Things to do in Basel Switzerland: Table of Contents
Basel on C&C
Best Time To Visit Basel
Where to Sleep
Let’s Go For a Drink
What to See and Do
Tipping in Basel
Common Scams & What to Avoid
C&C’s Google Map of the City
Things to do in Basel Switzerland: Where, How?
Basel, Northwest Switzerland, Switzerland, Central Europe, Europe
Population: 169,916 (2015)
Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
Airport Notes: EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport (BSL)
This airport is located 3.5 km north west of Basel on the border of France with an exit to Switzerland. There is a single terminal building divided by Swiss and French municipalities. The airport’s main airlines are Swiss, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, easyJet Switzerland and Belair, which operates on behalf of Air Berlin.
Transportation to-and-from the airport: There are several buses that run to the three countries surrounding the airport. On the Swiss exit Basel’s BVB bus No. 50 connects the airport to Bahnhof SBB, which is the main Swiss and French railway station in Basel. On the French exit Saint-Louis’ distribus bus No. 11 connects the airport to the gare SNCF, Saint-Louis’s railway. The German private bus company Flixbus goes to Zürich, Basel, and Frieburg but FlixBus only serves the French exit of the airport.
Moving around in Basel is very easy, you can do so by simply walking, riding a bicycle, taking a bus, tram, car or by boat.
A Note on Taxis:
Very safe, very bound to rules and indications, very expensive. Switzerland in a nutshell.
Just like anywhere, Uber is cheaper and safer. If you don’t already have an account, use this link and get 15 dollars off your first ride!
- Grossbasel (Great Basel) – Basel Marionetten Theater is located within this district
- Dreiländereck (three countries-corner) – this is where France, Germany and Switzerland meet
- Rosental – Musical Theater Basel is located within this district
- Matthaus, Klybeck and Kleinhuningen
- Kleinbasel (“Lesser Basel”)
- Basel Nord and Riehen
Navigation tips: Know where the river is at all times.
More About Basel and Switzerland on C&C
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- 24 HOURS IN ZURICH: THE BEST PLACES
- RESTO PROFILE: BIANCHI RESTAURANT IN ZURICH: HONOURING THE CLASSICS
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- THE BEST HOTEL RESTAURANTS IN EUROPE ARE ALL HERE
- PROLIFIC POLYGOTS: AUTHORS WHO WROTE IN A SECOND LANGUAGE
Best Time To Visit Basel
Average Monthly Minimum And Maximum Temperatures
Average Monthly Hours Of Sunshine
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Things to do in Basel Switzerland: Personal Notes
What’s This Place About?
Basel is a very small city in Switzerland that sits on the borders of France and Germany. The airport is actually shared with all three countries. When you arrive at the airport, you have a choice to exit to France and Germany or to Switzerland.
Basel is a mostly residential place that is so very Swiss. It is so clean that you could eat off of the sidewalks. Above all else, the rules are the rules in Basel and you must respect them. It is a very strict place.
Basel is all about art. According to the city’s official website there are 40 art museums in this tiny place. If you are an art fan, you cannot miss the annual “Art Basel” festival. It is probably the most famous one on Earth.
What’s Great and Fun?
The city is old, pretty, and fun to visit. There are a few very old buildings still standing and some good restaurants. Don’t hesitate to check out the following link to learn more about the food in Basel. Add link here
Basel is one of the most expensive cities in the world, both with regard to rent and food. It is so expensive that most residents cross the border to Weil am Rhein, Germany to buy groceries and other items. There are many shops on the German side of the border for that express purpose. Basel’s city tramway stops right in front of these shops so people can go shopping and then return home.
I almost missed my flight in Basel because my alarm did not ring. Knowing that the airport is very close to the city, I decided to try to rush there and hoped for the best. I frantically ran outside, leaving some of my things behind, found a taxi and told the taxi driver I had to get to the airport immediately. The taxi driver understood and we were on our way to the airport at the exact speed limit. He would not go any faster because, no matter what you do in Switzerland, you must respect the rules. Despite having to go the speed limit all the way to the airport, and despite a very rude French lady at security, I still made my plane in time!
Things to do in Basel Switzerland: Where to Sleep
Basel is a small city. There aren’t many options and the center of town – “Altstadt Grossbasel”, or the old city of greater-Basel – is where most tourists spend time.
It’s also one of the most expensive cities on the planet, and hotels follow that logic.
To stay in one of the traditional Swiss houses, try AirBnb!
Motel One Basel is artsy and somewhat reasonable… compared to the out-of-control costs of other hotels.
Hostel-wise, Basel is a bit of a wasteland. Youth Hostel Basel is beautiful, clean and nice, and at $55 per night in a dorm, well… It better be!
Things to do in Basel Switzerland: Let’s Eat!
Famous Foods and Specialties
- Basler flour soup – made with flour, beef stock, onions and served with grated cheese
- Suuri Lääberli (sour liver strips)
- Basler Leckerli – these are small gingerbread biscuits with sugar icing (they can be relatively hard)
- Mässmogge – colorful sweets filled with a mixture of hazelnuts filling
The Best Drunk Food
- Dürüm kebabs!
Our Suggestions – Dishes and Restaurants
I’ve written a complete guide to the best restaurants in Basel. Click here to read it!
Things to do in Basel Switzerland: Let’s Go For a Drink
What Do the Locals Drink?
Quöllfrisch beer, kirsch and local wine
Drinking in Public
The legal drinking age in Switzerland is, 16 years for beer and wine and 18 for spirits (hard liquor). If you are attending Fasnacht (Carnival) be mindful not to get out of control as locals hold this cultural celebration sacred.
Our Suggestions – Bars and Pubs
Here are some bars and clubs you can enjoy during your visit to Basel:
Cargo Bar: St.Johanns-Rheinweg 46, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 321 0072 – this bar has an exceptional art collection and puts great emphasis on not only the type but the quality of music played
Café des Arts: Barfüssenplatz 6, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 273 5737 – this bar is dubbed an arts lounge, cocktail bar, brasserie and champagne lounge.
Musikpark A2: Mittlere Allee 18, 4052 Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 312 5060 – this club is famous for throwing a good party, go “pump it up”!
Bird’s Eye Jazz Club: Kohlenberg 20, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 263 3341 – if you have a craving for quality jazz music this club would not disappoint.
Jagerhalle: Erlenstrasse 59, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 283 18 18 – you can get disco, hip hop or reggae!
As regular readers of this column know, I don’t know anything about clubs. Sorry!
Things to do in Basel Switzerland: What to See and Do
Basel Art Museum – this art museum house the biggest Holbein art collection in the world and has one of the oldest public art collections.
Fondation Beyeler – “This is the perfect place for art lovers, visitors and gift seekers.”
Zoologischer Garten Basel (Zoological Gardens) – this zoo/garden is located right in the heart of the city, it showcases over 500 different species of animals with amazing plant life on full display.
Fasnacht (Carnival) – this is the biggest street party in Basel, lasting for three straight days. This celebration begins very early (around 4 a.m.) the first morning of with all lights turn off. The occasion is very special to Basel and is like no other carnival in the world. You are better off being a spectator than a participant.
Rhine Cruises – these boat excursions provides the best opportunities to see the city of Basel from the Rhine River.
Schützenmattpark, this park is accessible through Tram No. 8 and is a great place to take the kids, if this is a family vacation, to kick a football or throw a Frisbee.
Go rock climbing, hiking or ice-skating!
Tipping in Basel
Just like in most of Switzerland, service charge is usually included in the bill so it’s not expected to tip. Wages are also higher here compared to the rest of the world, so if you really do want to tip, 5% of the total cost is sufficient.
Things to do in Basel Switzerland: Common Scams & What to Avoid
There is no crime in Switzerland. Period.
READ MORE: Travel Canada Advisory for Switzerland.