Places to visit in Basel

Old Town, Spalentor, Basel Minster, Basel Zoo, Jewish Museum, Spielzeug Welten Museum, The Museum Of Antiquities And The Ludwig Collection, Basel Papermill museum, Historical Museum, Basel town hall and Marktplatz.

Basel is the third-largest town in Switzerland, settled on the Rhine river; this town is close to Germany and France. There are abundant places to visit in Basel which boast of its strong history in its architecture, museums and the atmosphere.

A great way to commence the city's exploration would be by taking the tour of the charming lanes of Old Town and witnessing the alluring Gate of Spalen. If you are keen about history and food you should visit the Marktplatz piazza, a colourful marketplace with medieval architecture, it is the perfect amalgamation of the two which will leave you pleasantly surprised.

The City Hall (Rathaus) is also edged here, and you will also find an abundance of other attractions scattered all around Marktplatz. There are still many tourist attractions in Basel to check out, once you are done exploring the quaint historic town.

You could start by looking up the art and historical artefacts that are displayed in the many museums Basel has. The Kuntsmuseum, Genetwartz Museum and Jean Tinguely Museum are some with a vast range of exhibits. While at it, a unique museum of Switzerland, Spielzeug Welten Museum has the largest display of toys, which makes it one of the must-visit places here.

Another exciting place to spend your day at is the Basel Zoo, first opened in 1874; it is the oldest and one of the largest in Switzerland. It houses many different animals, including some endangered species as well. Furthermore, you should also take a visit to the Tinguely Fountain for an eye-catching experience.

Apart from these, there are still so many places one can visit in Basel, like Foundation Beyeler, Basel Papermill museum, Jewish Museum Basel. Also, if you are in Basel during the Fasnacht Festival celebrations, you shouldn't give it a miss.

Here are some of the best places to visit in Basel:

Old Town
Old Town within Basel will take you back to the 15-century with its eccentric and still intact architecture. You will find buildings in every nook and cranny that were designed by world-renowned architects. Amongst the most compelling monuments here is the Cathedral.

The town is rather small and is best travelled on foot, with the medieval style streets and squares it is actually quite fun. The town's cityscape is an unexpected blend of traditional and modern that compliments the overall vibe, making it one of the Places to visit in Basel.

While here, take a look at the beautiful fountains, including the one by Holbein, the Spalen Gate and the olden streets like Andreasplatz, Petersplatz etc. You can do this by taking any of the five walking tours of this historical town or go on your own little adventure.

Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- Free (Tours are paid)
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Basel Papermill Museum
The Basel Papermill Museum (Papiermuhle) is an old mill that was converted into the National Museum for Paper, Writing and Typography in Switzerland. The Paper Museum, which is located on an old canal, has a fully working water-wheel along with functioning machines and other tools as part of the exhibit.

Also known as the Swiss Museum for Paper, it is divided into four floors presenting workshops displaying the process of papermaking and manufacturing. The Museum also arranges hands-on tours of informative exhibits where people of all ages can participate in the process of making handmade paper, to converting it into a book.

There is also an interesting display of primitive beings using pictographs to communicate, hence it is one of the places to visit in Basel.
Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- CHF 15
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Town Hall
The Rathaus (City Hall) was replaced by the new building after the major earthquake to restore the former seat of government. It was after Basel joined the Swiss Confederation that the front of the building was redone with a new structure within the Marktplatz Piazza.

The completion of the entire City hall has taken centuries, with works done by various artists over the years, like at the beginning of the 17th-century the city hall was extended and artist Hans Bock decorated the façade. In the 1900s the building was further extended. 

An astonishing design, the mix of art and architecture of the Rathaus is part of its history. This magnificent chamber of Politics attracts tourists from all over the world. The council chamber, the stunning inner courtyard, romantic arcades and the tower along with The crenellation being adorned by coats of Basel and 11 members of the original Confederation. The City Hall is an important heritage site for Basel and one of the top tourist places in Basel.

Best time to Visit- July - September
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This medieval age market square is immensely popular for its colourful buildings and astir crowd of grocery shops and stalls. When you enter this stately piazza, the first thing that takes notice is the Town Hall (Rathaus) with its 16th-century striking red façade, making it one of the Places to Visit in Basel.

The market takes place every day of the week and is exceptionally busy on Saturdays. The Marktplatz has fresh and local organic produce like Fruits, vegetables, flowers, honey, coffee, meat, handicrafts, wine and a lot more being sold here.

You can also find a lot of Swiss specialities here. While enjoying the fresh eats, you can walk through lanes laced with centuries-old houses in Leonhardsberg and Splanberg, an erstwhile artisan district to get to The Spalentor which is 400m from the Marktplatz.

Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- Free
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For art lovers from around the world and most of Europe, Kunstmuseum Basel remains one of the most significant museums. With art collections for over seven centuries amassed in one place, Kunstmuseum Basel receives hundreds of art enthusiasts, art students and researchers every day.

It displays the pieces from the middle ages to the present. The museum proudly exhibits 4,000 paintings, 300,000 drawings and prints, sculptures, and installations collected over centuries. With exemplary art pieces of medieval period by the likes of the Holbein family, Martin Schongauer, Lucas Caranch the Elder, Rembrandt Van Rijn, and Casper Wolff Kunstmuseum Basel is the oldest museum in Switzerland.

Due to its impressively massive historic collection of art and sculptures, Kunstmuseum Basel is now catalogued as Heritage Site of National Significance. It is a register that keeps the record of the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance. Kunstmuseum Basel is one of 8,300 items around Switzerland that holds cultural significance.

For the art students and researchers, the museum is undoubtedly one of the leading establishments for inspiration and history. Not only it displays the largest collection of works of the Holbein family, but it also displays various works of modern art by German-Jewish artists from 1939 that Nazi-Regime in German regarded as degenerate art.

It was saved by the Kunstmuseum, brought to Switzerland and it is still on display till today. Apart from all the permanent collections from different centuries, Kunstmuseum Basel also carries out art exhibitions from time and again. The main building of the museum was designed during 1931-1936, which has now been extended by 2,750 square meters of the gallery.
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Basel Minster
Basel Minister (Basler Munster) was a Catholic Church built between the years 1019 to 1500, it is now a Reformed Protestant Church and amongst the top places to visit in Basel. This impressive Cathedral was rebuilt after it was destroyed in an earthquake during 1356.

The design of the Basel Minister with the red walls and colourful roofs with sculpture is a mix of Gothic style exteriors, and Romanesque interiors which makes this a heritage landmark of the City. Within the Cathedral is the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam, a crypt, The Gallus gate, figures of St. George slaying a dragon etc. that gives an insight into the elaborate construction of the Church that took centuries.

The Piazza of the Cathedral is famous for hosting concerts, meets and other events. The Pfalz - the terrace and the Gothic towers are great spots for the stunning views of the Rhine river and is one of the more popular places amid tourists.
Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- Free
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Spielzeug Welten Museum
The Spielzeug Welten Museum also known as Toy Worlds Museum Basel is the biggest in all of Europe. It is your all your childhood under one roof, as the name suggests this Museum has the largest exhibit of toys. There are also themed exhibits that take place regularly, and the Museum remains open on all days.

The place excites not only the kids but also adults with its wide range of dolls, dollhouses, plush animals, miniature motor vehicle, shop models and more. The Museum is located in the centre of the City, with four floors the museum houses more than 6000 toys at the display.

There is a teddy gallery, the biggest one actually, with a collection of over 2500 teddy bears. This collection is especially famous for the quality and variety of unique conglomeration. Apart from the toys, the Museum also has rides for all its visitors to enjoy.  
Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- CHF 7
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Spalentor also called the "Gate of Spalen" is one of the three surviving gates, with a facade facing away from the City, Spalentor is decorated with the figures of the Madonna and two prophets. The once-grand wall, bearing six such portals in the 15th century was demolished in the 19th century, destroying three gates. The fortification of the town was done as a protection measure, making these gates the main entrance to the City.

The Spanlentor has become an essential landmark over time; it is one of the most glorious gates that is also one of the leading Tourist attractions in Basel. The gate has the 15th century St. Peter's Church and the 16th Century Botanical Garden on either side along with an old letterbox with the Basel pigeon emblem and a clock to admire.

Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- Free
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The Museum Of Antiquities And The Ludwig Collection
The Museum of Antiquities and the Ludwig Collection is also known as Antikenmuseum and the Sammlung Ludwig, was founded in the year 1961, a site of national significance, it is one of the many museums that the city of Basel has.

The artwork in the museum is dedicated exclusively to the antiquities of ancient civilization dating from 4000 BC to the 7th- century AD. A one of a kind museum in Switzerland, it displays works from the Mediterranean region mainly from 1000 BC to 300 AD.

Among others include Greek sculpture and vases, A section for Ancient Egyptian, Italian and Cyprus works of art. The museum is amongst one of the places to visit in Basel for its historical importance. Incredible displays of jewellery made of gold and bronze, sculptures made of clay and other antiques can be viewed. Skulpturhalle Basel, situated near Basel University, is a sculpture museum that is also managed by The Museum of Antiquities.

Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- CHF 20
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Basel Zoo
The most visited tourist attraction of Switzerland, Basel Zoo is situated in the northwest of the country. Sharing its borders with foreign nations, the zoo receives a great footfall from France and Germany. Although renowned by the name Basel Zoo, the official name of the zoo is Zoologischer Garten Basel, which means Basel Zoological Garden in German. 

Located on the banks of the Rhine River in the city of Basel, the zoo is counted among the largest and the oldest Zoos in Switzerland. With organised layouts and segregated categories, the zoo promises to be one of the most educative and fun experiences not only for kids but even for young grown ups. 

Beside these, the zoo also has a reputation for being one of the best breeders in the world along with having one of the perfect botanical gardens inside it. All these factors make this place rank way higher than even the snow-covered Alps.

You can find over a hundred different species of exotic animals and birds from various different corners of the world. These species include Amazon Tree Boa, Bar-headed Goose, Cuckoo Catfish, Flamingo, Four-eyed Fish, Guinea Pig, Harvester Ant and many more. Around 1.8 million visitors per year visit the zoo to witness these species in their natural habitat.
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Historical Museum
The Basel Historical Museum first opened in the year 1894, it is one of the largest museums in Switzerland and is a heritage site of National importance. The Historical Museum has three sites- Barfüsserkirche, Haus Zum Kirschgarten, and Musikmuseum. Each is displaying a collection of a different theme.

Hence, they are amongst the list of places to see in Basel. A visit to all three museums is a delight and a dive into the history of Basel and Europe. Barfüsserkirche, which means (Barefeet Church) is located in the city centre and displays the collection of Upper Rhine’s most comprehensive cultural history.

Haus Zum Kirschgarten was built from 1777 to 1780 for Basel’s trim and ribbon industry, and it is a gorgeous piece of architecture. The museum has 50 exhibition rooms out of which most are dedicated to showing the 18th and 19th-century simple living spaces in Basel. The displays have a professional collection of paintings, porcelain, furniture and toys.

Musik museum showcases the history of European music of five centuries in the exhibitions that have three main theme points- The Instruments from the 16th to the 20th century; choirs, Concerts and dance; and Parades, ceremony and signal-to-noise. If you are a melomaniac of sorts, then you are sure to enjoy the museum’s informative tour.

Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee-
- Musikmuseum: CHF 15 
- Barfüsserkirche: CHF 10
- Haus Zum Kirschgarten: CHF 10
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Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum fur Gegenwartskunst opened in the year 1980 is a branch of the Kunstmuseum Basel and is exclusively dedicated to contemporary art. Located on St. Alban-Rheinweg, it is now known as Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart and is one of the Places to see in Basel.

The museum was established by the works of Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation which was also exhibited at Schaulager, the Christoph Merian Foundation, and the Canton of Basel-Stadt. Besides that, the works of acclaimed International and Swiss artists are on display at the Generwart, which includes paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, and new media.

Apart from the main exhibits, the museum also hosts temporary shows, lectures, panel discussions on issues in contemporary art, and guided tours of select exhibitions to which you can buy the tickets.

Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- CHF 16
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Jewish Museum
Founded in the year 1966, the Basel Jewish Museum has since collected a historical collection of Jewish religious significance and everyday life fragments. Over the years it has emerged as one of the notable tourist attractions in Basel. The Museum completed its 50 years in 2016 and added a display of select artefacts like the everyday objects, ceremonial objects, fabrics and a Torah ark from a former synagogue's prayer room in Solothurn.

The Jewish Museum should be visited since, for the first time, a sequential exhibition is introduced to shed light on the Jewish history of Basel and Switzerland. The Museum has preserved Hebrew books that were printed in the Basel printing house, essential documents from the two World Wars, tombstones from the Middle Ages among other materials from the past.

Best time to Visit- July - September
Entry fee- CHF 12
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Jean Tinguely Museum
Designed by a famous architect Mario Botta, Jean Tinguely museum is one of its kind museums which is filled with artistic concoctions of sculptures created by a renowned scientist, Jean Tinguely. Basel is the hometown of Jean Tinguely and the museum is in a way tribute to his glorious work. The museum holds the collection of all kinds of varied machine sculptures created by the scientist throughout his career. 

The most eccentric part about these sculptors is that they are kinetic based and buttons next to each sculptor can set them in motion for a period of time. It is a delightful experience to watch the artifacts shake, twirl, move, make noise and more. All these sculptures are made out of interesting machines which are assembled out of different random materials like horns, iron, plastic, skulls and more. 

Apart from the work of Jean Tinguely, the museum also features some of his partners' Niki de Saint Phalle’s work. One can see a series of beautiful and colorful statues of oversized women. The Italian Architect has done tremendous work in making this structure beautiful inside out. The museum comes with a garden on the side with an impressive fountain located at the center and striking flora spread across a wide area.
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Fondation Beyeler
A sought-after museum in the medieval city of Basel, Fondation Beyeler was commissioned by Hildy and Ernst Beyeler, the celebrated swiss art dealers of the modern century. Fondation Beyeler boastfully accommodates the 250-odd pictorial icons of classic modernism of the 20th-century.

Alongside the exquisite demonstration of the tribal culture of Alaska, Oceania and  Africa, these masterpieces adequately reflect the conventional features of the era: from Cézanne, van Gogh and Monet to Picasso, Lichtenstein, Warhol and Bacon. 

Peacefully positioned in the heart of Brower Park along with its green trees and water-lily pond, the construction of Fondation Beyeler is elegantly compounded into an extravagant medley of art and nature. The surrounding landscape of the museum is enhanced by the scenes of cornfields, vineyards, and the unparalleled views of the Black Forest foothills.

Exclusively designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, this excellent private-turned-public exhibition site is built in long-drawn open-plan building design. Porphyry- a volcanic rock, was specially imported from Patagonia to build the museum walls that harmonises the aesthetic landscape around.

The exterior is further magnified with the decoration of stone seats on the front terraced yard from where visitors can have a glimpse of the artwork in the gallery from outside. The idea of filling the central gallery with natural light led to the use of a crystalline glass roof that flawlessly contrasts with the granite walls.

The frosted glass panels capture the sunlight on the North and obstruct on the East and West to offset the casting of shadows in the artwork collections while forming a cheerful ambience in the room.
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Tinguely Fountain
The Tinguely fountain was the creation of Jean Tinguely, a Swiss artist in the year 1977. The design of the fountain was laid on the site of the old theatre stage as a homage. The fountain since its creation has always ceased to amaze the visitors, becoming a landmark in Basel.

Jean Tinguely lined a shallow basin with black asphalt and then placed nine-iron sculptures that spouted water. All these figures are powered by low-voltage current, which gives them constant movement and toing and froing. During winters, these figures become frozen in ice which looks just as stunning as them in motion, making it one of the top tourist attractions in Basel.  

Best time to Visit- July - September (December)
Entry fee- Free
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