Switzerland's lesser-known city, Basel is Switzerland’s best kept secret, with a impressive medieval town center, several world class art museums built by architects like Renzo Piano, Mario Botta and Herzog & De Meuron, and quite possibly the most impressive Fasnacht (carnival) celebration in Europe. Its history dates back to the Roman Empire, when the city's strategically favorable position led the Romans to station its military forces on the hill now occupied by the cathedral. Today, the architecture reflects the medieval period with some older buildings such as the Romanesque and Gothic Münster church built 1019-1500.
Basel functions as a major industrial center for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, and while this may not be a tourist attraction, the by-product of these industries has been billions of francs in charitable donations towards local museums, historical preservation and infrastructure. A hub for modern art, Basel hosts Art Basel every June, the world's premier fair for contemporary art, and is home to several of Europe’s best collections of modern art and design, from the private collection of Ernst Beyeler at the Foundation Beyeler, to the Vitra Design Museum, housed in Frank Gehry's first European commission, and the Kunstmuseum Basel.
A surprisingly “open” city, Basel is know locally as the Dreiländereck (three countries' corner) as it is located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet and reflects the heritage of all three states. Basel is a bicycle-friendly city (beware of the trams), with many well-marked bicycle lanes throughout the city and through out the surrounding countryside touring the Dreiländereck and its regions of Alsace in France and the Black Forest in Germany.
Basel has become one of our favorite cultural destinations. From the annual Christmas markets, which are among the best in Europe, to the world-class collections of art, and the overall open and relaxed vibe of the old town, Basel is an unexpected treasure. Come take in a Champions’ League football match at FC Basel’s storied St. Jakob Park stadium, or have a brunch along the River Rhine at the 5* Hotel Trois Rois, one of Switzerland’s best.