Tourist’s guide to Basel, a trading and financial center in Switzerland

Basel (Switzerland) – the third largest city in the country – after Zurich and Geneva. Basel is located in the northern part of Switzerland. It stands on the banks of the Rhine River, which divides it into 2 parts: from the south-western side is the Great Basel (Grossbasel), and from the north-eastern side – the Small Basel (Kleinbasel).

Basel, Switzerland

Locals speak German, or rather, the Basel dialect of Swiss German.

Now this city, having a favorable strategic location, is the center of the pharmaceutical and chemical industry in Switzerland.

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Major Attractions

Modern Basel is not only an industrial, but also a cultural center of Switzerland with many different attractions. This city is of interest to both architecture lovers and those who prefer to visit museum exhibits – and there are a lot of museums here.

Basel Paper Mill Museum
Basel Paper Mill Museum

One of the most interesting sights in Basel is the paper mill museum. It occupies a building in which a paper mill worked more than 500 years ago, supplying paper to almost all the states of medieval Europe. All the premises of the mill have been restored, allowing you to get an idea of ​​the old ways of creating and binding paper.

The museum is interactive, guests can manually make a sheet of paper, type letters and print them on a sheet.


  • from Tuesday to Friday inclusive and Sunday – from 11:00 to 17:00,
  • Saturday – from 13:00 to 17:00.

Attraction Address: St. Alban-Tal 37, Basel 4052, Switzerland.

Streets of the old town
Basel Historic Center - Markplatz

The old city is located on the territory of Greater Basel. The sights of Old Basel can be viewed in one day and even in a few hours, because all the most interesting and really worthy of attention is located quite compactly. The old city and most of the historical buildings are located between Steinengraben, Dufour strasse, Aeschengraben and Heuwaage viaduct, which stretch from the station to the river. The historical center of Basel is Markplatz, it is from here that it is best to start the inspection. Thanks to the many signs installed on the narrow picturesque streets with old houses, it is much easier for tourists to walk and find the right path.

City Gate Spaler
City Gate Spaler

On the west side of the Old Town, on Spalenvorstadt, a unique attraction has been preserved – the Spalentor Gate. They are recognized as the most colorful and authentic in Switzerland.

After the earthquake in 1356, which turned Basel into continuous ruins, new houses began to be built on the banks of the Rhine. To protect them from the enemy, a high wall was erected with towers and gates, but by the end of the 19th century this wall had ceased to be a necessity and began to impede the growth of Basel. The wall was demolished, and the Spalentor gates, installed on the side of the road from France, were preserved and are now considered the most interesting landmark of Basel.

The lateral round towers are 28.15 m high, and the tower with a pyramid-shaped roof is 40.3 m. The wall thickness is 2 m. 2 grates were installed in the aisle, which were lowered if necessary.

Market Square and Town Hall
Market Square, Basel

The market square is considered the central place in Basel. Since the 13th century, they have been engaged in trade here, the market is still operating. There is always a lot of goods on the square (meat, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms), and not at all expensive by local standards, and there are many buyers, both tourists and citizens of Basel. Since 1290, when the Rathaus was built, the square became the center of not only trade, but also the political life of the city.

The Town Hall was erected in the years 1504-1514, it is recognized as one of the most beautiful buildings not only in Switzerland but also in Europe. This building is rich in cherry color amazes with its brightness and richness.

Now the Town Hall is not just a historical and architectural landmark. This building hosts local government meetings.

Basel Town Hall

The town hall is open to the public, even conduct 40-minute excursions in the interior. A ticket costs only 5 francs, you can buy it at the tourist information center, immediately on the spot or in advance via the Internet.

  • Tours are held on Thursday and Wednesday twice a day, at 17:30 and 18:30, as well as on Saturday, but the time needs to be clarified.
  • The tour starts in the courtyard of the Town Hall.
Munster cathedral

In the small square of the Old Town, at Rittergasse 3, is the cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Switzerland – Munster (Basel Munster).

Munster cathedral

Despite the standard architecture, it looks very beautiful, elegant and elegant. By the way, because of the very high spiers that rise above Basel (Switzerland), a photo of the entire cathedral, entirely, standing in a small square, cannot be taken. A very beautiful view of the Münster Cathedral opens from the Wettsteinbrucke and Mittelbrucke bridges.

Interior of the Münster Cathedral

You can go inside the cathedral, the entrance is free , but before starting the service all the tourists (they are always unmistakably recognized) are trying to oust them from the altar to the exit. For just 6 francs, they are allowed to climb the bell tower, which is 62 meters high. The bell tower has an excellent observation deck with benches, which offers an impressive view not only of the city of Basel in Switzerland, but also of Alsace in France and the Black Forest in Germany.

Organ in Münster Cathedral

Organ concerts take place in Münster every Sunday, and for free. For each organ evening, special programs are printed that are distributed to visitors at the entrance.

On the square where the cathedral is located, during the Christmas holidays, a fair is held, traditional for the cities of Switzerland. Fir, spruce and pine branches lie on the ground – crowds of people pass through them, which makes a wonderful coniferous-resinous aroma spread in the air. There are huge cauldrons with hot mulled wine on the street – this drink is sold in bright earthenware mugs-boots, which you can take with you, since their cost is taken into account during the sale, but can be returned back, and then the seller will return the money. A bonfire burns here, and on a special stick on it you can bake a pretzel from the dough.

Shopping arcade near Münster

There are also many shopping malls that offer pastries, sweets, souvenirs, toys, warm knitted clothes. There are also entertainments: a train for children, a tent in which children can do wood burning.

In front of Munster, on its northern side, there is an observation deck – from it you can see an overview of the most beautiful places in the city. From the same side of the cathedral there is a descent to the multi-level embankment of the Rhine – from here the ferry departs, delivering passengers to the opposite bank of the river in a matter of minutes.

View from the observation deck near Münster

Muenster Cathedral is open:

  • Monday to Friday inclusive from 10:00 to 17:00,
  • on Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00,
  • Sunday from 11:30 to 17:00.
Ferry crossing without a motor
Ferry crossing without a motor

There are several bridges in Basel across the Rhine that can be conveniently crossed or crossed to the opposite bank. But there is a method that is not quite usual for modern times: an absolutely eco-friendly old non-motorized boat moving due to the strength of the current. This ferry boat in itself is already a unique landmark of Basel and Switzerland.

For 3 minutes – that is how much time is required for the original crossing through a rather stormy and wide water stream – you need to pay 1.8 francs (euro is also accepted – 1.6). A ticket can be bought directly on the boat.

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Jean Tingley Museum

After crossing the Rhine by ferry and passing 5 minutes to the Wettsteinplatz stop, you need to take bus number 36 or number 38. There are only 3 stops, and at Paul Sacher-Anlage 2 there will be the next attraction of Basel – the Jean Tingley Museum. It will be interesting to avant-garde art lovers.

Jean Tinguely Museum

The exhibits of this museum are kinetic sculptures in constant motion. Unusual designs move in slow motion, then suddenly freeze, and after a certain time they begin to move again. After such a break, it becomes clear what silence means, and what constitutes a metal rattle.

  • The museum is open from 11:00 to 18:00 all days of the week, only Monday is a day off.
  • Entrance ticket costs 10 CHF, for pensioners and students 7 CHF.
Kinetic sculpture fountain
Kinetic sculpture fountain

At Theaterplatz, directly opposite the Exhibition Hall of Contemporary Art, there is another attraction that is most directly related to the Swiss kinetic artist Jean Tengli. We are talking about the famous carnival moving fountain (Tinguely-Brunnen), consisting of kinetic sculptures.

There are several unusual metal figures in the fountain in continuous slow motion. So slow that everything looks motionless. But all of a sudden, an iron mobile starts blowing bubbles or small splashes, releases a stream of water or a cloud of water dust. In order not to be drawn into such a cruel joke, experienced viewers first look at the fountain from afar, and only having understood the principle of its action, they decide to come closer.

The Tengli fountain functions even in frosts, when water jets turn into continuous ice, the mobiles still shoot with water.

The Tengli Fountain is very popular with children, who can play with metal mischievors for several hours in a row, dodge and run away from them.

Art Museum

The Fine Arts Museum in Basel presents the largest collection of fine art in Switzerland. In addition, it is the oldest art museum in the world, open to the public, the exhibits of which have survived to our time.

Basel Museum of Fine Arts

Here you can see Flemish paintings of the seventeenth century, works of German masters of the fifteenth century, as well as works by Picasso, Monet, Rodin, Gauguin, Delacroix, Van Gogh and other famous artists.

Painting at the Basel Museum of Fine Arts

The entrance ticket costs 10 and 5 francs for adults and students, respectively, on the first Sunday of each month, admission is free for everyone. The ticket gives the right to inspect the expositions of the main collection, to visit the halls of modern art and temporary exhibitions. When purchasing a ticket, a special sticker is attached to the clothes, allowing them to freely enter and leave the museum buildings.

  • Fine art is available for inspection from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 18:00. Monday is a day off.
  • Address: St. Alban-Graben 16, Basel 4051, Switzerland.
Lions at the Basel Zoo, Switzerland

Almost in the city center (Binningerstrasse, 40) there is a local attraction – the zoo. It’s even very convenient: from the railway station only a couple of minutes of a quiet walk or even less when traveling by public transport, and the urban bustle is replaced by an oasis of wildlife. By the way, rhinestones at the station, in the tourist office, you can buy BaselCard 24h TNW, allowing free access to the zoo and free travel by public transport. If you don’t want to repeat yourself or just to save time, you can go to the zoo from the main entrance (public transport stop “Zoo”) and exit from the secondary one (“Zoo Dorenbach” stop), or vice versa.

Crocodile in the zoo of Basel, Switzerland

It’s convenient that the zoo in Basel starts its work so early: at 8:00. If the travel schedule is very tight, it makes it possible to conveniently plan everything and see as many attractions as possible in Basel in one day.

Basel Zoo in Switzerland is a world-class attraction, because it ranks second in the list of the world’s best zoos. Its not too vast area accommodates 6,000 animals, representatives of 600 different species.

Animals live in enclosures that fully ensure the safety of visitors.

Navigating the territory is not difficult, especially since all visitors receive a map.

Note: just an hour from Basel is the city of Lucerne, which is called the cradle of Switzerland. Why it is worth a visit, see on this page .

Prices for room and board in Basel

Knowing where Basel is located, one cannot expect that this city will have low prices for food and accommodation. After all, it is known that Switzerland is the most expensive country in Europe.

In Basel, as in Zurich, there are a lot of options for accommodation, most of the hotels have a high status and meet high standards, respectively, have high prices. Here are some examples:

Hotel room Hotel Rochat
3 * Hotel Rochat
  • Hotel 3 * Hotel Rochat is located in a cozy place in the central part of the city and occupies a building that is a historical monument. The cost of living in a single room per day is 75 Swiss francs, in a superior single room – 90.
  • 3 * Aparthotel Adagio Basel City is centrally located, just a 10-minute walk from the Old Town and the Rhine River. Per day, a person will have to pay from 120 francs.
  • Hotel 3 * Alfa is located in Birsfelden, which can be reached from Basel’s Old Town by tram in just 10 minutes. Single room rate – 70 francs.

Basel, in general, like all of Switzerland, has the most expensive restaurants in Europe. Below are some indicative prices in Swiss francs:

    Pizza in one of Basel's pizzerias
  • pizza – 20-25;
  • lunch for two of three dishes (soup, second, salad) in a mid-level restaurant – 90-100;
  • combo set in a fast food restaurant – 15;
  • lunch in an inexpensive restaurant for one person – 20-23;
  • coffee – 4-6;
  • croissant – 2-3.

You might be interested in: St. Moritz – an elite ski resort in Switzerland , one of the most expensive in the world.

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How to get to Basel from Zurich by bus and train

The distance between Basel and Zurich is very small – only 85 km. You can overcome it in many ways, but it is most convenient to do this by bus or train.

By bus
Bus to Basel company Flixbus

A bus ride from Zurich to Basel is also the cheapest option. Tickets cost about 10 Swiss francs, you can buy them on the carrier’s website (from Zurich to Basel, Flixbus handles passengers) or at the ticket office in Zurich central station. Buses also depart from Zurich Central Station, travel time is 2 hours. There are not so many bus flights between Zurich and Basel, and their number varies on different days of the week. Therefore, you should check in advance the departure time of the desired bus on the Flixbus website.

By train
The train categories IR Zurich-Basel

When planning how to get from Zurich to Basel by train, you need to consider that it is best to travel with direct flights, direct flights (mainly trains of categories IR and IC) – with transfers it takes longer and more expensive. A direct flight ticket from Zurich costs between 34 and 58 CHF. You can buy a ticket on the SBB website (this is the most convenient option), as well as at the Zurich station – at the box office or in a special machine. By time, the road takes about an hour.

In Zurich, trains leave from the central station, where the traffic schedule is always displayed on the scoreboard for half an hour, while in Basel they also arrive at the central station.

Note: What to see in Zurich in one day – a guide with a photo and map .

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Interesting Facts

Free Public Transport Card - Mobility Ticket
Mobility ticket
  1. Basel has a very convenient network of public transport: buses and trams can deliver passengers to any city attraction. As in the whole of Switzerland, tourists can not worry about fares: in all hotels, guests receive a card for free use of public transport.
  2. Tourists can buy a BaselCard card in the Basel travel agency, which provides a number of free events (a tour of the city streets, entrance to 25 museums and a zoo, entrance to clubs and discos), discounts at certain shopping centers. A card costs 19 or 33 francs for 24 and 72 hours, respectively.
  3. Swiss chocolate
  4. The best gifts from Basel are knives, chocolate, Basel biscuit. The largest assortment is offered by the shops around the train station and the Coop Pronto shopping center.
  5. In the city of Basel, most shops are open on weekdays until 18:30, and only on Thursday until 21:00. On Saturday, retail outlets close even earlier – at 17:00, and on Sundays only supermarkets and retail outlets at the station work.

Basel (Switzerland) is known for its carnivals, the most popular being the Lent Night carnival before Easter. City streets are being transformed into colorful markets, and Basel residents put on colorful costumes and hats made of paper.

All prices on the page are for June 2018.

Map of Basel with landmarks in Russian. To see all objects, click on the icon in the upper left corner of the map.

Video overview of the sights of Basel.

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