Basel is a city situated on river Rhine in the north-western region of Switzerland close to the border of Germany and France. It is a medieval town and it is dominated by ancient architecture and arts. Walkable, cozy, and elegant Basel is a town with a diverse culture and history. It is a perfect location for your holiday. A mixture of modern and ancient art dominates that city making it a unique spot that attracts thousands of tourists on an annual basis.
The medieval old town is one of the most picturesque locations in Europe and you will see the red sandstone town hall and 12th-century cathedral which accentuates the elegant look of the town. Besides, you will also find a 16th-century tomb of Erasmus a Dutch scholar who died in the region. With a colorful history, a perfect blend of culture, and exceptional youth vibrancy because of the university population. Basel offers plenty for visitors of all backgrounds to enjoy. We have chosen some of the top activities that you can do in the town. However, you are not limited to this you can let loose and be more adventurous.
How to get to Basel
You can get by plane by using the best airports which are the Euro Airport and it is 4 kilometers away, bus ride from the airport to the city center will take up to 20 minutes. The airports serve many destinations across the world and you are sure that you will never miss a flight to this destination. Besides the airport is connect by customs-free roads and you can use them to get to your favorite destination. On the other hand, you can get to Basel via train by picking it at the central station. Basel has two main railway stations and they connect to the country effectively. From Zürich it will take you up to 1h 30 minutes to get to Basel by train or car. You can never miss a fun activity to do in Basel.
There is a good railway connection across cities in Europe and Basel is not left behind. You can book a train from any major European city and land in Basel within a short period. Alternatively, if you have chosen to drive to Basel, you can enter the city via A5 highway from Germany or A2/3 as it is commonly called. You can get around using your car, however, you should purchase a tolls ticker if you want to drive on the autobahn in Switzerland, that costs 40 CHF and is valid for a year. Once you arrive at Basel here are some of the top things to do.
1. Visit Basel museum
Switzerland offers one of the richest histories in terms of arts and culture. You will not be left behind if you are an art-loving person because the museum will not disappoint. You will get arts from the renaissance period to modern-day art. There are galleries of Dutch masters such as Ruben’s and Rembrandt. From the 19th century, you will get to admire pieces by manet, moment, and Gauguin among others. The museum has an entire room for Picassos piece.
All information here: Basel museum.
2. Basel old town
Basel’s old town a perfect destination if you want to understand the origin and development of swiss culture. When in town you will see suggested themed walks on the bank of river Rhine and Grossbasel on the left bank. The oldest buildings in the area date back to the 14th century and it is rich in arts and culture that you can get to know while in the region.
3. Visit medieval paper workshop at Basel paper mill
Anyone who wants to understand the process of papermaking and how people in the last century made their paper then this is the right location to visit. You will get to smell the distinctive aroma of fresh paper and ink. The museum offers a rich history of paper production and traditional techniques that are still being used today. During your visit, there is a demonstration where you will try to make your own paper. How cool is that? You can try the specialist hand-operated machines before your dry your paper in a heated press.
Paper mill is situated in one of the most cozy places in Basel and you can have a cup of coffee with a fresh croissant in coffee place right next to it. Rhein river is just a minute away from the paper mill.
4. A visit to the unique jean Tinguely museum
The artistic nature of Switzerland may have made it one of the best tourist destinations in Europe. Although the swiss are not up there with great painters of Italian renaissance or painters of Paris they have a few highly distinguished artists and this is Jean Tinguely. He was very popular for his innovative ways of drawing mechanical sculptures. The museum houses major artwork of jean and there is also artwork from artists who inspired him.
You are going to see some gigantic strange amazing marvelous constructions which are made from scrapped metal and all those crazy sculptures move. Some are that big that you can walk on them and see up close how it was made.
5. Explore Basel town guided tours
If you would like to know the city well then exploring it with the help of a local guide will be a perfect solution. There is plenty of walking, Segway, and bus tours available. You are sure to know Basel more by moving with the locals because they understand the town well. You will uncover some of the hidden features of the town that are not common to everyone. Tours are often ideal for large groups and families. When exploring the town with a guide you will get a unique local perspective that you will not find in guidebooks.
For more information please visit the official Basel website: Basel City.
Best guided tours in Basel.
Basel historical tour: you are going to experience, see and learn about Basel’s history in 2 hours tour.
Basel art and culture tour: Basel is easily the most cultural city in Switzerland, there is so much to explore.
Basel night tour: a fascinating evening walk with local actors who are going to tell the secret Basel stories.
Basel must see 1 hour express tour: if you have little time and want to see what’s best in Basel, this is the tour for you.
Basel Instagram worthy tour: that is perfect for our younger generation. Believe me, Basel really has some killer places. Your instagram will explode.
6. Enjoy dinner at Volkshaus bar and brassiere
The dining location is housed in a building that dates back to the 14th century and it is a popular dining location in Basel. It was once a medieval manor and over time a major refurbishment was done and a new dinging experience included to the house. It was transformed into one of the top-notch hotels with eclectic furnishings such as bistro chairs and LED pendant lamps. The visual impression is quite exceptional and you will not find a location like this in Basel.
7. Explore Mediterranean history at Antikenmuseum
If you want to know more about Mediterranean history then Antikenmuseum is the perfect location that you should visit. Here you will see all the relics from ancient Greece, ancient and Rome among others. There are wonderfully curated pieces from centuries ago and recent past juxtaposed together to give it an elegant look. The museum runs workshops that allow visitors to connect with ancient culture by learning what was happening in the past. You can make things like clay bowls among others.
All official information about opening times and ticket prices are right here: Antikenmuseum information.
8. Basel Minster
There is no missing one of the most iconic landmarks in Basel. The medieval church with its two 60-meter towers is a true depiction of ancient architecture and with its mesmerizing edifice with pinkish-red sandstone, the walls are made of the glazed patterned roof. Most of the architectural designs of this building date back to the 15th and 14th centuries. You will see gothic archivolts that boast of prophets, roses, angels, kings, and Abraham’s image. On the right side, you will see a picture of a young virgin with toads and snakes behind her back which depicts evil the seducer.
There is a very nice viewing point behind the church where you can rest and enjoy the Basel views: river, Roche building (highest in Switzerland), bridges and much more.
9. Basel city hall
The city hall acts as the central point of Basel because it brings all the dimensions of the city onto one location. Marktplatz in front is a nexus of the tram network in Basel and thousands of swiss nationals and tourists flock the area daily. The red sandstone in front of the Marktplatz was first constructed in the 15th century and it has been in place for centuries.
There are symbols that you can decipher which includes 12 coats of arms in the old swiss confederation. The city hall has all the ancient history as well as modern changes that make it a perfect location to get a little information about Basel and the country itself.
10. Basel zoo
The Basel zoo is one of the most unique zoos in the world has it is known to have a rich diversity of animals. With over 640 species the zoo is one of the best in Europe. It is the largest and the oldest zoo in the country and it is packed with ancient and modern design as well. The expansions and renovations that were in the year 2016 have made it exceptional with the addition of a new elephant house. The aquarium has over 500 fish species and you are sure that you will have fun while in the area.
All information about the zoo you will find here: Basel Zoo.
11. Historic pharmaceutical museum
Historic medicine is the main subject of this world-class museum. The medicine history dates back to the 16th century and it is one of the most visited sites in Switzerland. You will never go wrong visiting this location. The number of artifacts is overwhelming such as ceramic vessels on the floor and the ceiling as well. In this museum, you will get to understand the prospects that medicine has made over time. There are ancient first aid kits, mortars, laboratory instruments, and strange contraption for alchemy practice.
Top things to do in Basel conclusion
Basel is a capital of culture in Switzerland. Do not forget the famous Basel Messe when artists from all around gather in Basel to exhibit their art. It is probably the biggest art exhibition in Europe at that time.
Basel is calm, low pace, cozy city on the banks of Rhein. If you are in Basel in summer time, you must take a swim and enjoy the views of the old town from the middle of river.
I highly recommend Basel to anyone who is looking for culture, art and enjoy pleasant walks in big old towns.
If you have any questions about Basel, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.
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