Get your bearings at this 11th-century hilltop Romanesque and Gothic cathedral masterpiece for searching views from adjacent Pfalz terrace over the Rhine corridor. The intricate cloister beneath the Münster’s elaborate twin spires is a place of true contemplation and serenity.
Bubbly beating heart of the Old Town, this cobbled square hosts a lively daily market of fresh produce; delicious cheeses, honey, breads and flowers. Most eye-catching is the lavish burgundy-coloured 16th-century Rathaus (Town Hall) overlooking Marktplatz with its fairytale scaly tiled roof.
Gulp down a lungful of morning-after-the-big-night-out fresh air with a stroll around one of Europe’s oldest botanical gardens. Greenhouses of orchids and tropical foliage are located along pathways that wind by ponds and woodland.
If time permits just one artistic foray, hop onto a tram to the world-class modernist collection assembled by Ernst Beyeler. Inside a contemporary museum designed by Pompidou architect, Renzo Piano, the collection is an A-Z of modern art: from Lichtenstein’s pop to Bacon and Mondrian. Perfection is the naturally lit Giacometti gallery sublimely illuminating his anorexic bronzes.
Although not as recognized as he deserves to be outside of Basel, Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) possessed the mechanized thought processes of Salvador Dali. Fab and fun, his dedicated museum jolts and judders into life as his witty Frankenstein-ish mechanical sculptures of salvaged scrap explode into life.
Paul Sacher-Anlage 2
Top 5 sights for old hands
Modern Architectural Hike
Grab a tourist office leaflet for a self-guided trail to discover how Europe’s greatest architectural gurus have redefined Basel’s cityscape. Futuristic visions include the Elsässertor from Herzog & De Meuron, alongside creations from Richard Meier, Renzo Piano and Mario Botta.
Centrally located in Grossbasel, this is an enjoyable sociable outing centred around a lovely tree-lined plaza drawing Saturday crowds of browsers. Retro and antique bargains include silverware, cameras, and vinyl LPs, amid bundles of secondhand clothes and toys.
Located 20 kilometres east of Basel, the amphitheatre showcasing this excavated Roman city dating back to 44BC is an impressive sight. The brilliant onsite museum houses thousands of finds including a glittering collection of Roman coins. During summer it can be reached by Rhine riverboats from Basel.
A local sobriquet describing this district of waterways as ‘Little Venice’ maybe gilds the lily yet St Alban-Tal’s tranquil off-the-beaten-track streets east of the Münster provide a snapshot of ancient Basel. Among timber-framed buildings and old paper mills are several fine museums not far from an impressive 600-year-old city gate.
Vitra Design Museum
The only reason this extraordinary museum inside a deconstructed Frank Gehry masterpiece isn’t mainstay is because it’s a fair schlep to reach in Basel’s German suburbs. But for disciples of groundbreaking interior design it’s a pilgrimage. Displayed in a sort of IKEA-shelving format, look out for Frank Lloyd Wright chairs and design classics such as Bauhaus-era lamps by Wagenfeld.
Charles-Eames-Strasse 2, Weil am Rhein