Basel Switzerland is one of our favourite cities in the world. It’s filled with history and beautiful sights, many of which are free!!
Basel is located where Switzerland, France, and Germany meet. It can be easily reached by train or air and is a regular stop for river cruises. The EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg services Basel, the Alsace Region of France and the Black Forest of Germany. Large international airlines, as well as low-cost airlines such as Ryan Air and EasyJet, fly to Basel daily, so its location allows an easy arrival from almost anywhere in Europe. Basel has two train stations. The largest having two arrival areas with one servicing SBB Swiss trains and Deutsche Bahn German trains, while the other is used by TGV French trains.
There’s absolutely no excuse not to visit Basel!!
Once arriving in Basel, the city and surrounding areas are yours to explore. Being only one hour from both Zurich and Lucerne, many day trips are possible. If you’re visiting for more than five days, you may wish to take advantage of that. That said, Basel itself is filled with sights and activities to keep singles, couples, and families busy, so if you’re visiting for less than five days, you’ll likely want to just explore Basel itself.
Basel is an incredible medieval city filled with unique activities for young and old. It is a very walkable city, but Basel also has an amazing transportation system of trams and buses. If you stay in a hotel, you will receive a Basel Card which provides free use of the transportation system during your visit. The same is true if you’ve purchased a Swiss Rail Pass.
If travelling on a budget, Basel is filled with many free activities to enjoy. Be sure to check out the incredible fountains that are scattered throughout the city. Most of these fountains flow with drinkable water. Our kids loved stopping and having a taste at each one.
While wandering, also look out for Basel’s heraldic animal, the basilisk, which adorns fountains, podiums, and buildings throughout the city. It is said there are dozens of basilisks to be found. It makes for a great hunt and seek for children and adults alike.
In summer, visitors may wish to swim in the Rhine like locals or take in free concerts. Don’t forget to wander the Old Town, visit Basel’s city hall, thriving marktplatz and wander across the Mittlere Brucke. The middle bridge crosses between Grossbasel and Kleinbasel, each side of this magnificent city divided by the Rhine. On the bridge you’ll even find a beautiful, but tiny, chapel.
One must-see location in Basel is the Munster. This former Catholic church rests on the shores of the Rhine River and is simply beautiful inside. Visitors can climb the tower for a small fee, and the hardy climb is well worth it. The top of the Munster tower provides fantastic views of both sides of the river.
If interested in exploring the Rhine a bit further, take a Rheinfahre (small open top boat) across the Rhine, hop on a day cruise to visit the Dreilaendereck, the three corners where Switzerland, France, and Germany meet or sit on the boardwalk and enjoy a delicious Swiss meal.
Basel is home to 40 museums which is more than any other city in Switzerland. Many of these are free or discounted with the Basel Card or a Swiss train pass. Our favourite museum is the Basler Papiermuhle (paper mill museum). The Basel Papiermuhle is a fantastic museum for adults and children. Visitors are able to make paper, create watermarks, use seals, create crafts and so much more.
Our family also really enjoyed the Kunstmuseum (fine arts), Naturhistorisches Museum Basel (natural history), and the Tinguely Museum (modern art). But there are so many more including Switzerland’s smallest museum!
If you like animals, the Basel Zoo is one of the top 15 zoos in the world. It is a non-profit zoo and dedicated to the environment and protecting endangered animals.
Along with all these many activities, try and time your visit to take place during one of Basel’s spectacular events. In February or March, Basel holds Fasnacht, a wonderful carnival and in July the world-renowned Basel Tattoo takes place.
Basel is also home to several major sporting events including Swiss Indoors (after all Basel is home to tennis star Roger Federer) and football matches at FC Basel’s St. Jakob-Park.
This is only a taste of everything Basel has to offer. We’ve spent a total of 8 weeks there and can’t wait to return. To find out more about Switzerland and beyond, visit Sunsets and Roller Coasters Family Travel Blog.
About the Author: Joanne is a proud Canadian mom of three with a passion for travel and photography. She has been travelling around the world with her husband and three kids, now teens and pre-teens since they were babies. Her blog, Sunsets and Roller Coasters, is filled with recommended destinations and detailed information on local activities, travel itineraries, and travel tips. You can touch base with Joanne at her blog (linked above) or through her social media accounts on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.
Great guide. Basel is city you have to visit if you have chance.