The Top 10 Things To Do In Basel, Switzerland


Basel is Switzerland’s oldest university city, which is why the city is very tradition-conscious and open-minded at the same time, a fact born out by several modern buildings designed by renowned architects such as Herzog & de Meuron, Mario Botta, Diener & Diener and Richard Meyer. Basel has a wealth of sights and attractions: modern architecture, a historic old town, art on every corner and of course the Rhine. Do you enjoy exploring cities on foot? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We have put together the top 10 things to do in the Swiss city of Basel. Have fun exploring Switzerland’s cultural capital.

1. Swimming in the Rhine

In summer, the Kleinbasel banks of the Rhine are the place to be! Only those that have ventured into the Rhine can truly understand the soul of the city. Thousands of people cool off by leaping into the refreshing water during the warmer months of the year.

For only once a year, thousands of aquatic revelers gather to don their swimming costumes and jump into the mighty Rhine, and simply allow the current to take them downriver. The event is supervised by a team of lifeguards, but caution is given to those who aren’t the strongest of swimmers.

2. Take advantage of the free BaselCard

One of my favorite things about being a tourist in Basel is the personal guest card that is handed to you when you check-in at your hotel. The attractive features of the BaselCard include free use of public transport, free surfing on the guest WiFi plus a 50% discount on admission to Basel’s museums, Basel Zoo, Theater Basel and much more.

3. Visit Basel Zoo

Nestling in the heart of Basel is one of Switzerland’s most visited attractions. Opened in 1874 Basel Zoo, known as Zolli, attracts over 1.7 million visitors a year. With over 600 species to care for there is plenty of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep Basel zoo operational.

This zoo seeks to tell visitors about the importance of nature. In addition, it helps them understand nature’s relationships. During its nearly 150 years of history, the Zoo Basel has been a tradition deeply rooted in the hearts of Basel residents.
A visit is a rewarding experience all year round: in summer, the park invites you to take a leisurely walk and see the animals in their outdoor enclosures, while pet houses provide up-close the animal’s views during the winter months.

4. Basel’s Old Town

As you stroll through the old town of Basel, one of the most intact and beautiful in Europe, you’ll be amazed at its unparalleled architectural diversity. Each corner features buildings from the 15th century as well as those designed by contemporary, internationally renowned architects. Due to its small size, the city is easily explored on foot. Here you will discover that although this rather unusual combination of tradition and modernity makes this an exciting city environment, it is harmonious nonetheless.

5. Go and watch FC Basel play Football (Soccer)

Football is loved by millions all around the world and is the most popular sport in Europe. Watching football is certainly a collective experience and the best way to watch is either live in the stadium or in one of the city’s many pubs. Built by local architects Herzog & de Meuron and opened in 2001, St. Jakob-Park is Switzerland’s largest football stadium and the home ground of FC Basel. It encompasses a shopping centre and old people’s home as well as the football arena with over 38,000 seats. For the star architects, it was excellent preparation for similar projects such as the Allianz Arena in Munich and Beijing’s National Stadium.

6. Explore the Museums

Almost 40 museums make Basel the city with the highest density of museums in the country. The Kunstmuseum, enhanced by the added exhibition space of a 2015 wing, is considered the finest collection of paintings in Switzerland, representing both old masters and modern art. Also, the 14th-century Barfüsserkirche (Church of the Barefoot Friars) was renovated in the 1970s to house the Historical Museum with important collections on local history and culture. It spotlights particularly the city’s unique position at the crossroads between Swiss, German, and French cultures.

7. Christmas in Basel

Basel’s Christmas market is one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Switzerland, offering great attractions for young and old alike. Nestled in the beautiful old town, this picturesque Christmas market extends from Barfüsserplatz up to the historic cathedral on Münsterplatz and offers everything the heart desires.

Throughout the market, around 180 rustic wooden chalets are set up for dealers to sell their diverse, regional products and culinary delights. Offerings range from handmade candles and Christmas decorations to beautiful leather goods, children’s toys and individual hats. You’ll also find an array of culinary delights including fresh waffles, delicious mugs of mulled wine, roasted almonds, fine Swiss raclette and salmon. While you are there, check out Claraplatz where seasonally decorated catering stands spoil guests with tasty delights.

8. Visit the Gate of Spalen

The Spalen Gate is a former city gate, which is part of the ancient city walls of Basel in Switzerland. The portal, considered one of the most beautiful gates in the whole country, is a landmark of the city and a monument of Switzerland’s national heritage. The construction of the gate was completed in 1473-74.

The Spalen Gate was part of the Basel fortification system from the 15th century. The wall had over 40 towers, and 7 of them were gate towers. Many important supplies from Alsace entered the city through the Spalen Gate. The central part of the tower has a square shape, and it’s outer, round towers have become the hallmark of the city. The gate is decorated with numerous sculptures on the facade.

9. Take a look around the ‘Marktplatz’

The focal point of the Old Town is Marktplatz, where you’ll still find the colorful daily market selling local produce, flowers, and food specialities. Dominating the square is the bright red Basel Rathaus, with its colorful painted facade. The arcaded main building is in Late Burgundian Gothic style dating from 1504 to 1521; the new wing to the left and the tall tower on the right are 19th-century additions.

10. Attend the ‘Art Basel’ event

Art Basel is an international contemporary art fair and is indisputably the world’s biggest fair in the international art market. Around 300 selected galleries from around the world present modern and contemporary works of high quality. Paintings, sculptures (including outdoor pieces), works on paper, photography, digital art, video art, and installations make up most of the works featured year after year. While exhibiting contemporary work is Art Basel’s first and foremost function, the fair is also known for its events. Lavish parties, live performances, and master classes are just some of the extra festivities held at each fair.

Upon conclusion of our top 10 things to do in Basel, it is evident that this city is filled with an abundance of entertainment, culture and history.


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