5 Things to do in Basel
Hi! I’m Joanne from Sunsets and Roller Coasters. We’re a family of five from Canada who loves to travel and explore the world. Basel Switzerland is one of our favourite cities in the world. It could be because it was our first family vacation to Europe so it holds fond memories for us or it could simply be because it is one of the most amazing, unrecognized vacation destinations in the world.
Our first visit to Basel was a five-week summer vacation. A few years later we visited again for three weeks. There is still so much we have left to explore! We can’t wait to visit again.
It’s so hard to narrow down all the great sights and activities to five but there are definitely things we have to do each time we visit. And you should too!
5-Seek out the incredible basilisks and beautiful fountains
Basel is filled with beautiful and unique fountains, most of with flow with pure drinking water. They make a great stop during a warm day of exploring or simply to look at and enjoy. Many of these fountains are ornamented with a basilisk.
The basilisk is the "heraldic" animal of Basel. Unlike most heraldic symbols, the basilisk isn’t found on Basel’s flag or crest; however, it is often seen holding Basel's crest. There are many fables that link the basilisk to the city of Basel but whatever the true story may be, the Basilisk can be found throughout the city, on fountains, podiums, etc. It has been a primarily symbol of Basel since the 15th century.
It is said that there are dozens of basilisks in the city of Basel. Anyone for a basilisk hunt?
4-Visit the Zoo
The Basel Zoo is a non-profit zoo that has been named one of the 15 best zoos in the world for its breeding program and dedication to endangered species. It is a very short walk from the Old Town and makes for a wonderful half or full day visit.
3-Visit the Paper Mill Museum
The Basel Paper Mill Museum, or Basler Papiermuhle, is our favourite museum in Basel. Considering that Basel has more museums than any other city in Switzerland, that’s quite an accomplishment. This amazing museum is fun for young and old. It’s a totally hands on museum that brings visitors to every realm of paper making, printing and artistry from centuries ago. You get to make paper from pulp, create a watermark in the paper, make a wax seal, write with a quill pen, set up and use a printing press, create artwork in the marbling workshop, and so much more.
2-Explore the Rhine
The Rhine river travels through the center of Basel. It’s impossible to visit Basel without taking some time to explore this majestic river. Once you’ve explored a little of Basel old town, head to the Mittlere Brücke, or Middle Bridge. This is one of the main bridges crossing from Grossbasel to Kleinbasel and is one of the oldest crossings of the Rhine River. Stop in the center to visit the Käppelijoch or old bridge chapel. Once you reach the Kleinbasel side of the bridge, enjoy a walk along the boardwalk. If you’re visiting in the summer, stop for a drink or ice cream and watch the people floating along with the current in the river. If you’re brave, give it a try but be careful. The current is very strong. Wander along the boardwalk and take a fahri, a man powered open top boat, across the river. If you choose the right one, it will bring you directly to number one on our list of our favourite Basel sights: the Munster.
1-Visit the Basel Munster
The Basel Munster is the most visited sight in Basel. This former Catholic church, now protestant, is simply beautiful. Don’t miss the pipe organ and stain glass in the interior as well as the cloister and crypt where the tombs of royalty and prominent citizens have been buried. There is a small fee to climb one of the towers and this climb isn’t for the feint of heart but it’s definitely worth the small price and effort it takes. The view over Basel and the Rhine River is spectacular!
If you’re staying in a hotel, you’ll receive a Basel Card. This amazing card will allow you to use Basel Trams and Buses free of charge. It will also give you free or discounted admission to museums and the Basel Zoo.
If you’re travelling around Switzerland, definitely consider getting a Swiss Travel Pass which covers trains and boats as well as local city trams and buses, including those in Basel.
Basel has a huge number of annual events that are world renowned. If travelling in the summer, be sure to check out the Basel Tattoo and if possible, get your tickets in advance. If travelling in winter, try to experience Fasnacht, Basel’s carnival.
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