Basel is a city rich in history, culture, cuisine and architecture. An underrated Swiss gem you’ll discover grand galleries, medieval streets, eye catching architecture and of course let’s not forget the Basler Leckerli the famous Swiss gingerbread!
Disclaimer: We visited Basel on a press trip with Basel Tourism, however, all views, opinions and photos are my own and remain a copyright of the Curious Pixie.
Check out the highlights video of our trip
Where is Basel?
Lying between the Swiss Jura, Germany’s Black Forest and the Vosges in Alsace it’s a haven of outdoor pursuits. Due to the close proximity of all three countries you’ll find locals cross the borders on a daily basis. Making it a great base for a longer stay for tourists.
Why visit Basel?
There are so many interesting places that are worth visiting in Basel with kids. Known as the city of art with the highest concentration of museums than any other Swiss city. It’s rammed with nearly 40 museums. The cultural magnet also has a host of world-class galleries, theatres and is home to Switzerland’s oldest and largest zoo dating back to 1874.
With an abundance of natural playgrounds, you can take to the mountains of France or Germany for hiking, cycling and exploration. Nice to be spoilt for choice!
How to get to Basel?
The nearest airport is the Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg EuroAirport, which is actually situated in France but is connected to Switzerland by a land corridor. It’s served by British Airways from Heathrow and Easyjet from Edinburgh, Gatwick, Manchester and Luton Ryanair from Stansted and Swiss from London City.
With so many low cost airlines flying to Basel, it’s easy to pick up some cheap flights. With a flight time of only 1 hour 30 minutes from London, Swiss hospitality is literally on your doorstep.
From the airport board bus 50 which takes you to the main train station, Bahnhof SBB. The journey time is less than 20 minutes.
Check out the latest flight times and prices here.
Tip: Basel Airport has two exits – a Swiss and a French exit, be sure to use the correct side.
Where to Stay in Basel?
Hotel Wettstein is located in the heart of the city in a central residential quarter of Basel, 200 yards from the River Rhine. A three star hotel (this is Switzerland – the standards are high).
The modern guestrooms are stylishly decorated in muted colours and for families have an option of booking a triple room. With a friendly atmosphere and idyllic garden space where you can enjoy your breakfast.
For the fitness gurus there is a gym at your disposal and guests can make use of the complimentary bike hire. Whilst little ones can enjoy the small play area.Click for availability at Hotel Wettstein
For more Basel hotel ideas, inspiration and latest prices head to Tripadvisor.
Two Day Basel Itinerary
With a mid morning flight you’ll arrive in Basel in time for lunch. Sometimes that can be too early for a check in. Leave your bags at the hotel and head for the urban ambience Nomad Eatery.
It’s a hotel restaurant with a stylish bright decor and serves up favourite dishes from across the world discovered by urban nomads on their travels – hence the name.
Take a guided tour of the Old Town and a journey through the ages. Passing historic buildings such as the Rathaus (Town Hall), a 500 year-old building dominating the Marktplatz.
The Basel Cathedral (Münster) is another impressively beautiful landmark situated on a hill high above the river Rhine.
There has been a building there since before Roman times – It’s the main landmark and tourist attraction of the Swiss city.
The kids will have a field day playing with the whispering arch. It’s the same phenomenon as a whispering gallery, where vibrations from one end of the arch cling to the surface and creep along the gently curving oath to the closest ear.
Alongside the old lies the new in perfect harmony. The contemporary architecture from the numerous pharmaceutical companies which call Basel home provides an ever-changing cityscape.
Come and lose yourself in the world of toys at the Speilzeug Welten Museum Basel.
With over 6000 teddy bears, doll houses, carousels and more taking over four floors the kids will be heaven.
It’s the largest collection of its kind in Europe. Young kids can also meander along the displays while riding toy horses. Whether you have children in tow or not this is an unique museum to visit.
Dine at French brasserie Volkhaus Basel in the heart of Kleinbasel. Redesigned by Herzog & de Meuron, the dining space is filled with light and clean lines, with hints towards the original 1920s interior of the building.
The beautiful courtyard with scattered trees full of fairy lights is the perfect place to eat on a warm summer’s evening.
Children are well catered for with a great kids menu and fun activity packs.
Start the day with some culture. Take tram no. 6, we boarded from Messeplatz, which is worth a visit in its own right. If you love your architecture just make sure you don’t miss your tram whilst engrossed in your photography.
Twenty minutes outside of the city centre to Riehen you’ll find the Fondation Beyeler.
Amidst beautiful grounds is the Renzo Piano designed museum which houses around 250 works of classic modernism from Hildy and Ernest Beyeler’s 20th century collection.
Admire works from Monet, Cézanne and Van Gogh to Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Bacon.
The interactive tactile installations were a great hit with the kids and err the adults! Who doesn’t love etching on a giant canvas of foil or carpet.
Jump back on Tram no. 6 to Marketplatz and feast on modern Swiss cuisine at a 15th-century guild hall, Schlüsselzunft. The historic building has been transformed into a elegant dining space.
A menu of fresh, seasonal dishes with plenty of vegetarian, fish, meat dishes and a special children’s menu.
Explore the Old Town around the Spalenberg and be charmed by the historic alleyways and beautifully adorned houses.
Packed with boutiques, galleries and irresistible delicatessens, the cute shops will definitely aid you in parting with your Swiss Francs.
One not to miss is the traditional house of Johann Wanner, where Christmas continues 365 days of the year. It’s apparently one of the suppliers of Christmas decorations for the Vatican, the White House and our very own Queen!
Pop to the Zoological Gardens, known affectionately as ‘Zolli” by the people of Basel. Established in 1874, Basel Zoo is Switzerland’s oldest and largest zoo home to a number of indigenous and exotic animals.
Heading there later in the day means you miss all the queues from the start of the day and is less crowded. Plus you can make it in time for feeding the penguins and seals which usually takes place at 4 pm.
Final supper at the oldest inn founded in 1348 in Basel is quite apt. Gasthof zum Goldenen Sternen can be found in the St Alban-valley at the Rhine. The historical restaurant has a beautiful summer courtyard terrace at the back of the property or you can dine looking out at the Rhine.
Their culinary delights focus on French classics with a twist. Kids will be impressed by beautiful hardback story book (albeit in German) they can colour in.
The Basel Card
The Basel Card is free and offers free public transport around Basel, access to free wi-fi in the city and discount to lots of attractions. Tourists are provided with the cards upon check-in at a hotel.
Yes Basel may be an expensive city, but the free Basel card helps a lot moneywise when exploring.
Whilst Swiss German is the official language of the city, English is fairly widely spoken, as is French – Makes it a whole lot easier when navigating the city. Combine all this with a short flight time and it’s definitely a great option when looking for a short break with kids.
Have I convinced you to visit Basel? Let me know in the comments box below
Here are some experiences you might enjoy on your trip, which you can easily book:
Where would we be without our Lonely Planet Guide!
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