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Top 10 Things to do in Basel

Our Top Ten things to do in Basel - Don't leave until you've experienced the best Basel has to offer

Basel is Switzerland's third largest city by population and lies on the Swiss / French border. It prides itself on its culture and has a number of fascinating and very different museums and art galleries for the culturally minded. If culture isn’t your thing there’s also a great shopping experience and plenty of chic bars and restaurants.
1 Munster
Munster is an unusual cathedral. It’s constructed of red sandstone and is an imposing structure. What makes this an unusual building is the uneven construction of its two towers. Aside from this the architecture is magnificent. The original building was constructed in 1020 but was damaged in an earthquake in the 14th century. It was rebuilt and houses the tomb of the world famous theologian, Erasmus of Rotterdam. The church is also noted for its pulpit which was constructed from a single block of stone.

2 Basel Zoo
Basel Zoo
A feats for all ages but particularly younger visitors. The zoo is famous across the world for its breeding programme for endangered animals. Set in over 25 acres, the zoo houses more than 4,500 animals. It’s been in existence for over 135 years and is as popular as ever. All the animals you’d expect to find in a zoo are here as well as many unusual specimens.

3 Caricature & Cartoon Museum
Caricature & Cartoon Museum
Art of a different kind now and a visit to the Caricature and Cartoon Museum. Sited in beautiful renovated buildings having a distinct Gothic theme, the displays lead the visitor through the development of cartoons and animation over the last century. The early cartoon designs in ink on cellulose film are fragile and fascinating. There’s even a display showing how, before the advent of animation software, each slide had to be redrawn and coloured to produce motion. Visitors to the museum will be intrigued by the various displays of caricatures and cartoons from the early 1900s to present.

4 Naturhistorisches.
Basel is renowned for its variety of fascinating museums and the Naturhistorisches is no exception. The displays date back to prehistoric times with fossils and replica dinosaurs alongside their fossilized skeletons. The displays trace the development of European flora and fauna over time. Many current era animals are displayed in terrariums matching the animals with their habitats and making for very realistic exhibits.

5 Historisches Museum Barfusserplatz.
Historisches Museum Barfusserplatz.
A small museum which is found in a renovated Franciscan church originally from the 14th century. Here you’ll find a potted history of the city and its environs displayed through art, sculpture, furniture and artifacts. There are many religious relics too including a bust of St Ursula, the patron saint of Basel. Decorated with gold and silver, the bust is reputed to contain some of her bones.

6 Puppenhaus Museum.
Puppenhaus Museum.
It’s not often you come across a toy museum but Basel’s is one of Europe’s finest. Toys from the last 200 years fill the display cabinets here with a particularly fine collection of dolls, teddy bears and mignonettes. Children will be fascinated by the toys on display and will ask many questions over toys that have lost popularity over the years. Adults however will be taken back to their childhood with fond memories of trains, dolls and spinning tops.

7 Rhine River
Rhine River
The Rhine is Europe’s longest river and a big favourite for river cruises on the continent. If you’re not on an extended cruise of the waterway, it’s still possible to take a day cruise as the boats drift through the steep river valley watched over by a stunning Schloss at each turn of the river. One of the best is the Basler Personenschiffahrt which provides day and evening cruises along the river. This ship and many others allow you to book a relaxing cruise and combine it with dinner and entertainment.

8 Kunst Museum.
Kunst Museum.
My kind of art gallery. I like to see how art developed and styles changed under different influences and schools. The Kunst Museum is set out chronologically and whilst not all the art is from the region, much of it is and the art from abroad shows how local Swiss art was influenced. The gallery is the oldest in the country and has a huge number of exhibits, paintings and sculptures, from some of the world’s greatest artists such as Picasso and Van Gogh.

9 Museum Kleines Klingental.
Museum Kleines Klingental.
Ever fancied being a nun? Well hopefully that’s only the girls! Now here is your chance to see just how hard it was to live in a convent in the 13th century. This museum is set in the actual convent it sets out to portray and gives visitors the chance to witness what life was like that era. There are a number of exhibits including the dining facilities and cells of the convent. There are also accounts of the work and the cycle of prayers nun’s were expected to attend. Whilst life was hard, the nuns were surrounded by beautiful scenery and by a number of beautiful religious sculptures and stunning architecture.

10 Beyeler Foundation.
Beyeler Foundation.
Many art collections throughout the world have been added to through conquest, gift or through the public purse, there are few that have been collected painstakingly by a single person and made available for the public to marvel at. Such a collection can be found at the Beyeler Foundation. Ernst Beyeler, who still runs a gallery in the area, began collecting various works of art over fifty years ago. Today, his collection of works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso comprise one of the greatest privately owned art collections in the world.

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