Magical Basel, Switzerland for Christmas!
Last week I visited the city of Basel in Switzerland. Famous for its ties with the world of modern architecture, home to famous architects Herzog & de Meuron, this place will take you on a journey between traditional and modern. But let’s start from the beginning, as Basel’s history is over 2000 years old! The city was built over many centuries and is now divided into Small Basel and Great Basel and conveniently connected by bridges stretching over the river Rhine.
During my stay I was accommodated in a lovely Hotel Wettstein. This newly refurbished hotel is located on the Small Basel side and allows for easy access to the Old Town of Great Basel either on fuss or by tram. Every morning I decided to start my day with having a walk and enjoying the panoramic views stretching from the MittlereBrucke bridge. The whole walk to Great Basel took maybe around 10 minutes and was always a great feast for eyes! The bridge offers a lovely view of the Basel’s Münster (cathedral), built 1019-1500 in a Romanesque and Gothic style along with the mixtures of architecture and colour of surrounding buildings. Beautiful architecture is what Basel is famous for and the city is filled with some exquisite examples of beautiful buildings!
Hotel Wettstein and the MittlereBrucke Bridge
From the bridge you can have a wonderful stroll through the Old Town of Great Basel and admire the half timbered buildings, pretty yards and many narrow streets with incredible slopes as well as cobblestone alleys. Walking around Basel is very easy. The Old Town is filled with small cafes and sweet shops, should you wish to take a break and nibble on local delicacies.
Basel is also home to many beautiful markets! Every day of the week there is a fresh fruit and vegetable market taking place on the Marktplatz, a large market square that is surrounded by many beautiful buildings – one of them is the colourful Town Hall. The place offers variety of delicious local produce. In the evening the square is buzzing with shoppers and the giant Christmas tree is one not to be missed!
Basel Old Town and the Markplatz
Visiting the city in December I was so excited about going to the Christmas Markets! The pretty wooden chalets fill the space around the Historical Museum Barfüsserkirche at Barfüsserplatz. The place is full of special festive events and you’ll find foodie gifts, hand-crafted pressies and a bit of glühwein to help you get into the merry spirit.
At the Munsterplatz Market there is even a little Christmas village for kids, a Fairytale Forest where they can ride a miniature Polar Express train and have fun doing some crafts, decorating Lebkuchen, making candles or just get warm eating roasted marshmallows at the cosy fire pit! The ambience of the markets is further enhanced by the amazing scent of roasted food, grilled sausages and the spiced wine. The markets are open daily between 11am -8pm until the 23rd of December.
My stay in Basel wouldn’t be complete without visiting the world famous Johann Wanner’s shop, which is a paradise for Christmas decorations buyers.The shop is spread across many rooms filled to the brim with all sorts of handmade glass baubles.
BarfusserPlatz Christmas Market, Munsterplatz Market and the Johann Wanner Shop
For art lovers out there, did you know that Basel has 40 museums with various themed areas offering something for every taste? I especially fell in love with the Kunstmuseum Basel. The museum building is not only an amazing example of beautiful architecture but is also home to one of the oldest public art collections in the world! For those of you travelling with kids I would highly recommend to visit the Tinguely Museum, a place full of amazement and discovery; perfect for a curious mind! Basel has also the most unique Toy Museum with more than 6000 teddy bears and dolls, all beautifully arranged into miniature scenes, doll houses and little old shops. It is a very nostalgic but fun place for the whole family to enjoy.
Kunstmuseum, Tinguely Museum, and the Toy Museum
When visiting Basel food should be one of the most important points on your travel list. Looking forward to tasting that traditional fondue ? Then you should definitely visit The Kunsthalle Fondue Stubli, which is a garden chalet style restaurant offering a selection of Swiss Cheese Fondue with a long list of exquisite wines. It’s worth mentioning that the chalet is open only in Winter and in Summer the lovely garden is open to outdoor dining.
The culinary world of Basel is very versatile and there are many great places I visited, that offer not only traditional type of food, but also modern European cuisine. I especially enjoyed the Volkshouse Basel. A newly redesigned by local architects Herzog & de Meuron, the restaurant is now a modern space focused around clean lines and unique furniture pieces. The menu is simple, focused on seasonal produce, and made to not only look amazing but to taste fantastic too!
Volkshouse Restaurant and The Kunsthalle Fondue Stubli
Although German is the official language of Basel, English and French are widely spoken too. As you can see Basel can not be described by one word and is indeed a city of many faces. With the wealth of cultural and historical experiences to enjoy, it’s a city full of inspiration and undeniable charm. No matter what your interests may be or reason to visit Basel, you just can’t help but have a wonderful time and fall in love with Basel!