A Visitor's Guide to Basel
As summer approaches so do the visitors and tourists. Our handy guide shows off the best of Basel and has some great suggestions for visitors.
Take in the sites with a walking tour
See all of Basel's major sites in just a couple hours! Start at the Fasnachts Brunnen and follow our handy guide on this self-guided walking tour. Click here! A Walking Tour of Basel
Explore the Altstadt
No trip to Basel is complete without a stroll through Basel's picturesque Altstadt. Enter from Marktplaz or Barfusserplatz and explore its many winding roads. Pop into boutiques, take a rest by one of the many fountains and make sure to get a photo op at L'Unique House of Rock's iconic mural.
Don't forget to participate in one of Basel's most treasured sports, standing in line at Gilgen.
This tiny bakery is one of Basel's best and serves of some traditional specialties like Holländertorte, a deliciously light almond cake wrapped in pastry or Russenzopf, a braided sweet bread with fruit. For something savoury be sure to try the Fleischpastetli or meat pies.
Rhylax a bit
Summer in Basel is all about rhylaxing. No that's not a typo, that's the Basel slang for relaxing along the Rhein, also know as Basel's Riviera or Rhywera. The Rhein is the centre of the city, especially in the summer and no visit is complete without a leisurely stroll or drink along its shores.
Swimming in the Rhein
One of Basel's favourite summer pastimes is swimming in the Rhein. This truly is one of the best things about summertime in Basel. For a true Basel experience be sure to purchase a Wicklefisch, Basel's iconic wet-bag that you will see in numerous stores around Basel. It will not only keep your clothes and wallet dry, but act as a bit of a flotation device (as any other flotation devices are not allowed). Before you take the plunge, keep in mind that Rhein swimming is for experienced adult swimmers only (not a children's activity!). The current deceivingly fast so be cautious and make sure to go with friends. For more details about where exactly to dip in and other tips, please see our article Rhein Swimming: A Basel Rite of Passage.
For a more peaceful (and dryer) voyage accross the Rhein, be sure to take one of the Basel ferries. These traditional ferries have been running since 1854. Attached to a long wire cable, they are driven purely by the current of the Rhein. They are an excellent way to see the city and can make for some lovely pictures. There are four ferries connecting the two sides of the city, simple find one of the piers and wait for the Fäärimaa (ferryman) to arrive. A one way journey is CHF 2 for adults and CHF 1 for kids and dogs.
After a swim on the Rhein or a ride on a ferry, no rhylax is complete without a visit to one of Basel's Buvettes. These container cafes are the perfect place to sit and sip an Aperol Spritz, have a burger and watch the world go by. For locations and opening hours please see Basel.com's handy guide.
Holzpark Klybeck (the Hafen)
Often referred to as the Hafen, Holzpark Klybeck is the bohemian centre of Basel. Located near the shipping port, it is a haven for graffiti-loving-free-spirits and an excellent place to get a drink or a bite and enjoy the Rhein. For a very cool experience be sure to check out Gannet, a bar and restaurant in a converted ship. Seating is limited so be sure to book ahead here.
Visit a museum
Basel is known as the 'City of Museums' and has 40 museums to choose from! This is a great option for rainy days or if you are looking to escape the summer heat. Some of the best include the Kunstmuseum, the Tinguely Museum and Foundation Beyeler. For kids be sure to check out the Spielzug Welten Museum (toy museum), the Natural History Museum and the Paper Museum. A full listing can be found here.
Go where the 3 countries meet
Take advantage of Basel's unique location and go to the Dreiländereck, where the three countries meet. Here you can see France and Germany while standing in Switzerland. An excellent photo op and a hit with visitors (especially non Europeans). While you are here, be sure to enjoy the view at Sandoase, Basel's own beach restaurant, complete with sand! They have and excellent cocktail menu and is the perfect place to grab a drink and a bite and enjoy the view.
Go for a hike
A favourite pastime of Baslers, there are lots of options to get back to nature and breathe in some fresh air. Load up your pack for a day trip and head to one of the numerous nearby hiking trails accessible by transit. Here are some of our favourites:
Take a day trip
Basel's excellent location makes it the perfect jumping off point for day trips. With numerous destinations to choose from in multiple countries, you can plan a quick day trip to Colmar, France or Frieburg, Germany and any number of other destinations all within a couple hours driving or train ride from Basel. Check out all the recommendations on our Travel Page, which has numerous day and weekend trip ideas.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Basel! I think you will discover what we already know, that it is one of Europe's finest hidden gems.