Located at the meeting point of three countries (Switzerland, France, and Germany), the city of Basel lies at the crossroads of European culture. It should be no surprise, then, that the city has a cosmopolitan flair unlike any other city in Switzerland. It’s rich in museums and is the center of art and commerce. It’s most famous annual event, Art Basel, has come to symbolize its unique contribution to the world.
Life Along the Rhine
In addition to being located at the intersection of three countries, the city is also graced by its location along the Rhine River, and one of its most delightful features is the Rhine Promenade, which provides a perfect strolling point for romantic couples in the evening. During the day, its central location makes it a favorite walking path for tourists and natives alike, as well as one of the busiest jogging paths in the city.
Prefer some time on the water? Simply ring the bell to call a local ferry man to have him take you across the river. These photogenic ferries have been transporting visitors for more than 150 years. Their environmentally sound use of currents to propel the boats ensures that the Rhine will be protected for many years to come.
Among Basel’s greatest assets are its lively cultural and business activities, all centrally located. It’s Switzerland’s leading trade fair and conference center, hosting a wide variety of events each year, among them Art Basel and Baselworld, the most important jewelry and watch fair in the world.
Cultural life in Basel is dominated by its rich offering of museums. More than 40 of them dot the cityscape of Basel, some of the most important of which include the Kunstmuseum Basel (Museum of Fine Art), the Tinguely Museum (devoted to the sculpture of Swiss artist Jean Tinguely), the Foundation Beyeler, and the Museum der Kulturen (Anthropology Museum). The Museum of Fine Art is particularly outstanding and is the oldest public art collection in Europe.
Other city offerings include Old Town for shopping and great architecture, the Basel Zoo (affectionately known by locals as “Zolli”), the Cathedral overlooking the Rhine, the Town Hall (open to the public), and Dreilandereck, the Basel neighborhood, where nature, culture, and fine dining all collide.
The Bounty of Basel
As expected, Basel’s unique location makes it a great spot for dining. With the nearby influences of French and German cuisine, the city offers up a dining delight every meal. Whether you prefer fine dining or bistro-style casual fare, Basel has it all. In addition to international influences, Basel also has endless local specialties, in particular Mehlsuppe (a local soup) and Zwiebelwahe (an onion tart) that is perfectly accompanied by great local wines from the region surrounding Basel.
There are any number of wineries in the area that also make good day trips from the city of Basel. Perhaps no other event is more fun for exploring the wine area near Basel than Wy-Erlabnis, a wine walk held in Baselland in late August that takes in local wineries and food sampling along the way.
There is also the wine footpath in Aesch that helps guide tourists through vineyards with accompanying signposts that help explain the fine art of winemaking to hikers. The trail follows from Klusberg to Tschopperli, and after a good day’s hike, doing a little sampling seems a perfect way to end the day.
For those who remain city-bound, Basel also offers wonderful food and other specialties every day (except Sunday) at the local City Market (near Town Hall). In December, go see the Christmas Market on Barfusserplatz not only for its festive atmosphere, but also its special holiday delicacies.
Basel is a wonderland of a city, with easy access to the neighboring countries of France and Germany, making it a great base location for any traveler visiting Switzerland. Within the immediate area, there are myriad pleasures: the beauty of nature, interesting architecture, great dining, fine museums and cultural events, and a booming commercial environment as well. Basel is a unique spot not only in Switzerland, but in Europe as well.