Vorstädte is the district that circles around the old city of Gross Basel. Its outer boundary corresponds to the third in a series of city walls in Basel built after an earthquake in 1356 and in order to accommodate the growing city. What remains of the wall are its few iconic towers, St. Johanns-Tor, the St. Alban-Tor and the Spalentor.
Today, this circular ring is divided up into roughly three areas with different characters. The northernmost section is dominated by University Hospital and the University of Basel. South of these institutions the district takes on a more commercial character including popular shopping, dining and entertainment venues as well as a variety of bank and insurance offices. Its southern portion is more residential and cultural, hosting some of Basel's favourite museums.
"When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence." That is the motto of Za Zaa Basel, who invites us to dine together and enjoy their fabulous 'Lebanese Soul food' in one of their many locations around Basel.
Petersgraben 15, 4051 Basel
Gerbergasse 87, 4051 Basel
Spalenvorstadt 12, 4051 Basel
Erasmusplatz 16, 4057 Basel
Boasting authentic Napolian pizza in distinctive pink boxes, Dio Mio does not disappoint with its fabulous crust, fresh pizza toppings and unique pies. Try the mortadella pistachio pizza and be prepared to crave it fortnightly.
Theaterstrasse 10, 4051 Basel
Perfect for a night out, a work lunch or Wednesday night takeaway, Noohn has fabulous fresh-made sushi and other Asian delicacies. Sit in their spacious indoor dining room, their rooftop garden or at the sushi bar where you can serve yourself with one of the many delectable dishes that circle in front of you on a magnetized conveyor belt.
Henric Petri-Strasse 12, 4051 Basel
"The only bad taco is the one you didn't eat." This is the philosophy of Cartell. Enjoy their tacos, margaritas and other Mexican delicacies with specials for 'Taco Tuesday'.
Henric Petri-Strasse 24, 4051 Basel
Gasthof zum Goldenen Sternen
This delightful Rhein-adjacent restaurant is Basel's oldest tavern dating from 1412! It has a lovely selection of Swiss-style favourites as well as some more contemporary dishes and excellent fish. Perfect for lunch or warm evenings where you can enjoy the relaxed ambiance of the Rhein.
St. Alban-Rheinweg 70, 4052 Basel
Lachenmeier Farben Basel
For the artists out there, Lachenmeier is a great place to stock up your supplies. With quite a good selection for such a small store, it's a great place to browse for inspiration. If you are searching for something specific, try their online store first.
Leonhardsgraben 10, 4053 Basel
Clarastrasse 46, 4058 Basel
Bider & Tanner
Searching for English books in Basel? Look no further. On its second floor Bider and Tanner has the largest selection of English books in town, including a nice assortment of books about Basel. There is also a descent childrens' book section and if you can't find what you are looking for, their helpful staff will be happy to order it for you.
One other thing to note, if you are homesick for some select British grocery items, including the much coveted brown sugar, you can find them here conveniently located beside the English books.
For other sources of English books, see our guide.
British grocery selection
Aeschenvorstadt 2, 4051 Basel
Hauptbau - St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel
Neubau - St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel
Gegenwart - St. Alban-Rheinweg 60, 4052 Basel
Arguably one of the best Museums in Basel, the Kunstmuseum (spread over three locations: Hauptbau, Neubau and Gegenwart) has a world-renown collection of over 300,000 works of art spanning the late middle ages to the present including famous masterpieces by Holbein, Picasso, Klee, Rousseau, Van Gogh and Warhol, among many others.
The origins of today's collection started in 1661 when it became the first collection of art accessible to the public in the world. This museum, as well as the numerous others in Basel (over 40) have cemented Basel's distinction as the 'cultural capital of Switzerland'.
Basel's love for art is symbolized by the Kunstmuseum and was demonstrated in 1967 when the population of the city voted to buy three works from Picasso that were in danger of being sold due to a financial crisis. Picasso himself was so moved by this gesture that he gifted the city with an additional three paintings. source
Explore a world of paper and printing at the Basel Paper Museum. A fascinating atmosphere of exhibitions and hands-on production, this Museum is both interesting and entertaining for adults and children alike. Workshops are available for many types of print and paper making. Make sure to check out their schedule here before you go, so as not to miss out on the fun.
St. Alban-Tal 37, 4052 Basel
Spielzeug Welten Museum
Toy lovers will delight in this extensive collection of antique toys including a collection of over 2,500 teddy bears. In addition to walking down a memory lane of toys from around the turn of the 20th century, the Museum hosts interesting temporary exhibits and is well known for its elaborate window displays in its iconic building just off of Barfusserplatz.
Steinenvorstadt 1, 4051 Basel
Satire, comics and graphic novels, the Cartoonmuseum Basel is the only museum in Switzerland devoted to narrative drawing. Visitors can explore different styles and traditions of this genre or enjoy a guided tour or lecture from their calendar of events. They also have an impressive array of postcards (over 300 motifs) in their gift shop.
St. Alban-Vorstadt 28, 4052 Basel
Built in 1977 by Jean Tinguely, this playful fountain amuses and delights all who pass by. Built where the old theatre was once located, these nine constantly moving sculptures, are said to imitate performers. It’s the perfect spot to take a break, have a coffee and watch your fellow Baselers.
Klostergasse 7, 4051 Basel
Founded in 1834, Theater Basel is the largest three-part theater in Switzerland and offers a variety of opera, drama and ballet performances on several stages.
Elisabethenstrasse 16, 4051 Basel
If you're tired of Netflix and chillin' and looking for a night out you can watch a movie the old-fashioned way: for an inflated price with a bag of popcorn on your lap.
Vorstädte has several movie theatres with both independent and Hollywood films. Make sure to confirm online if you are looking for movies in English (often noted as E/d,f). Be aware that unlike North American cinemas you need to choose your seats when you purchase your tickets.
The University of Basel hosts a lovely botanical garden which is open to the public. Dating back to the 16th century it was one of the first of its kind in the world. Admission is free so feel free to visit for some peace and fresh air in the city.
Spalengraben 8, 4051 Basel
Founded in 1460, the University of Basel is Switzerland’s oldest university and is well regarded around the world especially for its research. With programs across seven faculties it has five strategic academic areas: Life Sciences, Visual Studies, Nanosciences, Sustainability and Energy Research and European and Global Studies. It hosts 13,000 students from over a hundred nations, including 2,800 PhD students.
The University Hospital Basel is one of the five university hospitals of Switzerland and has been in operation since 1842. Today it employs over 7,600. Conveniently, the only 24-hour pharmacy in Basel is located across the street too. The district is also home to Basel's excellent Kinderspital.
The Swiss-British School Basel
ELA Basel's upper primary school, grades 3-8 are housed in this quiet neighborhood within easy walking distance to the Rhein. ELA offers English speaking childcare and education for children from the age of 3 months to the end of Primary School at 12 years old across its three buildings in the city.
Gartenstrasse 93, 4052 Basel
While most Rhein swimming happens on the Klein Basel side of the river, the Vorstädte neighborhood offers two access points for those looking to dip their toes. Make sure to the check the SLRG swim map to know where to go.