"Basel, Switzerland" Basel by Aunt_Bertha

Basel Travel Guide: 521 reviews and 1,433 photos

Basel is full of surprises

Our principal purpose for visiting Basel for a day (which happened to be a Sunday) was to get together with old friends from the USA who were vacationing in Switzerland. We hadn't seen each other in centuries, so it goes without saying that we had a great reunion and a fantastic time.

Basel is the perfect place for talking about the good old days. I was surprised to detect a notable absence of homeless people, punks, or any odd people showing off their unusual outfits or behavior. In fact, Basel, a German-speaking Swiss city, reminded me what cities in Germany were like back in the 1960s. People were polits, well-behaved, quiet, walked around in their Sunday best on Sundays, and most of the cafés were closed.

However, Basel has much more to offer than that. We took the tram from "Basel Badischer Bahnhof" (which is yet another unique feature of that city and therefore I wrote about it in a tip) to Schifflände, where we crossed the "Mittlere Rheinbrücke" (Centered Rhine Bridge) to Grossbasel (Greater Basel: the old city of Basel).

The Red City Hall

From "Schifflände" (Ship Country) we walked to "Marktplatz" (Market Square) where we met our American friends in front of the "Rote Rathaus" (Red City Hall), a truly beautiful building. It got its name because it is made of red sandstone, not because Basel has (or had) a communist city government.

Starting on Marktplatz we walked around in the old city, up and down the lovely little winding lanes, on to the Basel Cathedral, and then to the Basel Museum of the Cultures, which boasted an interesting sign at the entrance door "We're renovating and that's why we're open". That's truly amazing because so far I've only encountered such signs the other way round. As I said, Basel (and I'm sure that goes for all of Switzerland) is always good for a surprise. And a good surprise it was indeed because as a result of the renovation dust, people could enter the museum free of charge for the whole duration period of the renovation. We were totally excited and one of my American friends was delighted to find a skeleton construction kit there, which she bought.

Cafés Closed

Of course, there were a lot of other exciting places we missed, since one day in Basel was just not enough. Basel is famous for its museums, exhibitions, cultural events, for its dialect that's a little different from the rest of the Swiss German, and for its closed cafés, at least on Sundays. Fortunately, we found an open pizzeria where we ordered some coffee, and we knew better than being shocked about the Swiss prices. For the Eurozone population, Swiss prices are slightly on the expensive side - we paid € 5.00 for a cup of coffee which, in Germany or France, you'd get for less than half the price. Oh well, traveling is an adventure and that's what makes it fun.

The cultural event that happened to take place while we were in Basel was some sort of an International Food Fair plus Swiss Country Rock Music Festival on the Kleinbasel side of the Rhine. We ate some large and very filling Swiss veggie burgers there and listened to noisy music - noisy because the drums of the Swiss Country Rock Band were positioned right next to our ears. It was a scream! We also discovered a Bavarian food booth with Bavarian Alpine country music and we were pleased to notice that Basel has such close ties to Bavaria.

Another nice thing about Basel is that Eurozone people don't have to worry about any currency exchange as Euros (as long as they aren't counterfeit) are readily accepted in Basel. However, you'll get Swiss Franc coins in return, so you'll have to live with a minor loss. But since I'm the optimist that I am, I figured it was cool to have some more "foreign" coins for my coin collection, as nowadays you mainly see Euros when traveling across Europe.

After this wonderful day we took the tram back to "Basel Badischer Bahnhof" (Basel Baden Railway Station) where we had parked our car and drove to the Southern Black Forest where we spent a couple of days amidst its gently rolling hills and reasonable prices.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:An amazing anachronism.
  • Cons:Closed cafés on Sundays.
  • In a nutshell:A truly unique place as a result of the "Badischer Bahnhof", a genuine German railway station in Switzerland.
  • Last visit to Basel: Aug 2012
  • Intro Written Aug 30, 2012
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Comments (3)

  • Odiseya's Profile Photo
    Oct 1, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Basel is still on my future trip list. I usually don't visit cafes but it is good to know! In my hometown coffee is 0.50 euros. The prices here is only bad thing that I find in Swiss.

    • Odiseya's Profile Photo
      Oct 2, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      It would be great to have VT meeting in my hometown.

    • Aunt_Bertha's Profile Photo
      Oct 7, 2014 at 6:56 AM

      Definitely an off-the-beaten-path place, in the words of VT. As I mentioned before, I like those places!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 29, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Yes, Basel is a great city to visit, and convenient because it is on the way to most places where one would want to go. On a recent visit I rented a bicycle from the Swiss Railways (expensive!) and rode all around one afternoon.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Aug 30, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Five Euro, thats a very expensive coffee! But how nice to meet friends you haven't seen for a very long time.

Aunt_Bertha

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