The Swiss city of Basel is world-renowned for its location along the famous Rhine river, located immediately adjacent to the country's French and German borders. The city is known worldwide for its fine arts, culture, and history museums, many of which are operated in conjunction with the University of Basel, the country's oldest institution of higher learning.
1.The Music Museum
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The Music Museum, or Musikmuseum, is one of four museums operated under the umbrella of the Basel Historic Museums organization, originally opened to the public in 2000. The museum is located on the former complex of an Augustinian order monastery, which dates back to the year 1206 and also notably served as a prison during the 19th and 20th centuries. More than 3,000 musical instruments and artifacts are displayed throughout the museum, which documents the history of European music from the 15th century through the present day. Exhibits focus on the history of music in the city of Basel, with an emphasis on the region's history of concerts, parades, festivals, choral music, and dance performances.
Im Lohnhof 9, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-05-86-00
2.University of Basel Botanical Garden
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University of Basel Botanical Garden are one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, originally founded in 1589 by Caspar Bauhin at the Rheinsprung's Lower College. Since 1898, they have been located at the city's historic Spalentor fortress gates and are open to the public during daylight hours year-round. Four indoor greenhouse facilities showcase succulents, orchids, and international plant life, including a dedicated tropical house garden facility. Outside, famous collections of cacti are showcased, along with a Mediterranean-style garden, a shade garden, and extensive fern and tree plantings. Though the garden itself does not have any public visitor facilities, public restrooms are located adjacent to the facility, along with several public cafes and restaurants located along the Spalenvorstadt.
Spalengraben 8, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-07-35-19
3.Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig
© Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig
Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, or the Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection, is a Swiss national heritage site and cultural museum that was founded in 1961 to showcase the artwork of ancient civilizations. The museum, which opened to the public in 1961, showcases more than 5,000 years of human culture throughout the Mediterranean region, featuring collections of artifacts and artwork preserved from Italy, Greece, Egypt, and the Middle East dating back as far as 4,000 B.C. Important collections include a selection of Greek vases and a collection of Ancient Egyptian sculptures. The museum strives to interpret the ancient past as a foundation for the modern world and an inspiration for the future, offering a wide variety of temporary exhibitions and cultural programming, including public lectures and workshops.
St. Alban-Graben 5, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-01-12-12
4.Basel Historical Museum
© Basel Historical Museum
Basel Historical Museum is one of Switzerland's most renowned historical museums, originally opened to the public in 1894 and designated as a national heritage site today. The museum offers four distinct facilities, three of which are located within Basel's city center. Its main facility, housed within the Barfüsserkirche, or Barefeet Church, houses the most comprehensive cultural collection within the Upper Rhine, with objects representing the handicraft traditions of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. The 1780 Haus zum Kirschgarten serves as a living history museum, preserving the residence of Colonel Johann Rudolf Burckhardt, while the Musikmuseum, located adjacent to the Barfüsserkirche, showcases instruments and artifacts related to the history of European music from the 16th century through the present day. A fourth location, the Coach and Carriage Museum, is located within a preserved barn within Münchenstein's Merian Park.
Steinenberg 4, Postfach, CH – 4001 Basel, Phone: +41-61-2-05-86-00
5.The Basel Paper Mill
© The Basel Paper Mill
The Basel Paper Mill, also referred to as the Swiss Museum for Paper, Writing, and Printing, is a cultural museum housed within a restored former paper mill facility dating back more than 500 years. The national heritage site is spread over four floors, showcasing exhibits and production workshops dedicated to the history of papermaking, book printing, and writing throughout Europe and the world. A large collection of book industry artifacts details the techniques of printing, paper dipping, and bookbinding for visitors, with a Museum for Participation and Touching exhibit allowing visitors of all ages to try their hand at Old World printing styles. A variety of visitor workshops are also offered, teaching the art of paper-related skills such as screenprinting and origami.
St. Alban-Tal 37, 4052 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-25-90-90
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Basel Zoo, also known as the Basel Zoological Garden or Zolli, is the oldest zoo in Switzerland, home to the largest collection of animals at any zoological park in the country. The zoo was opened in 1874 and is noted as the site of major first breedings, including the first zoo births of an Indian rhinoceros and a flamingo hatch. It is Switzerland's most popular tourist attraction, welcoming more than 1.8 million visitors annually, and has been rated as one of the world's best zoos by Forbes Traveler and the Zoological Society of London. The 32-acre zoo is home to nearly 7,000 animals across 645 species, including an extensive aquarium population, and is a member facility of major zoological organizations such as the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Binningerstrasse 40, 4054 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-95-35-35
7.Basler Personenschifffahrt Cruises
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Basler Personenschifffahrt Cruises operates tour cruises along the Rhine, letting visitors view the skyline of Basel from the vantage point of one of the world's most famous waterways. Two main cruise options are offered, including a two-hour town and harbor cruise route that boards at the Basel Rhine harbor and takes visitors past sights such as Old Town Basel, the Kleinbasler Rheinufer, and the former town wall remains at the St. Alban-Tal Quarter. A canal lock cruise is also offered, lasting approximately two and a half hours and navigating several historic canal locks on both the Swiss and German sides of the river. On the latter cruise, visitors have an option depart near the Roman town of Augusta Raurica and stop at attractions such as the Zähringen dynasty town of Rheinfelden and the Museum Jean Tinguely. Day cruises are also offered to locations in Germany and France, along with music and culinary-themed excursion cruises.
Westquaistrasse 62, CH-4057 Basel, Phone: +41-61-6-39-95-00
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Brewery Fischerstube is one of the most famous modern breweries in Switzerland, in operation for more than 40 years and renowned worldwide for its production of its flagship Ueli Beer. The company offers guided brewery tours for visitors at its production facility, lasting approximately half an hour and available for up to 45 participants at a time. Tours are offered in English and German, detailing the brewery's history and its production methods for producing its famous ales and lagers. Tastings are offered during the tour, with meals available following the tour at the brewery's two onsite restaurants at its Antonierkeller beer cellar and outdoor beer garden.
Rheingasse 45, 4058 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-6-92-92-00
© Cartoonmuseum Basel
Cartoonmuseum Basel is a national heritage site and cultural museum that was originally opened to the public in 1979, housed within a restored building from the late Gothic period. The museum is devoted to chronicling the history of cartoons and other related works, including parodies, pastiches, and caricatures. More than 3,000 original artworks are showcased at the museum, representing more than 700 international comics and cartoon artists working in the 20th and 21st centuries. An additional collection of more than 10,000 works details related genres such as animation and illustration. Exhibits rotate periodically, focusing on the work of a single artist or a current topic related to social issues or genres. Guided museum tours are available, along with a variety of workshops, discussions, and artist talks held at the museum throughout the year.
St. Alban-Vorstadt 28, 4052 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-26-33-60
10.Chocolatier Beschle Workshops
© Chocolatier Beschle Workshops
Chocolatier Beschle Workshops have been offered by famed Swiss chocolatier Beschle since 2008, held on a weekly basis. The renowned chocolatier offers workshops for adults and children six days a week, held in the afternoon hours Mondays through Saturdays. Create Your Own Chocolate Bar workshops are offered for adult groups, educating participants on the proper tasting, preparation, and production methods associated with chocolate-making and allowing all guests to craft their own personally-made chocolate bar. Children's workshops are also offered, allowing young participants to craft chocolate bars and indulge in a homemade birthday cake made by the chocolatier. Workshops are offered in German, English, Spanish, and French, lasting approximately two hours.
Clarastrasse 4, 4058 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-95-40-40
11.Der Teufelhof Wine and Cheese Tastings
© Der Teufelhof Wine and Cheese Tastings
Der Teufelhof Wine and Cheese Tastings are hosted at the historic Der Teufelhof guest and cultural house within Basel's Old Town area, which is housed within two 18th-century converted townhouses and offers a variety of cultural institutions and businesses, including a theater, hotel, and several upscale restaurants and breweries. The cultural meeting place offers wine and cheese tasting sessions for groups of 10 to 50 participants, allowing participants to taste fine wines from a variety of European regions that are specifically selected and paired with gourmet cheese pairs. The workshop lasts approximately one hour, led by an educated instructor who explains the pairing process in detail. Fine chocolates are also sampled, and a dossier and certificate are provided, detailing the wines and foods tasted during the course.
Leonhardsgraben 47-49, 4051 Basel, Germany, Phone: +41-61-2-61-10-10
© Kunstmuseum Basel
Kunstmuseum Basel is a national heritage site, housing Switzerland's most significant collection of public art. The museum's collection was founded on the works contained within Hans Holbein's Amerbach Cabinet, which was acquired by the city of Basel in 1661, becoming the first municipality-owned museum collection in the world. Works within the collection date from the early 15th century to the present day, with a focus on Upper Rhine artists in the 15th through 17th centuries. Significant Renaissance works are also held, along with an important contemporary art collection showcasing the works of influential international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Andy Warhol. The museum receives more than 238,000 annual visitors and is housed within a main building originally constructed in 1936, with extensions added in 2016 as the result of an international design competition.
St. Alban-Graben 16, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-06-62-62
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Merian Garten is Basel's public botanical garden and historic park facility, open to the public seven days a week from dusk to dawn. The gardens are located on the grounds of the Villa Merian, which was constructed in 1711 as a private residence for Christoph and Margaretha Merian. The 18-hectare garden complex showcases a wide variety of cultivated flower and vegetable garden plantings, including a traditional English-style garden, a rhododendron valley, and Europe's largest collection of iris plantings, featuring more than 1,500 varieties. A public cafe and restaurant is operated out of the villa house, serving freshly-prepared dishes with locally-sourced ingredients seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. The garden's grounds also house the historic Mill Museum, which showcases the workings of a 16th-century grain mill.
Vorder Brüglingen, 4052 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-3-19-97-80
14.Museum of Cultures
© Museum of Cultures
Museum of Cultures is a national Swiss heritage site that was originally founded as the Museum of Natural History and Ethnography in 1844, intended to house a variety of artifacts collected by regional merchants and travelers. In 1904, the museum's ethnography collections were transferred to the care of a different museum department, which became its own independent institution in 1917 that was rebranded as the Museum of Cultures in 1996. Today, it houses significant collections of ancient art and artifacts, with notable holdings from Tibet, Bali, and regions within the South Pacific. More than 300,000 objects are held by the museum, making it the largest museum of its kind in Europe.
Münsterpl. 20, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-66-56-00
15.The Museum Tinguely
© The Museum Tinguely
The Museum Tinguely is a cultural and art museum located within the Solitudepark by the Rhine, opened to the public in 1996. The museum, which was designed by renowned architect Mario Botta, preserves the works of seminal Swiss sculptor and painter Jean Tinguely, known for his unique kinetic art sculptures. More than 55 works by the artist have been donated by his wife, Niki de Saint, along with a variety of illustrations, documents, and photographs related to the artist's work process. In addition to permanent sculpture and historical collections, the museum also showcases a variety of rotating temporary exhibitions dedicated to the work of Tinguely's contemporaries, including modern artists such as Yves Klein and Bernhard Luginbühl.
Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, 4002 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-6-81-93-20
16.The Basel Minster
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The Basel Minster is one of Basel's top landmarks, constructed in parts between 1019 and 1500 as a Catholic cathedral. The history of the site's use as a religious facility dates back to the third century, with its present facility constructed over the remains of the former Haito Minster. The current late Romanesque-style building's structure primarily dates to its 14th-century reconstruction by Johannes Gmünd following the 1356 Basel earthquake, with additional design by Ulrich von Ensingen in 1421. It is most noted as the 1440 site of antipope Felix V's election and served as the main church of the Diocese of Basel until the Reformation. Since the 16th century, the church has been used as the city's main Swiss Reformed Church congregation facility, offering regular services, guest tours, and special concert events throughout the year.
Münsterpl. 9, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
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17.The Natural History Museum of Basel
© The Natural History Museum of Basel
The Natural History Museum of Basel is a Swiss national heritage site that was originally founded as the combined Museum of Natural History and Ethnography in 1844, before the museum's ethnography department split off into the adjacent Museum of Cultures in the 20th century. Today, the prestigious museum holds a massive collection of more than 7.7 million archaeological, anthropological, and natural history artifacts, comprising a combined "Archive of Life" throughout Europe and the world. Special collections focus on areas such as zoology, entomology, paleontology, osteology, and anthropology, with permanent and rotating temporary exhibits showcased throughout the museum. Guided tours of the museum are available for individuals and groups, along with a variety of public special events connected to current events topics and international natural research projects.
Augustinergasse 2, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-66-55-00
18.The Pharmazie-Historisches Museum der Universitat Basel
© The Pharmazie-Historisches Museum der Universität Basel
The Pharmazie-Historisches Museum der Universität Basel, or Museum of Pharmacy of the University of Basel, is home to one of the world's most prestigious and largest collections of pharmaceutical history artifacts and archives, designated as a Swiss national heritage site. The museum was originally founded in 1925 by Swiss pharmacist Josef Anton Häfliger and is housed within the 13th-century Zum Vorderen Sessel historic building, the site of a 16th-century printing press known for its medical printings. Major displays include replica historic pharmacy interiors, a recreated alchemist's laboratory, and large collections of artifacts related to the history of the industry, including pharmaceutical vessels, mortars, and medications. A historic pharmacology book collection is also displayed, along with the world's most extensive collection of materials related to obsolete pre-19th-century medicinal methods.
Totengässlein 3, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-07-48-11
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19.Segway Tours of Old Town Basel
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Segway Tours of Old Town Basel allow visitors to explore the historic sights of beautiful Old Town Basel aboard modern Segway scooters, showcasing landmarks that date back to the 15th century. Tours are offered on weekend afternoons April through October, lasting approximately two and a half hours. All tours are led by experienced tour guides who elaborate on more than 2,000 years of urban history within the region, with an emphasis on important landmarks and tourist locations. Tours begin and end in front of the Swissôtel Le Plaza, with tours available in German, French, and English depending on the needs of each individual tour group. All participants must be at least 16 years old, with the exception of 14-15-year-olds who carry a valid category M moped license. Safety helmets are provided for all participants, along with rain ponchos in the case of inclement weather.
Messeplatz 25, Swissotel Le Plaza, Basel 4058, Switzerland, Phone: +41-8-40-42-42-42
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20.Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel
© Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel
Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel, or the Toy Worlds Museum of Basel, is Europe's largest museum dedicated to the history and preservation of children's toys, sponsored by Gisela Oeri, the president of Basel's local football club. The museum is located at Barfüsserplatz within the city's historic town center and displays more than 6,000 children's toy artifacts, including plush toys, dolls, miniatures, and dollhouses and other play shops. It is most noted for its collection of over 2,500 historic teddy bears, the largest collection of its kind in the world. Special exhibitions of toys are offered on an ongoing basis, with all toys arranged in playtime-themed vignettes. A museum restaurant, Ristorante la Sosta, offers seasonal dishes, while a museum gift store sells a wide variety of toy-related gifts and memorabilia.
Steinenvorstadt 1, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-25-95-95
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21.S AM Swiss Architecture Museum
© S AM Swiss Architecture Museum
S AM Swiss Architecture Museum was founded in 1984 as the Architekturmuseum AM and showcases a variety of permanent and temporary rotating exhibits on architecture, with a focus on current sociopolitical and urban development conversations within the architecture world. The museum is located in a Peter Märkli-designed building within the Kunsthalle Basel and attracts more than 30,000 annual visitors, with collections curated by Andreas Kofler. As Switzerland's leading contemporary architecture museum, the museum strives to bridge the gap between professional architects and the public, offering a variety of guided museum programming related to modern architecture, including podium discussions, workshops, and a variety of special exhibit opening events throughout the year.
Steinenberg 7, 4051 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-61-14-13
22.Tierpark Lange Erlen
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Tierpark Lange Erlen is a public animal park in Basel that was opened in 1871 and has become one of the region's most popular family-friendly tourist attractions. The park is overseen by its sponsor club Erlen-Verein and is open to the public seven days a week during the daytime hours, serving as a partner facility to the Basel Zoo. It is located on a 20-hectare forested site showcasing more than 450 trees, including significant redwood and Rottrauer beech plantings. It is best known for its domestic animal habitats and collections, showcasing rare livestock species such as Grisons rays goats, Swiss chickens, Valais country sheep, and Appenzeller pointed hood chickens. A variety of other livestock breeds are showcased in stables and paddocks, including donkeys, sheep, ponies, and goats. Other exhibits include a sizeable aviary and habitats for animals such as deer, lynx, wildcats, foxes, and reptiles.
Erlenparkweg 110, 4058 Basel, Switzerland, Phone : +41-61-6-81-43-44
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23.Vintage Tram Tours
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Vintage Tram Tours are offered by the City of Basel aboard the city's vintage tram car system, reviving public transportation methods from more than a century ago. Tours are offered daily at four times throughout morning hours, available for passengers of all ages, with babies and young children admitted for free. All tours last approximately one hour and commence at the city's Bahnbof SBB tram stop, located near the Hotel Euler. Experienced tour guides elaborate on the city's history, with commentary provided in German and English. Throughout the summer months, non-guided tours are offered aboard an open summer trailer, giving visitors a chance to experience the city in an open-air car.
Basel 4010, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-68-68-68
24.Walliser Kanne Fondue
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Walliser Kanne Fondue is a fine dining restaurant that has been open in Basel since 1947, specializing in traditional Valais gourmet dishes such as wienerschnitzels prepared tableside. The restaurant utilizes high-quality organic ingredients sourced from local farms, blending contemporary and traditional recipes. It is best known for its cheese fondue dishes, which are available in moitié-moitié, ceps, and Champagne variants, along with all-you-can-eat raclette dishes, Valais charcuterie platters, and specialty fish and poultry dishes boned and sliced tableside. A wine cellar offers Valais, Swiss, Italian, and Bordeaux fines wines, while the Kanne-Bar serves a large selection of cocktails, liquors, and beers. Lunch and dinner service is offered six days a week, with bar service available until midnight every day but Sunday.
Gerbergasse 50, 4001 Basel, Switzerland, Phone: +41-61-2-61-70-17
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25 Best Things to Do in Basel, Switzerland
- The Music Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Jess Wealleans - Fotolia.com
- University of Basel Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of Mellow10 - Fotolia.com
- Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Photo: Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig
- Basel Historical Museum, Photo: Basel Historical Museum
- The Basel Paper Mill, Photo: The Basel Paper Mill
- Basel Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of PattayaPhotography - Fotolia.com
- Basler Personenschifffahrt Cruises, Photo: Courtesy of gevisions - Fotolia.com
- Brewery Fischerstube, Photo: Courtesy of habrda - Fotolia.com
- Cartoonmuseum Basel, Photo: Cartoonmuseum Basel
- Chocolatier Beschle Workshops, Photo: Chocolatier Beschle Workshops
- Der Teufelhof Wine and Cheese Tastings, Photo: Der Teufelhof Wine and Cheese Tastings
- Kunstmuseum Basel, Photo: Kunstmuseum Basel
- Merian Garten, Photo: Courtesy of Christian Bieri - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Cultures, Photo: Museum of Cultures
- The Museum Tinguely, Photo: The Museum Tinguely
- The Basel Minster, Photo: Courtesy of santosha57 - Fotolia.com
- The Natural History Museum of Basel, Photo: The Natural History Museum of Basel
- The Pharmazie-Historisches Museum der Universitat Basel, Photo: The Pharmazie-Historisches Museum der Universität Basel
- Segway Tours of Old Town Basel, Photo: Courtesy of romaset - Fotolia.com
- Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel, Photo: Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel
- S AM Swiss Architecture Museum, Photo: S AM Swiss Architecture Museum
- Tierpark Lange Erlen, Photo: Courtesy of Roger Heil - Fotolia.com
- Vintage Tram Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Mellow10 - Fotolia.com
- Walliser Kanne Fondue, Photo: Courtesy of Tsuboya - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com