Located on the banks of the Rhine River, the city of Basel is known as a major transport hub at the heart of Europe. If you are planning a trip to Switzerland and looking for cities to add to your travel itinerary, then you can consider Basel. This 24-hour suggested itinerary will lead you to Basel’s famous tourist attractions and will help you make the most of your trip. Discover the sights of the city before you head on to Germany, France or other cities in Switzerland.
Things to know before traveling to Basel:
Language – Though Switzerland is not really a big country, be prepared to encounter citizens who speak different languages depending on the city you are visiting. German is widely spoken in the north, central, and eastern regions, French in the west and Italian in the south. Most Swiss speak English, so you can absolutely get by without speaking French, Italian or German language.
Money and costs – Switzerland is an expensive destination. Those amazing transportation options, meals, hotels and attractions come at a cost. Once you get there, expect your hotel to cost you an average of 200 USD per night and that cheap pizza at a restaurant will cost you 30 USD. So before you get on that plane make sure you packed enough cash and budget accordingly so your trip doesn’t cost more than expected.
The currency in Switzerland is Swiss Franc (CHF). Euros are widely accepted but it is recommended to have enough Francs as some hotels and restaurants do not accept other currencies. You may use debit cards and credit cards but watch out for ATM fees and foreign transaction fees, which can very high per transaction.
Etiquette – The Swiss are warm and welcoming to foreign visitors, but it’s important to remember some do’s and dont’s to enjoy a faux pas free journey. Greetings for both men and women is a simple handshake, direct eye contact and an appropriate greeting depending on time of the day. Always greet with titles unless you’re on familiar terms with them or until your Swiss friend suggests otherwise. The Swiss highly regard privacy, so avoid asking personal questions.
Getting around – Being a relatively small city, Basel can be easily explored on foot or on a bicycle. You can either bike on your own or you can join one of the guided biking tours offered in the city. If you stay in a hotel, hostel, apartment or other types of accommodation , then you will qualify for a free Basel Ticket, which provides free use of the public transportation system of the city for the whole duration of your stay. If you see yourself taking in many attractions in one day, then you may get a Baselcard 24-hour pass, which provides free or discounted entry to most attractions within the city. With this card, you can also enjoy the Panoramabus tours, the 90-minute sightseeing bus tour in Basel, as well as a tour via the vintage tram. You can also get one free ferry crossing ride in one of the four ferries (St. Alban, Münster, Klingental and St. Johann) that connect Grossbasel and Kleinbasel.
Where to stay – Basel has some of the best youth hostels and luxury hotels ideally nestled in the heart of the city. The most frequently asked question from first time travelers is, “What’s the best area to stay in when visiting Basel?” If you are going to follow our suggested itinerary, we recommend a hotel/hostel in the center of the Old Town since all of the main sights are so close to each other and can be easily reached on foot.
Hotels to consider in Basel:
Detailed Itinerary: 24 Hours in Basel, Switzerland
On your first day, take in a few of Basel’s most famous attractions and get an introduction to its rich history. Getting to Basel from major cities in Switzerland like Zurich and Bern is easy. By Swiss trains from Bern or Zurich, the average travel time to Basel Swiss Railway station (SBB) is approximately 1 hour. Depending on your time of arrival, you can either take it easy and soak up the atmosphere of the town or you can begin your tour of its famous attractions. Check into your chosen accommodation where you will be staying overnight. Then, set out this morning to see some of the most beautiful attractions in the city.
There is no better way to get acquainted in the city than strolling through the Marktplatz, the market square located in the Old Town. If you arrive early enough, then you can have breakfast at one of the stalls in the square selling fresh produce, homemade bread and pastries. After breakfast, make a quick stop at the Basel Tourism Office and get a free tourist map. Then, start your walking tour at the Rathaus Basel (Town Hall), the 500-year old bright red structure home to the local government. Next is Basel Münster (Basel Cathedral), considered an important Evangelical Reformed church in the city. Climb over 200 narrow steps at one of the towers of the cathedral to get a stunning panoramic view of town and the Rhine River. If you want to learn more about its magnificent architecture and its equally interesting history, then you can join the cathedral’s guided tour offered daily.
In the afternoon, head to the Paper Mill Museum, a museum and a production workshop. This medieval paper mill is a great place to learn about the history of paper and printing. After your museum tour, wander around the lovely Altstadt-Spaziergange durch Basel, a medieval neighborhood in the heart of town. It is a great place to people watch and do some shopping. End the day with a relaxing boat trip across the Rhine River aboard the Rheinfahre. After dinner, head back to your chosen hotel and sleep early for your tour the next day.
It’s time to say good bye to Basel! If you still have time, fit in an amazing breakfast or lunch in the city. You could even squeeze in some souvenir shopping before you travel to Germany, France or other parts of Switzerland. You may continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in Basel. The decision is all yours!
This is the end of our 24-hour suggested itinerary. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form, the only way to travel the city. There are several alternative routes of travel within the city and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy Basel!
Have you been to Basel or anywhere else in Switzerland? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: View of the River Rhine and the cathedral in the city of Basel. Switzerland (karp5 / Shutterstock.com)