Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tips from a Local - Basel, Switzerland

Daniela, the author of this post,
lives in Basel, Switzerland.
Compared to other cities described in this blog, Basel is small - it is Switzerland after all.  And, it’s not a typical Swiss tourist destination, with a cute medieval downtown or close to the mountains, which means there will not be hordes of tourists like in Interlaken or Lucerne.  I hope, with this article, I can suggest some nice things to see in and around Basel. Public transportation is your best bet to get around, and walking is even possible for most places.

Year-round activities:


Fondation Beyeler Museum: Beautifully located, this museum has a permanent collection of modern art including a unique display of Monet’s water lilies, in addition to changing temporary exhibitions.  (There are student and family passes to save you some money too!) 
Tinguely Fountain

Tinguely Museum: Dedicated to one of the most famous Swiss artist and displaying his amazing and unique mechanical  art.  A must-see if you're visiting with children, who will have a lot of fun pushing the buttons to activate the machines.  If you don't have time for the museum, at least check out the Tinguely fountain, it is particularly a good photo opportunity when it is covered with icicles in winter.

Sole Uno Rheinfelden: If you need to relax, then this is the place!  Take a SBB train to Rheinfelden, and then either take a bus or walk to Sole Uno.  The facilities are amazing and include thermal saline outside pools, a "dead sea pool" where you can float effortlessly, aroma baths, Turkish baths and Finnish and Russian saunas.  If that is not enough, you can book massages as well.  For the bath and sauna areas and it only costs CHF 25-47.  A note for foreigners - you will be nakes in the saunas and it is mixed gender most of the time, though men and women only times do exist.

Seasonal activities: 

Beautiful Basel City Hall
Basler Fasnacht (February or March): Known as the "three most beautiful days" by native people, it lasts 72 hours from 4am on a Monday morning to 4am Thursday morning.  It is very distinct from Carnival in other European cities, with traditional music from piccolos and drums, elaborate costumes, and artfully made lanterns.  Highlights include Morgestraich at 4am (be sure to get there on time because it will be crowded) and a lantern exhibition on Monday and Tuesday evenings at the "Munsterplatz," where you can admire the colorful lanterns and read the versus making fun of events of the past year.  It is also fun to just wander the streets in the evenings, where you'll see the carnival groups marching around, and visit bars and carnival cellars throughout the night.

Art Basel (June weekend): This is a world-class modern art fair, if you are in Basel at the right time don’t miss it and you will see some crazy things!

Basel Ferry and River Bord
Summer Evenings (July - August): Have a drink at the open air bar “Chill am Rhy” next to the river below the “Pfalz” (check first if it is open), or simply buy something to drink and sit down at the river bord.  In August, you can even watch a free concert given on a stage floating in the river (for the program check “ImFluss”) - it is located close to “Mittlere Br├╝cke.”  Another nice place to enjoy a warm summer evening is the open air cinema at “M├╝nsterplatz.”

Basler Herbstmass (two weeks in late October - early November): The "autumn fair" has a long tradition in Basel going back to medieval ages, and many people enjoy the amusement park portion of the fair, or buying handicrafts.  I particularly recommend it as an excellent opportunity to sample some hearty or sweet specialities from Basel or Switzerland in general.  In addition, there are special Herbstmass treats such as the "Beggeschmutz" (bakers kiss).  

Whatever time of year you find yourself in Basel, Switzerland, enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. This really makes me want to go to Basal, Switzerland!!! I've been to Lucerne; there were many tourists, as you said, but it was still beautiful.