Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Basel (Switzerland), along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Spielzeug Welten Museum
The Spielzeug Welten Museum houses the largest collection of historic toys in all of Europe and is one of the best places to visit for families. There are more than 6,000 exhibits found here including numerous teddy bears, dolls, miniatures, and playshops.
Additionally to its impressive permanent collection, there are many special exhibitions taking place as well as educative workshops. This museum is also a great place for gift hunters as the adjacent shop offers a very impressive array of products.
Basel’s Altstadt is the historic Old City and offers all the typical medieval features you would expect from a European city.
There are many interesting churches found here such as the Basler Minster (a gothic cathedral) as well as interesting museums (such as the Pharmacy Museum) and the city hall, called the Basler Rathaus.
Basel’s Altstadt is great for exploring on foot as many of the streets found here have been turned into pedestrian zones. Unsurprisingly, there are many restaurants and bars found here that make this historic neighborhood very lively at night.
The Basel Minster (or Münster in German) is a very impressive gothic cathedral that is considered one of the most beautiful structures of the city. It was built between the 11th and 16th centuries and also features some Romanesque style elements.
The Minster is known for its two towers that reach a height of around 65 m making this historic structure one of the biggest in the city. Make sure to visit the tomb of Queen Anne of Habsburg and her son Charles who are buried here.
The Gate of Spalen, as the structure is known in English, is one of the most beautiful city gates of medieval Basel. The structure was built in the 1400s and is very well maintained.
Spalentor is particularly known for its remarkable design consisting of one main square tower and two surrounding towers built in a round shape. The facade of the Spalentor is richly decorated and reminds visitors of the rich history of the city.
Rathaus (Town Hall)
The Rathaus is Basel’s official city hall and is located right in the center of the historic Altstadt. In the local accent, it’s called ”Roothuus”, and the town hall has become an iconic landmark that stands out from the rest of the Altstadt with its bright-red facade.
The building is around 500 years old and is situated right on the Marktplatz (one of the city’s main squares). Basel’s town hall is still in use today and houses the Cantonal Parliament as well as the government of the city of Basel.
Pharmazie-Historisches Museum der Universität Basel
The Pharmacy Museum belongs to the University of Basel and is one of the most interesting in the city as it is dedicated to exhibiting a collection of historic remedies used in the Switzerland of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Apart from the interesting historic medicines on display, there is also a great collection of tools to be seen that include mortars, ceramics, books, and more.
The museum is housed in a historic building that has stood here for many centuries while retaining all of its original charms.
Basel Paper Mill
The Basel Paper Mill (also called Papiermühle) is a fascinating museum that is dedicated to the history of paper as well as books. The authentic medieval mill tells the story of the very early days of paper products as well as the printing of books.
Many of the historic tools and pieces of machinery have been conserved and now serve as a spectacular real-life history lesson for its visitors. Four floors full of history and passion for books await you.
Rhine River Cruise
Basel is situated on one of Europe’s biggest rivers, the Rhine, and acts as a perfect spot for boat tours along its marvelous waters. Many boat companies offer day trips along the Rhine as well as long-range trips to interesting cities downstream such as Cologne or Amsterdam.
The natural and architectural beauty of a river cruise on the Rhine is simply breathtaking. Not just will you enjoy a new angle on Basel’s sights, a river tour is also very easy and relaxing and perfectly suited for visitors in search of some rest.
Basel Historical Museum
Basel’s Historical Museum is separated into three individual sections scattered across the city. The main section is located in the Barfüsserkirche which exhibits the cultural history of the Upper Rhine and presents many interesting everyday items of past centuries.
Then there is the Haus Zum Kirschgarten which is dedicated to presenting typical living conditions of the Basel of the 18th and the 19th century. Haus Zum Kirschgarten is one of the most aristocratic palaces of the area and worth a visit for its architectural beauty alone.
The third section of the museum is the Musikmuseum which, as the name suggests, exhibits historical music instruments and the history of music in Basel and its surroundings.
Fine Arts Museum Basel
The Fine Arts Museum (Kunstmuseum) houses Switzerland’s biggest art collection and has a long history dating to the 17th century when the city of Basel purchased an art collection and opened the doors of this public museum.
Today the museum features works of a long period in time going back to the 15th century all the way to the modern era. The reputation of the Fine Arts Museum is renown all over Europe.
The museum puts a special emphasis on presenting works of local artists from the Upper Rhine Region, underlining the region’s artistic heritage.
Jüdische Museum (Jewish Museum)
The Jewish Museum focuses on the history of the Jewish communities of Basel and showcases many of its traditions, art, and everyday culture. The collection consists of ceremonial objects and textiles but also gravestones and documents of Judaism.
The Jüdische Museum, as it is known in German, was opened in 1966 and was the first Jewish museum opening in a German-speaking country after the Second World War.
Jean Tinguely Museum
Jean Tinguely Museum is another highlight for art-lovers visiting Basel. It is dedicated to Jean Tinguely who spent much of his life in the city.
The museum hosts many of his greatest works including paintings and fantastic sculptures. The site is located in the Soltitudepark right at the banks of the Rhine and opened in 1996.
Apart from the art, there are also many photographs and documents related to the artist found here, which allow visitors to get to know the artist and understand his life story.
There are also temporary exhibitions held here that showcase work of other artists that were in one way or another connected to Jean Tinguely.
The Merian Gärten is a dream come true for people who like well-kept gardens with picturesque lawns and beautiful flowerbeds. The botanical garden is located south of Basel’s city center and is surrounded by beautiful hills allowing for great views.
There are also many historic buildings, including the beautiful Villa Merian, found here that give the Merian Gärten a uniquely Swiss feel. The 18-hectare park is home to around 1,500 species and features an English garden as well as a rhododendron valley.
Basel Autumn Fair
Basel Autumn Fair is the oldest of its kind in all of Switzerland and looks back on 550 years of fun and excitement for young and old.
The fair is situated in several key locations such as the Barfüsserplatz, the Münsterplatz, and the Kaserne and offers rides and attractions suitable to every visitor in search of fun.
The fair also offers many market stalls selling goods of the region as well as fantastic Swiss food including many of the country’s delicacies, making the fair both a cultural as well as a recreational event.
Offene Kirche Elisabethen
The Offene Kirche Elisabethen is a beautiful structure built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. Its main feature is its 72 m high bell tower and spire that can be seen from many places in the city.
This church was built in the 19th century and caters to the spiritual and social needs of Basel’s urban population. Unlike other churches the Offene Kirche Elisabethen is also very supportive of the LGBT-community, offering workshops and services dedicated to them.
The church is famous for its “Fasnachtsgottesdienst”, a church service dedicated to the Carnival of Basel, and it’s a symbol of modern Christianity in the city.
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