Basel is a city on the river Rhine in Northern Switzerland, close to the French and German boarder and the third largest city with a population under 200.000 residents. Basel’s charm is the architecture, the river, the bridges and the cultural mix taken from its surrounding neighbours. As any city in Switzerland, Basel is expensive compared to other countries so if you are on a tight budget make sure you plan your trip accordingly.
On Thursday evening I found out I have to fly next morning to Basel for Baselworld Show which is one of the most important shows for the watch and jewellery industry so I decided to take advantage and stay for the weekend to enjoy the city as I’ve only been to Geneva last year in November.
What to see:
Basel Minster and Münsterplatz
One of the main landmarks in Basel is the cathedral, Basel Minster (or Basler Münster in German) with its red sandstone architecture, coloured roof tiles and its amazing courtyard. The cathedral was built in Romanesque and Gothic styles between 1019 and 1500 and it was originally a catholic cathedral that today is a reformed protestant church. If you are looking for a spectacular view, behind the cathedral there is a view point facing the Rhine riverside from where you can admire the city.
The Münsterplatz lies in the front of Basel Minster with an open space, medieval houses, a tree grove, museums and restaurants. Not knowing where I was heading next, I chose the street with the most colourful houses and wandered on the narrowed streets. Descending slowly on what I believed to be the narrowest street in Basel, I got out exactly on Marktplatz.
Marktplatz & Rathaus (City Hall)
The Marktplatz is a square market located in front of the City Hall. The stalls are filled with delicious local products, fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers. This is one of the oldest parts of Basel, the hub of the city’s downtown, a lively place and a good way to spare some hours wandering around.
Although you will be focused on the delicious food, the main landmark of the square is the City Hall (Rathaus) which stands out through its red colour and architecture. You can admire the building from outside but if you want a closer look, the courtyard entrance is free and it’s worth visiting. More often than not, artists are playing inside the courtyard.
Spalentor Gate or The Gate of Spalen is known as the most beautiful from the surviving three gates that used to be part of the ancient city walls of Basel which date back to 1400. During that time, the Spalentor gate used to be the main entrance of many suppliers that came all the way from Alsace. The street view when you get towards the gate is gorgeous, the ice cream coloured houses, antique shops and the gate in the middle is a mix that you cannot miss during your visit to Basel.
The next destination on my list was the Rhine riverside so I start walking towards the university where I found a flea market that was taking place around the park and as I had some time to spare, I walked around to admire the merchandise and took some pictures in the process. Unfortunately I couldn’t buy anything as I didn’t had space in my hand luggage but it was a fun experience.
The weather was really nice compared to London, it was around 21 degrees outside so I took advantage and I spent a few hours sunbathing on the riverside with a cold beer and a soft fondue pretzel until the sun started to set down over the city which offered a spectacular view. Due to such great weather, the riverside was full of people having a picnic, a catch-up, a sunbath, reading or listening to their favourite music.
What I like the most while visiting a new place, is wandering on the streets and discover places that I didn’t read about before going. Walking on the cobbled streets without knowing where I am heading next was my favourite part of this weekend escape on which I found an entire street covered in street art, a church, the flea market and many talented people playing on the streets.
How to get there:
If you live in London, you have direct flights to Basel Mulhouse airport. My flight was London City – Basel/Mulhouse – Bern which meant people for Bern had to wait in the aircraft while the rest of us got off – this was a first for me. From the airport you can take bus 50 that takes you to the main train station, Bahnhof SBB. The journey lasts less than 20 minutes and the ticket costs around 4,7 CHF or euros and can be bought from the ticket machine in the bus station.
Because it was such short notice and everything was almost fully booked due to Baselworld Show, the “cheapest” option I found was Basel backpack hostel – 40 pounds per night/one bed in 8 female dormitory. I arrived quite late at the accommodation but the staff was really nice and welcoming. This hostel was a nice surprise to me: central location, welcoming staff, spacious rooms, lockers, comfy beds, clean area and as a bonus a free transportation pass during all your stay that works on the 2 zones, airport included.
- Although the currency is Swiss francs, euros are accepted almost everywhere.
- Everything is expensive so plan your budget accordingly.
- Watch the sunrise/sunset on Rhine riverside.
- Take comfortable shoes as you will walk a lot.
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