Introducing the city

£1.00 | CHF 1.29

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3 * Hotel p/n £29.23 | CHF 37.60

One-way ticket £2.82 | CHF 3.62

Beer £4.89 | CHF 6.29

Main Course £15.64 | CHF 20.12

About Basel

Placed on the bank of the Rhine, Basel charms its visitors with a medieval old town and a multitude of museums. Often overshadowed by the more famous Zurich and Geneva, Basel is the real Swiss capital for art and culture.

Sitting astride both nations, the city has suburbs in France and Germany and its thriving economy attracts high fliers from around the world. As a result, even by Switzerland’s cosmopolitan standards, Basel stands out as a richly diverse cultural tapestry with some 150 nationalities residing there.

The medieval old town has been preserved as only the Swiss can and offers a charming counterpoint to the gleaming phalanx of corporate headquarters around the corner.

Basel is also home to Switzerland’s biggest port, as the deep river Rhine can accommodate larger cargo ships, which highlights how the region is very much a working city rather than a tourist destination. However, the city is a cultural as much as an economic hub, with some of the best museums and theatres in Europe to its credit.

It’s difficult to stay neutral about this medieval masterpiece.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

To catch Basel at its very best, schedule your visit around one of its many wonderful fetes and carnivals. We love Fasnacht, but June's Art Basel (the biggest modern art fair in the world) cements Basel’s reputation as a creative hub, while the charming Christmas market is the ideal complement to the festive season.

Overall, Basel enjoys a relatively mild climate and some of the lowest rainfall for anywhere in the region. The temperature spans from almost freezing at its coldest in January, to an average of 19 degrees Celsius at the height of summer when it benefits from the Mediterranean breeze which wafts in from the Rhône Valley.

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Travioor top tips

Ski
Forest
Bicycle

Insider Info

  • There are a total of 242 ski resorts within three hours of the city, including Klosters, Chamonix, Gstaad and Saas-Fee, so Basel is an ideal base if you’re looking to hopscotch through different resorts.

  • Basel is home to Switzerland’s largest park – Ermitage Arlesheim – which is replete with verdant woods, bewitching caves and quaint watermills. Oh, and if there’s snow, don’t forget your sled.

  • Basel is a bicycle-friendly city, and there are few better ways to explore. Just watch out for trams and their tracks as they can be hazardous.

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Food and drink

Main Course £15.64 | CHF 20.12

3-Course Meal £74.29 | CHF 95.57

Cappuccino £3.52 | CHF 4.53

Beer £4.89 | CHF 6.29

The Scene

Although a cheesy cliché, it’s true that the Swizz have a fondness for fondue. But if you’re looking for something unique to Basel, try the roasted flour soup. Tradition claims that girls from Basel weren’t allowed to marry if they couldn’t muster up this local broth, though there are countless iterations. At its basic best, however, it’s a delicious combination of flour, butter, onion and beef stock, topped of course with a generous grating of Gruyère.

Regarding the local tipple, Ueli beer is somewhat of a hometown favorite with the natives. And its two brewery restaurants at Rheingasse with several varieties on tap are guaranteed to slake even the mightiest thirst.

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History

Basel’s Story

The first traces of a settlement in Basel are from the middle Paleolithic period (about 130,000 years ago), although the name ‘Basel’ was first documented in the year 374, by Emperor Valentinian I when he stayed at the bend on the Rhine.

In more modern times, Basel has often been the site of peace negotiations and influential international meetings – perhaps given to its geographic position as a fulcrum of sorts between larger nations.

The city was the setting for The Treaty of Basel in 1499 which ended the Swabian War, as well as The Peace of Basel in 1795 where an agreement was brokered between the French Republic and Prussia. Basel was also where Spain ended the First Coalition against France during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Even more recently, the World Zionist Organization held its first congress in Basel in 1897. In 1989, the Basel Convention was opened for signature with the aim of preventing the export of hazardous waste from wealthy to developing nations for disposal.

Language

Guten Tag | Hello
Danke schoen | Thank you

German

Basel is undoubtedly a paradise for any polyglot, although the natives tend to primarily speak German or their own local version of Schwyzerdütsch (Swizz-German), called Baseldytsch. English and French are also widely spoken. The following German phrases may come in handy:

  • Goodbye: Auf Wiedersehen
  • Do you speak English?: Sprechen Sie Englisch?
  • Excuse me: Entschuldigen Sie

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Need to know

+41 Dialling code
117 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • The Airport is just 15 minutes from the centre of Basel, with a regular bus service running directly to the Bahnhof SBB (station) for 4.20 SF (Swizz-Francs) – roughly £3.
  • The tram is the most efficient way to get around, running regularly throughout the town.
  • You’ll find most of the tourist sites in the central pedestrian zone, which is especially good to know if your trip to Basel is a short one.
  • Taxis are quite expensive and far from efficient, so unless travelling late at night it’s best to walk or use the tram.

 

VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for Switzerland here.

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Travioor Recommends

1. Fine Arts Museum

This city is a proud centre for art and culture, with more than 30 museums, and The Kunstmuseum (Fine Arts Museum) is a fine place to start by anyone’s standards.

2. Rheinfahre

Board the Rheinfahre for a leisurely look at the city’s architecture as you drift down the Rhine. This scenic boat ride is the best way to get to know this elegant enclave.

3. High-end Shopping

Keen shoppers will want to set course for the Freie Strasse or the Marktplatz, for the best luxury boutiques and high-end retail the city has to offer.

4. Münsterhügel

Amble through Basel’s medieval streets to Münsterhügel (cathedral mount), where the solemn Romanesque-Gothic cathedral casts an unrivalled view over the city.

5. Carnival

Basel hosts Switzerland’s biggest winter carnival, Fasnacht, which sees the city streets resplendent with costumed revellers and cacophonous marching bands.


See What's On In Basel