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3 days in Basel Before River Cruise

We will be arriving in Basel three days before our river cruise which leaves on October 31. Does anyone have any suggestions on what day trips to take while using Basel as our home base?

Posted by
787 posts

Lucerne has lots to see - the town itself, Mt Pilatus, lake cruise, etc. And the Rhine Falls and
Schaffhausen are relatively close. I'll be going there hopefully in mid Sep at the end of a tour. There are some sites to see in Basel and you get a free public transport card from your hotel.

Posted by
4249 posts

Basel is colorful and very beautiful, but I'd be hard pressed to come up with 3 days of things to do. I would suggest spending a couple days in Luzern. In Basel, make sure to see the rathuis and go behind the cathedral for a lovely view of the river. The Basel tourism office has several self guided walking tours. They kindly sent me a guide and some maps. There is an art museum in Basel that is supposed to be quite good. Bern would make a wonderful day trip. It has a medieval town center with clock tower. Quite a few interesting fountains. The Einstein museum is quite good and you can also see Einstein's house.

Posted by
1202 posts

Colmar, France would make a great day trip! Close by and accessible by either train or car.

Posted by
198 posts

Freiburg im Breisgau is about an hour away on the train and is delightful.

Posted by
6627 posts

Colmar is likely on the river cruise itinerary.

Posted by
46 posts

We stayed in Basel for 5 days in 2018 and it worked well as a base for us. We did a day trip to Colmar (45 mins by train). Had a guide meet us at the train station, he drove us to Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, then to several of the smaller Alsace towns, had lunch, did a wine tasting, etc... tour finished around 4:30 back in Colmar, walked around for a few hours then back to Basel for dinner by 20:00. We also went to Dijon (90-120mins one way), booked a half day Burgundy wine tour, yes we were on the train early, like 7 am, met the group at 9:30, tour finished around 13:00, ate lunch, walked around Dijon a bit then train back, dinner in Basel by 20:00. Other places easily reached by train include in Switzerland: Bern, Murten, Thun, Fribourg. In Germany: Freiburg (Breisgau)

Posted by
113 posts

Basel super! I think Basel is underrated and you could easily spend your time there. Basel Minster, Kunstmuseum Basel, toy museum, town hall, fountains, shopping, and stunning architecture. However, let me second the Freiburg im Breisgau suggestion if you must leave town. Tour the Münster, step over the Bächle, check out the medieval gates, and end with a beer and some sausages on top of the schlossburg at the beer garden (you don't have to even climb take the elevator near the Schwabentor). Whatever you decide I hope you have a great trip. Additionally, if you are a bit more adventurous and want to see some castle ruins skip over to Lörrach, Germany and check out Rötteln Castle.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all for your responses. To Stan: We are trying to decide whether to fly into Basel or Zurich. Do you have any suggestions? Also can anyone suggest a hotel in Basel?

Posted by
4249 posts

We stayed at Motel One. It's a chain in Europe. It was quite nice, central and well priced. We flew into the Basel airport. It was small and super convenient. It didn't take long for us to get the bus and get to city center.

Posted by
2077 posts

I'd fly into Zurich, then train to Lucern for 2-3 nites. Lucerne is a wonderful place to stay. Reserve a hotel on the river with a view of the Chapel Bridge. My recommendation is Hotel Des Alpes, a favorite of the RS Tours, and an upscale hotel.

The Swiss train system is marvelous. Is it easy to access from the Zurich airport. The Basel airport is small, and I would guess connections by air would take much more time than the direct trains.

Of course, from Zurich you could take an hour train to either Basel, Bern, or Lucerne.

Safe travels

Posted by
6627 posts

fhartman849, I would do what Pat says. You can get direct flights from the US to Zurich, but not to Basel, so choices and fares will likely be better. And yes, Luzern is best place to stay those extra days, as it is on a lake in mountains. Its only about 1 1/2 hours by train from Luzern to Basel, so you can easily meet your cruise the day of. Basel is an OK place, just not that scenic since its not in the mountains.

I infer that you are making your own air arrangements, versus the cruise company? I know Viking (and I assume others) that include airfare can work with you to customize your flight schedules to accommodate extra days, or different departure cities. But their extra day hotel packages before and after and way too expensive, and better done on your own.

Posted by
780 posts

I recommend what we did in similar circumstances, which is fly into Basel, stay in Basel, visit Bern as a day trip one day, spend the rest of your time in Basel.

Basel is a unique airport, being actually in France. When you land, you can decide to go out the French side (staying in France), or in your case going out the Swiss side (never technically entering France) which for customs and immigration purposes is part of Switzerland. There is a dedicated "customs road" from the airport to Basel, so that you don't have to legally enter France and then enter Switzerland.

Basel itself is underrated, as has been mentioned. For just 3 nights I would not recommend moving to base yourself anywhere else, its just too much hassle, travel, unpacking, packing and extra travel.

For a day trip, Bern is ideal. Switzerland's best city IMO and only about an hour from Basel. Zurich, Lucerne and some of the other places recommended by other posters are significantly further from Basel.

Posted by
1759 posts

Another vote for Pat. Fly into Zurich, take the train directly to Lucerne and spend your time there before taking the train to Basel. Very easy and lots to see. We stayed at the Hotel des Alpes, 5 minute walk from the train station and overlooking the bridge. We loved the Rhine River cruise we did in 2017, hope you do too!