9+ Unusual Things to Do in Basel Revealed

Venture into Basel’s Merian Gärten, where whimsical pathways lead to a realm untold—will you discover its enchanting mysteries? Continue reading to unveil...
Date Published
March 8, 2024

Table of Contents

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Ever bumped into a city so eclectic it blurs the lines between a nature lover's haven and a bustling urban masterpiece? That's Basel for you. There's something about this Swiss gem that's not like other cities. Maybe it's the sweet whiff of pretzel-like Basler Läckerli that dances through the air, or how art pours out from behind every corner faster than a pint of Ueli Bier during Fasnacht. But let’s be real, you’re not here to do the same old tourist trots; you’re looking for the real Basel, the one filled with secret gardens and whispered local legends. You want to bask in its clandestine beauty, to roam where the Baselers roam, to toast where they toast.

Get ready to dive into the side of Basel that guidebooks gloss over, where nature escapes are nestled between world-renowned art galleries and moments of culinary bliss await in local markets. Trust us, by the time you leave, you’ll be so well-versed in the local lingo, you’ll be convincing the diehard locals at the buvette that you’ve been there all your life. So let's spelunk into the hidden folds of Basel where extraordinary experiences await.

Uncover the Secret Garden at Merian Gärten

Imagine stepping into a little slice of Eden right in the heart of Basel, where the chirping of birds is your playlist and the rustling leaves dance to its rhythm. This, my friends, is the Merian Gärten, a verdant paradise tucked away from the city's bustle that promises a serenade with nature unlike any other.

As you meander through this enchanting oasis, let the symphony of color from the countless blooms and the delicate scents of rare botanical wonders transport you. The Merian Gärten isn't just a feast for your senses; it's a banquet! A plethora of plants from all over the world gather here, as if the pages of a botany book have come alive just for you.

But what about the kids, you ask? Oh, they're in for a treat, too! Let their imaginations run wild as they explore the interactive nature playgrounds scattered throughout the garden. And for those who wield a camera like a magic wand, the kaleidoscope of colors at every turn is a photographer's dream. Snap away!

Now, how long should you linger in this hidden gem? Well, that's really up to you. A quick visit can be refreshing, but a couple of hours is ideal to soak in all the beauty without any rush. It's perfect for solace seekers, friend groups, families, and yes, even you, the lone wolf adventurers.

Just a stone's throw from the bustling city life, Merian Gärten feels like a whole other world. It's easy to get to, and here’s a thought – why not pack a picnic? There are gorgeous spots just begging you to sit and enjoy a sandwich while the world quietly spins around you.

Who is this place great for? It's a sanctuary for anyone and everyone – young romantics, families needing a breath of fresh air, or solo travelers thirsty for some peaceful "me" time.

As the sunlight filters through the leaves, painting soft shadows on your path, take a moment. Breathe in, breathe out. You're not just visiting a garden; you're stepping into a living poem, one that you'll carry in your heart long after you've left.

Feeling intrigued? To dive deeper into the verdant wonders, learn more about Merian Gärten, and start planning your urban escape to this Basel nature hotspot.

Attend a Workshop at Basel Paper Mill

Roll up your sleeves and get your hands all inky at the Basel Paper Mill, where you can dive into the magical world of papermaking, calligraphy, and printing. No, seriously, put on that apron because it's about to get all kinds of crafty up in here!

What makes the Basel Paper Mill stand out? Picture yourself wandering through a medieval building stuffed with the rich scent of pulpy paper and the clatter of ancient presses. This ain't your average art gallery; it's a living museum where you can actually create art. And it's not just for artsy types either. Kids, grown-ups, and even that friend of yours who can barely draw a stick figure will find something to love.

You've gotta check out the workshops—they’re the heart and soul of the place. You can take a calligraphy class and get your fancy writing on, or try your hand at paper marbling. It's like spinning a kaleidoscope of colors right onto the paper. Say adios to boring white sheets!

It’s tucked away in the St. Alban-Tal neighborhood, surrounded by other quirky art galleries. If you're the type who lights up at the sight of handmade crafts and hidden historical nuggets, pencil in a good half-day here. You won't want to rush this experience, trust me.

And let’s talk about the crowd – it's a blissful mix. Solo travelers scribbling away, families getting messy together, couples on quirky dates–it's an all-are-welcome kind of vibe. It’s perfect for those who want a taste of Basel's creative spirit.

Before you leave, explore the nearby galleries for even more artsy inspiration. Who knows, you might just be the next big name in Basel’s art scene! Grab your notepad, embrace the mess, and discover why Basel Paper Mill is more than just a museum. It's an experience that’ll get your creative juices flowing and maybe even leave you with a couple of paper cuts. But hey, that’s just part of the fun!

Savor Local Delights at Markthalle

Pssst... want to know where the locals in Basel go to treat their taste buds? It's none other than Markthalle! This buzzing food hall is where you can dive into a smorgasbord of local cuisine in Basel. I'm talking about authentic flavors that'll make you feel like a true Basel-er (is that a word? Well, it is now!).

At Markthalle, every stall is a new adventure for your palate. You're not just eating; you're exploring a world of flavors, from sizzling sausages to melt-in-your-mouth cheeses and oh-so-sweet pastries that could probably solve most of life's problems. They've got these giant soft pretzels, too — don't even get me started on those bad boys. Seriously, if carbs are wrong, then I don't want to be right.

But hey, Markthalle isn't just about filling your stomach, it's about the experience. It's like a party where everyone's invited and the food's so good, you wish you had a bottomless stomach. Share a table with strangers—who knows, they might just become your next travel buddies!

Now, how much time should you spend here? Let's just say time flies when you're having fun. Give yourself a good chunk of the afternoon, because you'll want to try a bit of everything. And who's it for? Everyone! It's perfect for solo foodies, families that want to munch together, and even couples looking for a cozy lunch date spot.

Oh, and if you're worried about finding this gem, don't be. It's smack-dab in the heart of the city. Once you're filled to the brim with deliciousness, you'll be in the perfect spot to walk it off by exploring nearby sights. So, ready to chow down like a local? Head over to Markthalle and let your food journey begin!

Canoe Along the Lesser-Known Rhine Tributaries

Pssst… here's the scoop: when you find yourself in Basel, you've just gotta grab a paddle and hit the Rhine's secretive, twisty tributaries. Picture this; it's a serene glide past lush greenery—nature's quiet symphony in the background. And the cool part? You're seeing Basel like a real insider!

These riverfront walks are not your typical stroll in the park, my friends. Think vibrant, life-filled excursions where blue waters kiss the city's edge, transforming the concrete jungle into your personal evergreen oasis! Ready for this tranquil adventure? Bet your life jacket you are!

So, how long should you budget to hang with the fish? I'm talking at least half a day—give or take—depending on whether you're aiming to race with the salmon or if lazy river vibes are more your jam. Families, oh, they love this stuff. Singles, groups of pals, and yes, even little Timmy will dig the gentle currents.

Nearby, Basel's charming streets beckon, but trust me, onboard a canoe, you’ll be too mesmerized by the twists and turns of these waterways to care about dry land. If you're wondering what type of crowd this place is perfect for, it's awesome for folks who dig a splash of adventure without the need for a splash guard.

And let’s face it, whether you’re a total newbie or a paddle-wielding pro, the river's got you. Glide or race, just let the Rhine’s tributaries carry you to a state of utter Basel bliss.

Now, if that doesn't sound like a slice of heaven, I'll eat my swim cap! Tell ya what, just grab that paddle and let the river do the rest. Adventure is calling your name, and when you're whispering back from your trusty canoe, you’ll already be in love with Basel's beautifully lesser-sailed waters.

Explore Wohnmuseum, Basel's Hidden Historic Home

Nestled in a quiet corner of the city awaits a time capsule of domestic bliss: Basel's Wohnmuseum. Imagine stepping into a living painting from centuries past, where every nook and cranny tells the rich story of Basel's bygone era. Yes, we’re talking furniture that’s older than your great-grandma, and guess what? It’s all splendidly preserved!

Now, let me paint a vivid picture for you. Basel is known for its historical landmarks, and Wohnmuseum is the hidden gem among them. Tucked away from the usual hustle and bustle, this historic home is a perfect blend of history, art, and intimacy that sweeps you right into the 18th century.

Why should you spend time here? Well, if you're into vintage vibes and want to get up close and personal with Basel’s cultural heartbeat, this is your spot. It’s a rare chance to witness authentic period furniture, decorations, and tools that whisk you away to a time when every item in a home had a story to tell.

And who's this enchanting spot good for? Families, history buffs, and anyone with a curiosity for cultural treasures will feel right at home here. It's cozy enough for solo explorers yet captivating for groups. Got a sweet spot for the serene? You've found it.

Spend a leisurely hour or two and immerse yourself in the museum’s quiet charm. As you wander through each adorned room, you'll notice that it’s not just a house – it's a narrative crafted by the hands of time. Just strolling through the rooms, you can almost hear the clinking of glasses and the whisper of secrets from the Basel of old.

And when you're done exploring, the surrounding area will not disappoint. Soak in the rest of Basel's historical landmarks or grab a bite of local cuisine because, let’s face it, time traveling sure works up an appetite!

For the adventurers eager to turn every stone of Basel's history – Wohnmuseum is your secret passageway. Ready to step back in time? I thought so! Now go on, catch a glimpse of the past that's patiently waiting just for you.

Wander the Trails of Lange Erlen Wildlife Park

Get ready to swap the city buzz for chirping birds and rustling leaves at Lange Erlen Wildlife Park. Picture this: You're walking through a forest, and suddenly you lock eyes with a majestic deer. That's right, your outdoor recreation jaunt in Basel just turned into an impromptu wildlife safari!

Lange Erlen isn't just some plain old backyard; it's a lush oasis where animals roam free and humans tread lightly. Want to press the pause button on life? This is where you plop down on a bench and let Mother Nature work her magic.

Now, here's the deal, this park isn't just for the "sit quietly and contemplate existence" types. Oh no, it's a fun-fest for everyone.

  • Families? Pack those snacks, because there's more green here than at a St. Patrick's Day parade, and kids loooove picnics.
  • Singles? Breathe in that fresh air and find your zen — or, let's be honest, a cute dog to coo over.
  • Adrenaline junkies? There might not be cliff diving, but why not challenge yourself to spot the most animals?

Remember, you won't be wandering forever. Soak up the sights and sounds for a couple of hours, then skip over to something else amazing Basel has hooked you up with nearby.

Bottom line — Lange Erlen Wildlife Park isn't just about outdoor recreation in Basel; it's about capturing a slice of serenity in a world that doesn't like to sit still. So jump in, nature's waiting and it’s got your detox tea ready!

Discover Independent Boutiques in Kleinbasel

In the heart of Kleinbasel, you'll find the most vibrant streets lined with quirky, independent boutiques that offer an exceptional shopping experience unlike your typical mall haul. This bustling district in Basel is a treasure trove for anyone ready to swipe their card for unique finds.

The boutiques here range from locally-sourced fashions to handcrafted jewelry; every corner hums with creative flair and dedication to individualism. It’s an artisan paradise where you can score one-of-a-kind pieces and feel fabulous about supporting small businesses.

Stroll along and you may stumble upon fragrant artisanal soaps that make you smell like you've been rolling in fields of Swiss wildflowers, or pick up whimsical knick-knacks that somehow perfectly complete that empty spot on your bookshelf. Shopping in Kleinbasel is like rummaging through an eccentric friend's closet—a delightful mishmash of styles that ensures you walk away with something distinctively 'you'.

These boutiques are more than just stores; they're showcases of passion. Owners are often there, ready to share stories behind each item, adding a personal touch that makes your purchase even more special. Trust me, you'll come for the shopping but stay for the charming chats!

As you meander through the narrow streets, the vibe is palpable. Kleinbasel is great for anyone from the fashion-forward to those looking for a thoughtful gift. But here’s the kicker—it’s also a fab spot to treat yourself to a well-deserved pat on the back (read: shopping spree) for making it halfway across the world.

Expect to spend a good half-day here enveloped in the local scene. With countless corners to explore, it’s a splendid distraction from classic tourist traps. Grab a latte from a nearby café, and float from one shop to the next, soaking in all the eclectic glory that Kleinbasel's boutiques have to offer. Whether you're a magpie for shiny things, a dedicated follower of fashion, or just looking for a shop-tastic afternoon, your heart (and wallet) will feel right at home here.

Taste Swiss Craftsmanship at a Local Brewery

Imagine the scent of hops and barley mingling in the air, the sound of clinking glasses, and the warm hum of chatter around wooden tables. Yup, you’re about to dive headfirst into the heart of Basel’s craft beer scene. You don't just sip on a pint here; you taste the passionate work of local Swiss craftsmen.

Swing by one of Basel’s cool, offbeat breweries and let your taste buds go wild. We're talking about small batches with big character, created by people with an insane love for beer. You'll find everything from bold IPAs to smooth stouts, each with a unique Swiss twist that'll make you go, “Wow, I need another one!”

Why is Basel perfect for craft beer enthusiasts? Basel is a wonderland for beer lovers because of its dedication to quality and creativity. From traditional Swiss techniques to innovative brewing styles, the local scene is bursting with unique flavors waiting to be discovered.

Spend an afternoon at a brewery tucked away in one of Basel's lively neighborhoods. Chat with the brewers, see where the magic happens, and, most importantly, sample the goods. It’s the sort of place where you'll want to park yourself for hours, maybe make a new friend or two, and really soak in the local vibes.

Whether you’re a solo traveler itching for a quirky pit stop, a group of buddies on the hunt for the perfect pint, or a couple looking for a chill yet exciting hangout spot, Basel's breweries will not disappoint. Plus, if you’re peckish, these spots often serve up some seriously tasty munchies that pair up with their brews like best friends.

If you're curious about which breweries to hit up, check out Volta Bräu, a local favorite that's always up for a good time - trust me, your Instagram feed will thank you later.

Now, if you're asking, “How long should I plan to spend here?” Well, how does forever sound? Kidding! Give yourself a good couple of hours to enjoy the full experience – just remember to plan a safe ride back. You'll leave buzzing with joy, fond memories, and maybe a newfound appreciation for Swiss craftsmanship. Cheers to that!

Delve into Basel's Literary Scene at the GGG Stadtbibliothek

You strolled into the heart of Basel, and there it is—the GGG Stadtbibliothek, a temple of tranquility for book lovers and a treasure trove of literary wonders that feels like a warm hug for your brain. This isn't just any old library; we're talking about a sanctuary where the pages whisper stories of distant times and places.

So, why should you drop everything and scoot on over? If you're a literature aficionado, the Basel library is the mecca of manuscripts and periodicals. With a collection screaming variety, you're sure to find something that tickles your fancy—whether it's the spine-tingling suspense of a thriller novel or the sweet melody of a poetry book.

Here's what you do: allow yourself a couple of hours (trust me, time flies when you're surrounded by books), grab your favorite read, find a cozy corner, and let the world outside fade away. And it’s not just for the lone wolves amongst you; oh no, this literary haven is great for everybody. Families, students, and even that friend who only reads when there’s absolutely no Wi-Fi can all find their spot under the ornate ceilings.

But wait, it's not all "Shh!" and silent reading. The GGG Stadtbibliothek often hosts inspiring workshops and events that'll have you and your newfound book club buddies chatting away and sharing the love for all things literary. It’s where you feel the pulse of Basel's cultural heart.

Just a book's throw away from snug cafés and quirky boutiques, you can wind down with a coffee or shop for souvenirs after your literary retreat. It's perfect for the solo explorer, the culture-hungry couple, and the family of future bibliophiles.

Are you ready to be enveloped by the cozy comfort of the GGG Stadtbibliothek? Sharpen those minds, and off you go deep into the alcoves of Basel’s beloved book sanctuary!

Indulge in Tranquility at The Botanical Garden Basel

Picture yourself amidst a lush oasis brimming with vibrant colors and the gentle rustle of leaves—a place where time seems to pause. That’s exactly what awaits at the Botanical Garden Basel. It's not just a feast for the eyes but also a sanctuary for the soul.

Why is the Botanical Garden Basel a can't-miss spot? It's a living plant museum, folks, home to an incredible array of botanical wonders that you definitely won't find at your local grocery store's floral section. Think exotic orchids that look like they belong in a fairy tale and cacti that seem straight out of a wild western scene.

When you stroll through the serene pathways, you're in for a real treat. The garden boasts over 7,000 species of plants from all corners of the globe. And get this—it's been green-thumbing since 1589. That's older than most of the trees you’ve hugged!

If you're a fan of the tiny and the tall, the green and the colorful, plant yourself here for an afternoon. Oh, and if you've got kiddos, they'll dig the educational greenhouse where science comes to life. Aren't photosynthesis and transpiration groovy?

The cool part is that it's a hit for everyone—whether you're solo, a lovebird on a romantic date, or running the parent gauntlet with toddlers in tow. And for those adrenaline junkies? Sorry, this one's a chill zone—and your heart rate will thank you.

Don't just tiptoe through the tulips, though. There's more! Stick around for a workshop, or simply lounge on a bench and bask in the floral aromas. 'Cause let's face it, you smell enough car exhaust on the daily. Give your nose a vacation too.

And when you’re done? The city awaits with a smorgasbord of nearby cafes and sights. Just don't rush—it's not every day you get to be at one with nature in the heart of a bustling city.

Join the Locals at Buvettes Along the Rhine

Imagine the warm sun on your face, the gentle hum of the river, and the clinking of glasses as you join in on one of Basel's best-kept secrets. Picture yourself elbow-to-elbow with the locals at a buvette—a cozy, seasonal bar by the Rhine—where the vibe is chill, and the drinks flow as freely as the river itself. You're practically a native now!

You’ve got to grab a spot at one of these charming pop-up bars, my friend. They dot the riverbank during the warmer months, each one with its own personality. Some are perfect for the solo wanderer looking to read a book by the water, while others are buzzing hubs great for groups of friends or families with kids.

Here’s the scoop: Visitors typically spend a delightful hour or two soaking in the local atmosphere at buvettes. They're not just drinking spots - you can also savor bite-sized local culinary gems from these quaint little kitchens. From scrumptious snacks like crispy Fischknusperli (fried fish) to refreshing gelato, these buvettes have got your munchies covered.

What makes a buvette hop is its ability to draw in people from all walks of life. Whether you're a thrill-seeker done with the day's adventures or a culture enthusiast with a penchant for people-watching, a buvette has something for everyone. And the best part? You're just a stone's throw away from Basel's bustling streets, yet totally immersed in riverside serenity.

Feel the pulse of the city as you chat it up with the friendly servers who are brimming with stories, or just catch a spectacular sunset over the Rhine. Okay, I’m not scheduling your day or anything, but trust me – add a buvette visit to your Basel bucket list. You'll thank me later!

Don't miss out on this authentic Basel experience. Check out the buvettes along the Rhine for a true taste of local life. Cheers, or as the Swiss say, "Prost!"

Capture Basel's Charm on a Photography Tour

You're about to see Basel through a lens – literally! Grab your camera, because a photography tour is where you'll capture those postcard-perfect snapshots that scream, "I've been to Basel, and let me show you its charm!"

Imagine strolling through the cobbled streets, the click of your camera shutter harmonizing with the whispers of history. Picture this: the golden hour hits just right, spilling light onto the Rhine's gentle waves as you frame the perfect shot from Wettsteinbrücke. That’s the magic you’re chasing on this adventure.

  • The Münsterplatz: Framing the red sandstone cathedral against the blue sky? Epic.
  • Tinguely Fountain: Freeze those whimsical metal sculptures, mid-dance, in a photo that’s nothing short of dynamic.
  • Altstadt: Get lost in the old town’s charm, snapping the vibrant life buzzing in the narrow alleys.

Photography enthusiasts and selfie experts alike thrive here. Whether you're aiming for that silky-smooth waterfall effect or hustling for a candid street shot, Basel's got your backdrop. Solo travelers seeking that 'gram-worthy snap, families looking for a mantelpiece memory, or couples needing that cute coupley pic—all are welcome here.

How long should you bask in Basel's photogenic glow? Give it at least a half-day to catch varied lights and moods. From dawn's soft hues to dusk's dramatic contrasts, there’s a shutter-opportunity at every turn.

And don't fret about missing out on the secret spots; a local guide's eye can lead you to those hidden corners you might otherwise stroll past. What's that? You say you don't have a guide? No problem! Check out some of the best photography tours Basel has to offer and sign up to ensure you won't miss an Insta-gold moment.

By the end of your tour, you'll have enough stunning snaps to fill an album. Or two. And let’s not forget the unbeatable feeling of seeing Basel, not just with your eyes, but through the unique perspective of your camera lens. Get ready for likes, hearts, and "where is this?!" comments to flood in. Basel's charm? Captured flawlessly by you.


Q: What are some unusual things to do in Basel?

A: You're in for a quirky treat! Visit the Tinguely Museum, explore the hidden gems in Kleinbasel, or get lost in the labyrinth of the Old Town.

Q: Are there any free things to do in Basel?

A: Absolutely! Stroll along the Rhine, marvel at the architecture in Marktplatz, or visit museums on the first Sunday of the month for free.

Q: What can you do in Basel at night?

A: Night owls, unite! Check out Basel's trendy bars, catch a show at the Theater Basel, or enjoy a moonlit walk by the Rhine.

Q: What activities are available in Basel in December?

A: Get festive with Basel's Christmas markets, ice-skating rinks, and the fairy-tale atmosphere of the city’s illuminated streets.

Q: What can I do in Basel today?

A: For today's fun, hit up the local museums, drop by the Basel Zoo, or see what events are going on at the Messe Basel exhibition center.

Q: What is there to do in Basel with toddlers?

A: Little adventurers will love the Basel Zoo, a trip to the Spielzeug Welten Museum, and running around in the city's beautiful parks.

Q: What should I not miss in Basel?

A: Don't skip the stunning Basel Minster, the vibrant artworks at Fondation Beyeler, and the enchanting views from the Pfalz terrace!

Q: Is Basel worth a visit?

A: Definitely! Basel's rich cultural scene, beautiful riverfront, and bustling markets make it a must-see Swiss gem.

Q: What is Basel famous for?

A: Basel is renowned for its vibrant art scene, historic Old Town, and being the cultural capital of Switzerland with world-class museums.

Q: How many days do you need to see Basel?

A: To soak up the highlights of Basel, plan for at least two days, but you could easily fill three with more discoveries.

Final Words

Alright, you've wandered the hidden greens of Merian Gärten and sipped on the artistic vibes of the Basel Paper Mill. I bet your taste buds are still buzzing from those delightful treats at Markthalle, right? Imagine the cool stories you'll tell after canoeing those Rhine tributaries or getting lost in time at Wohnmuseum. Lange Erlen Wildlife Park showed you wild spots right in the city, and Kleinbasel? That place made wallet-watching fun with its unique boutiques.

We can't forget the burst of flavor from the local breweries, the tales tucked away in the Stadtbibliothek, and those peaceful moments in the Botanical Garden Basel. Oh, and those charming buvettes? They made you feel right at home. Whether you were looking for the perfect shot on your photography tour, remember this: Basel is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. When you're looking for more things to do in Basel, remember, it's the unexpected joys that make the fondest memories. Go have an adventure!

Meet the Author
Aria Ohlsson
Aria Ohlsson, the Instagram storyteller extraordinaire, takes you on adventures through her enchanting narratives. An avid hiker, she scales peaks and weaves tales of mountaintop triumphs. When she's not conquering trails, you'll find her immersed in classic novels, finding inspiration for her next tale.
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