If you stand in the middle of the Marktplatz, or even just watch river traffic from the Mittlere Rheinbrücke, it's easy to envision the Basel of centuries ago. On a bend of the Rhine, Basel's historic center is full of half-timber houses that appear, from the outside, largely unchanged since the 1600s. Still, woven through its delicately preserved architecture are impressive state-of-the-art museums and miles of shop-lined pedestrian zones.

To reach the center of the Altstadt from the SBB, head north (left) on Heuwaage-Viadukt, turn right on Steinenvorstadt, and continue until you reach the central square, Barfüsserplatz.

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