Holidays in Basel - Switzerland
Cultural city at the heart of Europe
Basel is an engaging city, full of contrasts. It lies close to the so-called 'border triangle', where Switzerland meets France and Germany, and was an important trading point in medieval times. This is reflected in the buildings of the fascinating Old Town; just minutes away however, you can find many examples of the ultra modern architecture for which the city is also known. This is a city with 40 museums dedicated to all aspects of man's ingenuity, art and culture, yet its lifeblood is nature's mighty river Rhine. Basel is certainly an interesting place in which to spend a few days before exploring deeper into Switzerland.
Hotels in Basel
We have a range of 3, 4 and 5 star hotels in Basel for stays of one night or longer which can be added to any of your arrangements throughout Switzerland.
Please call 0800 619 1200 for details and availability.
14th century CITY Gates
In medieval times, many traders passed through Basel thanks to it strategic position in the heart of Europe. The city walls and gates would have been an impressive sight to them, and three original 14th century gates can be enjoyed by visitors today. St. Alban's gate still has its large wooden door - step through to explore the St. Alban quarter with its charming narrow streets and medieval atmosphere. St. Johann's gate opens up to a rejuvenated area of the city, with much modern architecture to admire. Spalentor is perhaps the grandest gate of all and would have been the impressive arrival point for traders from Alsace. You can still see the gate's figures of the Madonna and prophets dating from the 15th century.
It is a pleasure to wander around Basel's charming Old Town, with its winding lanes and well preserved medieval buildings, many of which now house boutiques and restaurants. Be sure to visit the Marktplatz for the impressive 16th century red sandstone Town Hall and the ever popular market with its local delicacies. Basel's Cathedral is mainly medieval Gothic, but you can actually still see remains of the original 9th century church that once stood here. Highlights of the Cathedral include Erasmus' tomb, the 15th century cloisters and the climb up the Gothic towers for wonderful views over the Old Town. Close to the Cathedral you'll find the Pfalz - a terrace with must-see views over the Rhine and beyond.
City of museums and Art
Basel is well known for its museums - the city boasts almost 40! There is something for everyone, from the fascinating Basel History Museum to the Toy Museum with over 6,000 teddy bears and dolls. Must-see art museums include the Basel Art Museum and the astonishing private collection at the Fondation Beyeler covering works by Monet, Warhol and Picasso to name but a few. The Jean Tinguely Museum has eye-popping 'kinetic art' sculptures, and you can see more Tinguely work at his sculpture fountain near the Theatreplatz. Just over the German border is the Vitra Design Museum. It is worth the short bus journey to see the exhibits, as well as the amazing buildings by Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.
A cruise along the Rhine is always a special experience. There are a few different itineraries from which to choose in Basel: try a harbour cruise which affords great views of the city and takes you as far as the border triangle with France and Germany. Or you could travel in the other direction along the famous river, through the locks at Birsfelden on the way to Rheinfelden. There is also the opportunity to combine a cruise with a trip to the Roman ruins at Augusta Raurica. The cruises last from 1 to 6 hours and operate from April to October. Lunch is available on board.
SHOPPING, EATING AND DRINKING
Pedestrianised Freie Strasse is the main shopping street with plenty of large international stores. Nearby Spalenberg has smaller boutiques and a charming 'year-round Christmas' store, which is an official supplier to the White House and the Queen. The stalls of the Marktplatz are a joy to wander around, sampling the local produce here and there. The city has over 20 restaurants with an entry in the Gault Millau or Michelin guides and offers many regional specialities, with French and German influences from its close neighbours. Sunday brunch at the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois or the Sud Basel café comes highly recommended. In the evenings, the Kleinbasel area is very lively with plenty of bars.
AUGUSTA RAURICA roman ruins
Augusta Raurica is a 2000-year-old settlement on the southern bank of the Rhine, just 20 minutes from Basel. This is the best preserved Roman site north of the Alps. Founded in 43 BC, the city grew to 20,000 inhabitants by 2 AD and today's visitors can explore the amphitheatre and several temples as well as take a tour around a reconstructed Roman villa. The museum displays Roman archeological treasures, including a hoard of silver and animal remains from the Roman 'zoo' which stood here. The whole site gives a fascinating insight into the daily lives of the people who lived here so long ago.
The scenic Wasserfallen area, which lies between Basel and Solothurn, can be easily reached in around an hour via train to Liestal, and then bus and cable car from Reigoldswil to Wasserfallen. This is an ideal starting point for mountain walks or for visiting the stunning Chellenchöpfli viewpoint over the Jura mountains. There are also views over the scenic Passwang hills, and on a clear day it is possible to see the Alps. Make a day of your visit and enjoy a traditional lunch in one of the many Jura mountain restaurants or guesthouses. Adventurous types may like to try the high ropes park or an exhilarating ride on the 'Trottinet' scooters back down to the Reigoldswil valley.
Excursions to Germany and France
Thanks to Basel's location, it is easy to reach some beautiful countryside and interesting towns in France and Germany on a day trip. Across the German border lies pretty Freiburg, capital of the Black Forest region. There is plenty to see and do here, with an historic Old Town, a remarkable Cathedral and some wonderful local cuisine. Alsace, in France, is equally inviting with its rolling green landscape and picturesque towns with pastel-coloured timber houses. Colmar is the hub of the Alsace wine region and it is a delight to try the local vintage alongside a traditional meal. Both Freiburg and Colmar can be reached in less than an hour from Basel.
Two and multi centre holidays
Why not consider a two centre holiday, combining the bustle of Basel with a stay in a picturesque lakes and mountains resort such as Weggis or Brunnen. Or try a multi centre holiday by following Basel with a few days in Lucerne, then enjoying a special journey on the scenic Gotthard Panorama Express to Lugano for a stay near the Italian border.
Please call us on 0800 619 1200 to arrange an itinerary tailor made to your requirements.
More city for less with the BaselCard
Buy your BaselCard from the tourist bureaux or hotels and enjoy the host of sightseeing activities included, such as a city tour, a river ferry crossing connecting Kleinbasel and Grossbasel and entry to the zoo as well as many discounts for museum entry and river cruises.
Adult price: 24 hours 20Sfrs, 48 hours 27Sfrs.
24 hours BaselCards with public transport included are available for 25Sfrs.