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How Many Days in Basel?

We will be on a tour that ends in Basel. We'll have 1 ½ days in Basel (2 nights), with flexible time, even though we will be on a tour. Having never been to Basel before, I don't know if we should add additional nights to our stay. I know Basel is not even mentioned in the Rick Steves Switzerland book, so I purchased Fodor's Essential Switzerland Travel book. A friend of mine was on a river cruise that ended in Basel and she absolutely loved the city. So please convince me that Basel is worthy of several nights and recommendations of things to see and do, please.
Also, thinking that taking the train to another city before departing from a major city appeals to me. I hate early morning departures. If so, any recommendations as to which city to depart from for a flight home to the west coast?

Posted by
251 posts

I'm in Basel usually once a year or so, briefly, for work. My uneducated favorite experiences so far have probably been:

  • Fondation Beyeler - every time I've gone I've loved it.
  • Tea at the Les Trois Rois (note that I can't speak to the afternoon tea, bit spendy for me, but even just enjoying some tea in the lovely atmosphere felt very fancy. Maybe one of these days I'll go wild and go for it)
  • Going inside the Rathaus and checking out the murals and architecture
  • Crossing the river on a little ferry that uses the current - quick but charming!
  • For some reason, the restaurant Tibits. Someone is going to tease me for having this in there, but I love that place. I know it's a chain, but it just appeals to me so much, and is fabulous if anyone in your party is a vegetarian!
Posted by
547 posts

Someone else will have to do the convincing. If it were me, I would head to Bern.

Posted by
2599 posts

My husband was there for a meeting in Oct and said there's nothing there but pharmaceutical companies.

Posted by
9503 posts

You could go to Colmar easily from Basel. Have you been there? You could fly home out of Frankfurt as Condor has a 14:25 departure from FRA to PDX. The train from Colmar to FRA is about 3 hours. Check for train schedules.

Posted by
176 posts

Surely there's someone on the forum that will speak favorably of Basel. Chris from Basel, where are you?

darrenblois: No, we haven't been to Bern. We didn't want to extend our trip at the end of the tour by too many days. We have to head home for "grandparent duty."
Laurel from Lincoln City: Thanks for the suggestion of going to Colmar (I just need to look where that is on Google map later). Flying direct to Portland from Frankfurt sounds wonderful, then a short hop to Medford, since we live in the southern part of Oregon.

Posted by
5538 posts

Why not go on to Luzern instead? Its only about an hour by train, and you can get to the convenient Zurich airport in a bit over an hour by train from there. Luzern is actually in the mountains, which are what Switzerland is famous for. Nothing wrong with Basel, but its just another European city, of which you are likely to have seen many on your tour.

Posted by
24662 posts

I love Basel as I have previously written.

Yup, there is a lot of industry along and just within the French border, but the old city is just beautiful. Before suggesting specific museums it may be worth asking what sort of thing do you like doing or seeing? Modern art, classic art, design, history?

What month is the trip?

Posted by
1670 posts

2 nights in Basel should be enough. The historical center isn't that big (1/2 day at most), then you can add a museum or two, and I don't think you'd feel rushed at all.

Posted by
11905 posts

We spent a night in Basel to break up the journey between Amsterdam and the Berner Oberland. So we had late afternoon and evening, then the next morning before catching the train at 11. This was not enough time to visit any museums ( which we would have liked to do) but my husband did get in a swim in the river ( a popular activity on a summer evening) and we enjoyed the walk around the Old Town in the morning.

But if you choose Colmar ( which is a good suggestion, along with the Condor flight which we did as well), I can highly recommend Reflets Sur la Lauch as a great place to stay.

I gave you the page as they do not have their own website. We had the apartment with a balcony facing the canal and the charming houses opposite. We cooking dinner “in” one night and went out to enjoy an Alsatian dinner the second night. We both loved Colmar.

Posted by
176 posts

stan: We plan to stay in Luzern for three nights prior to our tour although I didn't know that Luzern is in the mountains. I guess I should have checked the altitude. We will be in Switzerland in September.
darrenblois: Ha! Ha! you make a very strong case for Bern. Please do not encourage my "I want to see it all" mentality. As it is, the trip we are planning will be more than 5 weeks in length. But so far, no one here is really overly enthused for Basel, so maybe we could squeeze in a couple of nights in Bern and then fly back to the northwest from Zurich.
Nigel: As our trip will be at the tail end of our 5 week trip, I don't think we will be too interested in spending time in museums. Switzerland is such a beautiful, green, mountainous country that I appreciate being outdoors more than in a museum. But we are very interested in historical places/facts. I think all of Europe is like a giant puzzle and somehow most places have parts of the puzzle.
Colmar does sound quaint and historical, but I think our enthusiasm will be less than 100% for a new area/country.

Posted by
24662 posts

I didn't know that Luzern is in the mountains.

It isn't. Mountains, including Titlis and Rigi, are very close nearby but the city is flat, or nearly so, and you need a train or cable car to reach the mountain tops.

Luzern is on a very large lake, and the ships take you along the lake to see beautiful vistas and mountains.