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48 Hour Guide to Basel: 12 things to do in Basel

At the end of June me and my best friend Katie jumped on a plane from London, and headed to Switzerland for five days exploring a new country! We spent the five days in the country travelling between three cities: Basel, Lucerne and Zurich. All three cities were amazing and had so much to offer, check out my blog posts on 12 places to visit in Zurich, and 5 days in Switzerland Itinerary here. But for now, welcome to Zurich! 

Basel, nestled on the Rhine river, is Switzerland’s third-largest town and is a cultural hub, foodie haven and river-swimming paradise. The city loves art and has more museums than you can count, so here here are some of the reasons why everyone should visit the city at least once.

I wasn’t sure at first if there would be enough for us to do in 48 Hours in Basel, especially in the summer, as I had heard it was so great at Christmas, but I was pleasantly surprised! 

Here are 12 things to do in Basel…

 

things to do in Basel

48 Hour Guide to Basel

But I was not dissapointed… this city has enough things to do for an entire week. Especially as you have also got great access to France and Germany too. The city of Basel is located on the northwestern border of Switzerland, and when you land you fly in to an airport which is shared with both France and Germany. This threw us off at first, but once we had worked out which side of the airport we needed to go through, it was all simple.

We jumped on a bus from the airport, to the city, for less then $5 each.If you’re a museum lover, you’ll be completely in your element in Basel, as the city is well known for its museums, but if not, there is so much more – here is my list of 12 things to do in Basel Switzerland, which includes a lot more than museums. It is, afterall, Switzerland’s 3rd largest city, and quite a cosmopolitan one too!

So, what are you waiting for, here’s my 48 Hour Guide to a weekend in Basel 

 

When to go to Basel

I visited Switzerland in the summer, so experiencing Switzerland in the summer is amazing, as you can enjoy the hot weather and take up traditions such as swimming down The Rhine, watersports on Lake Zurich and river cruises. I’d recommend visiting between Mid May and End of June, or Mid August to End of October.

A lot of my friends have been in the winter season, especially around Christmas and they said at this time of year, nearly every city in Europe decks itself out in its Christmas and the country is also amazing for skiing. I am off to Switzerland again in January, but this time for a winter break in the country, with a few days in Interlaken, spending time in the mountains and we will even head off for a few days skiing. I cannot wait to experience a different side to Switzerland!

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How to get to Basel

Flying

easyJet, SWISS & British Airways fly the most frequently from United Kingdom to Switzerland. The most popular route is London to Geneva, and most airlines fly this route. Or you can fly in to Zurich or Basel – we flew from London Luton to Basel and return from Zurich, and the flights were an incredible £60 return. 

 

What’s the weather like in Basel?

I visited Basel in the summer, so experiencing Switzerland in the summer is amazing, as you can enjoy the hot weather and take up traditions such as swimming down The Rhine, watersports on Lake Zurich and river cruises. I’d recommend visiting between Mid May and End of June, or Mid August to End of October.

A lot of my friends have been in the winter season, especially around Christmas and they said at this time of year, nearly every city in Europe decks itself out in its Christmas and the country is also amazing for skiing. I am off to Switzerland again in January, but this time for a winter break in the country, with a few days in Interlaken, spending time in the mountains and we will even head off for a few days skiing. I cannot wait to experience a different side to Switzerland!

 

READ MORE: Switzerland Itinerary: 15 places to visit in Zurich

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Where to stay in Basel: Hotel Basel

For our trip to Basel we decided to stay at the wonderfully traditional and modern Hotel Basel. The urban 4-star Hotel Basel boasts 73 bedrooms, including an array of suites, which were freshly renovated in 2018 and is situated in the heart of Basel’s old town on Spalenberg, one of the most beautiful and popular streets in the city.

Surrounded by historical buildings and romantic little streets above Marktplatz and the City Hall, the hotel is just a few steps away from other places of interest, the theatre, museums and a host of shops. Only a few steps away from the town hall and many sights and museums, this hotel offers a quiet location in the centre of the picturesque old town of Basel. 

The hotel boasts an amazing location making it perfect for business travellers and families alike. The nearby market square (Marktplatz) provides easy access to the city’s public transport network. You can also enjoy the famous Swiss cuisine in the Brasserie, the Boulevard outdoor restaurant (open in summer), or the Sperber Bar. 

Our bedroom was a standard sized room, with double bed, ensuite bathroom, stylish storage spaces, and desk. The room was the perfect size, with all the mod cons you could need for a weekend in Basel. 

BOOK HOTEL BASEL HERE

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What to do in Basel: 12 things to do in Basel in the summer

1. Go for a swim in The Rhine with your swim bag

One of my favourite experiences from our trip to Basel was swimming in The Rhine. As the weather was around 34 degrees when we visited the city, the river was our paradise, and provided us with a place to relax, unwind and take a little dip. The thing you’ll see the most in the city when the locals go swimming are hundreds upon hundreds of the colourful Wickelfisch – a swim bag in the shape of a fish which was invented in Basel – will keep your clothes dry. And once you’ve done your exercise, after your swim, why not enjoy a drink at one of the outdoor bars on the sunny riverbank in Kleinbasel?

2. Basel at Christmas

During the festive season Basel spares no expense as the city is illuminated by fairy lights and its streets lined with over 100 Christmas trees. The world famous Freie Strasse becomes one of Europe’s longest displays of christmas decorations over the festive period. Basel’s popular Christmas markets, are spread over two squares in the old town, and makes one of the biggest and best in Switzerland. Christmas is a Basel experience that’s not to be missed!!!

3. Go for lunch at Urf7

As soon as we arrived in Basel, we checked in to Hotel Basel and then we headed straight out to to lunch to meet our friend. We decided to opt for a locals favourite Ufer 7 which is located right on the banks of the Rhine in Basel, and is only a stone’s throw from the Mittlere Brücke. Ufer7 has something for everyone, including an array of make-your-own salad bowls, burgers, and chicken dishes. The restaurant offers exclusive wines and beers, delicious drinks, tasty coffee specialities and creative cocktails

4. Visit one of Basel’s many museums, especially the Kunstmuseum

Basel is world famous for art and over the city there are 40+ museums! There is lots to see including the world’s largest collection of stuffed teddy bears, and one of the world’s best natural history museums, just in case Basel Zoo didn’t provide you with enough animals. The most famous is the Kunstmuseum, is the largest and most significant public art collection in Switzerland, and is listed as a heritage site for the country.

READ MORE: Wellness Zürich: B2 Boutique Hotel + Thermalbad Spa Review

things to do in Basel

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things to do in Basel

5. Visit some of their Markets

There are many great markets all across Basel. Marktplatz is where you can pick up fresh foods and sample local delicacies but its also worth a visit to Stadtmarkt where you’ll find Basel’s regional food sellers selling meats, fruits, vegetables and flowers. It’s a lively market and reminded me of Borough Market in London! For the foodies, head to Stadtmarkt’s sister market that takes place every Monday and is newly launched in 2017 with an array of street-food vendors. 

6. Go for dinner at NOMAD

For dinner on our first evening we were looking for a restaurant with great food, and even better atmosphere and a friend of ours has recommend NOMAD. Here you can enjoy your favourite dishes from across the world – discovered by urban nomads on their travels. The kitchen team have clearly spent time and effort pulling together their amazing menu, through their own culinary travels, bringing the wanderlust from noon to night. And then after your meal, the amazing bartenders will mix you a cocktail at the bar!

7. Party at Basler Fascnacht

Switzerland really is famous for their festivals! This amazing 3 day festival kicks off at 4am with a parade through the streets of masked musicians and continues through the streets. It falls on the first Monday after Ash Wednesday every year – its one of the best things to see in Basel. 

8. Explore Basel with a tour guide to find out more about the history and culture

One afternoon in Basel, we joined a lovely lady called Caroline, who took us on a culture tour of the city. She took us around the city for three hours, through some of the old town, up to some viewpoints, showed us where Roger Federer got married, and showed us the iconic Town Hall.

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9. Spend the afternoon on a food tour (FoodTour ICONIC) 

On our second day in Basel we booked in to join the self-guided FoodTour ICONIC. The tour lasts around three hours, and it takes you away from the usual tourist attractions and give you the opportunity to get to know “iconic Basel” at a slow pace.

This food tour was right up my street, being able to enjoy the famous Swiss cuisine at our own pace, stopping and starting as we needed. During the tour you will visit five establishments in total and each one does something different. We ended up visiting an ice cream parlour, a chocolate shop, a food market, a sustainable DIY supermarket and coffee shop.

Tip: Starting before 11am means you will arrive on time for lunch at the KLARA food court, where you can look forward to delicious lunchtime snacks (until 2 pm). The starting point is at Bäckerei KULT in St. Johann, Elsässerstrasse 43, 4056 Basel and the end point is Xocolatl, Marktgasse 6, 4051 Basel.

10. Go on the search for animals at Basel Zoo

I never realised Switzerland had so many zoo’s! Basel’s zoo is the oldest, and one of the largest in Switzerland with animals from all across the world. The zoo is a not for profit and funds go back towards conservation and breeding programmes around the world.

In 2024 the zoo aims to open the ‘Ozeanium’, a large aquarium dedicated to showcasing the world’s oceans and educating locals and tourists about our diminishing oceans.

11. Jump aboard a boat for an evening river cruise

Through a recommendation from a friend, they told us the best thing to do was to jump onboard a river cruise for the evening. From April to October the company Basler Personenschifffahrt offers regular cruises on the Rhine.

Enjoy the Rhine on a trip through the locks at Birsfelden on the way to Rheinfelden or discover the city and region from the water on a lunch cruise as far as the border triangle. From 19 April 2019, the evening cruise will offer relaxed dinner and sunset cruises. They also take you to the edge of Switzerland where you can also see France and Germany.

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Now you can see what I meant by there being a ton of things to do in Basel Switzerland and why I recommend a visit to Basel as much as I do. It would take you much more than a long weekend to cross all of these must-visit attractions in Basel off your list.  So get that flight booked and start exploring! 

Have you been to Basel? Let me know your favourite thing to do in Basel!

 

*Thank you to Basel Tourism, who helped source a hotel and activities for me and Katie whilst in the city. All opinions are my own, as always.

 

Other posts that may help you:

10 Hygge Things to do in Copenhagen

Ultimate Guide to 48 Hours in Malmö

Best Vegan Restaurants in Malmo

The Best Weekend Trips in the UK

10 Things to do in Aberdeen

Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! 

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it for me with all your friends and family!

Sophie X

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