basel road shopping street 4429691

24 Hours in Basel, Switzerland from a local’s perspective

Please note that some links on our site are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. By using these you are directly supporting 24 Hour Layovers to remain an independent travel blog.

Basel is a wonderful, and often overlooked, city in the northwest of Switzerland, bordering both France and Germany. It is famous not only for its beautiful medieval town centre, and as the home of some of the best medical research facilities in Switzerland, but also for being the location of the world-renowned Basel Fasnacht.

Brimming with restaurants serving local dishes from Switzerland as well as the nearby Alsace in France and the Black Forest in Germany, quaint cafes overlooking the city squares and the River Rhine, and a wonderful view or two, it is well worth spending a day in this brilliant city.

So, if you only have 24 hours to spend in the city and want really maximise your time then here is our guide on how to spend 24 hours in Basel, Switzerland, with the best places to eat, things to see and do, and places to visit. Get ready for a jam-packed day ahead of you!

How to Spend One Day in Basel, Switzerland from a Local’s Perspective

Advice on exploring all of the hidden gems during your 24 hours in Basel by someone who has lived in the city, not just a traveler passing through. Go beyond the best things to do in Basel and discover the local favorites.

Morning of Your 24 Hours in Basel

Basel Marktplatz is a must during your 24 hours in Basel
Basel Marktplatz

Begin the day off in Basel by hopping on one of the many trams to Marktplatz, the central square to the city, with the ornate Basel Rathaus, or town hall, that you simply must stop by to have a look in, with its striking red exterior and even more impressively painted interior courtyard. There are often live musicians playing at the entrance to the Rathaus as well, which makes a peak inside even more atmospheric. Most of the trams throughout the city pass through the Marktplatz square so it is easy to get to from across Basel.

There is also a wonderful Farmers Market held every day on Marktplatz from the early morning through to the early afternoon, (with the exception of Sundays which is a quiet day here in Switzerland, meaning most shops and eateries are closed with the exception of those in train stations or larger tram stops), with stands selling locally farmed fruit and vegetable produce, as well as stands for cheese, cured meats, flowers and various grab and go coffees and snacks. We recommend grabbing a coffee from UM Kaffee and a piadina from the piadina stand before taking a seat and enjoying the views of the surrounding square.

From here there are a number of walks you can do in the Altstadt, the side of the city that lies to the south of the Rhine. There are five in total that the local tourism office suggests to be followed to get a feel for the city, and that have small numbered placards on buildings throughout the area showing the various routes. We would recommend following the Platter Walk, route number four, which takes in the picturesque alleyways and historic Old Town architecture as well as the city university, which has a beautiful park and botanical garden, and the Spalentor, one of Basel’s three beautiful ancient city gates.

For route number four, from Marktplatz you want to start your walk by heading up Spalenburg, opposite the Rathaus, stopping by the famous Johann Wanner Christmas shop, also called Weihnachtsbaumschmuckasusstattungsspezialgeschaeft, (but that is a bit of a mouthful!), and the Jakob’s Basler Leckerly store to buy some of the traditional Basel spiced biscuits that you simply have to try when visiting Basel and that are perfect for nibbling on whilst wandering through the city streets. From here the walk is a loop taking in the surrounding streets so once you have finished the walk you will end up back in Marktplatz, perfect for continuing on your 24 hours in Basel.

Afternoon of Your 24 Hours in Basel

basel switzerland fall autumn fair 3800578
basel switzerland fall autumn fair 3800578

For the afternoon in Basel make your way from Marktplatz towards Mittlere Brucke, also known as the Middle Bridge, and the river before heading up to the right alongside the river and up the beautiful Rheinsprung Street to grab a donut from Mystifry.

This place is the go to place for donuts in the city, with vegan options available too, and with the flavors changing every month, they are truly incredible donuts! Get a hot or cold drink in here too to wander up to the Münster with, perfect for a hot or cold day.

After grabbing a donut or two, (or one of each flavor if you fancy it, which we often do!), continue heading up Rheinsprung towards the Basler Münster and the Münsterplatz sitting and taking in the view of the Münster and the city to the north of the river, Kleinbasel, from the Pfalz overlooking the river to the back of the Münster. This area is often a little busy, but it is the perfect place to take in the city with a snack or a drink in hand in both warm and cold weather.

If you want to witness some of the best views in the city, then next head into the Münster, (which is free to visit and has some very impressive stained glass windows as well as a crypt that you can visit underneath the main building), and pay 6 CHF to get access to climb up into and out onto the roof. The access up to the roof is steep and narrow in places, and you should be aware of when the bells are due to ring, (they are very loud whilst up in the roof!), but the views from the top and in the spires are truly incredible. You can also choose which spire you would like to go up whilst up in the roof so if one is busy then you can head to the other, not that it ever seems to be busy, it is a little bit of an unknown gem in Basel.

After heading up the Münster spires it is time to head down to the river and take the boat across to Rheingasse in Kleinbasel. There are three boats along the river that use the current of the water to go back and forth from the Altstadt to Kleinbasel, one of which is underneath the Münster, and for a couple of Swiss Francs it is a great thing to experience during your 24 hours in Basel.

Once across the river, you can either walk heading east towards the wonderful Tinguely Museum and Art Gallery or west along Rheingasse stopping for food in one of the many restaurants that line the river edge here. Restaurant Brasserie Spitz has lovely outdoor seating overlooking the river, or if you are after a bit more or an experience, then head to Fischerstube a microbrewery selling the local Ueli Basel beer all set in a cozy casual setting, with some rather good food.

If the weather is good and you are visiting in the summer be sure to go for a dip in the River Rhine. The easiest place to get into the river is just underneath the Tinguely Museum or at any of the stepped locations along the Kleinbasel bank, of which there are plenty, just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get a good swim / float in!

You’ll need to rent a Wickelfisch from the Tourism Office in Barfüsserplatz, this contraption is basically a waterproof dry bag that you simply pop all of your belongings into, roll it up tightly precisely seven times and you are ready to get in the river!

Please do hire a Wicklefisch if you plan to go swimming and follow others in front of you / ask for help if you are unsure. The colorful bags are more for you to be visible to the boats that use the river as well, not so much as a floating device.

If the weather isn’t on your side, or you don’t fancy a swim in the river, then be sure to visit one of the many art galleries or museums that Basel is so well known for. We can highly recommend the Natural History Museum which is located on the road up to the Münster from Mystifry. You can easily spend a few hours here exploring every nook this place has to offer, with multiple floors to cover and numerous exhibitions to visit (the fossil and dinosaur exhibits are particularly good!).

If you fancy experiencing some more of the art galleries and museums that Basel has to offer then the Museum der Kulturen Basel near the Natural History Museum is great and is set in a really interesting modern building, the Kunst Museum near Bankverein is wonderful and full of both modern, contemporary and classical art, and if you want to see something completely different, the Hoosesagg Museum is a tiny museum, (literally the size of a small TV!), filled with ink stamps that you can try out yourself.

Evening of Your 24 Hours in Basel

basel rhine night lights 1798844
basel rhine night lights 1798844

If you have hopped in the river, we highly recommend stopping by one of the many Buvettes that line the water during the warmer months for a glass of something refreshingly cold and some food. The St Louis Buvette is rather well known for its take on the British fish and chips, with others serving more traditional Swiss, French and German snacks such as bratwurst, pomme frittes and racklette if you’re lucky.

If you haven’t ventured into the river, then head towards the SBB Bahnhof (the main train station for Basel, not to be confused with Basel Bad Bahnhof which is the wrong side of the city), and into the nearby Markthalle. This converted market hall is now home to over 25 different vendors each selling different cuisine, perfect for those who aren’t quite sure what they fancy. Just grab any table and pick and choose the food and drinks you want, perfect if there is a group of you and no one knows quite what they fancy to eat. Some of our favorites are the Afghan stand mixed platter, Vietnamese mango curry, South African grill burgers, or Nane sele Kurdish breads.

During your visit to Basel, be sure to check the local tourism board website to see if there is anything happening in the city that day, evening or night. Throughout the summer months, in particular July and August, there is almost something happening every night, from Jazz festivals, Blues nights, music on floating stages on the river, and even a massive open-air cinema. In the autumn the city squares are turned into the country’s biggest fun fair with fun fair rides for all the family, a giant Riesenrad, (ferris wheel), and various food stalls, and with the winter arriving brings the famous Christmas markets that line Rheingasse in Kleinbasel, Münsterplatz and Barfüsserplatz.

Tips for Exploring Basel in One Day

How to Get to Basel from the Airport

To get from the Basel Mulhouse Freiburg EuroAirport into Basel city center you need to take the number 50 bus from the front of the airport. It has various stops through the city before finishing at the Basel Bahnhof SBB, which takes roughly 20 minutes. Be sure to buy your ticket before you board the bus as there are no tickets sold on there, the easiest way to do this is via the TNW Tickets App.

How to Get Around Basel

The best way to get around in the city is via the tram and bus network. A day pass costs roughly 9 CHF per person and allows you to hop on and off the entire public transport network, (all bar the water-drawn boats that cross the river which take cash only). There are connections throughout the city and out into the surrounding areas, so you can explore the city and areas in Basel Landschaft freely as well, Bruderholz and Arlesheim are particularly lovely to visit.

It is worth noting that if you are staying in any of the hotels, hostels or B&Bs through the city center, you will most likely be given a free public transport pass as part of your stay to help you traverse the city more easily, so no worry of needing to buy extra transport tickets. You also sometimes get this transport pass through AirBnBs as well, but not all of them offer this.

Where to Stay in Basel

There are a couple of areas and locations that are great places to stay in for a trip to Basel. The first we would recommend is staying at the Movenpick Hotel near Aeschenplatz as it is not only is it close to the local public transport, both trams and trains, but it is central enough that if you would like to walk everywhere then you can. The other is in either one of the Basel B&B hotels that are in the city, although they are a little further out of the city center but good budget options, or a great hostel in Gundeldingen, (behind the train station), called Hyve.

Events and Festivals in Basel

If you are looking for something a bit different to experience, then be sure to plan a trip to Basel around the annual Basel Fasnacht. Occurring between February and March depending on where Easter falls that year, Basel Fasnacht is a festival like no other. Music and tractor parades make their way through the city, confetti and flowers are thrown into the crowds, local cliques, (music groups), make lanterns that are lit up through the night and play various music both local and more mainstream for all to follow along with or listen too, Basel Fasnacht is fantastic.

Happy travels!

Looking for Other Great 24 Hour Destinations in Europe?

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *