From its landscapes to its architecture, Basel, Switzerland offers an amazing European experience. My local guide spent a weekend showing me her favorite spots and attractions! If you’re looking for what to do in Basel, I have some recommendations for you.
American Living in Germany: Know Before You Go
Depending on where you live in Germany, this city on the northwestern tip of Switzerland can be a long day trip or a short weekend visit. It’s less than a 6-hour drive from Grafenwoehr, almost a 5-hour drive from Garmisch, and just 3 1/2 hours from Kaiserslautern.
And be sure to buy a vignette when you reach the border. As of 2020, the annual vignette for Switzerland costs 40 Francs. (They don’t sell 10 or 30 day vignettes like Austria and Czech Republic.)
And speaking of Francs, you’ll need some currency! Some places will accept Euros, such as gas stations and tourist shops. But if you don’t want to withdraw cash, most places will also accept card.
Last but not least, bring your tourist passport! Your Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) passport isn’t a valid travel document – it just allows you to reside in Germany.
Where to Eat in Basel
Even though it’s not a major European city, Basel still has a diverse and delicious food scene!
Markthalle has numerous kiosks with a wide variety of cuisines. We had a cheese platter from Mylk, which was coated with juniper berries and fresh herbs – and that was just the board itself. The spread included cheese, chutney, yogurt, and a loaf of bread from the Cool Beans Bakery.
And if you’re craving something untraditionally Swiss, try La Arepera for some South American food.
If you have a chance to eat more than one meal here, the Markthalle also has Indian food, burgers, pizza, and a full bar to enjoy. Vino e/y Vino offers a variety of wines, and will be happy to help you choose your next favorite.
Operating in the same location since 1870, this Swiss chocolate shop comes highly recommended by my local guide! Sit down for a few pieces of your choice, along with a Viennese style coffee, a cup of tea, or even a glass of wine.
Switzerland’s incredibly high production standards are part of what makes their chocolate so exceptional. That, and their innovative obsession with the confection.
Acqua’s terrace is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. But if the weather isn’t agreeable, the interior is just as nice!
The chairs are unusually designed, but are still very comfortable, and the decoration is like something out of a fairy tale book (to be fair, all of Switzerland is basically a fairy tale).
And the food is pretty good, too! This Italian restaurant may not be suitable for children, but I recommend that you treat yourself to a meal and a couple glasses of wine.
What to Do in Basel
After you spend your day walking around and eating great food, you’ll want to dance it off at one of the clubs!
This unique venue is inside of a ship, but has been “decked” out with a top-of-the-line sound system and reconstructed for the best acoustics. Nordstern hosts regular programming every Thursday night, with rotating guests every Friday and Saturday.
If electronic music isn’t your scene, Campari Club is the place to be! The Campari Bar at the Kunsthalle Restaurant transforms into the Campari Club on the last Saturday of every month.
Dance it out to grooves from the 70s, 80s, and 90s or simply enjoy the warm weather on the patio.
Frequently Asked Questions about Basel Food and Travel
Still have questions about visiting Basel? Ask me in the comments!
You have a lot of great options! There are plenty of convenient hotels in Basel Old Town if you want to have quick and easy access to the main attractions. But if you want a quieter (and more affordable) stay, Hotel Maximilian has a beautiful view of the Rhine.
You won’t run out of options if you know where to look! There are a bunch of Basel street food-type options around the Matthäus district, as well as cheap eats throughout the city. And you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants in Basel Old Town, from small cafes to michelin star eateries.
Best Things to Do in Basel!
Basel has so much art, food, and culture for you to experience. Take a weekend to explore this beautiful Swiss city!