If you are planning to visit, I’ve put together a little guide! The following covers what to see in Basel in 2 days or 48 hours. It includes the top things to do, places to eat, and where to stay!
I never thought that I would land at an airport and have no idea what country I was in. Yet, on my recent trip to Basel, this is exactly what happened. When I got off my flight from London and exited the airport, I was certain I had just stepped foot in Switzerland. I then proceeded to circle the carpark attempting to locate my Uber for 15 minutes before I realized… I was NOT in Switzerland but France!
Turns out there was a simple explanation. The airport I landed at was not exclusively the Basel airport, but the Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg EuroAirport. It has two distinct exits: one for France/ Germany and one for Switzerland. Hence, I had to sheepishly turn around and make my way back through Swiss customs before FINALLY entering the correct country. I finally found my Uber driver, and 20 minutes later, I reached the pretty little city of Basel.
For the uninitiated, Basel is Switzerland’s third largest city. It’s located along the Rhine river and borders France and Germany (hence the airport debacle). Famous for its world-class art galleries, fairytale-esque old town, and delectable chocolate, I knew I was in for a treat. I made sure to utilize my time to experience as much of its fine offerings as possible (particularly the chocolate).
The Best Things to Do in Basel in 48 Hours
Morning: Foundation Beyhler
Start your adventures by experiencing one of Basel’s main allures– its world-famous art collection. If you are staying in the city center, hop on Tram 6 and in 25 minutes you’ll arrive at Foundation Beyhler.
Nestled in the peaceful countryside, this fantastic art gallery features the work of some of the world’s most renowned artists. This includes Monet, Van Gough, Picasso, and Warhol. I was lucky enough to catch a Monet exhibition during my visit. I’m not going to lie… Seeing Waterlilies in the flesh may have caused me to shed a tear or two.
Lunchtime: 1777 Kaffee Restaurant Bar
Head back into the city and grab a bite to eat at 1777 Kaffee Restaurant Bar. Situated in the center of the old town, this retro restaurant offers great lunch options. Try the custom-made salads, sandwiches, and some of the best burgers in town. They even have vegan options! You also don’t want to miss their coffee or craft beer (in case you need a sneaky midday drink).
Afternoon: Explore the Old Town
After lunch, take a few hours to meander your way through Basel’s Old Town. Start at the City Hall (it’s playful, red façade makes it hard to miss). Then get lost in the Old Town’s quaint alleyways and fairytale-like buildings. Don’t forget to stop at the Basler Munster, a twin-spired gothic cathedral that is Basel’s most celebrated landmark! If you don’t know where to begin, you can try a guided walking tour. There are even options for a private one.
Dinner: Krafft Restaurant
As the sun begins to set, head to Krafft Restaurant for dinner with a supreme view over the glistening Rhine River. To be upfront, I will say that the service at the restaurant left a lot to be desired. However, the quality of the food did make up for it. The innovative menu has been crafted around fresh, local produce, and even the vegetarian options are impressive!
After Dinner: Consume Bar
Across the road from the Krafft Hotel you’ll find Consum Bar, which is the perfect spot for a cheeky after-dinner aperitif. This Mediterranean-inspired bar offers over 100 different types of European wines. It also has a vast of selection of salami and cheese specialties. Given this is a favorite spot amongst both locals and tourists, you can expect the place to be buzzing most days of the week!
Morning: Explore the St Alban Neighbourhood
Wander just past the Old Town, and you’ll find the charming neighborhood of St Alban. It’s considered to be the greenest district of Basel and also the most prestigious. With grand mansions guarded by ivy-covered gates, picture-perfect windowsills overflowing with flowers, and pockets of greenery amongst the charming, pastel-coloured buildings, St Alban is truly a treat for the eyes. If I moved to Basel, I certainly know which neighborhood I’d want to live in!
Lunchtime: Get your Veggie-Fill at Tibits
Head to one of the city’s most popular lunch joints, Tibits, for an outstanding vegetarian feed. Switzerland isn’t exactly known for its vegetarian offerings. However, this restaurant is changing the game by offering a pay-per-weight buffet that EVEN meat-lovers would enjoy. It is a good thing that this place has lots of seating as it is always packed full!
Afternoon: Indulge in Swiss Chocolate
This afternoon, it’s time to experience the sweet side to the city. Basel is known for being home to some of the best chocolatiers in all of Switzerland. Given the standard of Swiss chocolate, that is saying a lot! If you want to take your chocolate experience to the next level, you can spend the afternoon learning how to master the art of making your own chocolate!
Dinner: Les Trois
For an unforgettable dining experience, head to Basel’s most exclusive hotel, Les Trois Rois. The Brasserie may be considered the hotel’s more casual eatery, but there is nothing casual about the quality of it’s French and Swiss cuisine or phenomenal views over the Rhine! If you feel like really splashing out, reserve a table at Cheval Blanc. This 3-star Michelin restaurant has earned its place in the top 100 restaurants in the world and is by far the most exclusive fine-dining experience in Basel. I didn’t get a chance to dine Les Trois Rois during my Basel visit but it is on my list of things to do when I return to the city!
Where to Stay in Basel
The Krafft Hotel
On my first night in Basel, I stayed at the historic Krafft Basel, a 3-star boutique hotel located along the banks of the river. The hotel itself has been around since 1850. Although a lot has changed since its inception, efforts have been made to preserve the building’s heritage. Whilst the inside of the hotel isn’t quite as magnificent as its exterior, some of the original features have been maintained, such as it’s grand, winding staircase.
Upon entering my river-view room on the 3rd floor, I was surprised to see the space was decked out with contemporary furnishings. Despite an ejection of modernity, the room still did feel quite aged and was in need of some finessing. Having said this, I did appreciate the finer details, such as the gorgeous Japanese teapot, proper espresso machine, and provision of L’Occitane toiletries. All was forgiven when I stepped out onto the deck to a postcard-worthy view over the Rhine and the old town of Basel. In the morning, breakfast was served on the ground floor at the Krafft Restaurant overlooking the river which was also a real treat.
The Nomad Hotel
On my second night, I stayed at the Nomad, which is a 4-star design and lifestyle hotel located in the heart of the city. Although it is the sister hotel to the Krafft Basel, the two properties could not be more different. Built just over a year ago, the Nomad is the epitome of modern design, architecture, and atmosphere. Despite the hotel exuding a very industrial vibe (there is A LOT of concrete), the rooms still manage to feel quite homely, with each uniquely decorated with fun, colorful furnishings.
Looking past the hip decor, the Nomad has done a supreme job at creating a friendly, laidback atmosphere. For me, this was a very welcome change. I tend to spend a lot of time in generic hotels that lack in real ambiance. Also impressive were the facilities. I loved the little details – such as the tea and coffee stations on every floor, foldable bikes for guests to ride, a communal library, sauna, gym, and fantastic adjoining bar and eatery. Whether it was in the name, the wanderlust-inducing décor, or the Nomad’s motto “to be a meeting place for modern world citizens”, there was something about this hotel that resonated with me… Something that made the place feel like a home away from home for the short time I was in Basel.
Have you been to Basel? Anything you would add to this list of things to do in the city?
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My General Travel & Photo Tips:
I highly recommend getting travel insurance before ANY international trip. World Nomad’s offer the most flexible worldwide cover that I have come across, and you can purchase a policy online, even if your trip has already commenced. If their prices are too high for you, you can also check out SafetyWings, though SW doesn’t cover tech.
To book flights, I always use flight search engine, Skyscanner. I find it the easiest way to compare flight prices across airlines and get the best deals. Skyscanner also have a free App (available on iOS or Android) which is great for booking flights on the go.
Here is a list of the photography gear that I always travel with:
- Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 ii
- GoPro Hero Black 7
- DJI Mavic Pro
- ONA Camps Bay Backpack
- ONA Bowery Bag
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Thanks to the Krafft Basel and The Nomad Hotel for inviting me to stay! As always, opinions expressed are my own :)