Basel is one of Switzerland
’s cultural hotspots that has a wide variety of activities on offer for its visitors. From the city’s major tourist sights, such as the Basel Münster
, as well as inventive museums, like the paper mill museum
, to creative activities, such as a ghost tour of the town, Basel promises a successful trip for all ages. Read below for our pick of the top ten things to do and see.
Go on a boat cruise
Go on a boat cruise
Basler Personenschifffahrt operates great harbor boat cruises between mid-May and mid-October that are a must for every first-time visitor to Basel. Visitors have the option to choose between a shorter 85-minute cruise that shows the major sights of the city or longer trips to the nearby Rheinfelden. Basler Personenschifffahrt also offers special treats for its guests, such as dinner boats accompanied by live music, a fantastic Sunday brunch and an active games night, where a murder has to be solved during an evening on the boat. Consult Basler Personenschifffahrts for an up-to-date schedule of special events.
Westquaistrasse 62, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 639 95 00
Visit Basel Münster
Visit Basel Münster
The Münster, a glorious cathedral, is Basel’s main landmark and attracts thousands of tourists every year. The impressive cathedral, mostly known for its red sandstone walls and colorful roof tiles, was built on a hill overlooking the Rhine River. This gives visitors not only the opportunity to see one of the most outstanding architectural masterpieces in Switzerland but also to enjoy a fantastic view over the Rhine river. The Münster continuously works on its offers for its visitors to cater for different age groups and interests. With this in mind, the Münster has recently launched a special audio guide that was created by teenagers for teenagers.
Rittergasse 3, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 272 91 57
See animals at the Basel Zoological Gardens
The Basel Zoological Gardens, nicknamed Zooli by locals, first opened in 1874 and has been a major tourist destination ever since. Basel Zoo houses a great variety of both indigenous and exotic animals, which can be discovered up close in the summer as well as the winter months. The rebuilt lion enclosure with the three new cubs and the new monkey house are especially worth a visit. Moreover, Basel Zoo is very active in fundraising for its beloved animals, with creative events, such as the so-called elephant run, where visitors are invited to run in order to raise money for the zoo’s very own elephants.
Binningerstrasse 40, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 295 35 35
Try Escape Games
Escape Games are a great new trend that is conquering all of the major cities in Europe at the moment. Basel has as many as three outstanding Escape Game venues that are perfect for a rainy day in the city. Room Escape Basel, serving the motto of ‘play with your mind’ offers a number of different scenarios that each pose a unique challenge to its players. Booking a spot is very easy and can be done over the internet, so everything is already prepared for you once you arrive in Basel. This is the perfect activity for those who like to train their mind and test themselves with tricky and challenging puzzles.
Burgweg 15, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 554 29 36
Learn to make chocolate
Switzerland is known as the land of chocolate and the city of Basel is no exception. From traditional Swiss chocolatiers to vendors of fair-trade chocolate from all over the world, Basel has it all. Chocolatier Beschle offers something special for its guests. Not only can customers taste the delicious range of Beschle’s chocolate, but they are also invited to get a unique insight into the production process and learn about the fine art of chocolate making. In the tour, guests even get the chance to apply what they have learned to create their very own chocolate.
Aeschenvorstadt, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 268 68 58
Visit the Basel Paper Mill Museum
The Basel Paper Mill Museum is a unique combination of exhibition and production workshops, housed at the authentic venue of the Galician Mill, a medieval paper mill in the city. This makes the Basel Paper Mill Museum one of the last remaining museums in all of Europe that has maintained the authenticity and long-standing tradition of paper production. Along with its fascinating exhibitions of the history of paper production, writing, and printing, Basel Paper Mill Museum also offers creative workshops on ancient writing as well as courses focusing on the art of paper manufacturing.
St. Alban-Tal 37, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 225 90 90
Explore Basel’s Altstadt
The best way to explore the old city center of Basel is by foot. The Historical Basel Tour will guide you along with all the major sights in the city and give you the chance to explore the hidden gems of Basel. Visitors will be lead through over 2000 years of history and find out everything there is to know about all of the important steps the city has taken through its time. This is a great way to make the most of an afternoon in Basel and familiarize yourself with the city’s culture in a short amount of time. Guests will be guided by locals, who are always happy to give useful advice on outstanding restaurants and bars.
Try cheese fondue
Cheese fondue is a traditional Swiss dish that originated in the Alps as a peasant dish, made of ingredients that used to be available during winter: cheese, crusty bread, and wine. Swiss fondue traditionally uses two types of cheese, such as guyère, emmenthaler or vacherin fribourgeois, that come in a special rounded ceramic pot with handles. It is also traditional in Switzerland to only dip bread into the fondue. However, all types of artisan bread are acceptable. This is usually accompanied by white wine, such as sauvignon blanc. The Walliser Kanne in Basel serves a fantastic cheese fondue, which comes in three variations and with champagne.
Gerbergasse 50, Basel, Switzerland, +41 61 261 70 17
Go to the theater
Every successful trip to Basel should include a visit to one of the city’s fantastic theaters. The Theatre Basel showcases an eclectic mix of opera, ballet and theater performances, including Tweje, the ballet of Richard Wherlock. The Musical Theater Basel offers a diverse range of high-quality theater productions, such as Disney’s The Lion King and The Beauty and the Beast. Other events include the theater classic My Fair Lady, as well as The Phantom of the Opera. Both theaters represent the best of Swiss, international arts, and culture and are definitely worth a visit.
Go on a ghost walk tour
Visit Basel offers ghost walk tours through the city that give visitors the unique chance to explore Basel in a very different light. At night, Basel shows its dark side and creatures that are invisible during their day come to life after midnight. Basel’s dark and twisted past can be explored and visitors can see the city’s main sights differently during these tours. This is a great way to explore the city in a unique way, but beware, it will get spooky.