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- 14 Dec 2019, 3 nights
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For a relaxing city break on the Rhine, try Basel in northwest Switzerland, where the Swiss, French and German borders meet. This large university city has a whole host of striking buildings, from the faded-red Town Hall to the 12th-century Gothic cathedral. It has close to 40 museums including the Kunstmuseum, home to Switzerland's biggest public collection of art. It's perhaps best known for hosting one of the most important events on the global creative calendar, though: the prestigious Art Basel show, held every summer.
Stay in a Basel hostel inside a converted factory with an NYC loft-style setup or an airy, modern space with a tree-facing wooden deck. Many Basel hostels in the city have their own coffee shops for leisurely mornings lingering over hot drinks before heading into the city. Want to save some Swiss francs for cheese fondue dinners? You will find hostels in Basel with contemporary, well-equipped kitchens to cook yourself breakfast and lunch.
The Altstadt is Basel's old town in the city's heart, centred around the timbered homes on Marktplatz square and with views of the river from the Mittlere Rheinbrücke bridge. Across the the Rhine, Kleinbasel is a melting pot of cultures – it's where many of Switzerland's immigrants live – and has a riverside promenade that's popular with picnickers when the weather's good. High-end St Alban is peaceful, with upscale old townhouses and villas as well as a few museums and restaurants.
The spiky spired Münster with its brightly hued roof tiles is the city's main sight, and you can go on a boat trip to see it from the river. For a city tour with a difference, go for an organised ghost walk with a spooky take on local history after dusk. Other night-time entertainment includes visits to the Musical Theatre Basel for shows and concerts. Swimming in the Rhine has also become a favourite activity with locals – strong swimmers can simply float downriver with the current, with an official race held once a year.
Basel has trams, local trains and buses to get around on – buy tickets from the automatic machines at stops or from kiosks before boarding. You can get between the Rhine's left and right banks over the railway bridges, road bridges or the passenger ferries. Night buses run on Fridays and Saturdays from 1am to 4am. The bus from EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg takes about 15 minutes to reach the city centre.