There are very few cities in the world in which you can see three countries from a single vantage point, and only one where you can do so while travelling down the Rhine in an inflatable orange sack. All that is on offer in Basel, a city that borders France and Germany.
Whether you come for its thriving arts scene, exciting festivals or delightful sights along the Rhine, Basel is an ideal European holiday destination. Book your flight from London to Basel with today.
Basel is situated on the Rhine, which divides it into Grossbasel on the left bank and Kleinbasel on the right. Grossbasel is home to the main historic centre, overlooked by the spires of the Münster cathedral and home to the Barfüsserplatz, Basel’s central plaza. Kleinbasel has its own charm, with lively nightlife and the Museum Tinguely, which features fanciful machines that bring to mind Rube Goldberg or Monty Python. Finally, towards the edge of town, Three Countries’ Corner allows you to walk right to the edge of Switzerland and peer at France and Germany at once.
Basel’s art scene is undoubtedly what puts it on the international stage: Art Basel, founded in the city, is one of the world’s largest art fairs. The popular Kunstmuseum and the unforgettable Fondation Beyeler both offer extensive collections of twentieth-century European art, from the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti to the paintings of Salvador Dalí.
Visit the city of three countries and book a flight from London to Basel now.
What currency should I bring to Basel?
The currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc, abbreviated CHF. The currency can either be obtained prior to departure or in the airport on arrival. You can also use your bank card or credit card to withdraw francs, though you should check this with your bank before you leave. Since Basel is situated on the border with France and Germany, euros are also easy to come by for any cross-border excursions.
What language is spoken in Basel?
Swiss German is the main language in Basel. However, given its proximity to France and the business-friendly environment in the city, both French and English are fairly common in the city – the latter especially among the city’s younger population.
How do I get around in Basel?
Basel is served by a network of bright green buses and trams that traverse the city and surrounding area – some even cross over into Germany and France. For a short visit, it is worth investing in a BaselCard, which is often provided free of charge with a hotel booking. The card is an all-access pass to the public transit network, and it also provides discounted admission to local attractions. Bike hires in Basel are a little harder to come by than in other cities, though the main train station does offer rentals. The city is quite easy to bike and walk through, with plenty of bike-friendly and pedestrianised areas.
Attractions in Basel
A getaway to Basel means spending time amidst the art, culture and history of a uniquely European locale. Basel’s vibrant art scene and long history have produced a metropolis where there is always something new to see.
- Fondation Beyeler
- Three Countries’ Corner
The city’s main cathedral dates back to the fourteenth century, though parts of it are much older. The red sandstone church boasts intricately carved scenes, including the St Vincent Panel, which dates to around 1100.
This sublime art gallery is Basel’s finest, though not for lack of competition. Its extensive collection spans some of the greatest artistic minds of the twentieth century – Giacometti, Picasso, Warhol and more.
Three Countries’ Corner
Head to the end of tram line #8 and walk to the end of a pier, where a pillar denotes the northwesternmost point of Switzerland. Gaze ahead into Germany or across the river into France: then, thinking deep thoughts, head to the nearby Sandoase bar for some refreshments.
BarfüsserplatzThe centre of historic Basel, where lively pubs ply their trade next to historic museums and where fairs and Christmas markets set up shop. Just steps away are the Tinguely Brunnen, a series of ornate fountains.
Basel’s traditions and culture
Your trip to the city may bring you into contact with some of Basel’s unique traditions. In the summer, residents inflate large orange sacks, which they use to float down the Rhine. The city’s two most famous festivals, meanwhile, take place later in the winter and spring. Fasnacht takes place in March and features parades through the city and an all-night masked carnival. Vogel Griff, in January, features a procession involving a wild man, lion and griffin, representing a coming together of the city’s guilds, with the whole affair culminating in a city-wide celebration.
Basel is a perfect city getaway for those in search of a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of culture and spirit. Book your flight from London to Basel today!
Our guide about Basel has many more sights for you to discover.
Basel for the gourmet
Basel’s restaurants tend towards the pricier side, especially if you had in mind to visit some of the city’s fine dining establishments. But this is not where you find the traditional Swiss and local Basel cuisine, these tend to be done in smaller places and at home.
The food of Basel
Influences from southern Germany as well as from the French Alsace Region added to the culinary traditions of Basel. Basler Mehlsuppe, a soup made from flour, sbrinz (a hard cheese), onions and red wine, is a classic. Especially around the rowdy days of the carnival, it is eaten for breakfast. Basler Laubfrosch literally translates as tree frog, but is actually a kind of stuffed cabbage. Chäsbängel is appropriately described as a fondue to go, a baguette-like bread is drilled open and filled with molten cheese. Basler Läckerli are the most famous product with the city’s name in it, the sweet little cakes are everywhere, there are even specialized bakeries and shops for the delicious cookies.
Shopping in Basel: Swiss style
The pedestrian-only boulevard Freie Strasse is the centre of a Basel shopping experience, whether you are looking for fashion, jewellery or Swiss luxury watches. In the Old Town area of Spalenberg you find little cobbled alleys lined with small shops and boutiques. For a sweet gift, head to the Läckerli-huus on the Gerbergasse and pick up some local Läckerli biscuits or Rahmtäfeli caramels. Have a walk in the hip Kleinbasel quarter for design, vintage things and handmade crafts. Don’t miss the farmers markets that take place regularly like the Stadtmarkt, Schlemmer Markt and, in the winter, the Christmas Market.
Basel offers many more dining, entertainment and shopping options, which you can read in the guide about eat and drink in Basel.
London - ZurichFlight duration: 01:45 hrs total, Frequency: 8 x daily
Departure LondonTerminal: 2Counter opening time: 2 h prior to departure
Airbus A320-214Height: 11.80 mLength: 37.60 mSeats: 136-168
Crew:Pilots: 2Cabin crew: 4
Transit Zurich (ZRH)Arrival: 19:55Transit time: 1h 01m
Zurich - BaselFlight duration: 01:28 hrs total, Frequency: 4 x daily