Just a stone’s throw from Germany and France, the town of Basel, Switzerland is an exciting stop on any Rhine River cruise. Brimming with centuries of culture and history, it’s no surprise that - in addition to myriad museums that you can explore here - the city itself feels like a living museum.
Altstadt (Old Town)
The Altstadt old town in Basel is built around the Marktplatz
, with its iconic 16th century town hall that dominates the plaza and serves as the seat of government for the Canton of Basel-Stadt. While passing through, try some savory fruits and veggies that are being sold there by local vendors.
Don’t miss the chance to tour the famous 12th century Gothic cathedral known as Basler Münster
, recognizable by its red sandstone walls, twin spires, and colorful roof tiles. This ancient cathedral enjoys the company of another local favorite - the Mittlere Brücke
bridge across the Rhine River… one of the oldest on the river!
History fans will revel in yet another artifact in the Spalentor
(Gate of Spalen), surviving in all its magnificent glory from its construction in 1400. Set on the grounds of the old city theater company is the Tinguely Fountain
, named for the sculptor who in 1977 built the stylish machines that now dance in the shallow fountain.
If you want to go back even further in history, check out Augusta Raurica
archaeological park to see more than 30 ruins of the Roman empire, including an impressive and well preserved 2000-seat theater. Throughout the year there are even reenactments of big Romanesque events that take place here.
It’s no wonder why people consider Basel the cultural capital of Switzerland, offering visitors over 40 museums to explore. Among the most popular are:
What else to do
- Fondation Beyeler (piano)
- Kunstmuseum (conservative modernism)
- Spielzeug Welten Museum (toys)
- Vitra Campus (design)
- Museum Tinguely (Collection of art by Jean Tinguely)
- Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History)
- Kunsthalle (Art of the present)
- Historisches Museum Basel - Barfüsserkirche (Cultural History)
- Museum der Kulturen Basel (Ethnographic Museum)
- Antikenmuseum (Museum of Ancient Art)
There’s plenty more to do if you find yourself with more time in Basel, like visiting Switzerland’s largest zoo at Basel Zoo
, standing at the Border Triangle
intersection of Switzerland, Germany, and France, swimming in the Rhine
, or checking out the local theaters.