A stylish Swiss destination

A trip with a little bit of everything is always a winning choice, and Basel holidays offer just that. Sitting along the River Rhine, between the German, Swiss and French borders, you can even choose whether to exit Basel airport into France or Switzerland. Basel itself has plenty to entice. Famed for its fertile arts and culture scene, great restaurants, historic sites and architecture, it thrives on juxtapositions.

The charming city centre features a mix of traditional Swiss architecture, including the arrestingly bright red town hall, and edgier contemporary buildings. A cultural hub, Basel has a long list of annual art events and festivals, the most famous being Art Basel, when show-stopping contemporary art is showcased city-wide. There’s also an annual street parade and Switzerland’s highest concentration of museums – 40 dotted all over the city – while Basel Zoo is one of the most popular in the country.

Holidays to Basel don’t just have to centre around culture, though – there are river cruises along the Rhine, the quaint Swiss countryside isn’t far outside the city centre and there’s fine cheese and chocolate waiting to be nibbled at every turn. It all adds up to a rather satisfying Swiss city break.

All resorts in Basel

Three tips for a top trip

Get a free BaselCard
Not only can this handy card be used for free public transport, but it also gets you a discount on selected attractions – collect a free card from your hotel.
Snap a perfect picture
Basel’s bridges are the place to take that Instagram-worthy snap – head to either Mittlere Brucke or Johanniter Brucke and soak up the gorgeous Rhine scenery.
Hike into Germany
If you’re feeling footloose and fancy ticking off another country, take the 5-kilometre hike from Fondation Beyeler in Basel to the Vitra Design Museum, on German soil.

Best attractions to see in Basel

Marktplatz

In Basel’s pretty old town is Marktplatz, the buzzing heart of the city. Home to various markets and the 500-year-old town hall, it offers a real glimpse into everyday life here.

Grand gates

Gates don’t get much more spectacular than Spalentor, the historic gateway out of Basel’s old town, which dates from 1370. The glass-domed botanical gardens are just next door, too.

Stunning sights

Offering excellent views of the river and city, the carefully crafted design of Basel Minster is well worth a visit. Close to the Old Town area, stunning architecture provides a feast for the eyes as well as historical context to the city.

Your Basel questions, answered

You can expect to hear three different languages here. The majority of Basel’s residents speak Swiss-German, with Italian and French coming second and third respectively.

Absolutely. Switzerland is famed for its watches, and Basel has several shops that specialise in antique pocket watches. Don your research hat and head out on a hunt for your perfect timepiece.

This is one of the warmest places in Switzerland, which is worth bearing in mind when you make your plans. The Carnival of Basel takes place in early spring, and it’s quite a spectacle, with lantern parades, music, bright costumes and a great atmosphere. The summer is ideal if you like the idea of long warm days, or perhaps a down-river float ahead of drinks at one of the Buvette riverfront bars. And in winter it really is picturesque, with Christmas and New Year celebrations well worth enjoying. So the time of year is not a simple choice to make.

Rather charming – think warming mulled wine, bubbling cheese fondues, Christmas markets – sometimes made more perfect by snow – as well as a range of special art exhibitions and theatre performances.

Basel was ranked among the 10 most liveable cities in the world in 2019 and anyone would struggle to disagree with that assessment. It’s also famous for being Switzerland’s cultural capital and having the oldest university in the country. Basel has been a commercial hub since the Renaissance period; it’s also recognised for its architectural innovation. If you’re a fan of sport, you might be interested to discover it’s well known too for being the home of tennis player, Roger Federer.

The flight from the UK to Basel typically takes just under 90 minutes, leaving from London Gatwick Airport, which is less than it might take many people to make their morning commute. EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg International Airport is just northwest of the city, only a short drive away. This makes Basel a really accessible destination for a short weekend break, as well as a longer holiday.

You could enjoy the sights of the city of Basel in just a few days, or take much longer to explore everything it has to offer. If you want to enjoy a weekend here, an ideal way to spend your time would be a stroll around the Saturday Market, taking in the old town, a nice evening meal, and perhaps a Fahri boat trip on Sunday. If you’re here for longer, however, you can really explore the whole area. Perhaps take a trip to the beautiful town of Lucerne; it’s only an hour by train.

Interlaken, with its lakeside beaches, is around 92 miles from Basel and takes about an hour and 40 minutes if you drive straight there. A more scenic route, though, would send you to some interesting sights, starting out with Egerkingen, about 30 minutes from Basel. Then you could call in at Wangen an der Aare and Zollikofen, travel on to Gerzensee, and make your last stop before Interlaken at Spiez, on Lake Thun. It’s a beautiful town, dominated by a castle, and this whole road trip would provide a really great taste of the region.

If you’d like to try something very traditional, roasted flour soup is a must, and very filling. The ideal accompaniment would be a schlumberger, or little round bread roll, which have been made by Basel bakeries since at least the 1950s. Stopping for a coffee? Try a hefegugelhopf. These delicious, yeasted, fluted cakes with a hole in the middle, come coated in almonds. And if you have a really sweet tooth, a massmogge candy should be on your must-try list too. These colourful treats are filled with hazelnut paste, and they really are like nothing else you’ve ever tasted.