Things To Do In Basel
In the heart of Europe lies Basel, the city of culture located along the banks of the Rhine. With over 200, 000 estimated inhabitants; it is the third most populated city in Switzerland and a key location for business, research, and trade fairs. Basel is unique and has this irresistible charm that will amaze you. Here, the proverbial Swiss’ life of comfort and traditional culture meet with the new demands of a growing technology in the area bordering France and Germany. This makes the city unmistakably open to the world, happy and innovative.
The Rhine plays a key role in the history and development of the city. It is a vital line of communication and a local recreational area for anyone who explores the city center. The people of Basel enjoy unwinding along the Rhine at all times of the year by going for a stroll along its idyllic parks. But there is more, the Old Town of Basel is one of the most visited and prettiest in Europe. The heart of the city beats vibrantly here and history can be sensed in all of its interesting corners. As you walk around you will immediately notice that Basel is an exciting city of contrasts. Modern buildings made by the renowned and world class architects stand in contrast with the imposing building of the Old Town and round up the image of the city as being an open and dynamic Metropolis.
When To Go:
Basel is the hottest place in Switzerland the normal temperature is basically 2-3 degrees over those of different urban communities. This is decent amid winter, yet amid summer, the temperatures, especially during nighttime where it gets extremely and uncomfortably humid. It is situated along the Rhine valley, and the high temperature is saved by the warmed up houses and the encompassing slopes. The best time to visit the city is the season between the mid months of May and towards the end of June, the third week of August and until the end of October. The months of April to May are not the ideal time because it is the rainy season in Basel. Regularly there are just a couple of days with snow on the roads. A white Christmas is scarcely seen. The genuine Winter is generally short which begins from the middle of January until the first week of March.
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A city that is rich in culture and proud of its heritage, these are the top things to do while in the enchanting city of Basel…
Fine Arts Museum (Kunstmuseum)
If you love art, it is a must to visit the Fine Arts Museum (Kunstmuseum). It houses an interesting collection and located in a very nice building that is easily accessible by tram or on foot from the city center. The Museum of Fine Arts is located a few steps from the Rhine and can be reached by the# 15 tram from the center (stop at the Kunstmuseum station). This is a huge structure of three floors. At the entrance, on the left, there is the wardrobe and padlocked safety boxes (5 FR. Deposit) in which you can store your bags, coats, and gadgets (required). A tip: if you're a student bring your student ID and you will be entitled to a discount (15 Fr.). The entire museum has an impressive art collection from world class artists such as; Picasso, Chagall, Manet, Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh and others. In short, it has the largest and most important collection of the Swiss Confederation.
The famous museum has a rich collection of art and has spacious rooms with the ability to move wherever the "high chairs" are available that will allow you to stop and see up close what you want in front of the works making the experience truly magnificent. It is a museum built in the classical style. The collections have a temporal sequence only and are not linked to other links, captions are only in German, but there are guides who can explain, translate, and guide you all throughout the huge and interesting collection.
It takes at least a whole morning to visit the Kunstmuseum in Basel. Although some of the many rooms are not exactly lit in the best way possible, the collections present here are so rich that it will really leave you speechless. Take enough time to admire the works of Arnold Böcklin of which are present all of his major masterpieces, from the famous "Island of the Dead" (1886) to the less known but to say the least disturbing "Die Pest" (1898). You cannot claim to know the art of expressionism without admiring these masterpieces. The view of the Dead Christ in the Tomb of H.Holbein is already worth the price of admission.
The Basel Munster is interesting from the outside and this imposing Protestant cathedral is one of the iconic symbols of the Swiss city. It deserves to be visited because it has the most beautiful view of the Rhine and Basel City. Part of the facade is currently under renovation, but you can still see the two statues of St. Martin and St. George. With hindsight, it is worth going up at the top for the view without losing too much time in the general visit. It is a magnificent cathedral and you can admire all the external parts with genuine amazement. It is filled with so many details, such as the facade with the two statues, the south gate with the wheel of life, all the masks that surround the apse, and the cloisters overlooking the Rhine. The only downside is, the interior is not brightly illuminated and the guide had to use his flashlight to introduce the capitals or apse frescoes.
The cathedral is very beautiful and special with the two towers that rise above its colorful roof. You can climb all the way to the top and try not to miss the breathtaking view of the river behind the building. Equally interesting too are the markets of the square with many activities designed especially for children. On the inside, it can be visited for free; you can admire the stained glass, the apse, and the crypt with the remains of Erasmus of Rotterdam.
Basel Paper Mill Museum (Papiermühle Basel)
It is very nice to see the history of paper in the Basel Paper Mill Museum. Do not miss it if you have kids; they'll be happy to create their own sheet of paper and try the different scriptures they can find here. It is housed in an authentic building, a place full of history and demonstration of the creation of the paper using the old methods. The Papiermühle Basel is located in a real old paper mill which is divided into four thematic floors namely; paper making, writing, printing, and the book. Besides the fact that the topics are so simple and interesting; a variety of practical workshops are offered throughout the visit. It is possible to create yourself a piece of paper, you can try writing with different kinds of feathers, and one can also create in one sheet of paper a painting in oil, and of course take their work along with them.
The place offers so much fun and has lots of things to do for a single person, couple, or family. The museum displays the various stages of paper making and book binding. The course takes place among the various machines used once and the guides oblige for some demonstrations. It's very good for the kids because they can do many workshops (paper making, writing with pen, binding books, and reading).
Altstadt (Old Town of Basel)
In Altstadt or Old Town of Basel, you can breathe culture everywhere. It is here where you can see numerous art galleries, music shops, and the old houses of philosophers and scientists. For those who prefer the bohemian, there are many trendy cafes to choose from. Particularly recommended is the hotel-restaurant named the Teufelhof and the club Atlantis. The streets of Altstadt are full of tulips and vintage shops, churches, and ancient museums. The bars are colorful, always full of tourists and fortunately know good English.
The Old Town is the most beautiful and historic center of Switzerland. It is strongly recommended to visit this anytime of the year, but most especially during the Carnival of Basel and try to attend the Cliques Musical Parade that cross the narrow streets of the old town. Make sure you are in the historic downtown area to Morgestraich, at the beginning of the carnival at 04:00 AM in the morning so you can see the magical atmosphere filled with lanterns, the Cliques, masks, etc.
You can cross the Rhine on this little boat called the Rheinfahre that moves through the current with no engine and crosses the river and serves like a bridge to connect people to the other side of the embankment. There are four different points in the river and crossing costs less than a franc or 1.50 Euros.
It is a beautiful memory of Basel that cost so little and one that you will remember nicely. This mini ferry is practical, cozy, and very popular among the locals and tourists. It is fun to watch from the water to both banks and to feel the strong current of the Rhine. Be sure to try and enjoy the ride and the views while in Basel City.
The Tinguely-Brunnen Fountain is situated in a central location in Basel City. It is close to the famous square called the Barfusserplatz. Observe This attraction and you will be amazed to observe the incessant splashing of water. It is very special and a true delight for all ages. All the sculptures you can find here were made by Tinguely using recycled material. It is located in the theater square and its construction dates back to 1977 with the help of artist Jean Tinguely. It is a stretch of water with a series of metal or mechanized sculptures. The art is animated by a fountain splashing and water games of various kinds.
The fountain he designed is a masterpiece of imagination and creativity. He is also best remembered for his art and colorful set before the Pompideau Centre in Paris.
The unique fountain has beautiful movements, artistic, and classified as an original because of its concept. It goes from one circular motion with infinite variety in shapes and jets, which then stops suddenly in the winter season, and remain frozen (in the true sense of the word). The attraction is situated on the Rhine with excellent views of the river. It is the ideal site to see and experience the various machines of Tinguely.
Spalentor (City Gate)
This striking and representative postcard of Basel is one of the remaining medieval gates of the walled city. The Spalentor (City Gate) is recognized in Basel City as a Gothic gate that is simply captivating. It is on the west side of the Old City, near the Spalenvorstadt, a very charming little street, with numerous rustic shops and cafes. This is the original medieval port of Basel. It is easy to find and is very well preserved and worth the stop for photos. The Basel is a city in northern Switzerland that is crossed by the river Rhine. It is also the headquarters of the Swiss National Bank.
What makes this fort a symbolic part of the city is it once served as the main entrance gate to the historic center of Basel. If you are traveling by car, you must park your vehicle in the alleys near that entrance gate because parking is not allowed along the driveway of the walled gates. This emblematic gate with a pointed roof, topped with tiles, was constructed in 1370. It is a historic site and a visit here is mandatory.
The Rathaus is definitely impressive and well cared for. The complex is open to multiple cultural and historical reenactments. The site is hard to miss because of its excellent location in the center right in the pedestrian area. It is very original in brilliant colors and interior decorations. In the inner courtyard you will find musicians playing with the organ. The palace is located in Marktplaz, in the heart of the historic center.
It is a must to visit this site if you’re in Basel City. Upon entrance you will immediately get struck by the red façade and the paintings, and the vivid decorations from both inside and outside. In the inner courtyard, there is a statue of Munazio Plancus, the founder of the first Roman colony in the area of Basel. The building is very well kept and you will not see any cracks and decorations ruined despite its antiquity.
Botanischer Garten Bruglingen / Grun 80
The Botanischer Garten Bruglingen / Grun 80 is usually filled with amazing flowers, beautiful colors, with scents, completely free of charge and at the center of the city. Given the central location, the beauty of the flora and the pleasure of seeing tropical birds flutter around is definitely worth the half hour detour, especially as it is free. This is a lovely and quiet garden with several very large ponds, greenhouses with plants and reptiles, old mills and a huge wooden dinosaur.
Tierpark Lange Erlen
The Tierpark Lange Erlen looks like a zoo, but it's a park that was designed to show the wildlife of many animals that still live and exists here in Basel City (cats, deer, wild boars, birds, etc.). Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The park is located near the city center and has easy access by public transport. It is a nice little park that is located on the border with Germany.
And it is free because maintenance is paid by a few wealthy families of Basel City. The zoo has animals that live in the habitats of Central Europe, including a beautiful lynx. It is well maintained, the animals are well cared, and definitely suitable for families. If you walk around, there is also a restaurant that is inside a kiosk. The park is open every day of the year.
The Pharmazie-Historisches Museum is a well done exhibition hall, especially the reconstruction of the laboratories of the alchemist, the pharmacist and the old pharmacy. The entrance ticket here is sold together with that of the Museum of Anatomy (the latter is much more shocking, but do not visit it if you're too sensitive). The first room shows only a few scorpions under alcohol, some remnants of animal, etc. But then, continuing the tour you get to see all the tools of the laboratory, the reproductions of various pharmacies, the fabulous ceramics, old boxes of medicines, in short, it is a comprehensive museum where the history and displays are truly remarkable!
If you like Switzerland, you will fall in love with Basel and its row of art museums, serene parks, Old Town charm, house with colorful windows, and the aroma of Swiss cuisine wafting out of the restaurant and pastry shops complemented by the sound of the rushing water of the many fountains in the streets that characterize it! Basel is a real gem if you want to spend quiet long walks or romantic strolls with your partner on the Rhine. If you want to enjoy a relaxing vacation with no traffic, smog, or stress and a city that is filled with picturesque surroundings and hospitable people, Basel is the perfect choice for that dream holiday in Switzerland.
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