When people think of Switzerland, they often think of cuckoo clocks, yodeling and chocolate. Common holiday destinations like Lake Geneva and Zürich may also come to mind, but the lesser-known northern city of Basel and its surrounding area are something of a hidden gem. Sandwiched between the borders of France and Germany, this charming city is home to a whopping 40 museums, some impressive architecture and plenty of opportunity for taking in the beautiful surrounding landscape. It’s a great place to head if you’re interested in the arts, sports or walking in nature. Here we’ll look at some of the best things to do while you’re there.

Museums and Galleries

With 40 museums to choose from in the city, art-lovers and history buffs are spoiled for choice. Whether you fancy taking in the modernist art displayed at Kunstmuseum Basel or you’re more interested in the eccentric sculpture on show at Museum Jean Tinguely, you will never have a dull moment in Basel if museums are your thing.

If you’re traveling in the summer months, then ensure you make time to visit the many works on display at Art Basel, a massive international art show that exhibits throughout the month of June. Basel is a city of culture and one which is consistently offering new and exciting opportunities to explore art and history in a refreshing and thought-provoking atmosphere.

Roger Federer.

Roger Federer, 2012 Indian Wells by Mike McCune, CC BY 2.0



If sports are more your area, then you’ll likely already be aware that Basel is famously the birthplace of Grand Slam record-holder Roger Federer. The tennis star spent his early years living in the Basel area, training in multiple sports disciplines, including tennis, and acting as a ball boy at the city’s Swiss Indoors tournament. Basel is where his impressive tennis career began, but it is in the British Wimbledon fixtures where he reigns supreme and hopes to succeed again this summer.

The area is still home to the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament, which is held every year on inside hard courts. Federer has won the Men’s Singles there a record 8 times and has reached the finals 13 times in total. If you want to make it to the ATP World Tour 500 series tournament, then you’ll need to visit Basel during the chilly months of October when the event takes place.

Of course, many tourists flock to Switzerland each winter for the skiing, with Basel attracting its fair share enthusiasts.

There are some great resorts located near to the city where you can choose from a variety of different winter sports activities and a range of various resorts. You may recognize the name Grindelwald from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but it is, in fact, a breathtaking area of the country and the largest ski resort in its region. However, if you’re after a more intimate experience, it’s worth trying the Château-d’Œx, a cute and accessible village just three hours south of the city of Basel.

The beautiful area of Grindelwald.

Beautiful Grindelwald by Zacharie Grossen, CC BY-SA 4.0 

Exploring the Countryside

Skiing may not be your thing, in which case there is plenty of opportunities to admire the breathtaking countryside of Switzerland firmly on your two feet rather than speeding down a mountainside. Basel is surrounded by excellent hiking trails that can accommodate all levels of walkers. Start out with the gentle but fun Forest Adventure Trail in the Bannwald Olten, which utilizes different activities to highlight the skills of local wildlife and lets you get up close and personal with nature. Or if you’d rather try something that’s more involved with the city itself, then try the Basel to Kaiseraugst hike that takes in plenty of sites of historical interest and teaches you about the area’s past inhabitants along the way.

So, as you can see, there is much more to Switzerland than the tired stereotypes. Basel is a vibrant but refined city full of art, culture and the self-expression of interesting thinkers. It’s a great place to visit for a weekend to soak up the inspiring atmosphere as well as venture out to absorb the natural beauty that surrounds it.

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