15 Best Things To Do In Basel, Switzerland - Updated 2021

things to do in basel switzerland
Diana
Diana
Updated

If you have a hankering for all things Swiss, then visit Basel, Switzerland. Why not take a cruise on the Rhine River in north-west Switzerland and visit Basel, which has a concentration of 40 museums such as Basel Art Museum. Immerse yourself in the rich culture of arts and history of Basel. Alternatively, walk around Basel to marvel at the modern architecture as you explore the city. Don’t forget to visit the Läckerli Huus to try the local Basel honey cake that the city is famous for. Also, see the green side of the city with a visit to botanical gardens and several natural parks. And whether you’re looking for boutique hotels or fabulous Airbnbs in Basel, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. For a memorable sightseeing experience, check out these best things to do in Basel, Switzerland.

1. Take a cruise on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland (from USD 13.29)

things to do in basel switzerland | take a cruise on the rhine river in northwest switzerland

If you’re wondering what to do in Basel, then consider going on a cruise on the river Rhine. Enjoy an awesome 1-hour boat trip along the Rhine River and see the bustling city of Basel from the water. Discover the new and old city at its best and watch the sceneries float by as you cruise on board the boat. See the waves made at the tail end of the boat as you move along the river while immersing yourself in the fantastic sights to behold. This will be an enjoyable cruise for a memorable experience to take back home. Snap photos or take short videos as you cruise along and feel the breeze blowing into your face and hair.

Düsseldorf: Panoramic Boat Cruise on the Rhine

Duration: 1 hour

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2. The highest concentration of museums in Switzerland

Basel Papiermuseum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Basmus used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Basel has the highest concentration of museums in Switzerland — totaling 40 — such as Basel Paper Mill Museum. In this museum, you can try your hands at colourful rainbow marble printing for a creative vibe. It is actually the play of water and various colourful paints mixed in water to create an effect of marble texture on the paper. Whoever thought of it must have been very innovative with the simple play of water effects.

There is also the Basel Art Museum for art lovers and tourists to visit. Paintings and sculptures of various eras are displayed here for your enjoyment. It takes about 1 to 2 hours to view the works of art and read the information displayed. With 40 museums to choose from, one will be spoilt for choice. Simply choose the museums that attract you, as you cannot visit all 40 of them all during time limited trip in Basel.

Basel Paper Mill Museum

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

Website: Basel Paper Mill Museum

3. Marvel at Basel's modern architecture

One of the best things to see in Basel is its marvelous architecture. Basel is a city with plenty of modern architecture and as you walk along, immerse yourself in the modern vibes and feel of the culture and buildings. There are solid steel and glass structures combined with good old bricks for a fusion of old and new. There are many interesting designs, and each building is unique as you stroll along Basel’s streets. As one of the financial centres of Europe, the banks are well developed, with a modern twist to appreciate.

Basel's Modern Architecture

Address: Basel, Switzerland

Website: Modern Architecture Basel

4. Visit to Läckerli Huus to try the local Basel honey cake

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Pay a visit to Läckerli Huus to try the local Basel honey cake. The entire building looks like layered cake. Basel is famous for its honey cake that you should try if possible. It is different from the Indonesian honey cake, which is shaped like a honey comb and has a springy texture due to vapour rising from the pot to make the perforations in the cake, thus making it look like a honey comb. The honey cake here in Basel is just like a normal cake with sweet icing on top and decorations for a splendid photo. For those who love sweet things, then the honey cake is the ideal dessert after that tiring walk or sweating it out at the gym.

Läckerli Huus

Address: Gerbergasse 57 4001 Basel

Website: Läckerli Huus

5. See the green side of the city with botanical gardens and parks

Victoria amazonica - Basel
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user James Steakley used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The city’s botanical parks and gardens are among the top Basel tourist attractions. Look out for unusual flowers that bloom in this green city’s parks. Some flower species are native to Basel and are not found outside of Switzerland. Get your SLR or DSLR cameras ready to shoot the best shots of such awesome flowers.

Nature lovers will love spotting the native plants as well as cultivated species at the Botanical Garden at the University of Basel. This botanical garden is one of the oldest in this region of Europe and has lovely tropical greenhouses. The Botanical Garden at the University of Basel is a manicured oasis of serendipity in the heart of the hustle and bustle of city life. Be relaxed and rejuvenated in this oasis of calm and peace while it nourishes the soul, body, and mind.

Basel Botanical Gardens

Address: Spalengraben 8, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Basel Botanical Gardens and Parks

The following content is contributed by Trip101 writer, Anne

6. Check out the art at Museum Tinguely

Basel Museum Tinguely 2008-5-31
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alan Philip Müller used under CC BY 2.0

Located in Basel, Switzerland, the Museum Tinguely is a contemporary art museum. The museum features a permanent exhibition of the artworks of Jean Tinguely, a Swiss painter and sculptor. The building stands in Solitudepark on the River Rhine. Among the exhibits are Tinguely’s kinetic art sculptures, displayed with documents, illustrations and photographs relating to the artist’s work. 55 sculptures were donated to the museum by Tinguely’s wife, Niki de Saint Phalle. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions of work by Tinguely’s contemporaries along with the work of other modern artists, such as Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle and Bernhard Luginbühl. The striking modern building of the museum was designed by architect Mario Botta.

Museum Tinguely

Address: Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, 4002 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Museum Tinguely

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 11am - 6pm (closed on Mon)

7. Gaze at the animals at Basel Zoo (from USD 96.0)

This city zoo should be on every visitor’s Basel sightseeing itinerary. Basel Zoo was created to offer visitors the chance to relax in nature while viewing animals living in a natural landscape. The zoo encourages visitors to care about nature and its conservation while running various nature conservation projects. Basel Zoo also works with scientific institutions on species conservation and animal health. The zoo has several sections, including Monkey House that has gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees. Africa Enclosure houses hippopotamuses, ostriches and zebras. There is a section dedicated to antelopes, an Australian section with kangaroos, and other sections with lions, rhinoceros and more. A children’s zoo allows the little ones to get close to various cute animals.

Basel Zoo Entrance Ticket including Hotel Pickup and Drop-Off

Duration: 8 hours

8. Learn about Basel's history at Basel Historical Museum – Barfuesserkirche

Historisches Museum Basel - 2
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user James Steakley used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Basel Historical Museum – Barfuesserkirche in considered to be one of the country’s most important museums relating to cultural history. The museum is made up of three parts and collects and conserves records, artifacts and objects relating to Basel’s cultural heritage. Here, visitors can learn about Basel’s past. Among the exhibits is a 3D virtual exhibition relating to Friedrich Nietzsche, and an exhibit relating to Basel during the National Socialist era between 1933 and 1945. Other exhibits include photography and images of Basel over the years. The museum’s shop offers books and other items related to the city’s history.

Basel Historical Museum – Barfuesserkirche

Address: Barfüsserpl. 7, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Basel Historical Museum – Barfuesserkirche

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

9. Enter Spalentor - Gate of Spalen

Basel Spalentor 02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Zairon used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Gate of Spalen or Spalentor is one of three Basel city gates and the most impressive of all. Dating back to the 1400s, these three gates are all that remain of the original city fortifications. Spalentor was very important in the past as essential provisions and supplies from Alsace were taken through the gate into the city. There are two round towers on either side of the main square tower of the gate. The gate’s façade features three figures from the 15th century, namely two prophets and the Madonna who faces away from the city.

Spalentor

Address: Spalenvorstadt, 4056 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Spalentor

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

10. Watch the movements of Tinguely's Carnival Fountain

Tinguely-Brunnen 3072x2304-1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Anthro-copyleft used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

While visitors may have seen the incredible art of Jean Tinguely displayed at Museum Tinguely, the Swiss artist has more interesting work displayed throughout the city of Basel. This fascinating fountain was created by Tinguely in 1977. The fountain consists of sculptural machines in the shallow water on the spot where the stage of the old theater of Basel once stood. The artist lined the fountain with black asphalt and added ten electrically-powered mechanical figures that are in constant motion together. This serves to represent the actors, dancers and mime artists who graced the city’s theater stage in the past.

Tinguely's Carnival Fountain

Address: Klostergasse 7, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Tinguely’s Carnival Fountain

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

11. Marvel at the artwork in Fine Arts Museum Basel

Basel BS Kunstmuseum Basel Hauptbau Innenhof St. Alban-Graben 16
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user PantaRhei used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Kunstmuseum or Fine Arts Museum Basel is divided into three parts. One part is the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel that exhibits the municipal art collection of the city, dating back to 1661. The Hauptbau is another section of the museum and was built in 1936 to represent conservative modernism in art. On the ground floor is a collection of art from the city, while the mezzanine floor displays Im Obersteg Collection. The second floor displays 17th, 18th and 19th-century art while European postwar modernism is displayed on the third floor. The ground floor also features a gift shop and the museum bistro, where visitors can enjoy a snack. The third section is Neubau that showcases special exhibits of the museum.

Fine Arts Museum Basel

Address: St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Fine Arts Museum Basel

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon)

12. Visit Basel Town Hall

Basel-Rathaus-10-gje
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gerd Eichmann used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Basel Town Hall (or Rathaus) is the city’s parliament and government seat and was built to replace the former town hall, destroyed in the great earthquake. The attractive building is located in the heart of the Old Town and features a red façade, playful frescoes and a striking tower. On entering the town hall, visitors can see the beautiful inner courtyard as well as the stunning arcades. They can also access the tower of the building, which offers views over the city. The tower and façade were decorated by artist Hans Bock in the 1800s.

Basel Town Hall

Address: Marktpl. 9, 4001 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Basel Town Hall

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

13. Stroll over Middle Bridge, Basel

Middle Bridge, Basel, Switzerland
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Lucazzitto used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Mittlere Brücke, or Middle Bridge, is an important symbol of the city of Basel. The bridge first opened in 1226, making it one of the oldest bridges crossing River Rhine from Lake Constance to North Sea. The bridge was originally built to handle local traffic. The Middle Bridge became important in the 14th century for international trade across Rhine River. The original bridge was replaced in 1905 by a new bridge to handle the city’s electric trams. The city constructed a copy of the former bridge chapel as a reminder of the original bridge.

Middle Bridge, Basel

Address: Mittlere Brücke, 4000 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Middle Bridge, Basel

14. Pray at Basel Münster

View of Basel Minster
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bic used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Basel Münster, or Basel Cathedral, is just as important as the Middle Bridge, in terms of landmarks in the city. The cathedral features red sandstone walls, twin towers and colorful roof tiles. It towers over the city’s landscape. The former Catholic church was constructed between 1019 and 1500 in the Roman and Gothic styles. The interior features were built over several centuries, including the crypt, the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam, two cloisters and the Gallus gate. The surrounding city square is a popular meeting place for locals, and outdoor events and concerts are often held here.

Basel Münster

Address: Münsterpl. 9, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Basel Münster

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 4pm; Sun: 11:30am - 5pm

15. Savor a delicious meal at Walliser Kanne

Wiener-Schnitzel02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kobako used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Walliser Kanne is one of the best restaurants in Basel to sample traditional Swiss cuisine. The Swiss restaurant serves a wide range of Valais specialties along with delicious gourmet classics. The iconic restaurant is famous for preparing Wiener schnitzel at your table, using the original recipe. It is also famed for is fish and poultry dishes. A wonderful Swiss fondue is also available on the menu as well as delicious fresh salads. The building housing the restaurant is built in an elegant, rustic style and dining can be enjoyed inside the restaurant or outside on the terrace in the warm summer months.

Walliser Kanne

Address: Gerbergasse 50, 4001 Basel, Switzerland

Website: Walliser Kanne

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 11:30am - 12am (closed on Sun)

Enjoy Basel at its best

Middle Bridge, Basel, Switzerland
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Lucazzitto used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Should you happen to visit Switzerland, don’t give Basel a miss. The more adventurous might enjoy taking a cruise on the Rhine River. Those interested in art and culture will be pleased to know that Basel has the highest concentration of museums in all of Switzerland including the famous Basel Art Museum and Basel Paper Mill Museum. Certainly, Basel caters to all generations, from toddlers to the grandparents. Visitors can also walk around Basel to enjoy modern architecture and admire manmade creations of tall buildings like banks, which Switzerland is famous for, as one of the financial centres in Europe. Alternatively, one can also visit Läckerli Huus to try the local Basel honey cake that is sumptuous. Or, visit the large Botanical Garden at the University of Basel to see a collection of orchids, cacti, and more.

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Basel, Switzerland

1. Which are the top attractions to visit in Basel?

Basel is home to many amazing attractions that will delight every kind of visitor. The top attractions to visit in Basel are Museum Tinguely, Basel Münster, Basel Zoo, Basel Town Hall and Fine Arts Museum Basel.

2. Which are the best outdoor activities in Basel?

Though Basel is known more for its museums and architectural attractions, outdoor enthusiasts will also find things to do here. You can take a cruise on Rhine River or embark on leisurely strolls in the Basel Botanical Gardens. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails. Adventure lovers can go bobsledding too.

3. Which are the most popular things to do with kids and family in Basel?

There are plenty of interesting things to do with kids and family in Basel. You could take your kids to Basel Zoo to look at the animals or visit Basel Botanical Gardens to admire the pretty blooms. Your entire family could tuck into a hearty Swiss meal at Walliser Kanne or sample delicious honey cake at Läckerli Huus.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Diana works as a secretary in a small local company for a friend in Penang, Malaysia for the past 13 years and moonlights as a part-time virtual assistant and article writer when free. She also...Read more

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