ABOVE: Basel and the Rhine,
looking across the rear of the Münster (Cathedral).
By Durant Imboden
may be Switzerland's least appreciated big city. It's quieter than Zürich, less
international than Geneva, and farther from the Alps than Bern. Yet Basel is Switzerland's
second-largest city, and its wealthy patrician families have nurtured a tradition of
scholarship and art since the Renaissance. The fact that Basel has more than two dozen
museums for a population of 200,000 makes it clear that this is no ordinary provincial
Basel's location is also unique. The city lies just
inside Switzerland's borders with France and Germany. In fact, its EuroAirport is on
French soil and is shared with Mulhouse, France and the German city of Freiburg im
Basel is the terminus for Rhine
River cruises from Holland and Germany, and it's a major Swiss railroad gateway for
trains from Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, and other European cities.
Ease of access is just one reason why you should consider
spending a night or two (or even three) in Basel while visiting Switzerland. The
city itself is well worth a day's exploration, thanks to an attractive old town
with fine buildings like the Münster (Cathedral), the painstakingly renovated
City Hall, the Barfüsserkirche (now the Historical Museum), and the Spalentor
that once served as a defensive gateway to Alsace. Allow time to walk along the
Rhine, and visit at least some of the excellent museums listed in this article.
Finally, don't miss the Augusta
Raurica in Augst, just 12 km (7.5 miles) from the city center. This Roman town was
home to 20,000 people before being destroyed by Alemannic raiders nearly 1,800 years ago.
Excavations and Roman treasure are on display, along with a full-size reconstruction of a
Roman house and a "Roman farm" animal park.
ABOVE: Basel's City Hall is nearly 500 years
The city's official tourism site has information in English, German, and
several other languages.
Tourism, transportation, culture, and business are some of the topics covered
by the city's official (and multilingual) Web site.
BVB (Basel on the Move)
The tram and bus network's pages are available in German, English, and French.
The Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg regional airport is in France, 12 km (7.5 miles) from downtown
You can cross the Rhine at four places. See "Die 4 Fähren"
for schedules and prices in German.
Cruise through the locks to Rheinfelden, or enjoy a city around the city with
Our hotel partner is Europe's no. 1 secure
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Search for eating and drinking establishments throughout the city and its
suburbs. (You can search by location, type of cuisine, "kids welcome," and
TOPAS Jewish Kosher Restaurant
The restaurant is located near the synagogue, and it's open for lunch and dinner from
Sunday through Friday noon. If you plan to dine on the Sabbath, you'll need to reserve and
pay in advance before 2 p.m. Friday. (Click "Englisch" in the top navigation
menu if you don't read German.)
Antiquities Museum and Ludwig
Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman artworks are the house specialties.
(German and French(.
Some 20,000 people lived in this Roman town 1,800 years ago. Today's open-air
museum complex has ruins, a reconstruction of a Roman house, and a "Roman
farm" animal park. In summer, you can get there by boat.
The city's history since Celtic times is chronicled in the Barfüsserkirche, a restored
Franciscan church from the 1300s. Other museum branches are also listed here.
(German and French.)
The Kunstmuseum Web site covers two museums: the Basel Art Museum and the Museum of
Museum of Cultures
Basel's ethnological museum displays objects from around the world, with an emphasis on
the Americas, the Pacific, and rural Europe.
This museum opened in 1996. It celebrates the work of Jean Tinguely, a Swiss
artist whose career spanned three and a half decades before his death in 1991.
Natural History Museum
Minerals, dinosaurs, birds, and beetles are among the specimens in this internationally
respected museum. (German.)
Spielzeug Welten Museum - Toy World Museum
Dolls, dollhouses, teddy bears, toy carousels, etc. occupy four floors of
exhibition space in central Basel.
Vitra Design Museum
This ultramodern, international museum of furniture and interior design is
located across the German border in Weil am Rhein. Take the A5 motorway or the
No. 5 bus from the Badischer Bahnhof (railway station) in Basel.
The Basel Zoological Garden ("Zolli Basel" in dialect) is a 5- to 10-minute walk
from the center of town or the railroad station. Animals range from apes to zebras.
The local rowing club has two boathouses, some 400 members, and more than a hundred years
of history. (German.)
Movie schedules and theatre locations are from a local German-language site.
Even in prosperous Basel, people sing the blues.
Click the player button on the home page to hear this
station online. (German.)
The city's International Art Fair takes place in June.
(Carnival In Basel)
Basel's annual Fasnacht, or Carnival, is a Swiss version of Mardi
Gras. Highlights include Guggenmusik bands, open-air skits, a
children's parade, and uninhibited carousing.