Get to know Basel and meet new people
Basel offers a wide choice of cultural and leisure activities. Stay up to date on interesting events in your area through the Hello Switzerland Events page. Local publications and Basel Tourism are also good places to look for information. There are several interesting city tours to take advantage of, including one on a vintage tram and another geared especially for newcomers to the city. Try taking a self-guided walking tour with iGuide (comes in English and German), or relax in one of the city's green spaces, such as the Grünengürtel (DE) or Basel University's Botanical Garden (DE).
Joining a club or expat group can be a good way to meet new people. Xpatxchange lists the various expat clubs in the Basel area. Centrepoint, the Anglo-Swiss Club of Basel and Toastmasters are active in the city, as well as The Semi Circle, Professional Women's Group of Basel and the American Women's Club of Basel.
For English news resources read the article Entertainment, News & Media in Basel.
Things to do in Basel
Basel's Old Town is one of the best preserved in Europe. On every corner one can find buildings dating back as far as the 15th century. The stunning cathedral is Basel's trademark and most well-known landmark. The Pfalz viewing terrace behind the cathedral offers a lovely view of the city and the Rhine. The City Hall, or Rathaus building, with its eye-catching red façade, has beautiful frescoes to admire.
Take a short bus ride up to the dreiländereck to take a photo where the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland meet. Basel also still has three gates dating back to the last great city fortifications of the 1400s. You can visit the gates every year on the day of the city gate.
In the summer, swim in the Rhine and then go to relax on the sun decks of one of the Badhysli (bath houses) along the bank. There is one located near the Johanniterbrücke and the other is in the Breite area. From April to October Basler Personenschifffahrt (DE) offers regular boat cruises on the Rhine. During the winter months you can experience a boat trip with special themes such as Fondue with Music, Captains Dinner or even a Salsa evening.
Read more in the article Family activities in Basel.
Basel is famous for historic annual events
- Herbstmesse (DE), in autumn, is the oldest amusement fair in Switzerland.
- Basel Tattoo is a massive festival that takes places each year in July with music and performances and parades all throughout the city. The city has also started a Christmas Tattoo.
- The celebrated Basler Fasnacht is Switzerland's largest carnival that takes place over three days in late February or Early March.
- Art Basel is the world‘s biggest and most influential art fair. Basel hosts the premiere event each summer.
- Night owls might also enjoy participating in the yearly Basler Museumsnacht that allows you to visit over 32 museums and ten other cultural institutions in three countries for an entire evening.
- Basel World Watch and Jewellery Show which is held in Basel once a year in spring. This is the world's most important event for the watch and jewellery industry where fashion editors and trend spotters have the opportunity to discover the new collections launched by the most eminent players worldwide. It is also open to the public.
Cultural activities in Basel
Basel is an attractive destination for art lovers. It is home to some exceptional museums and has over 100 art galleries. A Swiss museum pass allows entry to 400 museums throughout Switzerland. Find a full list of Basel's museums on Museen Basel. Below is just a sampling of what the city's cultural scene has to offer.
- The Beyeler Foundation is renowned for its collection of 20th century art.
- The Tinguely Museum (DE) is a celebration of the works of Switzerland‘s famous sculptor, Jean Tinguely.
- Kunsthalle Basel is among the leading institutions of international contemporary art.
- The Swiss Museum of Architecture is small but informative.
- The Paper Museum is housed in a former paper mill. It also has a nice restaurant.
- Another popular option is the Historisches Museum Basel (history museum) (DE).
- Kunstmuseum Basel is the city's fine art museum.
- The Museum der Kulturen is the largest ethnological museum in Switzerland.
- Visit the Natural History Museum (DE) to learn everything about animals and the natural world.
There are also some wonderful theatres in Basel, although it might be difficult to find performances in English.
- The Musical Theatre Basel (DE) presents internationally renowned musicals. Now and then English musicals are performed.
- Theatre Teufelhof shows cabarets, satires and concerts.
- For dance and innovative popular music check out the Kaserne Basel (DE).
- A traditional theatre option, located right in Old Town is Theatre Fauteuil (DE).
- The Häbse Theater (DE) presents dialect comedies and pre-Fasnacht carnival productions.
- Theater Roxy (DE), housed in a unique art deco cinema, is the place to go for experimental performing arts.
- Gare du Nord (DE) is one of the most important venues for composers and performers in Basel's contemporary music scene. It hosts around 100 concerts and events each season.
Eating out, restaurants & nightlife
Basel restaurants reflect culinary influences from France and Germany, as well as traditional Swiss and local dishes. Cuisine and wines from Alsace are particularly popular. Basel has its own edition of the Prozentbuch (DE), a booklet of vouchers, discount offers and recommendations for eating out.
Rhyschänzli is a yummy restaurant located right on the Rhine in front of the striking façade of Basel's former barracks. Their Buvette is open during the summer months and is a popular meeting point for Rhine swimmers. Likewise, Gundeldinger Feld, a converted industrial complex, also has some interesting restaurant options. It has choices such as Eoipso or Blindekuh, where you eat your meal completely in the dark. At the top of the 31-storey Messe Tower on Messeplatz you will find a bar overlooking the city.
Switzerland has strict drinking and driving laws. The late-night public transport service "Nachtnetz" (DE) will get you home safely after exploring Basel's nightlife.
Leisure and day trips in and around Basel
No tour of Basel would be complete without a trip on one of the four Rhine ferries (DE) powered solely by the flow of the river.
- The beloved Rhine promenade in Kleinbasel, with its broad steps and restaurants, offers an impressive view of the historic Grossbasel skyline.
- Explore the Alsace plain to the west of Basel, flanked by the Vosges Mountains.
- Between Basel and Mulhouse lies the area of Sundgau, a varied, hilly landscape with ancient, intact villages, castles and forests, easily explored from Basel by bicycle.
- The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein (Germany) is a must for lovers of design and architecture.
- Rejuvenate at a wellness centre.
Photo: swiss-image.ch/Klaus Brodhage