14 reasons to visit Basel
Tucked away on the River Rhine is Basel, Switzerland’s third biggest city. With its close proximity to both Germany and France, Basel has a unique identity and culture. As soon as you land in Basel, you’ll notice the city’s fascination and love with everything art related. It’s also an international hub with numerous international companies using Basel as their headquarters. Here are just a few reasons why you need to visit the city of Basel, if not today, then at least once in your life.
1. Become a Part of Basel’s Art Scene
Image credit: artbasel.com
Basel has long had a beautiful affiliation with art. The variety of special art events in Basel every year highlight some of the world’s most esteemed art museums, art galleries, theaters, concert halls, and notable pieces of stunning architecture. It’s clear that art has always been at the forefront, and this can even be seen in the many impressive sculptures dotted around the city. In fact, Basel’s art scene is so renowned that Picasso once donated three of his most famous works at no charge upon hearing the city wanted to purchase his art back in 1967. The Fondation Beyeler gallery is a particular treat, with over 300 pieces of classic modernism including Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti and Warhol. Situated in an English landscape park that belongs to the historic Berower Manor, the museum itself could be deemed as a piece of art. Not forgetting that Basel is home to the one of the world’s most premier art exhibitions Art Basel.
2. Learn something new in one of Basel’s 40 Museums
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It’s hard to believe that such a small Swiss city could have so many museums, but Basel’s museums are aplenty and some of the world’s best. Science museums, medical museums, art museums, history museums and more – Basel has it all! Some top Basel museums worth noting include the Spielzeug Welten Museum (the Toy Museum), which will take any nostalgic soul back to their childhood. Also being home to some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, it’s no surprise that the Pharmazie-Hostorisches Museum (Basel Museum of Pharmacy) is up there. Even if you’re not interested in medicine, it’s worth a look! Another popular museum in Basel would have to be the Cartoon museum, which is the only museum in Switzerland dedicated to the art of satirical cartooning. And if you have time the Basel Natural History Museum is like no other natural history museum in the world - delve into the mystifying worlds of entomology, zoology, paleontology and more and prepare to be in awe.
3. Spend a Night at Basel’s Number One Luxury Hotel – Les Trois Rois
Photo credit: www.lestroisrois.com
Steeped in history, the magnificent les Trois Rois is one of Basel’s finest 5-star hotels. A charming hotel that sits prettily on the banks of the River Rhine, les Trois Rois welcomes its high-profile VIP guests from around the world, which once included James Joyce, Pablo Picasso and the esteemed Empress Michiko of Japan. Established in 1681, which makes it one of the oldest hotels in Europe, les Trois Rois is all about maintaining tradition in a luxurious way.
Another reason to visit Basel and stay at les Trois Rois is its restaurants. It boasts a number of fine dining establishments, including a 3-star Michelin restaurant, the Cheval Blanc. World-renowned chef Peter Knogl creates aesthetically pleasing delicious delights from the very best of what nature has to offer. Having earned a well-deserved spot in the world’s top 100 restaurants, you’ll be treated to some fusion haute cuisine that’s second to none.
4. Book your trip for an exhibition at the famous Messeplatz
Photo credit: www.baselworld.com
When many of the worlds travelers visit Basel to experience the newest trends in Art, Popular Culture or Business they are in awe when they see the impressive Mustermesse hall. The spacious area is over 140,000m2 and is home to some of the most infamous international fairs including Art Basel and Basel World.
Even if you don’t visit for an exhibition its worth seeing the brilliant Messe tower architecture by Herzog & de Meuron (pictured above).
5. Visit the Enchanting Old Town of Basel
Photo credit: www.basel.com
While many cities in Europe have Old Towns, there’s none quite like Basel’s Old Town. The charming medieval Old Town of Basel is one of the best preserved in the whole of Europe. Thanks to the city’s compactness, it’s easy to explore the distinctive streets at your leisure. Meander through cobbled lanes while taking in the glory of centuries-old homes and the old artisans’ district before discovering the splendour that is the Basel Minster. You’ll be simply in awe of the unparalleled architectural diversity the Basel Old Town has to offer.
6. Sample Delicacies at Basel’s Food Markets
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As well as great art, Basel is also home to some impressive food markets. From fresh produce markets to farmers’ markets to markets selling local delicacies, there isn’t a shortage of quirky food markets to meander around and explore. Marktplatz is of particular interest. Here you’ll find a broad selection of fresh organic products and homegrown Swiss delights. And if the Marktplatz doesn’t pique your appetite or interest, the hypnotizing smells from Basel’s Indoor Market at the Markthalle surely will. It’s here that you’ll find different foodstuffs from all over the world under one spectacular imposing domed roof.
7. Make the Most of the High Sunshine Days
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Despite Switzerland’s snowy disposition, Basel has a temperate climate, making it one of the most enjoyable places in Switzerland to spend your summer months. From Spring to early Autumn, the River Rhine’s banks become a popular gathering spot for people who want to bask in the sun. There’s a hive of activity along the waterfront with people swimming and dining at the many independent cafes, bars and restaurants that line the banks. You’ll see the locals bring their own food and drink happily make their own picnic or BBQ along the riverbank. The atmosphere is lively but somehow relaxed and the perfect place to create memories with friends, family and colleagues.
8. Admire the Historic Architecture
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Written within the streets of Basel’s old town, you’ll unearth some of the city’s great history through its impressive and elaborate medieval architecture. From the historic Rathaus (city hall) that boasts an ornately decorated courtyard to the grand cathedral, you’ll be left speechless. To get a picture-perfect panoramic view of Basel city’s architectural wonders from above, make sure you visit make your way up to Münsterplatz, in front of the cathedral there’s a terrace that overlooks the River Rhine.
9. Relish in Some of Europe’s Finest Theatre
Photo credit: www.basel.com
For a small landlocked country, Switzerland boasts some of the best theatres in the whole of Europe, most of which are centred in Basel. With Switzerland’s greatest theatre offering, Basel is home to numerous eclectic theatres. The Musical Theatre Basel and the Theatre Basel would have to be the most prestigious theatres in Basel. But there’s also Roxy, Gare du Nord, Basler Kindertheater, and Kaserne Basel to name just a few quirky Basel theatre companies that wow audiences on a regular basis.
10. Access the Continent from Basel
Did you know that Basel Airport is actually in France? Sitting on the corner of the Swiss, French and German borders, Basel is an easily accessible city. It’s also one of Switzerland’s main hubs. After exploring the wonders Basel has to offer, you can access other parts of central Europe by plane, train or automobile with ease. In just one hour, you could find yourself in Paris, Milan or Frankfurt.
11. Celebrate Christmas in Basel
Photo credit: www.basel.com
If there’s any central European city that knows how to celebrate Christmas, it’s Basel. No expense is spared come Christmastime in Basel. The picturesque city comes to light with thousands upon thousands of tasteful fairy lights that decorate over one hundred Christmas trees that elegantly line the streets. The world famous Freiestrasse transforms into one of Europe’s longest and most remarkable Christmas decoration displays. Christmastime in Basel is magical, and it makes for an even more magical Basel shopping experience.
12. Party for Four Days at the Basel Fasnacht
Photo credit: www.myswitzerland.com
Fasnacht, a winter festival carnival and the Swiss’ equivalent of the Rio Carnival, takes place on the first Monday after Ash Wednesday. It’s a huge Swiss carnival that’s celebrated across the country from the big Swiss cities to the small mountainside villages. But if you’re looking for a raucous non-stop celebration, the annual 4-day Basel Fasnacht festival is what can only be described as a marathon celebration. The 72-hour street party in Basel attracts well over 18,000 enthusiastic revelers a year. The ghoulish parades are the most anticipated of the year, and you’ll find dancers, musicians, and partygoers celebrating well into the night.
13. Get behind FC Basel
Photo credit: www.fcb.com
FC Basel has an impressive record nationally. In fact, it’s arguably the most successful football club in Switzerland. FC Basel is also a big contender in the Champions League. Even non-football fans will enjoy the atmosphere at St. Jakob-Park, because FC Basel’s fans are some of the most passionate you’ll ever witness – it’s an exhilarating experience!
14. Learn All About Basel’s Tennis History
Photo credit: swissindoorsbasel.ch
Switzerland has produced some of the world’s greatest tennis players, which includes Basel’s very own, Roger Federer. Every year Basel hosts a world-class tennis event, the Swiss Indoors Basel, which the top players competes in. Every October, some 70,000 tennis fans fill the stands of St. Jakobshalle Stadium to experience the height of tennis fever.
Not only is Basel the cultural capital of Switzerland, it’s also an art lover’s dream. Arresting architecture that dates back to medieval times, raucous carnival celebrations, and an art scene that’s off the scale, there’s no denying that everyone should put it on their bucket list and visit Basel at least once in their life.
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