Located on the banks of the Rhine, at the border between Switzerland, France and Germany, Basel is a culturally rich city. It is home to world-class museums, outdoor sculptures, theaters, and concert halls. Basel also hosts Art Basel, an international art show for modern and contemporary artists that draws over 60,000 visitors to the city during the four-day event.
And, tourists flock to Basel’s quaint Old Town which contains well-preserved architecture from days gone by. Moreover, Basel’s business district holds a variety of new buildings designed by leading contemporary architects, including the world-famous Herzog and de Meuron (who are also based in Basel).
What to Do in Basel
A veritable arts mecca, Basel is home to numerous museums and galleries. The Kunstmuseum Basel is the oldest museum in Switzerland with a collection featuring everything from the 14th-17th masters to 20th-century paintings. Spend your afternoon in the courtyard in the company of Rodin and Calder’s masterful sculptures. Basel’s zoo, the Zoologischer Garten Basel, is one of the most famous in Europe. It stretches 11 hectares and accommodates over 4,500 animals of 600 species. Zoo Basel is also known for its history of breeding endangered species in captivity. The zoo’s visitor-friendly layout and copious amounts of information on the walls make the visit both enjoyable and educational.
Where to Eat in Basel
The elegant Kunsthalle serves traditional French cuisine and innovative Euro-fusion dishes. In the main dining area, cold dishes are served buffet style and waiters take your order for hot entrées. The à la carte menu in the bar offers the same fare as the main restaurant. Their wine list is comprised of selections from all over Europe, but is definitely heavy on French wines. Pieces from the nearby Kunsthalle (art gallery) are hung on the walls, complimenting the restaurant’s striking décor.
Where to Stay in Basel
For a budget option that’s big on culture, grab a room at Au-Violon, a historic site that was once a 12th-century cloister for priests and, later, a prison from 1835 to 1995. It has since been rehabbed into a trendy hotel and brasserie that serves traditional French cuisine.
Kultur Gasthaus der Teufelhof
Kultur Gasthaus der Teufelhof is a 3-star hotel located in 19th-century private home in the Spalen district. It boasts two restaurants, a cozy bar, and what can only be described as artistic guestrooms. In fact, each room was designed by a different Swiss, Italian or German artist. The accommodations are as comfortable as they are unique, with overstuffed furniture, thick mattresses and modern plumbing.
Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com