Situated in northwest Switzerland, near to where the nation meets with France and Germany, Basel’s location has served as a key trading hub for thousands of years. With a variety of diverse and vibrant districts to suit every taste, you’ll have time to explore each one even on a short break – thanks both to its manageable size and its excellent public transport network. The city is perhaps best-known for the world famous Art Basel festival – which sees leading artists from across the world flock to the city every June. But it continues to hold its own as one of Europe’s most influential cities not just in the art scene, but also in its global zoological projects.
Interested? For an unforgettable city break, read our guide to Basel.
Art and culture in Basel
Generally known as Switzerland’s culture capital, art is everywhere in Basel, and is especially apparent in its clutch of almost 40 museums within the city. With such a wealth of venues, you’ll find something for every art lover in this Swiss city, from the Antikenmuseum Basel, which is devoted to ancient art from the Mediterranean region, to the Kunsthalle, a museum dedicated entirely to the modernist persuasion.
Held annually in the city, as well as in Miami and Hong Kong, Art Basel serves as a way to support local galleries, as well as to nurture local artists, putting them on a world stage that attracts thousands of visitors every year. This makes it a great place to see emerging talent alongside some of the world’s masters of modern and contemporary art. Held every June, the exhibition consists of paintings, films, photographs and sculptures, as well as large scale installations.
The districts of Basel
The city of Basel is divided into seven diverse districts, each offering something unique. For iconic sights, start your journey at the centre – in Grossbasel, also known as Old Town. Best appreciated on foot, you’ll find plenty of walking tours available here, taking you on journey through over 2000 years of history. These tours are often carried out by city dwellers, with tour guides are often more than happy to offer plenty of local knowledge on nearby restaurants or bars. Top sights to look at for in Old Town include the picturesque Marktplatz, where locals shop for groceries and flowers, and the Basler Münster cathedral – perhaps Basel’s most well-known landmark.
Basel Nord & Riehen, to the north of the city, is full of green, tranquil spaces perfect for hiking, with the Markgräfler Wiiwegli one of the region’s most popular walking trails for its changing terrain. The district is also home to the Fondation Beyeler, a popular museum full of modern classics such as Picasso, Warhol and Lichtenstein.
Family adventure in Basel
For family-friendly activities, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Basel with kids. In the summer months, Solitude Park along the River Rhine holds a paddling pool to cool off in, while Schützenmattpark holds plenty of green and open space for families to explore together. Nearby, you’ll find Zoo Basel – Switzerland’s oldest and largest zoo. As well holding a wide selection of animals which vary from turkeys to lions, Basel Zoo is also working to protect natural habitats across the globe, with ten projects currently taking place worldwide.
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