If you’re looking to visit Switzerland for the first time, Basel is a great place to start. A city which sits on the Rhine and closely borders Germany and France, Basel is packed with culture, history and incredible food choices – it’s also been deemed the city for art lovers. So, if you’re planning on spending a weekend here (or longer), it can be quite easy to fill the time. So, here are some of the things that you should look to check off your list.
Enjoy Basel’s street food scene
If you like good food, Basel is the place for you. And it has a couple of street food venues you’ll want to check out while you’re visiting including Markthalle – a market hall with cuisine from around the world – and Klara, a venue which boats nine kitchens and one bar to help you discover new flavours and regional products. You could easily spend a lazy afternoon at any of these venues, sampling some uniques dishes with a glass of wine (or a strong coffee), and I would highly recommend doing so, especially if you visit in the middle of winter like we did.
Take a trip to the zoo
Officially called Zoologischer Garten Basel, Basel Zoo has been a firm attraction in the city since 1874. Since then, it has undergone multiple expansions, welcoming animals from all over the world including elephants, giraffes, penguins, lions and more. Usually, I’m not a big fan of zoos – I always worry about the quality of life of the animals. But unlike others that I’ve visited, the animals seemed calm, relaxed and at home. Perhaps this is because it’s a non-profit organisation too. Well worth a visit.
Order some Fondue
Although this isn’t exclusive to the city itself, this melted cheese pot is a must-have when you’re in Switzerland. If you’re looking for a cosy, authentic experience, Walliserkanne is the restaurant for you. Serving gourmet classics, the restaurant was established in 1947 and boasts some mouthwatering options, including fondue with champagne. It’s not a cheap experience – we paid over €100 euros for one fondue, potatoes and a shared bottle of wine – but it’s worth parting with some of your budget here if you can afford to.
Walk along the Rhine
If it’s a clear day, theres’ nothing better than taking a leisurely stroll along the river bank. With a picturesque view of Basel’s Old Town including the cathedral, Basler Münster, you’ll be sure to get some Instagram-worthy snaps here. Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take the 40 minute walk to Dreilaendereck, the point where three countries – France, Germany and Switzerland – meet. It’s marked by one unusual monument and is a great spot for photos, but spoiler, don’t expect anything more than this.
Take in the art
If arts and culture is your thing, take the time to visit Kunstmuseum Basel – Basel’s fine arts museum. It houses some of the largest and most significant pieces of art in Switzerland. According to Lonely Planet, it houses the world’s largest collection of Holbeins and a substantial collection of Renaissance and impressionist works among its thousands of pieces. With several floors to explore, this is a great stop for a rainy afternoon in the city.
Go on a day trip
There’s already so much to see and do in the city itself, but if you want to explore more of what Switzerland has to offer, you can hop on a train to see an alternative nearby destination. Whether you want to head to Zurich, Grindelwald or somewhere else entirely, the choice is yours. When our flight was delayed by February storms, we decided to head to Zurich for the day, with the train ride taking just over an hour and a half each way. You can take in memorable sites including Zurich lake or the 11th century Fraumünster Church and be back in Basel in the space of a day.
So the question is, what will you do?