Discovering the Best Things to do in Basel

basel switzerland
City of Basel, Switzerland, on the Rhine River

Basel is credited with being the second largest city in Switzerland. It is located on a bend in the Rhine between the Jura Mountains and Black Forest ridges. Aside from being the first community in Switzerland to have a railway line, Basel is also credited with having the world’s first international rail station.

You can reach this city from various cities around Switzerland using a Swiss Travel Pass. This pass provides you with access to the entire Swiss Travel System including trains, buses & boats. If you are traveling from Paris to Basel, you can hop on the TGV East high-speed train and reach Basel in about 3 hours. The train departs from the Paris Est Station and arrives in the city center of Basel at the Basel SBB Bahnhof. There is direct service, or trains that would stop in Strasbourg where you would have to transfer trains.

Our Guide For Things to Do in Basel

A warm, welcoming city full of character and charm, you will find that there are many things to do in Basel. Upon arrival in the city it is best to begin your visit in the Old Town. Basel has one of Europe’s best preserved and most beautiful Old Towns. Authentic medieval buildings along with elegant Baroque Patrician buildings fill the area. A great place to take a stroll and take it all in.

basel cathedral
Cathedral of Basel in the distance. Some rights reserved by A_Peach

After you’ve had a visit to the Old Town, make your way to the Cathedral. The Roman-Gothic Cathedral dates back to the 11th century. It is situated on Müsterhügel (Cathedral Hill). Behind the cathedral, high above the Rhine, you will find the Pfalz platform. From this point, you have an amazing view of the city.

Be sure to have a look around the City Hall of Basel as well. Built from 1508-1514. Here you will discover precious furnishings and decor. The walls within the courtyard contain beautiful paintings. City Hall is located in the heart of the city. Nearby you will encouter the daily food, flower and vegetable market in Market Square.

A number of internationally-renowned architects have designed many contemporary buildings for Basel. These contemporary designs show that though Basel is a traditional city, they have an appreciation for a modern twist!

Museum Hopping in Basel

The city of Basel contains over 35 museums within its borders. There truly is something for everyone! The most well-known museums are:

Fondation Beyeler – This museum was designed by Renzo Piano. It contains a collection of 200 odd works of classic modernism that reflect 20th century art. The Fondation Beyeler is one of the most visited art museums in all of Switzerland and contains the works of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Klee, Matisse, Monet, Picasso and more. This museum is definitely a must see!

The Kunstmuseum – You’ll find in this museum the oldest public art collection in the world. The Kunstmuseum of Fine Arts displays works from Holbein to Picasso along with special world-class exhibitions.

Basel Paper Museum – We couldn’t possibly leave out the Basel Paper Museum! This superbly restored, medieval Gallician Mill house showcases the history of paper, writing and printing. You can not only watch the craftsmen at work, but are invited to make your own paper and print on it. A lot of fun especially for families!

Fondation Beyeler
Fondation Beyeler – Basel Switzerland. Some rights reserved by Rosmary

Other things to do in Basel

Basel has the largest zoo in all of Switzerland. Witness the feeding of sea lions, the Etoscha house, the underwater world of vivarium and you can’t look away from the playful fights between the baby apes!

The Old-Timer Tram is also a great deal of fun! Embark on the nostalgic Old-Timer Tram and enjoy a wonderful journey across 2,000 years of history throughout Basel. A relaxing way to spend an afternoon while sightseeing and learning about your surroundings.

Basel is a fantastic destination to venture to. There is much to do and see. Once you’ve absorbed all that the city of Basel has to offer, you can easily hop on a train with the top-notch Swiss Travel System using your Swiss Travel Pass and go explore the rest of the country!

The Swiss Travel Pass one pass that provides unlimited travel on the Swiss Travel System including trains, buses and boats. Plus, if you are traveling with children, you can take advantage of  the free Swiss Family Card which allows children under 16 to travel free with a parent or legal guardian.

Rail Europe offers many great products for Switzerland to help you customize your travel plans. Products such as Fast Baggage can help take your trip from good to beyond great!

For those of you who may be looking for further information on Basel, we invite you to visit the Basel Tourism website:

If you’ve traveled to Basel and have experienced the city for yourelf, we encourage you to post your comments below and share with our readers some of your favorite things to do in this Swiss gem!

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