Being part of Erasmus, our student network organized a group visit to Basel. However I was in Rome this weekend and could not go, which was very gutting considering the Christmas market was on and it looked incredible. Luckily for me, my friend Pippa hadn’t gone either, so we decided to buy a daily travel swiss pass and planned a trip to Basel.
We took a train at 10AM, just after my lesson at university of Geneva. The train from Geneva to Basel took around 2h40, but time seemed to fly by as we spent a lot of time planning our itinerary. There seemed to be so many interesting things to see so precise planning was essential. Here is a little tour I have put together from my experience in Basel at Christmas.
Once you arrive in Basel, I advise to go to the information desk to get a map, as it is always easier to follow than a phone map. There is one, almost straight road that connects the station to the main shopping street called Elisabethenstrasse. You walk down this road about 10,15 minutes before reaching Freie Strasse. There are two important things to note out on this little walk. The first is Elisabethenkirche, a prime example of neo gothic architecture of Switzerland in the nineteenth century. The second thing to note is the Theater Basel situated just behind the gothic cathedral.
What we noticed when walking around is the prominent Germanic influence in Basel's architecture. Although the city has a lot of history dating back hundreds of years, Basel is famous for its modern and contemporary architecture. Recently, many architects have reconstructed Basel into "modern Basel". I must admit I am not the biggest fan of dark buildings but somehow here it works;
You will arrive to the main shopping street, Freie Strasse I was actually surprised by how many shops there were. It certainly feels bigger than the Swiss Capital: Bern. The atmosphere was super Christmassy, as the street was filled with lights and decorations, which added a special touch to our trip.
From here you turn right up Münsterberg and will find yourselves in Münsterplatz, home to the magnificent Basler Münster. This cathedral will stun you from the first glimpse: its red color is so bold and its architectural intricate details are breathtaking. Behind the cathedral there is a perfect spot for a photo with a great view of the Altstadt Kleinbasel, the old town of Basel.
Next to the cathedral there is a little Christmas market with amazing looking food and little attractions for children - It is such a beautiful atmosphere, if you fancy grabbing a bite to eat for lunch then that is a great place to start!
From here you go on a little walk down Augustinergasse which becomes Rheinsprung until reaching the famous thirteenth century bridge: Mittlere Brücke. Cross this bridge and you will get to Kleinbasel. Kleinbasel today is a very vibrant and popular district, probably where you would want to find accommodation if you stay here for the night. It is full of little restaurants, shops, bars, cafés and the popular riverside spot.
Cross back the Mittlere Brücke and walk up Eisengasse. You follow the road around until reaching reached Marktplatz. This square is home to the landmark of Basel: Rathaus. The Rathaus, is one of the most intricately designed and adorned town councils you will ever see. I could not stop taking photos; the bold red colour is so unique and the frescos give a unique and artistic touch.
From the Rathaus you walk up Hutgasse and consequently up Spalenberg. Here you will find a cute café called Cupcake Affair Café. Why not go in and drink some chai latte or a hot chocolate and one of their delicious brownie cupcakes?
After this you reach the top of the road and turn left to get a feel for real Basel architecture with their cute little houses and coloured shutters: go up Heuberg and have a little stroll around.
When you have seen a bit of traditional Basel architecture go back down Heuberg which becomes Spalenberg and keep on walking until you reach the Spalentor tower. It is an important monument that must be seen and acknowledged, as it is the only one out of the three gates entering the old city that survived.
After all this walking around it’s time to go to the Christmas market and try their delicious Raclette or hot dogs. The Christmas market was based in Barfüsserplatz, just off Freie Strasse. Here again you can feel the German influence, with the beer stands and frankfurter stands. The Christmas market is magical, so many shining lights and people; you could really feel the Christmas spirit as elf would say. But it was freezing - so wrap up warm!