Skipping Basel? 7 Reasons Why You’re Making a Big Mistake

Cute little Basel, located on the river Rhine in Northern Switzerland, is usually a quick stop-over for most of the tourists, who happen to visit the city only for its airport. What people don’t realize, though, is that while pursuing their dream destinations, they sometimes miss out on cities that could be even dreamier. And Basel is just one of those. So here are 7 persuasive reasons why overlooking Basel might be the biggest mistake on your travel agenda!

Could Basel be your next dream destination?

1. Find yourself lost in the right direction

Basel is where Switzerland, Germany and France come together in one. Colmar, the precious little French gem, is less than an hour away from Basel, as well as the beautiful woods of German Schwarzwald. So if you ever fancied visiting 3 countries in a day, Basel is a perfect solution.

2. Catch the fire in the old Town Hall

If you’ve been looking for the most memorable expression of architecture, this is it. The Basler Town Hall, locally known as Roothuus, is just the most fantastic old building you’ll ever get see – no exaggeration! It’s red with gold, its roof tiles look like reptile scales, and it feels like a castle caught on fire. In the middle of the courtyard, there’s also a kingly-looking statue of a black-skinned knight who is facing the motto of Basel inscripted on the antique walls of the town hall: Freiheit ist vor Silber und Gold – Freedom as above silver and gold.


3. Learn why Harry Potter will never travel to Switzerland

Remember that huge snake that Harry Potter killed in the Chamber of Secrets? Well guess what – the king of snakes, known as basilisk, was never really living in Hogwarts. In fact, it was only a temporary visit – basilisk’s real home is actually Basel and that’s where his name also comes from. Since the early times, basilisk has been a guardian of the city until Potter interfered in the most impolite manner and killed the poor reptile, leaving Basel with nothing but a memory of it… So unfair, isn’t it? The image of basilisk, though, is seen pretty much everywhere you go in the city, making it the least desired destination on Potter’s travel list. I mean, who wants to relive the old nightmares, right?

4. Feel like a fish in the river

There’s nothing more refreshing after a long day at work than… swimming back home like a little trout. Or tuna. Or whichever of the 50 fish species that inhabit the river Rhine. So unsurprisingly, lots of people in Basel have a special waterproof floating bag, called Wickelfisch, which is a ring buoy and a storage bag in one. Keeps your clothes safe and gets in you from one part of the city to another in no time. I call that a deal.


5. Enjoy the 3 prettiest days of the year

Basel, with less than 200 000 inhabitants, is small, for sure, and yet it has the biggest carnival in Switzerland – the Basler Fasnacht. Its history dates back to the 11th century, which, as the matter of fact, makes it one of the oldest cultural traditions in Europe. Also known as ‘the three prettiest days’ (die drei schönsten Tage), Fasnacht is the time of the year when the city goes wild, celebrating its boundless creativity with enviable passion. The colors of mask parades, the sounds of piccolo, the confetti, the laughter – the Basel carnival is a whirl of positive emotions.

6. Satisfy your most demanding tastes in art

In case you didn’t know, Basel is one of the world’s most significant centers of contemporary art. Galleries, countless exhibitions, art events – Basel really knows how to please high tastes. The most famous art platform in the city is, of course, Art Basel that has grown into an internationally renowned series of art shows staged in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong. So if you strive for modern culture, you’ve come to the right place.


7. Swear like a monk from the Middle Ages

If it’s ever possible to get super excited about a visit to a church, it’s only when you visit The Basel Minster. That red sandstone landmark, which defines the whole cityscape of Basel, might be not the most beautiful church from the outside, but definitely one of the most memorable ones in the inside. For starters, the Basel Minster has this amazing courtyard that gives it a feeling of a little town – a town which walls are all covered with tombstones. It’s an eerie sensation, really. But the most thrilling part comes when you go up the stairs for the view over Basel. Horribly steep and narrow as hell – I believe these were the exact words that the monks were using when they were climbing up the stairs. But the view you get from atop is definitely worth all the effort.


















P.S. You might also like:
10 Cutest Small Towns In Germany
10 Reasons To Visit Leipzig This Year
How You Can Eat The World In Berlin


  • Reply
    Europe Diaries
    September 17, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Ha! Nice post! Was good to see you in Basel:)

    • Reply
      Olga Rabo
      September 17, 2015 at 5:08 am

      Thanks Menorca :) You too!

  • Reply
    Yvonne - The Tourist Of Life
    September 17, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I traveled here when I was younger, but don’t remember much about it! Need to go back though:-) Are you still living in Berlin?

    • Reply
      Olga Rabo
      September 18, 2015 at 3:03 am

      It’s suuuper nice, I really liked it! I went there on the way from Zurich and honestly, and I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, but I was quite pleasantly surprised :)
      Yes, still in Berlin! Enjoying the autumn a lot ;)

  • Reply
    Nikita @ Life in Transience
    September 17, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    I had no idea that the Basilisk came from Basel! Always good to brush up on some mystical creature knowledge :) Great photos, by the way!

    • Reply
      Olga Rabo
      September 18, 2015 at 3:01 am

      It makes sense, though, doesn’t it? I wonder what originated first, though – the basilisk or the city :)

  • Reply
    September 20, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    I didn’t know the Basilisk was from here! Very happy I know that now ;) It looks gorgeous here, I’ll definitely be making the effort to stop by Basel when I visit Switzerland now! :)

    • Reply
      Olga Rabo
      September 20, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Oh, me neither! It was a great revelation for me actually :)
      Awesome, nice to know that you’re adding Basel to your travel list! Happy sightseeing!

  • Reply
    Christoph Sager
    October 18, 2015 at 4:40 am

    As a person who lived in Basel all his life I can only congratulate you for this article. This is exactly what I would tell a traveler why Basel is worth a visit (Okay maybe not the thing about the basilisk, though it’s a nice anecdote!).

    • Reply
      Olga Rabo
      October 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Thank you Christoph!
      I really enjoyed Basel, actually – it’s a shame it’s not that popular among tourists! But I’m pretty sure it will change :)

  • Reply
    December 7, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    I had the chance to visit Basel many years ago and I liked it very much, thank you for this super nice article!!!

    • Reply
      Olga Rabo
      December 8, 2015 at 3:26 am

      Very happy you enjoyed both the city and the article Lucia :)
      Thanks for your comment!

      • Reply
        December 8, 2015 at 5:42 am

        you’re very welcome!!!

  • Reply
    Leanne Gorman
    February 29, 2016 at 9:25 am

    It’s funny hearing “with less than 200 000 inhabitants, is small, for sure” since the state in the USA I live in the biggest “city” has 66,000 people in it. That’s it! Everyone around here thinks it’s such a “big city” since all the other towns around here have 20,000 or less. :)

    • Reply
      Olga Rabo
      March 1, 2016 at 4:20 am

      Oh, interesting! What state do you live in?
      Well, where I come from (Riga) there are around 700 000 people living, but it feels so small nevertheless.. So I guess it often depends on the vibe of a particular city!
      Basel is probably still big for Swiss standards (even Zurich, the capital, is below 1 million), but for me it felt so incredibly relaxed and wonderfully “towny” that I couldn’t be able to label it as “big”. The word just doesn’t go well with the feel!

      • Reply
        Leanne Gorman
        March 1, 2016 at 8:39 am

        I live in Maine. Google it sometime. :)

  • Reply
    Victoria @ GoandGlobetrot
    April 10, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Beautiful pictures! We’re off to Basel on Wednesday and very much looking forward to exploring the town.

    I didn’t know Basilisk came from Basel either!

    • Reply
      Olga Rabo
      April 11, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Enjoy! I really loved Basel — more than Zurich, actually.

      Hope you guys manage to catch good weather :)

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