City description

Basel epitomises Swiss discretion. The country’s third biggest city only shrugs off its visible reserve once a year, during the prestigious Art Basel. Vogue magazine called it the “Most beautiful temporary museum in the world”. Art Basel gathers together the crème-de-la-crème of the art world and brings Basel to life, with exhibitions, colorful activities and stylish events. Once the city’s temperature has returned to normal, it’s worth remembering that Switzerland’s capital of culture and its surrounding region has plenty to offer all year round. Theater Basel is well known for its plays and operas, while the Musical Theater Basel provides the perfect backdrop for sumptuous ballets, musicals and performances. A city of museums, Basel is filled with some exciting institutions, including Kunsthalle Basel and the Schaulager, making it a hub of contemporary art. Even out on the streets, avant-garde architectural gems create an audacious, futuristic urban landscape. The most iconic of them all, the Campus Novartis, was designed by stars such as Frank Gehry, David Chipperfield and Tadao Ando.

But beyond these constructions made of glass and steel, Basel also has a romantic side. Take the time to explore the narrow streets of its old town, one of the oldest in Europe in fact, to succumb to its undeniable charm. The city’s medieval past has certainly left its mark. As you wander through the streets, the Spalentor, or the Gate of Spalen, will rise up before you, reminding visitors that in the 14th century, fortifications surrounded Basel. A bit further out, discover the red sandstone Basel Minster, the city’s iconic Protestant Cathedral. Finish your architectural tour with a trip to the Rathaus, or City Hall, and soak up the atmosphere of its peaceful inner courtyard.

One of Basel’s highlights is its plethora of peaceful green spaces in the midst of the urban hustle and bustle. Nature is never far away: such as the Basel Zoo, or the Natural History Museum, for example. But above all, the banks of the Rhine, which runs through the whole city, epitomises the rest of Switzerland. An absolute must is a trip on a traditional boat meandering from one side of the river to the other. As soon as the sun starts to peep out, locals love to run along the banks of the river, which also provide the backdrop for barbecues and parties. The good mood and ability to relax and celebrate life are contagious, and can also be found in the cafes in the city center, as well as at the many festivities on the city’s calendar, including Herbstmesse, Fasnacht and Dreiländerlauf. Whatever you’re here for, Basel is a really accessible city, easy to get around by foot or in a pretty green and yellow tram.

But Basel is also the most vibrant city in the “Triangle International”, soaking up the benefits of the geographical proximity of France and Germany. The whole world is on the doorstep of this cosmopolitan city. On its market stalls – at Flohmarkt and Alte Markthalle to name but two – you’ll find exquisite street food alongside some exotic, sophisticated gourmet treats! But don’t worry, the nation’s speciality, chocolate, is never far away, and there are plenty of places where it can be found. Your trip to Basel wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Xocolatl, the iconic boutique dedicated to cocoa treats. Basel is a truly mouth-watering proposition.
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