Europe,  Switzerland

What to Do in Basel, Switzerland

Basel is an incredible city. It’s absolutely stunning, though often overlooked, as people flock to Zurich instead. If you’re in Basel, definitely try to make the most of it! There’s so much to do in this beautiful place. This post will outline what to do in Basel, Switzerland. 

If you like museums…

Basel is certainly your place! Basel has so many museums in the surrounding area that are well worth a visit. It’s also important to let you guys know that quite a few museums are free on the first Sunday of the month. Because admission prices can be steep in Switzerland (along with literally everything else), this is worth noting.

The Basel Paper Mill Museum

This museum is housed in a medieval paper mill. This is one of the more unusual things to do in Basel, but it’s awesome. You can watch papermaking being done on the old machines, which is absolutely fascinating. While paper doesn’t necessarily seem like a fascinating topic, this historical museum is a must-visit. There’s also a restaurant on site. It’s located along the Rhine River, so you get a beautiful view as well.

Admission costs 15 CHF (reduced for students/disabled)

The Vitra Design Museum

If you’re interested in design, the Vitra Museum is a must-see. Some of the most famous designs from the 1800s until the present are located within the exhibition. The building itself is an absolute beauty, and it’s funky exterior certainly matches the furniture inside. If you’re keen to learn more about the architecture, there’s a tour specifically for that. If you’re more interested in the designs inside, tickets cost 11 CHF but there are discounted tickets for students, young people, seniors, the disabled, and if you buy three or more tickets.

The Jean Tinguely Museum

This museum houses some of the sculptures and paintings of the Swiss artist, Jean Tinguely. It’s located just outside the Old Basel City Centre, and it’s a popular place for people to start floating down the Rhine in the Summertime. Admission is 18 CHF.

The Culture Museum

This is my favourite museum in Basel. It’s an absolutely stunning collection of incredible pieces that display cultures from around the world. I have so many favourite pieces in this museum, and I couldn’t recommend it more if you’re interested in other cultures. Admission is 16 francs, but I think this is worth it.

The Kunstmuseum

This is a famous museum throughout the world, and for good reason! This museum is beautiful. The art is laid out incredibly well throughout the building, and the building compliments the art perfectly. I really enjoy wandering through this museum. Admission is 16 francs.

If you like the outdoors...

While Basel isn’t located in the Alps, there’s still so much to explore outside, no matter the season! You can’t get bored in this region.

Explore the Trails Around Grellingen

Grellingen is a great place to visit in the Wintertime, as the snow doesn’t make the conditions dangerous for a long walk/hike. If you’re keen to see snow during the Winter, this is a good place to go- it’s like a winter wonderland! Because Basel is a little micro-climate that doesn’t really get extreme temperatures, snow is a little hard to find sometimes. This is the place to go! It’s a quick train ride from Basel and absolutely worth a little visit. There’s also some caving around here (but don’t go alone/if you’re inexperienced!).

Skulpturenweg Reinach

This is easily accessible from Basel’s city centre and is a great way to spend a few hours. This is also a great walk to do with kids. Translated literally to “Sculpture Way,” this path takes you to heaps of wooden sculptures. It’s a beautiful walk and a great place to bring some picnic stuff on a good day.

Tobias Rehberger’s 24 Stop Walk (Through the Vineyards!)

This walk is an absolutely lovely one. In the summertime, there are loads of wild blackberries. There are 24 markers that are super colourful and bright, and counting them as you walk through is always a fun time. You walk through vineyards and end at the Vitra Museum. This is one of my favourite walks near Basel. More information can be found here.

Park Im Grüene

This park is a really beautiful place to go for a sunset walk. There’s a giant dinosaur (can’t miss it), football pitches, and lots of plants. It’s a great place to run (my personal favourite!), and there are some bunnies and chickens to say hello to.

If You Like to Eat & Drink…

Basel doesn’t exactly seem like a foodie kinda place, but there are a few hidden gems that are worth a visit if you need recommendations!

Xocolatl

This is a MUST VISIT. If you like chocolate, you absolutely need to pay a visit to Xocolatl. The hot chocolate menu is huge and they have something for everyone. The staff is very friendly and accommodating (they helped me find a dairy free hot chocolate!), and the hot chocolate is amazing. There are literally SO many to choose from. Also, their chocolate torte was the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Absolute must. If you’ve fallen in love with a certain chocolate, they have tonnes of artisan chocolates to purchase.

Markthalle

If you’re not entirely sure what you want to eat, this place has lots of options from all around the world. Markthalle is also in a great location and is a perfect place to stop near Basel SBB (the train station). I personally like the Argentinian and Venezuelan stalls, though everything I’ve tried there has been a winner!

Kleinbasel

This district is awesome. It’s the more ‘hipster’ and grungy (for Switzerland at least) area, and the food scene around here is really cool. In the Summertime, along the river, there’s a big outdoor area that has little stalls to eat from. I like this area, and even if you’re not looking for food, I recommend you check it out.

Cheap Things to Do in Basel

I know you’re thinking that anything and everything in Switzerland will be expensive, and while that’s often true, there’s loads to do in Basel that won’t break the bank!

Read my guide to travelling Switzerland on a budget!

Pick Tulips in Bruderholz

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Around April, there’s a pick-your-own tulip garden near the water tower in Bruderholz. It’s 0.80 francs per tulip. There’s no one manning the station, where they provide the knives, rubber boots, and string (for tying the bouquet), so it’s all based on the honour code! It’s a fun little outing and a great way to brighten up your home or hotel room.

Walk or Float Down the Rhine River

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The Rhine is a lovely part of Basel! There are some beautiful walking paths along the river, and during the late spring and summer, restaurants open up, people float down the river on their Wickelfisch, and it’s a great atmosphere! I did this on my rest day during the Eurovelo 15. You can read about my experience floating down the river here.

Take a Day Trip

The SBB connects Basel to so many amazing little towns! I absolutely love checking out the Alsatian region, but Bad Säckingen is a great place for a little walk and 1 euro gelato.

Walk around the Altstadt (old town)

Basel’s old town is absolutely adorable! In the morning, there’s a market in Marktplatz, which is beautiful! I love the red building (city hall) as a backdrop to the colourful fruits and veggies. There’s so much to see in the old town. Walk up towards the Basel Munster for great views of the Rhine. If you’re looking for a cheap place to grab a coffee and pastry, the McDonalds right across from the city hall has a good McCafe with a view.

Go up to the top of the Basel Munster

Overlooking Christmas Markets

The Basel Munster is the beautiful red sandstone church in Basel. You can climb up the steep stairs for just CHF4! It’s well worth the cost (and little trek up!). The views of the city and Munsterplatz are beautiful. I especially like it during the wintertime, when the Christmas markets are right underneath the church.

Rent a bicycle and explore!

Basel is a great hub to explore from! You can ride your bike around Basel or the Rhine, and if you’re looking for something a little more challenging, cycle out to Rheinfelden or another cute little town!

Walk from Switzerland to Germany and France!

The great thing about Basel is that it’s a border town. You can walk from Basel to Weil am Rhein (DE) to Saint Louis (FR) in just a couple hours! Make sure to get a pastry in France and a beer in Germany!


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