Three days in Basel let you explore Switzerland’s culture capital at a relaxed pace; you’ll have time to visit Basel’s many museums and explore the Swiss Alps on a day trip. Here are some ideas for how to spend three days in Basel.
Day 1: Monuments and Museums
A hop-on hop-off bus tour is a stress-free way to get your bearings in Basel. Jump off to stroll around the Old Town and visit Munster Cathedral, and admire historic landmarks such as Rathaus (City Hall), the Gate of Spalen, and the Tinguely Fountain from the top deck.
In the afternoon, visit two or three of Basel’s museums—there are more than 40 to choose from. Highlights include the Fine Art Museum (Kunstmuseum), the Museum Tinguely, and the Natural History Museum. Some museums are equally celebrated for their architecture, so it’s worth stopping by to take a photo even if you don’t have time to explore the exhibitions; the Schaulager Museum, Fondation Beyeler, and the futuristic Vitra Design Museum are notable structures.
End the day with a sunset cruise on the Rhine River and admire the glittering city skyline from the water.
Day 2: An Adventure in the Alps
Basel’s central location makes it a strategic starting point for day trips to Swiss cities such as Zurich, Bern, and Lucerne; it’s also a great base for crossing the border to the Alsace region of France or the Black Forest region of Germany. If you’re planning just one day trip, make it to the Swiss Alps, where snow-covered scenery provides a dramatic contrast to city life.
Nearby Lucerne offers a number of alpine adventures. Day trips from Basel typically include round-trip transport and come in a variety of forms; ride the rotating cable car to the top of Mt. Titlis and then brave a walk across the Titlis Cliff Walk, or opt for a round-trip ride to Mt. Pilatus, during which you ascend via Europe’s steepest cogwheel railway then return by cable car. For the ultimate view, brave a trip to the Top of Europe, Europe’s highest railway station at a dizzying 11,371 feet (3,466 meters), in Jungfraujoch.
Day 3: Basel Like a Local
Spend your final day in Basel exploring the city’s neighborhoods and enjoying a taste of local life. South of the Old Town, the Bruderholz and Dreispitz districts have some of the city’s most unique shops, while nearby Markthalle harbors Basel’s most popular covered market. Here, you can sample food from around the world, as well as Swiss classics such as fondue.
Head back to the Old Town in the afternoon to pick up some edible souvenirs at the city’s famous chocolatiers. A themed walking tour is a great way to learn more about Swiss chocolate; chocolate lovers can even join a truffle-making workshop.
In the evening, cross over the Rhine to Little Basel (Kleinbasel), where you’ll find a large choice of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and live music venues. For the best views of the Rhine River, start your night with a cocktail at Bar Rouge, the city’s highest bar.