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.
Things to visit in Basel:
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 to Basel:
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.
Accommodation in Basel:
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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The town is so much more beautiful than what I got to see when I was there for an interview. I almost took a job there, but it didn’t feel like it was for me and I didn’t have time to explore the town. #feetdotravel
Hi Lolo, I am sorry you didn’t had time to explore the town which is gorgeous. Maybe next time you will go on your own pace to visit Basel.
Looks such a beautiful place! I have always wanted to go to Switzerland need to get saving!
Hi Elizabeth, Basel is a beautiful place like any other in Switzerland. It can be expensive but still you can find interesting things to do and places to visit without breaking the bank. Hope you will visit soon.
Wait. You HAD to fly out to Basel? What a shame. 😉 Awesome post! We just love the look of this city. So romantic and pretty. Thanks for sharing on #feetdotravel!
Hi Rob and Ann, yes I had to fly out with work for a day and I decided to take advantage and stay for the weekend.The city is gorgeous and it can easily be discovered by foot in 48 hours.
All I would need was the cold beer, fondue pretzel, and that view. So gorgeous! I would love to check out Basel one day 🙂
Hi Scarlett, the beer and the pretzel on the riverside was all I needed that afternoon. Hope you will make it one day, the city is gorgeous.
Lovely post! I lived just outside Basel 25 years ago (I was working as a nanny) and had a great summer exploring Switzerland Germany France and Italy when I had home off. I used to hop on the train every Sunday from Basel to Zurich just to go and buy the Sunday Times! Basel is a lovely city – although I have returned to Switzerland many times I haven’t stopped there (just flown from the airport) Brought back a lot of happy memories
Thank you, Tracy. It’s crazy how easy is to travel to Germany and France from Basel. You were taking the train to Zurich just to buy the Sunday Times? That’s so cool. I haven’t went to Zurich because the time was short but I will definitely go back one day. Glad this post brought back some good memories.
Great ideas and tips!! Thanks for sharing 😀
Basel looks like a very beautiful city. Always wanted to go to Switzerland, but find it too expensive for my pocket …will have to wait a little bit 😉
Hi Urska, Switzerland is an expensive country but if you plan in advance you can get a good deal out of it. Hope you will make it soon.
Basel looks so old world, full of history and a place I would love to visit. How amazing the city looks with your fabulous photos. Love the Basel Minster Cathedral and the flea markets you visited. So much to see and great tips for when one visits. I will definitely pin this for later. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Stephanie. This is what I love about Basel, is a small city full of history which is easily accessible by foot. This is how I found the flea market, I took a random street on my way to the river.
Wow what a beautiful place Basel is would love to watch the sun go down on the Rhine. We have heard it is expensive but just need to plan for that as you say. Great post. #feetdotravel
Hi Paul and Carole, the city is beautiful and full of history. It’s true that Switzerland is an expensive country but if you plan it in advance you wouldn’t break the bank visiting.
Yeah, Basel is really pretty and I enjoyed strolling around its streets when I visited a couple of years back! Chilling out by the river is easily one of the coolest things you can do! Glad you enjoyed it!
Hi Alex, that was my favourite part, strolling around its streets and chill out by the river with a cold beer and a soft pretzel.
Spent some time in Basel on our last visit but hope to return with some more time. Found the section on the flea market especially interesting.
Hi George, I hope I will return one day as well as I didn’t had enough time to visit all the places but I enjoyed discovering the city.
Really want to visit Switzerland and Basel looks like a great city to visit, thanks for the tips! and guide, will pin for reference
Hi Garth, you should definitely visit Switzerland which is an amazing country.
We love 24/48 hour guides. Since there is limited time, these guides distill the most important must-see places into one post which is very useful as an overview. Basel looks like a beautiful destination. Love the ancient architecture. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Siddharth and Shruti. It was hard for me to find guides for 2 days in Basel before going so I decided to make one on my return. The city is gorgeous, the ancient architecture gives a special flair to it.
I was not familiar with Basil. It looks like such a charming town! I like the idea of wandering around without any set agenda.
Hi Carmen, you are not the only one – I didn’t knew much about Basel before going there. That is my favourite part of every trip – to wander around without any set agenda which in my opinion is the best way to discover a new place.
Thank you for these great tips! Basel looks beautiful, with an incredible mix of old-city vibes and colorful culture! We’ve not visited Switzerland yet, but when we do, we’ll definitely make sure to stop here. Mr. Nerd would love that flea market! 🙂
Hi Anna, glad you enjoyed my tips. I definitely recommend you to visit Switzerland which is a gorgeous country.
I missed Basel when I went to Switzerland, it looks incredible though. I’ll have to get a cheap flight out there from the UK, I wonder if from Manchester then share the flight to Bern too! I’ll try go off season and secure a good value accommodation.
Hi James, I am sure you can find a cheap flight from UK to Basel and the accommodation can be reasonable if booked in advance. Hope you will make it soon, it’s a lovely city.
Beautiful Town Indeed.