Cosmopolitan Basel is Switzerland’s third largest city and the point at which you’ll start or end your Rhine cruise before transferring overland to Lucerne if your voyage concentrates on exploring the lower regions of this epic river. It has the distinction of being one of the few cities in the world where three different nations come together; in the case of Basel, France, Germany and obviously Switzerland. This geographical meet of nations makes a Basel a fascinating multicultural city to explore and if you’re in the city for more than a day, also offers the opportunity to experience a little of the beautiful Swiss Rhineland which surrounds it. Aside from its beautiful medieval old town centre, it’s famous for being home to a number of exceptional art museums.
Basel is a real city of culture and one of its most popular attractions is the distinctive and beautiful Munster cathedral, made of red sandstone and featuring a multi-coloured tiled roof. As well as being an architectural eye-catcher, its lofty hilltop position means that you can enjoy some fabulous views of Basel while there. Another landmark in keeping with the red stone theme is the beautiful Rathaus or Town Hall, which features some splendid architecture and stone engravings.
As a true cultural giant, Basel boasts more museums than anywhere else in Switzerland and holds one of the world’s most respected art markets each year – no surprise then that the Fine Arts Museum is one of its most popular attractions. Take a look inside and you’ll find a wealth of works by the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir and Rodin to name but a few. Other notable museums include the Natural History Museum and another of the city’s most popular attractions, the Paper Mill Museum, which offers a unique insight into the history of paper-making, where you can see craftsmen at work and even try your hand at creating your own sheet of paper. Or for something completely different, take a trip out to the Jean Tinguely Museum, where you’ll be able to view a number of this ingenious artist’s works of moving metal.
Basel also acts as the gateway to some of the country’s most beautiful scenery, so it follows that there is some bountiful green spaces to enjoy during your visit. The University Botanical Garden offers some superb glasshouse exhibits and provides a welcome escape from the city, while Solitude Park certainly lives up to its name, offering leafy respite and a pleasing riverside Rhine walk. It’s also where you’ll find the aforementioned Jean Tinguely museum if you want to combine two attractions in one visit. As well as a pleasing outdoor space, Tierpark Lange Erlen is also a free zoo which offers plenty of space for the animals to roam and is not so big that you won’t have enough time to look around.
As a place where several nations meet, Basel’s a foodie's delight and boasts some exceptional gourmet restaurants – perfect if you’ve got a little more time to spend in the city. Basel also has an extensive tram network which makes it easy to get around, but also keep a lookout for trams if you’re exploring on foot, as they’re efficiently silent.