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What to do in half a day in Basel, Switzerland

Hi all! Here I am writing about the only city in Switzerland that I had been before this trip in 2013 (I went to Basel in 2012 for a conference) and what to do there if you have half a day to spend there. This might be pretty common for you because the EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg airport, located in French territory but serves Switzerland, France and Germany, is a hub for EasyJet and a good entrypoint in Switzerland. Here are some tips on how to spend your time in this picturesque city!

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Strassburger Denkmal, right in front of the main train station

Some facts about Basel: it is the third most populous city in Switzerland and is divided by the Rhine river. Lying right on the border with France and Germany, plenty of people that work in Basel live in the French and German suburbs because they are much cheaper. The main events are the Carnival and Art Basel, a faire of contemporary art that branched out to Hong Kong and Miami. The city is pretty small and it’s very easy to walk around, and it’s also known for its many museums.

Since I didn’t get to go to any museum when I was there the last time and I had plenty of time before my flight, I decided to go to the enormous Art Museum of Basel. This museum holds the largest art collection of Switzerland and has three floors. Most of the famous painters from the 19th century onwards are represented here with at least one painting, but the part that left the largest impression in me was the temporary exhibition on Pablo Picasso. It was amazing to know about all the different artistic facets of Picasso, who did much more than cubism, such as illustrations, sculptures and more realistic portraits. I spent about two hours in the museum, so only go there if you arrive early or have at least until mid afternoon. I paid 8€ for the student ticket.

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I walked a bit alongside the river towards the quiet Sankt Alban area, which holds the well kept St. Alban Tor. This gate is one of the remaining three access points to the city in the Medieval times. The others are Spalentor and St. Johanns Tor.

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I kept walking on the riverside to the city center. When arriving there, I went to the red Munster. It is located into a wide square and it is actually quite simple inside like most Protestant churches. I could not go inside this time unfortunately.

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Lunchtime was approaching and it was time to eat, so I went right next to Marktplatz, where you can see the stunning Rathaus (Town Hall) building. I already knew it and it must be the most beautiful Town Hall I’ve seen. The red walls, the statues, the ceilings, everything is so well kept and luscious. Some painting are from the 16th century! All the streets close to Marktplatz are commercial ones so this is one of the most crowded parts of the city. In the square you can find a vegetable and flower market that also has some street food options.

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In such short time and with a museum visit included, this is all I could do! I didn’t go to the other city gates this time (Spalentor is really nice), the three-border point or get to see contemporary architecture buildings. Next time I land in the EuroAirport I plan to explore either the German or the French areas, especially this later one. I have seen so many nice pictures of Colmar and can’t wait to go to this fairy-tale like town!

What are your favorite sights in Basel? Let me know!

Cátia

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