Basel is one of Europe's most up-and-coming cities. As Switzerland’s third largest city, behind Zurich and Geneva, it is perhaps the most international. Thanks to suburbs that extend into both France and Germany, it features an array of cultural influences that come together to form its unique metropolitan character. Active travelers will love exploring the city’s spectacular botanical garden and its many public parks located along the scenic banks of the Rhine. Basel’s Old Town also offers a walkable, historic city center with many shops and restaurants. VBT Travelers on our new Alsace & The Black Forest: La Route des Vins can spend some time exploring Basel if you opt for either our Air Package Plus or Pre-trip extension. Here’s why Basel is a city you do not want to miss out on…
Taking a stroll through the Old Town is a great way to both get the lay of the land for the duration of your stay, but also to see some of the Basel’s most fascinating historical sites. From your hotel, simply walk downhill to the Marktplatz—the market place that serves as the center of the old town. It’s a great place to converse with locals and find vendors selling goods like fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The Rathaus—or City Hall—dominates the east side of the Marktplatz with its imposing red, Art Nouveau façade. Basel’s city council has met here since the 14th Century and is the location where the council decided to join the Swiss Confederation in 1501.
Another impressive site to check out is the Basel Münster. Perhaps the most iconic building in Basel, the Münster’s red sandstone walls have stood since 1356. Visitors can walk up the 242 stairs in either of the two towers to be rewarded with spectacular views of the Black Forest, Jura, and Vosges mountains, as well as a bird’s eye view of Basel.
Arts & Entertainment
Art lovers will rejoice to find out that Basel is home to Switzerland’s highest concentration of museums and also boasts internationally recognized theater, orchestra, and choral performances. “Art Basel,” which takes place in June, is the world’s premier international art show for modern and contemporary works. The most noteworthy museum in Basel is the Kunstmuseum Basel, or Museum of Fine Arts, which is the world’s longest continuously opened public museum (after it was purchased by the city in 1661). Noted exhibits include works by Grunewald, Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso, van Gogh, and more.
Beer aficionados shouldn’t miss a visit the famed Ueli Bier brewery. You can sample the beers, tour their cellars, or simply sit in their brewery and enjoy a pint straight from the cask. Afterwards, take a stroll over the Mittlere Brücke back to the Marktplatz and to your hotel.
Where You’ll Stay
VBT guests will stay in one of two centrally-located hotels. Both are located a few blocks apart in Basel’s Old Town between the University of Basel and the south bank of the Rhine. The Hotel Basel is the town’s premier 4-star hotel, ideally located in the heart of the pedestrian old town, just steps from the Marktplatz. The hotel boasts several restaurants, including the outdoor Le Boulevard terrace, and you can enjoy breakfast in a remodeled wine cellar.
Alternately, the Hotel Der Teufelhof Basel, which translates as “the Devil’s Courtyard,” is a far cry from perdition. Also located in Basel’s historic center, the Teufelhof offers two restaurants, a theater, and art gallery all under one roof. This 33-room hotel also has a distinct gastronomic focus with the Michelin-starred Bel Etage restaurant, plus the Atelier which offers indoor and outdoor seating.
Resources for Planning Ahead
Our pre-tour and air package plus both offer a free Basel transportation pass valid for the duration of your stay, which offers access to the cities extensive tram and bus lines. We recommend exploring the areas closer to the hotel on foot and using the very efficient public transportation system to travel farther afield. For an alternate view of Basel, walk to the Basel Schifflände—or boat landing—and buy a riverboat ticket at the dock. You can plan to have lunch or a snack onboard since most of the boats have simple restaurants. And because all have different levels of decks and lots of windows, you'll enjoy wide-angle views of the remarkable Rhine, including the locks at Birsfelden on the way to Rhinefelden. For detailed information on the city, please visit here. It is a great resource for finding out the attractions' opening days and times.
To learn more about VBT’s Alsace & The Black Forest: La Route des Vins biking vacation, including a daily itinerary and all available 2016 departure dates, please click here. To request a free VBT catalog in either print or digital format, please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please fill out this form or call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.