The city of Basel, located close to France and Germany and with excellent weather all year round, is known for its vibrant lifestyle and contrasting cultural traditions. Old and new are juxtaposed throughout Basel’s cosmopolitan landscape. It is located on the Rhine River.
Basel is also known as Switzerland’s cultural capital. It has more than 40 museums, including the Kunstmuseum, the Fondation Beyeler, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Additionally, it hosts Art Basel, an international art fair that attracts thousands of artists, art collectors, and art enthusiasts from Europe, the US, and Asia.
Basel is not just a cultural city. The city is also home to some world-renowned institutions, such as the University of Basel, the Bank of International Settlements, and FC Basel. A number of the world’s top pharma companies are based in Basel, including Roche, Novartis, the Lonza Group, and Actelion.
Whether you’re looking for a 1-day itinerary or a list of things to do in Basel, Switzerland this article is for you. Here are a few ideas for how you can spend one day in Basel.
Basel One Day Itinerary: What can you do?
1. Start Your Day With a Cozy Breakfast
In case your hotel doesn’t offer a breakfast option, you can walk around Basel to find a cafe. It is important to find a warm, cozy place to eat breakfast before heading out for sightseeing.
Basel has plenty of cafes and restaurants that serve hot coffee with delicious pastries. Some recommended coffee shops are listed below:
- XOXO Café Bar (Barfüsserpl. 3, Basel) – A very nice coffee shop with new modern interiors, friendly staff, and an amazing location in the heart of the city. They have a small outdoor area and competitive prices.
- «BarFüssli» Gottlieber Sweets & Coffee Basel (Orell Füssli, 1. Stock, Freie Str. 17, 4001 Basel) – Located inside Orell Füssli, it is a quiet coffee shop where you would be welcome to read a book and enjoy Gottlieber sweets. You are welcome to buy and try other Gottlieber Hüppen here.
- Kaffee Macher (Güterstrasse 115 Passarelle Bahnhof SBB, 4053 Basel) – Rated as one of the best coffee shops in Basel, it is also right at the Basel train station. If you are coming by train or in a rush, you can quickly grab a cup of coffee here too.
- Finkmüller Coffee & Fine Foods (Markthalle Basel) – The perfect coffee shop for a morning cup of joe. They offer gluten-free and milk options, as well as croissants. The Basel train station is only a couple of minutes away from this coffee shop.
After having your breakfast, I suggest that you make your way to Basel’s Old Town before proceeding to the Basel Minster.
2. Explore the Old Town of Basel Before Lunch
Because Basel Minster opens starting at 10:00 am (summer) or 11:00 am (winter), it would be a good idea to go around Basel’s Old Town for 30 to 90 minutes before going heading to Basel Minster.
The city of Basel has prepared 5 different walks ranging from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, with each tour going to various places in the city. Here is a short summary of each tour:
|Tour Name||Duration (in minutes)||Sights|
|Erasmus Walk||30 minutes||Basel Cathedral Hill, Markplatz, Freie Strasse (shopping street)|
|Burckhardt Walk||45 minutes||Freie Strasse (shopping street), Barfüsserkirche (church), Historic Museum of Basel, Tinguely fountain, Heuberg, Spalenberg|
|Platter Tour||45 minutes||Business District, Spalenberg, Spalentor City Gate, Peterplatz, Gothic Peterskirche, Marktplatz|
|Paracelsus Tour||60 minutes||Martinskirche, Leonhardskirche, Lohnhof, Music Museum, Marktplatz|
|Holbein Tour||90 minutes||Old Town, Münsterplatz, Art Museum Basel, Cartoonmuseum Basel, Paper Mill, Marktplatz|
You can find more information about the various Basel Walks on the city’s website.
There is also a self-guided audio tour offered by Viator in Basel at a reasonable price, which you may find worthwhile. Click here if you want to learn more – The Best of Basel’s Hidden Treasures: A Self-Guided Audio Tour.
3. Discover the Basel Minster
After finishing your walk, you can proceed to the Basel Minster. You can visit the cathedral once it opens at 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m.
The Basel Minster (in German Basler Münster) is a fascinating example of how history can be told through architecture and can be found in Switzerland. The former Catholic church, built between the years 1019 and 1500 in Romanesque and Gothic styles, is nowadays a Reformed Protestant Church.
Prior to the Reformation, Basel Minster was the church of the bishop and the main church of the Diocese of Basel, whose metropolitan bishop was the Archbishop of Besançon. Today, you can still go to church here on Sundays. There’s also a chance to climb the towers for a beautiful view of Basel and the Rhine.
I suggest you grab a quick lunch before visiting one of Basel’s 40 museums. On Sundays, you can dine on the boat during a cruise while having brunch.
4. Visit One of Basel’s Best Museums
If you have time after lunch, I suggest visiting one of Basel’s many museums. Below are a few of my favorites, but there are many more in Basel.
- Fondation Beyeler – Switzerland’s most visited art museum, Fondation Beyeler was founded by Swiss collectors and philanthropists Ernst and Hildy Beyeler. Basel-born art collector Ernst Beyeler created the foundation with his wife to showcase the private collection he accumulated over his career, valued at US$1.85 billion at his death.
- Jean Tinguely Museum – The Museum Tinguely is an art museum in Basel, Switzerland that exhibits the works of Swiss painter and sculptor Jean Tinguely. Designed by Ticinese architect Mario Botta, the museum was opened in 1996 in Solitudepark by the Rhine. The museum displays sculptures, letter drawings, documents, exhibition posters, catalogs, and photographs. Visitors can view the exhibits to gain a comprehensive view of all phases of Jean Tinguely’s career.
- Kunstmuseum Basel – It has the oldest public art collection in the world. The art museum in Basel is considered to be one of the most important art museums in Switzerland.
If you come in June, you can also visit Art Basel at Messe Basel. Art Basel is an international, private art fair that is a global platform for the arts that brings together artists and galleries from all around the world.
TIP: If you stay overnight in Basel, you’ll get a BaselCard that allows you to visit museums for half the cost. So don’t be shy to ask if the hotel reception desk doesn’t offer it.
5. Embark on a City Cruise from Basel Schifflände
You can visit the Rhine after you visit one of the museums. The ship does serve brunch every Sunday, so you can switch it up – have brunch first, do something else in the afternoon (like a museum), then head for dinner later.
Take a boat tour down the Rhine and see landmarks like the Cathedral and the Roche Towers, the scenic Old Town houses on the banks of the Rhine, and more. They leave once an hour from Basel Schifflände for short port and city cruises.
You can check the details on this page: Boat trips on the Rhine.
6. Spend Your Evening Enjoying a Sumptuous Dinner
Before ending your day in Basel, you have several choices for a sumptuous dinner. Restaurants like Cheval Blanc, Restaurant Schlüsselzunft, and LA Restaurant are just some of the highly-rated choices for you.
The following restaurants have different opening hours and days. Be sure to check them out.
If you are looking for a place where you can have a nice meal in Basel, we recommend the following restaurants:
|Cheval Blanc by Peter Knogl||A highly-rated Michelin-starred restaurant, Cheval Blanc serves French and European cuisine inside Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois.||Hotel Les Trois Rois |
|Hostaria||A small restaurant serving food from Poschiavo and Valtellina, Italy. Fantastic homemade pasta and fresh, delicious food, and friendly service.||Birsig-Parkpl. 20, |
|Stucki – Tanja Grandits||A Michelin-starred restaurant by famous Swiss chef Tanja Grandits. Tasteful dishes and an elegant atmosphere.||Bruderholzallee 42, 4059 Basel|
|Restaurant Schlüsselzunft||An upscale Gilde restaurant located in the heart of Basel’s historic city center. Gorgeous interiors and excellent service.|| Freie Str. 25, |
|Restaurant Safran Zunft Basel||Swiss fine dining restaurant located inside a beautiful historical guild house with murals. It is also a Gilde restaurant.||Gerbergasse 11, |
|LA Restaurant||A trendy, fusion restaurant for those who want something a bit different.||St. Johanns-Vorstadt 13, 4056 Basel|
|Le Rhin Bleu||Unlike other fine dining restaurants, Le Rhin Bleu serves typical Mediterranean food. Come here with friends and family in the summer if you want the best location in Basel. Le Rhin Bleu is a terrace set above the Rhine River right next to the local beach. Don’t forget to make a reservation.||St. Alban-Rheinweg 195, 4052 Basel|
|Markthalle Basel||An indoor food court near the train station is perfect for a quick bite. Perfect for a group of friends who have different tastes. There are different choices such as Thai, Afghan, Vietnamese, and more.||Viaduktstrasse 10, |
Recommended Hotels in Basel
Should you need some assistance choosing a hotel in Basel, here are some suggestions:
- Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois (5-star) – Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois is one of Europe’s oldest city hotels. Ideally located within the Old Town of Basel, the hotel offers fantastic views of the Rhine. This elegant hotel has excellent service, an exquisite dining experience, and well-appointed amenities.
- Hotel Märthof Basel (4-star) – Hotel Märthof Basel, located in the heart of Basel near Marktplatz, is one of the best hotels in town. Featuring beautiful rooms, a 24-hour front desk, a business center, a spa center, and a terrace, you won’t regret booking here.
- GAIA Hotel (4-star) – GAIA Hotel is a family-run hotel located right across from Basel Main Train Station, only a 10-minute walk from the historic city center.
- Mövenpick Hotel Basel (4-star) – Located near Basel Train Station, this contemporary hotel offers captivating vistas of Basel. Guests are afforded complimentary city transport passes, a delightful breakfast selection, and immaculate rooms, making for a truly gratifying stay experience.
- Motel One (3-star hotel) – Right at Barfüsser Platz, Motel One Basel is a contemporary hotel with fashionable interiors and unbeatable prices.
Summary: 1 Day in Basel, Switzerland
As you can see, you will not run out of options on what to do in Basel in one day. You can stretch the Basel One Day Itinerary offered here easily to another 1 or 2 more days.
If you happen to be in Basel during the Carnival, be sure to check it out. Basel Carnival (or Basler Fasnacht) is the largest carnival in Switzerland. It takes place annually over 72 hours from February to March. Since 2017, it has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.
In case you need other ideas on what to do in Basel, check out our additional checklist below:
- Zoo Basel – Switzerland’s oldest zoo that contains 7,554 animals from 543 different species.
- Basel Paper Mill – Swiss Museum for Paper, Writing, and Printing. This museum is dedicated to the art of printing and writing.
- Lange Erlen Animal Park – A free animal park in Basel with animals such as deer, wisent, fox, goat, rabbit, and more.
- Museum of Natural History Basel – A natural history museum that houses collections from zoology, mineralogy, paleontology, and more. It has over 7.7 million objects.
- Freie Strasse – Basel’s shopping street with brands such as H&M, Zara, Swatch, Apple, Cartier, Bucherer, Apple, and more.
- Jewish Museum of Switzerland – The first Jewish Museum in German-speaking Europe after the Second World War.
- Cartoon Museum Basel – A fun museum devoted to the art of drawing such as comics, graphic novels, cartoons, and animated films.
Around Basel, there are also beautiful towns to visit such as Rheinfelden, Laufenburg, and more. In case you would like to venture further afield, we’ve also compiled a list of 10 of the best day trips from Basel.
- Zurich to Basel Train: All You Need To Know
- Geneva to Basel Train: All You Need To Know
- Top 8 Things to Do in Basel on a Rainy Day
- 8 Beautiful Towns Near Basel, Switzerland
- 10 Best Day Trips from Basel
- Zoo Basel – An Honest Review
- Art Basel – The Most Influential Art Fair in the World
- Fondation Beyeler – Among Switzerland’s Most Visited Museums
- Wasserfallen – Basel’s Beautiful Ridge In Swiss Jura
- When Is the Best Time to Visit Basel, Switzerland?
Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.