Basel travel guide
It may be Basel’s geographical location which makes it one of Switzerland’s most edgy cities, or it may be that housing the oldest university in Switzerland means it has to keep its finger in a feast of cultural pies; but whatever the reason, Basel is one of Switzerland’s most impressive cities. Hopefully our Basel travel guide will help you to decide for yourself, as well as providing useful travel and tourism information for your visit.
Basel is a tri-national city as it sits on the Swiss, French and German borders with parts of its township spilling into each country. This places it in the north-west of Switzerland, on the Rhine River and makes the predominant spoken language German. It is an opulent city, being the home of some of the country’s most successful banks and the world’s most prolific pharmaceutical companies. But it is also an ancient city with a rich cultural heritage. So rich, in fact, that it is commonly accepted as the cultural centre of Switzerland.
The city houses 30 museums and approximately 150 art galleries as well as one of the world’s most ancient universities, dating back to 1460. It was the home of some of the greatest thinkers ever: the Renaissance humanist, Erasmus and the German philosopher Nietzsche. The tomb of Erasmus can be found in Basel’s 13th century cathedral, Mϋnster, whose impressive red, sandstone towers dominate the Basel skyline.
There are many ways to tour the city: you can walk at your leisure with or without a guide, run, jog cycle, or take a cruise on the Rhine. Whichever way you choose, there are certain sights you should not miss. Of the 30 museums, the Paper Mill tracing the history of printing and bookbinding; the Museum Tinguely, displaying works from some of Basel’s more avant-garde artists and sculptors; the Historical Museum with its fascinating collection epitomising Basel’s cultural history; the Music, Pharmacy, Toy and Karikature and Cartoon museums will give you a broad taste of the town’s rich history and artistic excellence. And should you still thirst for more, there is the Kunst Museum and Beyeler Foundation, for fine arts and one of the most impressive private art collections of modern times.
Apart from an abundance of resorts nearby for skiing and snowboarding, Basel’s Zoo, founded in 1874, is well worth a visit if only to support its work in nurturing and breeding endangered animals. It spans 26 acres and is one of the world’s most impressive zoos. Carnivals, fairs and festivals take place throughout the year in Basel, ensuring there is always something to see; and always something to justify returning for a closer look.