Holidays to Basel
The sophisticated city of Basel is one of the most important cities in Switzerland, as well as one of the most underrated. Many visitors bypass its charms, meaning you can explore the medieval streets and world-class museums in peace. Alongside the Gothic-Romanesque cathedral and the Renaissance-era town hall are fine examples of contemporary buildings designed by renowned architects such as Richard Meier and Herzog and de Meuron. A holiday in Basel is a great base for exploring the stunning Jura mountain range. Its location in the Dreiländereck (three countries’ corner) also means you can easily visit the French Alsace region and the German Black Forest.
Arts and culture
With over 30 museums and a varied annual calendar of events and festivals, Basel is a highly cultured place. The Kunstmuseum has thousands of superb works, including the largest collection of Holbein paintings in the world. For 19th and 20th-century work, don’t miss the formerly private collection at Fondation Beyeler, which features artists such as Picasso and Max Ernst alongside tribal sculpture from the Pacific islands. Families will love the unique charms of the Puppenhausmuseum, which boasts the world’s largest collection of teddy bears alongside other toys from all ages.
Contemporary art is celebrated with the Art Basel in summer, the premier fair for contemporary art in the world. Fasnacht is Switzerland’s largest carnival and a fascinating spectacle, although more serious than most people’s idea of a carnival. It takes place in February, beginning on the first Monday after Ash Wednesday. There are a myriad of theatre and music venues throughout the city, with plenty of experimental work alongside the traditional to tempt even the most adventurous audience member.
Basel’s great taste extends to its shopping, which is the most interesting in Switzerland. Varied and quirky independent small shops bring the high streets to life and the ‘shopping mile’ is dominated by speciality stores and luxury boutiques. Explore the neighbourhoods outside the centre such as Schneidergasse to find artisan jewellery, vintage clothing and antiques.
Eating and drinking
The restaurant scene in Basel is thriving, with a culture of relaxed al fresco dining in summer, especially in the old town. The food in the historic part of town is of a very high standard, and many venues offer traditional Swiss dishes served in rustic surroundings. The café culture is also alive and well, with plenty of alternative-style hangouts and cosy coffee shops to choose from.
Basel nightlife is dominated by chic, modern bars such as the Bar Rouge on the 31st floor of Basel’s tallest building. Classic beer halls are also popular and offer a relaxed, convivial setting for a drink with the locals. Basel also has a red light district, which is home to long-standing bars which are practically Basel institutions now.