Basel

The Rhine divides the city into two distinct sections: on the southwestern bank lies Grossbasel (Greater Basel), the commercial, cultural, and academic center, which encompasses the Altstadt (Old Town) and, directly upriver, the quiet winding medieval streets of St. Alban, where you can stroll along the Rhine, peek into antiques shops, then dine in a cozy bistro. Also in Grossbasel is the upscale and leafy residential neighborhood of Bruderholz, home to one of Switzerland's best restaurants, Stucki. The opposite bank, to the northeast, is Kleinbasel (Lesser Basel), a Swiss enclave on the "German" side of the Rhine that is the blue-collar quarter of the city. Here are the convention center, chain stores galore, artsy boutiques, and hotels with terraces that afford glorious views of the Münster (cathedral).

The best way to see Basel is on foot or by tram, as the landmarks, museums, and even the zoo radiate from the Old Town center on the Rhine, and the network of rails covers the territory thoroughly.

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  • 1. Basler Münster

    Altstadt | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Basel's cathedral evolved into its current form through a combination of the shifts of nature and the changing whims of architects. A 9th-century...Read More

  • 2. Basler Papiermühle

    St. Alban | Museum/Gallery

    In a beautifully restored medieval mill with a still functioning waterwheel, this museum honoring paper, writing, and printing is wonderfully...Read More

  • 3. Fondation Beyeler

    Museum/Gallery

    For decades, the world's most prestigious art collectors would journey to Basel to worship at the feet of one of modern art's greatest gallery...Read More

  • 4. Kunstmuseum Basel

    Altstadt | Museum/Gallery

    In a city known for its museums, the Kunstmuseum is Basel's heirloom jewel. It was built in 1936 to house one of the world's oldest public art...Read More

  • 5. Museum Tinguely

    Kleinbasel | Museum/Gallery

    As you circle the innovative and quirky installations at Museum Tinguely, you may have a few questions. How do they work? What do they mean...Read More

  • 6. Augusta Raurica

    Ruins

    The remains of this 2,000-year-old Roman settlement have been extensively rebuilt, with substantial portions of the ancient town walls and gates...Read More

  • 7. Blaues und Weisses Haus

    Altstadt | Historic Home

    Built between 1763 and 1775 for two of the city's most successful silk-ribbon merchants, these were the residences of the brothers Lukas and...Read More

  • 8. Fasnacht-Brunnen

    Altstadt | Fountain

    Created by the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, known for his work in mechanized media, this delightful, animated construction was inaugurated by...Read More

  • 9. Fischmarkt

    Altstadt | Plaza/Square

    Fishmongers once kept their catches market fresh on this square, whose fountain basin served as a sort of communal cooler. The fountain itself...Read More

  • 10. Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois

    Altstadt | Hotel

    The statues on the facade depict the biblical three wise men and are thought to date from 1754. The young general Napoléon Bonaparte lunched...Read More

  • 11. Historisches Museum

    Altstadt | Museum/Gallery

    Housed within the 13th-century Barfüsserkirche (Church of the Shoeless Friars), this museum has an extensive collection of Basel's cathedral...Read More

  • 12. Kunsthalle

    Altstadt | Museum/Gallery

    A must-see for lovers of contemporary art, this museum has hosted landmark, precedent-setting exhibits of contemporary art since 1872. In addition...Read More

  • 13. Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart

    St. Alban | Museum/Gallery

    Bringing the city's art collections up to the present, this museum focuses on works from the 1960s onward. The fittingly modern building looks...Read More

  • 14. Lällekönig

    Altstadt | Public Art

    When a famous gate tower on the Grossbasel side was destroyed, lost along with it was the notorious Lällekönig, a 15th-century gargoyle of a...Read More

  • 15. Langenbruck and Environs

    Town/Village

    In the German-speaking countryside south of Basel, known as the Baselbiet, you'll find a handful of stately little villages with sturdy old...Read More

  • 16. Leonhardskirche

    Altstadt | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Like virtually all of Basel's churches, this one was destroyed in the 1356 earthquake before being rebuilt in the Gothic style, although its...Read More

  • 17. Marktplatz

    Altstadt | Plaza/Square

    Flowers, fruits, and vegetables are sold most mornings from open stands in this central square. In fall and winter passersby purchase bags of...Read More

  • 18. Martinskirche

    Altstadt | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Excellent acoustics make this church popular for concerts; it's rarely used for services. The lower portions of the tower date from 1287, making...Read More

  • 19. Mittlere Rheinbrücke

    Altstadt | Bridge/Tunnel

    Basel's most historic bridge is a good metaphor for the city's successful mix of custom and commerce. It is used as a catwalk for many of Basel...Read More

  • 20. Museum der Kulturen Basel

    Altstadt | Museum/Gallery

    After a radical renovation by star architects Herzog & de Meuron, the ethnographic museum did away with its dusty scenes of indigenous cultures...Read More

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