Basel Travel Guide
Basel is a great city for any traveler. Indulge in its diverse cuisine, float down the Rhine River, or spend time walking around its various festivals. You’ll also want to spend some time here soaking in Basel’s fascinating history.
Hostel prices – Basel does not have much at all to offer in terms of hostels. Expect to pay an average of $40 USD a night for a dorm room and $120-130 for a private double.
Budget hotel prices – You can spend anywhere from $120-150 USD a night for a budget hotel double room.
Average cost of food – Consider street food for a cheap alternative to restaurant dining for $4-6 USD. If you’re dining at a restaurant, prepare to pay between $17-35 USD for meal without drinks.
Transportation costs – Basel is small enough to get everywhere just by walking around.
Money Saving Tips
Walk everywhere – Basel is too small to justify taking a taxi. Most people walk to get where they need to go, and you should too.
Skip the restaurants – Instead, eat the street food! Street food is the cheapest way to go and will save you the most money. Expect to spend $3-5 USD for cheap snacks and about $12 USD for something more filling.
Top Things to See and Do
Shop at Marktplatz – Basel’s farmer’s market happens every Saturday. It’s worth getting up a little early to buy local fresh produce, flowers and specialty items. This is a great place to get fresh grocery items, which in turn will save you money on meals.
Visit the Kunstmusuem Basel – As one of Basel’s most popular museums, it houses ninetieth and twentieth century artwork, including an entire room of Picasso paintings.
Spend time on Rhine River – Bask in the sun or, as the locals do, swim in the river! Walk over one of several bridges or better yet – cross the river by boat.
Party during Baslar Fasnacht – Do not miss this festival. It’s the equivalent of Carnival and lasts for three days and nights, starting on the Monday after Ash Wednesday. There is endless food, music and parades. Just don’t use any flash photography. The locals are pretty particular about that and will kick you out if you do.
Visit Münster Cathedral – Basel’s Münster (cathedral) was built built between 1019-1500 in Romanesque and Gothic style. The Münster is open to the public. Its highlight is the Galluspforte (Gallus portal) on the western facade, considered the most important Romanesque sculptural work in Switzerland. For a few CHF, you can climb St. Martin’s tower (completed in 1500), which at 200 feet is the shorter of the two towers. The other tower is St. George’s, which as completed in 1492, after the 1356 earthquake destroyed an earlier version.
Check out the Basel Zoo – This is the oldest and largest (by number of animals) zoo in Switzerland, with easy access by walking or tram from the central SBB station.
Basel Herbstmesse (Autumn Fair) – This fair occurs in October and there are rides, booths, shooting alleys and lots of food in several locations all over the city. Locations include Messeplatz (the biggest site with the most attractions, with a rollercoaster and the like), Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz (where you get nice views from the Ferris Wheel).
See the Rathaus – The town hall is a beautiful old Renaissance building in the main square. It’s still used actively, but you can take a walk through the courtyard.
Visit the Tinguely Musuem – This museum is bizarre in the best of ways. It features the sculptures of Jean Tinguely, a Swiss artist. These sculptures seem to be assembled from a random assortment of odds ‘n ends, which makes for some fun and surprising results.
Get in the Holiday Spirit – What better time to visit a mountain-filled country than at Christmas? If you’ve come to Switzerland to get your White Christmas fix, then don’t forget to stop at the Basler Weihnachtsmarkt – Basel’s Christmas market. Stalls are set up in Barfüsserplatz from the end of November onwards.
Catch a football match – FC Basel has a fantastic national record for Swiss football titles, with many under its belt. Come and catch a match at St. Jakobs Park, and join the local fans, who are very passionate about this team.
Eat Basler Läckerli – This spiced biscuit is famous in Switzerland, and it originates here. It’s comparable to gingerbread, but is made from hazelnut, Kirsch, honey, and candied peel. It’s a treat for anyone with a bit of a sweet tooth.
Walk through Tierpark Lange Erlen – If you like animals, but don’t feel like forking out for the zoo, take a walk through the Tierpark Lange Erlen. This park contains a petting zoo, which is completely free. Even if you’re not interested in seeing the animals, just come here to relax for a couple of hours.