When I thought of Switzerland, I used to think of mountains, snow and après ski style. That changed when I visited Basel in the summer during a heatwave that hit most of Europe.
It taught me that Switzerland is more than just winter sports and hot chocolate, it’s got everything you need for a city break in the summer, too. Here’s 8 things to do in Basel when it’s not snowing!
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Swim the Rhine
When I visited Basel it was 38˚C and the city doesn’t have a lot of aircon.
The best way to cool down is by jumping into the river and floating downstream! Grab onto the side, climb out up the steps and walk back to where to started, ready to go again!
People are doing this all evening, right up until nightfall (and sometimes afterwards but I think this is crazy, remember to stay safe!)
The current is quite strong, but it was easy enough to grab onto one of the ropes or chains along the side to stop and pull yourself out.
The hotel lent us waterproof bags free of charge to keep our phones, shoes and towels dry during the swim! It also acts as a great float during the swim.
I was in the city for work and didn’t have any swimwear, so I got in wearing my running kit!
Drink Swiss Wine
The Swiss LOVE wine. And they produce a whole lot of it, it’s just that they drink it all so there’s none left to export! Switzerland consumes around 235 million litres of wine in a year! This compares to 100 million litres produced. Only 1% is exported to anyone else to enjoy.
If you think about it, Switzerland borders both France and Italy, so why would their climate be unsuitable for growing grapes?
I’d thoroughly recommend the Wine Guru On Wheels. We did a 90-minute cheese and wine tasting that included red, white and sparkling wines. Juan was so generous with his time and knowledge. It was a group of 7 of us and he broke the ice and got us all talking together.
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Swiss rotary cheese cutter! . I’m heading back to Europe so here’s what I’ve been thinking of. Cheese! . Ben and I went to a wine tasting in Basel, Switzerland in the summer and one of the accompanying cheese was cut with this amazing device. Apparently pretty common in Switzerland, but new to me. . I literally think of this device way to often. . More facts on Swiss wine will follow in a different post, it’s super tasty and they only export a small percentage of it, mainly because the Swiss drink it all!
Eat in the Indoor Market
Indoor food markets decked in chipboard and neon lights are popping up all over Europe, and Basel is no exception.
Basel’s Markthalle is an open space with a mix of food vendors and shops, as well as bars and a chocolate shop.
A short walk from the old part of the city, this can be a source of cheap lunches.
Walk the Old Town
Short, white buildings fill the narrow streets in Basel. Painted wooden shutters line the windows, in deep maroons and blues. The streets in the old part of town have a mix of shops, restaurants and bars.
Don’t miss the mural outside L’Unique Rock Bar, featuring The Who, Nirvana, Foo Fighters and more.
For a route including this mural, the country’s smallest museum and the 15th century Spalentor city gate, see my Walk Through Basel’s Old Town.
Check Out the Smallest Museum
The city’s medieval houses are adorable and most of them have the year they were built handpainted above their doorway. As a tourist, it’s sometimes easy to forget that these houses are still people’s homes.
One homeowner, disturbed by tourists peering through their window day in and day out, turned it into an exhibition, which now changes every month or so. When I visited, it contained little souvenirs like fridge magnets from all over the world.
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Although it doesn’t have an official title, this is arguably Europe’s smallest museum! . . The Hoosesagg Museum, or “Pants Pocket” museum. . . It’s set into the door of a 600-year-old house that’s in such a quaint street that the owners got tired of people looking into their property, so they turned it into a museum! . . The collection changes every few weeks. When I visited it was about holiday souvenirs! . . #basel #switzerland #visitswitzerland #travel #travelgram #citybreak #instapassport #traveldeeper #shetravels #museum #museums #europe
Don’t Check the Receipt…
Les Trois Rois is a 5* hotel on the outskirts of the old town.
There’s been a hotel on the site since the 17th century, but the current building was constructed in 1844. Inside it feels regal. Think lush carpets, deep reds and huge chandeliers. There’s tequila in in glass display cases worth hundreds of GBP.
It might sound stuffy and reserved, but the waiting staff couldn’t be more friendly. There’s no dress code here, we were perfectly welcomed in our shorts and t-shirts.
We sat on the balcony overlooking the Rhine and watched the barges and ferries go past.
If the service wasn’t what I expected, the price tag certainly was. The rooftop suite here is over £4,000 a night and the cocktails were around £20 each.
Or if that’s not your style, drink by the river with locals
On the opposite side of the river, the banks are built up into steps large enough to sit on and enjoy a few beers.
In the summer, they’re filled with groups of friends enjoying the evening and having dinner on temporary barbeques.
The downside is that a lot of the bottles are still left the following morning. Remember to pick up after yourself when you’re travelling!
Cross the Border into France and Germany
Basel is in the north of Switzerland, in a little hump that stabs itself into the borders of France and Germany.
The Rhine flows from the mountains in Switzerland, forms part of the border between France and Germany and then through to the Netherlands. A walk along the river will take you to where all three countries meet.
In the middle of the river is a statue called the Dreiländereck.
Bike and roller skating tours through the city will often take you across the borders!