Things worth seeing in Basel

The river Rhine makes its way through Basel and divides the city into Klein- and Grossbasel. On both sides of the river, connected by striking bridges and the characteristic river ferrys, there is so much to discover and to admire - such as extraordinary architecture, top-class art museums and twisty alleyways in the old town.

The carathotels city map Basel

Find your way through the city and discover all of Basel's popular sights with our city map Basel.

carathotel city map of Basel with sights and highlights

Download our map of Basel / Weil am Rhein including our special tips here as pdf-file.

>> Map of Basel

City districts

Aerial view of Basel with Kleinbasel and Großbasel, River Rhine

Central Grossbasel: The heart of the city of Basel is located between the SBB railway station and the river Rhine. The old town of Grossbasel features numerous alleyways and mediaeval buildings, the marketplace, Basel Minster and the “Freie Strasse” shopping street.

Central Kleinbasel: Kleinbasel, an attractive, multicultural district of the city, can be accessed from Grossbasel via the “Mittlere Bruecke” (central bridge), or by one of the ferries over the Rhine. Here visitors can find alternative bars and clubs, interesting new shops and Basel’s Badischer Bahnhof (BBB) railway station.

Birsfelden, Breite: Basel Birsfelden and Basel Breite offer great walks along the banks of the Rhine, or alternatively visitors can plunge into the cooling waters of the Rhine Baths. The hydroelectric power plant in Birsfelden is an impressive and striking building.

Rosental, Wettstein: A highlight of this part of Basel is the tower (Messeturm) at the Basel Exhibition Centre. In contrast, artistic highlights can be found in the Tinguely Museum or at the LISTE art fair, an art exhibition offering an alternative to ART Basel.

St. Johann: St. Johann is the quarter for architects and designers, characterised by office buildings and a wide variety of gastronomic outlets.

St. Alban, Bruderholz: Situated between Birsfelden and Grossbasel, these two districts, with their banks and offices, are Basel’s centres for upscale living.

Architecture

The Basel architects, Herzog & de Meuron, have helped to shape the skyline of Basel in impressive fashion: private homes, galleries, industrial buildings such as the SBB’s railway control centre and FC Basel’s football stadium were all built to their designs.

Basel's architecture: Stadium FC Basel in the St. Jakobs-Park
Architecture in Basel: railway control centre

Other architectural highlights in Basel:

The three remaining gates of the original seven that surrounded the city of Basel are the Spalentor (one of Switzerland’s most beautiful city gates), the St. Johanns-Tor and the St. Alban-Tor. Another interesting building to visit is the minster, from where you can also enjoy a beautiful view over the river.

The Basel Exhibition Centre tower (Messeturm), at 105 metres, is the tallest structure in Switzerland. The curvaceous building by Mario Botta that houses the Tinguely Museum, or the Forum 3 on the Novartis Campus with its many-layered coloured glass elements, as well as the Vitra Design museum - so much to discover. And there's always the Architekturmuseum Basel which provides more interesting facts about Basel's and the Swiss architecture.

The best view

Tall buildings are a rarity in Basel, and so the Messeturm with its 105 metres is an outstanding exception. Located at the 31st floor you can find the famous "Bar Rouge" with an exceptional view over Basel. And real good cocktails :)

The two towers of Basel Minster also offer wonderful views of the city (the 200+ steps are worth it!) as does the silo tower in the Rhine port.

Bar Rouge in the Messeturm with view over Basel and sunset
Sunset view over Basel

The river Rhine

The river Rhine plays a central role in the lives of Basel’s inhabitants. It is the source of the pleasantly mild climate, a magnificent landscape and dreamy cityscape as well as a flourishing economy.

Every visitor to the city should make time for a walk along the Rhine. Or alternatively jump straight into the cool waters – the Rhine is also paradise for swimmers and bathers (a highlight is the traditional Rhine Swim in August).

The Rhine Ferries

The Rhine ferries are Basel’s environmentally friendly public transport. The Rhine itself is their engine.

  • St. Alban Ferry “Wilde Maa”
  • Minster Ferry “Leu”
  • Klingental Ferry “Vogel Gryff”
  • St. Johann Ferry “Ueli”
Rhine ferries in Basel
Panoramic view over Basel with Rhine Bridges

The Rhine Bridges

Six bridges link Grossbasel and Kleinbasel. The most beautiful and best known bridge is the “Mittlere Bruecke”, which originally was a narrow wooden structure dating from 1225, but today is a stone bridge.

Other bridges over the Rhine include the Johanniterbruecke, the Wettsteinbruecke, the Dreirosenbruecke, the Schwarzwaldbruecke and the Eisenbahnbruecke (railway bridge).

Rhine bridge in Basel

Museums – Art & Design

Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein near carathotel Basel
Art Museum in Basel: Basel Schaulager near carathotel Weil am Rhein

Basel is a major artistic centre. The city on the Rhine is host to the annual ART Basel exhibition and a number of smaller alternative art fairs. And Basel’s museums are definitely worth seeing.

  • Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein
  • Museum Tinguely, Basel
  • Beyeler Foundation
  • Basel Paper Mill
  • Caricature + Cartoon Museum Basel
  • Basel Museum of Art: The largest collection of works by Holbein, plus works by artists such as Braque and Picasso.
  • Kunsthalle Basel
  • : Contemporary art that works with electronic media.
  • S AM Swiss Museum of Architecture
  • Skulpturhalle Basel
  • Dolls’ House Museum
  • Schaulager (exhibition warehouse) A museum or a modern warehouse? The best thing to do is see for yourself.

If you want to visit the comprehensive range of museums in the border triangle area (Switzerland, Germany & France), we recommend that you purchase a Museum Pass >>

Art and Design in Basel: Museum Tinguely

More Sights, Curiosities & Hidden Gems

Hammering Man: a 13.4 metre tall statue made of steel and aluminium on Aeschenplatz, which strikes 3 or 4 hammer blows per minute.
Allgemeine Lesegesellschaft (General Reading Society): for bibliophiles and bookworms
Gellertgut: an enchanting park.
Märchenpfad (Fairytale Path): a fantastic walk for young and old alike.

Baselcard

The Baselcard is a great way to explore the most important sights and attractions on a shoestring, it includes entrance tickets as well as the local public transport.

You can purchase the Baselcard at the Basel Tourist Information or on the Basel Tourism website.