Basel vs Zurich

Old Mar 27th, 2023, 02:51 PM
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Basel vs Zurich

I am planning a trip in late Sept,early Oct for Switzerland. We will spend a little over a week in Wengen for hiking and cows... hope they are coming down from the mountains.

I am then wanting to go to a city for 5 days and am thinking Basel or Zurich. We want to do a few day trips as well as hang in city. I hear Basel has tons of museums, I love that it is so close to France and I could take a day trip there. I am thinking of seeing Zurich as a day trip from Basel and then flying out of Zurich, taking the train from Basel to the airport.

I feel there is more to do, see, and travel to from Basel...any opinions?? Tips for Basel, stay in the old town or somewhere other, its too long to be there? I also have been looking at airfares....

Thanks in advance. I've been away from Fodors and travel for many years but it feels good to be back and starting to travel!!
susanna is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2023, 12:12 AM
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Basel is close to Mulhouse where the museum focus continues
Basel is also close to Alsace and September is a great time for a visit, train to Colmar or Strasbourg
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Old Mar 28th, 2023, 01:23 AM
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It is really a win/win situation. You cannot go wrong. I know that most posters here see Zurich as a business city, but they miss lots of attractions and things to do. For me Basel has the more interesting museums and especially churches. But you would die of museum overkill if you visited them all, so the choices in Zurich are plenty for 5 days IMO. What I like better in Zurich is the setting by the lake and the view of the Alps. One of my favourite things to do in Zurich is to hop on a boat and go to Rapperswil - lovely town, relaxing cruise with fantastic views. Other favourite excursions are Baden, monastery Fahr, Üetliberg, Benedictine Abbey Einsiedeln (!). In the city itself check out Kunsthaus (Art Museum), the main buildings of the University and the ETH (University of Applied Sciences), both by famous architects (and take the cute little funicular up), the beautiful gardens along the lake and Rechberg garden, Grossmünster and Fraumünster churches, St. Peter church and Lindenhof square in the old town, stroll through the old town on both sides of the Limmat river. If you have time see the museums and parks of Villa Wesendonck and Villa Rieter. A highlight is the library of the law school of the University: (no idea if you can still wander around, a couple of years ago I could.)

In Basel you have a lot of museums to choose from. The big and famous ones aside, I recommend the pharmaceutical museum, Museum Kleines Klingental, a look into Kartäuserkirche complex with cloisters (frescoes) and a Gothic room totally panelled with wood (former orphanage.) The major churches are a must, too: Minster, St. Peter, St. Leonhard. Check out St. Alban district with paper mill museum, city gate, picturesque alleys in general. For excursions I highly recommend , a pilgrim church in the Jura mountains. An excursion to Riehen is another must - for Fondation Beyeler, but I loved the old village with church and toy museum also. Augst is another worthwhile excursion (ancient Roman museum), ditto are both Rheinfeldens (the Swiss and the German towns).
Ingo is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2023, 02:14 AM
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I enjoy Basel's old town more which is why it has a slight advantage over Zürich.
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Old Mar 28th, 2023, 07:46 AM
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Ingo - nice to see you here - it's been awhile.
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Old Mar 28th, 2023, 09:34 AM
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Hi Mel - thanks and good to see you are still going as strong as ever
Ingo is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2023, 08:26 AM
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In October, thre is often thick fog in and around Zurich and bright sun at Basel and in the Rhine Valley..
There are some 120 museums in the greater Basel area. So you will have to make a choice anyway..
The medieval city center of Basel is fine, so are those of Berne, the 2 Freiburg, and - at a much smaller scale - Murten, Biel/Bienne, Solothurn, Neuchatel, Laufenburg, Schaffhausen and many others.
Basel is a good base for day trips to most destinations in Northern Switzerland, Southern Baden-Wurttemberg or Alsace. Even Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, is less than 1 1/2 hrs by train away.

Last edited by neckervd; Mar 29th, 2023 at 08:29 AM.
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Old Mar 29th, 2023, 10:53 AM
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We’ll be transiting through ZRH on our way home from 18 days in Scandinavia. We plan to be in the area two nights and have opted to spend one of them, and the better parts of two days, in Basel. Our daughter and family lived there for four years so sentiment is playing its part—I really enjoy this city! Our hotel will supply us with the BaselCard, with free use of public transportation and discounts at museums and other attractions. We’ll probably spend our first day meandering the charming older section of the city—Barfisserplatz, marktplatz, favorite shops. Maybe this time I’ll finally do my photo essay of some of the city’s many fountains. Others have mentioned the many museums in Basel; you are sure to find some that address your interests.

The Beyeler Foundation will be our destination on day two. We’ll take the tram beyond the city to the stop directly across from the museum. Unless things have changed, we’ll pass farm fields and open space before we arrive there. If the day is pleasant we’ll enjoy lunch outdoors at their on-site restaurant. Late afternoon, it’s back to Zurich so we’ll get to the airport early the next day.

I’d taking a look at the places that interest you in Basel. If you think there’s not enough for five days, consider spending a final day in Zurich. Train to the airport from Zurich hb is about only 15 minutes.

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Old Mar 29th, 2023, 11:56 AM
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Old Mar 30th, 2023, 06:50 AM
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Thank you all so much...Basel it is!!! I'm from San Francisco and know it's fog patterns well, so sunny Basel it is!
I have been to alsace area a few times so probably wont revisit Colmar or Strasberg but am looking up all the other suggestions.
I will take the train from Basel to the Zurich airport for my flight home, I believe that to be an easy connection? I will pick a flight that is not too early.
I am looking at Hotel Rochat, i believe it's in the old quarter, any first hand experience or hotel recommendations for Basel? We are two old ladies that want our own rooms!!
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Old Mar 31st, 2023, 04:13 AM
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Hello Susanna

I think Zurich also has many museums to offer and is more central for excursions in Switzerland. Basel is of course better if you are planning trips to Alsace. It's really a matter of what you want to do for excursions. From Zurich you can also get to Basel quickly

Have a great Trip
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Old Mar 31st, 2023, 05:07 AM
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There is every hr 1 direct train plus 3 train connections with change at Zurich main station.
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