I spent the last weekend having an especially festive time in Basel – home to Switzerland’s biggest Christmas market and an all round excellent destination for cultured city break.
Waaay back in the summer of 2014 I wrote the following about my first ever visit to Basel:
I was inspired and impressed and would love to go back – and if my next visit is to turn out anything like this last trip did then doing so will be a piece of cake.
And indeed this recent return was a cinch. Getting around town was still super simple – and free – with the Mobility Ticket given at my hotel which granted me access to all of the city’s public transportation during my entire stay. And as I understand it, all Basel hotels give Mobility Tickets to all their guests.
Although rather than just a piece of cake, a more appropriate term might be a slice of russenzopf (a rich and nutty braided cake), especially if purchased from historic and quaint bakery Konditorei-Confiserie Gilgen located along the charming Spalenberg lane in the heart of Basel’s Old Town.
Coming up with a culturally inclined itinerary was again equally easy to fill. A trio of arty highlights from this past go includes these phenomenal exhibitions:
- Klee at Fondation Beyeler (until 21 January 2018);
- Chagall. The Breakthrough Years, 1911-1919 at Kunstmuseum Basel (until 21 January 2018); and
- An Eames Celebration at Vitra Design Museum just outside town in Weil am Rhein, Germany (until 25 February 2018).
Dining out was still tasty and fun. My favourite meal was at 1777 Kaffee Restaurant Bar where I savoured every bite of what might have been the most epic hotdog ever paired with one of the tastier beers I’ve had all year (the unfiltered Heller Engel Pilsner from Stadtmauer Brauer exclusively for 1777).
But the really special bit about Basel this time round was getting to experience the city at Christmastime.
Basel’s two main Christmas Markets are at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. Both in the Old Town and nearby each other, they essentially form one big festive spread of Christmassy cosiness and excellent excuse to induldge in glühwein (in a commemorative take home mug), sausages galore … and fondue!
No visit to Switzerland in the winter is complete without enjoying a pot of fondue. I had mine at the famously popular Wacker Fondue Stüebli inside the Munsterplatz market (reservations recommended).
Johann Warner Christmas House
On Spalenberg (a few doors down from Konditorei-Confiserie Gilgen with a luscious looking cheese shop in between) is Johann Warner Christmas House. Open year round, this elegant little retail wonderland specialises in a delightfully vast array of Christmas ornaments and decorations mostly of the traditional handmade blown glass variety. There’s a handcrafted ornament for everybody!
Hotel Ibis Styles Basel City
While in Basel I stayed at the brand new Hotel Ibis Styles Basel City on Grosspeterstrasse. Close to tram and train connections and only a few minutes walk from the Basel SBB train station, it was a fairly convenient and comfortable base for exploring the city.
For more tips about making the most of your time in Basel, go to basel.com.