City guide Basel
Swiss cities up close and personal.
Discover the unique charm of our Swiss cities - with the vision and the heart of a local:
The most important information, excursions, events and much more.
A printed version for the road.
Basel is Switzerland's oldest university city. Historic landmarks of the city include the large market square with its richly decorated red sandstone town hall and the late Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. During a walk through the old town, past small boutiques, antique book shops but also shops of modern designers, a visit to the "Läckerli Huus" to try the traditional Basel honey cake is well worth your while. Basel is tradition-conscious and open-minded at the same time, a fact born out by several modern buildings designed by renowned architects such as Herzog & de Meuron, Mario Botta, Diener & Diener and Richard Meyer.
Almost 40 museums make Basel the city with the highest density of museums in the country. Internationally known museums, such as the Basel Art Museum, the museum devoted to the iron sculptor Jean Tinguely, the Fondation Beyeler and the Museum of Cultures attract a great many visitors, as do several galleries and playhouses. Basel is among other things home to the symphony orchestra and the chamber orchestra as well as the musical theatre featuring international productions. And a wide range of classical and contemporary productions are shown on the stages of the Basel Theatre and the Playhouse.
Basel is a green city. The Botanical Gardens, several parks and the banks of the Rhine are perfect places to relax and linger for a while. And the Etoscha House at the zoo offers spectacular insights into the Namibian Savannah.
At nearby Augusta Raurica near Augst impressive ruins and a great many finds at the museum bear testimony to the busy lives of the Romans in the region in the past. The charming countryside of the Basel region with its many cherry trees in spring boasts a particularly beautiful display of blooms. Germany and France, the Black Forest and Vosges Mountains are only a stone's throw away from the border city of Basel.
The yearly Fasnacht (Carnival) is the most important celebration for the people of Basel. On the Monday following Ash Wednesday the city rises with the "Morgenstraich". At four in the morning on the dot all the lights in the city go out and a colourful and brilliant procession through the streets of the city begins.
The Rhine is Basel's unofficial emblem. In summer you will find life in all its facets here as sun worshippers, walkers, students and businesspeople all gather on the shore. The river is a perfect place for a refreshing dip or a pleasant ferry trip; enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean at the Rhine knee.
Basel is widely regarded as Switzerland's cultural capital, and with good reason: in this city you will encounter art at every turn, whether you stroll through the beautiful Old Town or visit one of almost 40 museums. What's more, Basel also features top-class modern architecture just waiting to be discovered on a city tour.
- Basel Art Museum - one of the oldest public art collections and biggest Holbein collection in the world.
- Jean Tinguely Museum - the glass hall was designed by the Ticino architect Mario Botta and houses the unique metal sculptures by Tinquely.
- Fondation Beyeler – a variety of art collections and special exhibitions are displayed in the 127-metre-long modern building designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.
- Museum of Cultures - one of the biggest collections in Europe devoted to life in European and non-European cultures.
- Zoological Gardens - about 600 animal species housed in eleven hectares of grounds featuring exotic flora right in the heart of the city.
- Musical Theatre Basel - delights a wide audience with extravagant productions of international musicals.
- Rhine Cruises - excursion boats provide opportunities for views of the city from the Rhine and operate all the way to the big freight ports of Basel and Rheinfelden.
- Basel Fasnacht (Carnival) - once a year the cultural city loses its head and spends three days celebrating the biggest street party (February/March).
- Baselworld - at the worldwide leading watch and jewellery fair international companies provide an insight into current trends (March/April).
- Art Basel - the exhibition with art from the 20th century is regarded as an important world fair of the international art market (June).
- Swiss Indoors Basel - the biggest national sports event and one of the most important indoor tennis tournaments in the world always brings together the tennis world elite (October).
- Basel Autumn Fair - the biggest fun fair in Switzerland featuring countless stalls and rides (October/November).
- Christmas in Basel - the markets at the Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz are among Switzerland´s largest and most traditional (November/December).