music Festival, International Exhibition of Art are popular events during this time.
Autumn (September to November):
The summer crowds last up to September and then they start fading away. The weather is still quite pleasant till mid-October and then it starts getting quite chilly and the humidity in the air adds to the chill in the weather in general. The average temperature is 16° C with lows of 8° C similar to spring. The Basel Autumn Fair, Baloise Session Music Festival, Gastronomic Fair are among the favourite events of the season.
Winter (December to February):
Switzerland is a winter wonderland and the city of Basel does good justice to that title. It can snow or rain for 5-7 days in a month and the average temperature is 5° C which can go down to 0 frequently. Winter sports activities are in full swing in many areas near the city. However, what makes Basel attractive during this season is its magical Christmas Markets and other interesting events like Museum Night and International Festival of Coins and Banknotes.
Things To Do
The Old Town of Basel is the historic part of the city with cobbled stones, narrow pathways and beautiful buildings. No vehicles are allowed within the Old Town so you can explore at peace on foot and make a day of it. There are many churches, museums, pubs, cafes, shops that will keep you occupied. Popular sites within are the Market Square, Town Hall, Tinguely Foutain and more.
Visiting a museum is always a fun way to learn something new (or old!). There are some very unique museums in Basel like the Toy museum and Cartoon museum. For something cultural and historic you visit the Natural History Museum, Museum Der Kulturen and Swiss Architecture Museum. If you are an Art lover, you should definitely check out the Kunstmuseum and Museum Tinguely
The Rhine river that flows through Basel offers many cruises including long 7-11 day cruises to France, Germany and the Netherlands. There are also short cruises that take you through the city, showcasing it from a new vantage point. There are also tours with different themes like dinner and live music or murder mystery evenings that add to the fun!
Swiss Chocolates are world-famous, so you can't leave Basel without buying a few locally made products. However, if you step into Chocolatier Beschle, you can also experience the art of chocolate making! You can witness first hand how chocolate is made and you can also try making some yourself! You will also get to taste different samples, so keep your sweet tooth ready!
The best place to shop in Basel is the Old Town. The streets are filled with many designer boutiques, chocolatiers, souvenir shops, jewellers and markets - all in close proximity to each other. The Johann Wanner Christmas House is a popular place to visit. If you are looking to visit shopping centres, you should check out the Manor which is Basel's oldest departmental store. Other places include St. Jakob-Park Shopping Centre, Pfauen and Globus.
You will also find some interesting shops and galleries just outside the city centre in Feldbergstrasse and St. Johann. You can also hop over to the French or German side of the border for a spot of shopping - however, there are some customs regulations that you need to be aware of.
Shops in Basel are usually open from 8 am to 6:30 pm Monday to Friday. Some shops stay open till 8 pm. On Saturdays, shops tend to close earlier (by 5:30 pm) and most shops are closed on Sundays. Watches, Army Knives, Chocolates, Wine, Cheese are items that are traditionally Swiss and are great to shop for.
The cuisine at Basel is a blend of traditional Swiss, German and French. Some traditional delicacies you must try out are - Basler flour soup, Suuri Lääberli, Basler Leckerli and Mässmogge.
Some of the best places to eat at are Les Garecons, Bon Vivant, Zum Kuss, and Walliser Kanne. You could also check out Zum Schmale Wurf, La Brasserie and Krafft Basel for great food and great views (overlooking the Rhine river). For something with a bit more oomph, try out the 3-Michelin-star restaurant - Cheval Blanc or Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen if dining at a castle is more your thing!
If you are looking for Indian or Asian cooking - check out Indian Tandoori Palace, Bayleaf and Noohn. For vegetarian and vegan options, try Acero, Indigo Elephant, Tibits, Cantina Don Camillo and Escasano. You can also try out some street food at the Marktplatz in the Old Town.