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Basel River Cruises on the Rhine

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Basel, in northwestern Switzerland near the borders of Germany and France, is one of the main starting and ending ports for Rhine River cruises. The medieval old town of Basel is one of Switzerland's historical treasures and is centered around the Marktplatz where you'll visit the 16th century Town Hall with its distinct red sandstone, and perhaps even the 12th century Gothic cathedral, where notorious scholar Erasmus is entombed. A short cruise down river will take you to the biggest plain falls in Europe - the impressive Rhine Falls. From here, your cruise will continue on to nearby cities in Switzerland and neighboring Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Contact us to start planning your Rhine River cruise.
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Basel River Cruise Tips & Travel Guide

Things to do in Basel
Basel sits on the banks of the Rhine River, close to the border of France and Germany, making it a key stop on several cruises and the embarkation/ departure port for many others.

If your cruise includes a day or two in the city, you will see all of this town's major attractions, but if you are on one of the many cruises that uses Basel as a port but does not spend time in the city itself, you should consider either arriving early or staying later to explore this ancient city.
  • Rhine Falls - while not technically in Basel, Europe's biggest plain falls are just downstream on the Rhine River. 
  • Markplatz - this is the main square of the Old Town, where most of the attractions are.
  • Rathauz (City Hall) - an impressive red sandstone building in the heart of the old town.
  • Biking tours of the city
  • Architectural walks, featuring both medieval buildings and contemporary gems.
How to get to Basel
If your cruise departs from Basel, Switzerland, then you should arrive at least one day in advance, not only to tour the city, but to be sure that you are there in the event that your flight is delayed. Here are the most popular ways to get there:

By train from other European cities: The Swiss Railway station (SBB), the French Railway station (SNCF) and the Badische Bahnhof, operated by German Railway (DB)

By plane: Arrive to EuroAirport, which receives connections from many other major cities in Europe in almost every country.
The Basel - Amsterdam Route of the enchanting Rhine River
Whether Basel is your starting point or your ending point, most of these cruises feature stops in these European cities & destinations:
  • Rhine Falls
  • Breisach, Germany
  • Strasbourg, France
  • Mainz, Germany
  • Koblenz, Germany
  • Cologne, Germany 
  • Dusseldorf,Germany
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

Popular Destinations in Basel, Switzerland
Some of the most popular destinations frequently visited on a trip to Basel, Switzerland are:
  • Alstadt (Old Town) & Marktplatz 
  • Basler Münster cathedral & the Mittlere Brücke bridge
  • Gate of Spalen
  • Tinguely Fountain
  • Augusta Raurica
  • Basel Zoo
Museums in Basel, Switzerland: 
  • Fondation Beyeler (piano)
  • Kuntsmuseum (conservative modernism) 
  • Spielzeug Welten Museum (toys)
  • Vitra Campus (design)
  • Museum Tinguely (Collection of art by Jean Tinguely)
  • Naturhistorissches Museum (Natural History)
  • Kunsthalle (Art of the present)
  • Historisches Museum Basel - Barfusserkirche (Cultural History)
  • Museum der Kulturen Basel (Ethnographic Museum)
  • Antikenmuseum (Museum of Ancient Art)

Frequently Asked Questions: Basel, Rhine River

Why should I choose a river cruise?
River cruises are quickly becoming the hot new way to explore Europe, and the Rhine River is one of the main arteries through central Europe, providing access to some of the most popualr attractions in the region. Once you board your riverboat, you won't have to worry about anything else – unpack your bags and settle into your room for the duration of the excursion and enjoy the various destinations and gourmet cuisine included in the price tag. Some boats even offer free bicycle rentals to explore the towns along the way. 

What should I look for on a riverboat?
Riverboats are a relatively new way to explore the Rhine River, so they haven't quite reached five star status due to space constrictions and limited amenities. However, that doesn't mean that they aren't comfortable, and some of the finer vessels are quite luxurious. You can expect to enjoy incredible views from the panoramic sun deck and get to know the other passengers in the multiple social areas, like the ample dining room and bar. You can get a room in varying styles and classes as well, and some vessels even feature spas, fitness centers, or pools.

Should I get a room with a balcony?
While the Rhine River is one of Europe's most scenic waterways, a room with a balcony isn't a necessary expense when you consider that it will likely cut into the floorspace of your cabin and you have an expansive and comfortable sundeck where you can take in the breathtaking panoramic views. If you get a balcony, you will end up paying hundreds of dollars more on the overall ticket price. Instead, book a room with floor-to-ceiling windows, windows that open, or we can help you find a vessel that features a "French balcony" (a sliding glass door that converts your whole room into a "balcony."

What is dining like?
All of your meals will be a mouthwatering mix of local and international flavors. The Rhine River is famous for its traditional central European cuisine, which you will have plenty of opportunities to sample throughout your cruise.

Do river cruises ever visit destinations that aren't on the river?
Definitely! Germany and the Rhine Valley are full of incredible sites and destinations, but they aren't all on the river's shores. To get to the more isolated destinations, your vessel will dock at a port, from which point you can take a luxury coach to the destination. The bus fare is included in your ticket price already.

Will my vessel have WiFi?
Perhaps, but don't count on it. There are some vessels that have WiFi, but not all of them do, and some do charge to access it. It all depends on the vessel and if you're in an area where you can receive the signal. 

What kind of power outlets are there? Will I need a converter?
Unlike North America, which runs on 110v power, Europe uses 220v power. You probably won't need a power converter since most devices are built to handle both voltages. You will need a plug adapter for either three flat prongs or two round prongs.

How can I save money on a river cruise?
If you want to save money on a Rhine River cruise, your best bet is consulting our deals page frequently to see what the latest promotions are for various destinations. Or you can tell one of our Europe travel experts where you'd like to go and we'll let you know as new deals are offered. DON'T try to save money by getting cheaper cabins, since these also offer less space and occasionally less comfort.

Are Rhine river cruises a good family vacation?
Absolutely! Rhine river cruises can be an engaging way to see central Europe with your whole family. Just make sure that if beer tasting or wine tasting is a feature of the tour that all of the family is 18 or older. If you are traveling with younger children, then the more active tours are the best option. Check out our family travel article for more information.

Do Americans and Canadians need a passport and visa to travel to the Rhine River?
All citizens of North America traveling to Europe need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months. In recent years, it has not been necessary to apply for a visa before traveling to Europe if you plan to stay less than three months, however, this situation may change in the future. See current European visa requirements

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