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Basel as home base

Our family will be traveling to Switzerland for the first time this spring and Basel will be our home base. We will have my 73 yo mom (who might need lots of rest) with us and also three kids age range from 8-12. Can anyone recommend some worthy short trips from Basel via train or bus? Mom likes artistic things while the kids enjoy nature. I also would like to take the kids to see some castles if there are any nearby. Also interested to take the train from Basel to Paris or cities in Germany, not sure which cities are easiest and safest to get to.

Are there any short Rhine cruises we can just take for fun for a day? We will be there for about two weeks.
Thank you.

Posted by
34 posts

In a few days, we'll be going to Colmar, France and I'm very excited.

We're in Italy now, but we'll change trains in Basel so I can tell you it's a 45 minute train from Basel to Colmar and the trains run about every 30 minutes.

Colmar looks beautiful. We're not there yet, so I'm not sure how it would be for a daytrip, but it's worth looking into!

The Basel-Colmar train is about €14/16CHF each way. The route also goes on to Strasbourg, which is beautiful, too.

Posted by
5697 posts

FYI, train to Paris is 3+ hours each way, so NOT a quick day trip.

Posted by
396 posts

Bern and Lucerne would be easy (ca 1hr) to reach from Basel and both are "must see" places in my book. If the weather is good in Lucerne, there would also be the option to easily add some mountain scenery (Mt. Pilatus or Stanserhorn) or do a lake cruise. If the kids are history-lovers, your group may also enjoy a day trip to Augusta Raurica, only 10 minutes by train from Basel followed by a 15 minute walk. This is a huge open-air Roman archaeological site with impressive ruins, Roman house museum, animal park, etc.

As for castles, Switzerland does not have the same 'storybook castles' like you find in England or Germany, but you could consider Lenzburg castle (45 mins direct train from Basel). This could be difficult for your mom as it's up a large hill, but you may be able to taxi most of the way up. There is also the Hallwyl castle, which is very picturesque and on flatter ground. Should take about 1hr 20 mins from Basel via train and bus. Both options are open from April 1 and offer discounted family tickets. Both also have nice cafes to sit down in if legs get tired.

If you want to go to Germany or France for day trips, your best bets would be Colmar (charming old town) in France and/or Freiburg in Germany (nice university city with cathedral - look into Baden-Württemberg Ticket offer which gives a group discount on local trains). You could also get to Strasbourg (beautiful cathedral and historic city center) or Dijon in about 1 1/2 hours. Heidelberg in Germany is about 2 1/2 hours away, which is pushing it a bit for a day trip.

There are regular short "day trip" cruises in Basel along the Rhine from a 1hr city roundtrip (from mid-April) to a 2+ hour route along the Rhine - some info here

Hope that helps get you started...

Posted by
7565 posts

Your plan is a little odd, because Switzerland is so expensive and Basel is so unlike the more scenic (and distant) parts of the country. Month of the year makes a difference. The most scenic part of the Rhine is in Germany, from Bingen to Boppard.

Read up on the Vitra Design Museum and campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany.

Edit: In addition to Colmar, I would mention that we didn't have time to see Le Corbusier's famous chapel in Ronchamp. That's a special-interest stop, but you have two weeks. Are you planning to sleep in Basel every single night? As others noted, Basel is near only one major city, Zurich, which isn't as interesting as Lucerne (in season.) Make sure any mountain you go to has opened for the season before you travel. It's quite unrealistic to think of visiting Paris from Basel.

Posted by
12040 posts

Here's a website that lists some of the tourable castles of Swizterland. The only one I have visited is Habsburg, which was the ancestoral home of the powerful Hapsburg family, and is partially ruined.

Some long-distance Rhine cruises depart from Basel, but I don't think day cruises routinely operate on this section of the river. This part of the Rhine isn't particularly scenic. It could just as well be any river in the industrialized world.

For nature, spring isn't a good time for excusions to the Alps, but the lower Swiss Jura mountains, which are closer to Basel anyway, should provide some hiking opportunities. The high peaks of the Black Forest and Vosges mountains in Germany and France, respectively, aren't too far away either.

Posted by
16894 posts

In France, you can get to the Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg with a 1-hour regional train to Selestat and then a shuttle bus from there. Shuttle is predicted to run every day in April but only on weekends in March; see approximate details on the link (not yet updated for 2017).