Basel is one of Europe’s most important cultural hubs, and hosts renowned festivals such as Art Basel and the Fasnacht Carnival. Two days is just enough time to take in all the highlights—here are some ideas.
Kickstart your time in Basel with a hop-on hop-off bus tour, which transports you between top sights such as the medieval Gate of Spalen, the Tinguely Fountain, and the Roche Tower, Switzerland’s tallest building. Disembark to explore Basel Old Town a walking tour, which cover the Rathaus (City Hall) and magnificent Munster Cathedral.
Even though Basel is home to more than 40 museums, it’s best to focus on just a few if you’re on a time budget. Among the most popular are the Fine Art Museum (Kunstmuseum), the Museum Tinguely, and the Natural History Museum, while the Fondation Beyeler is celebrated for its architecture.
Set sail along the Rhine River and experience Basel from the water. A sunset or evening dinner cruise affords panoramic views of the city’s illuminated skyline and passes landmarks such as the Middle Bridge and the Munster.
Seasonal visitors can’t miss Basel’s renowned Christmas market, but if you’re not in town over yuletide, you can still enjoy a glimpse of local life at the daily food market on Marktplatz. Shoppers can also browse the many small shops and artisan boutiques in the Spalenberg quarter, or head to the giant Stücki shopping mall.
Spend the afternoon indulging in Swiss specialties such as fondue, rosti, and raclette at a traditional restaurant in the Old Town or on a food tour. Pick up some edible souvenirs at the city’s famous chocolatiers or indulge your sweet tooth on a guided tasting tour, some of which include a truffle-making workshop.
Little Basel (Kleinbasel), a district on the north bank of the Rhine River, is the liveliest place to spend the evening. There’s a huge choice of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and live music venues, but for the best views, head to Bar Rouge, the city’s highest bar, to sip cocktails and gaze out along the Rhine.