Gay Basel · City Guide
First time visiting Basel? Then our Gay Basel City Guide is for you.
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Switzerland’s third largest city and located on the borders of both France and Germany. Basel is home to just under 200,000 people but has commuters living across the nearby borders.
Historically a part of Roman Gaul, Basel became a Germanic city in the 5th Century AD. In 1459, Pope Pius II endowned the University of Basel and the print industry came to Basel around the same time from disciples of Gutenberg. Throughout history, it was known as a meeting place for international conventions and treaty signings.
Today, Basel is known for its many museums with its Kunstmuseum, founded in 1661, being the first publicly accessible collection of art in the world. It is also known as an educational centre, with the University of Basel being the oldest in Switzerland. Like other Swiss Cities, Basel is rated highly in terms of its quality of life.
Gay Rights in Switzerland
For gay rights in Switzerland, please check our Gay Zurich City Guide page.
Although Zurich is the gay capital of Switzerland, Basel has a modest but welcoming gay scene, driven in part by its youthful student population. Despite there only being limited specifically gay venues all bars and clubs are welcoming of gay customers.
While the city does not have a pride festival of itself, the national gay pride festival rotates amongst the cities and in 2018 is being held in Basel. There is, however, the Queersicht Festival, an LGBTI film festival held every November.
EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg (MLH, BSL, EAP) is located 3.5km northwest of Basel but also serves Mulhouse in France and Freiburg in Germany. It is located in France but operated by Swiss and French authorities. It is well connected to airports in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East with a seasonal connection to Montreal.
Bus Line 50 connects you to the Basel city centre and can be purchased from a machine at the Swiss arrivals area. You will need to purchase a 2 zone travel pass which should cost 3.80 CHF (you can pay the equivalent in Euros). Journeys take around 20 minutes and are valid on any connection you take to your final destination.
Taxis can be taken from the Swiss arrivals area however they are a lot more expensive than taking public transport. A taxi will cost in the region of 50 CHF with the journey time taking around 20 minutes. Car hire is available from the airport.
Basel has two main train stations that are both well connected to destinations in Europe. While it is easy to connect at Mulhouse to destinations in France, there are direct connections to Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Milan. Night services operate to Prague, Copenhagen and Moscow via Warsaw and Minsk.
Bern is on the Rhine and is a popular destination for riverboat cruises. Many start at Amsterdam and make their way down but these have a tendency to be quite expensive.
Getting around Basel
Old Basel itself is quite compact and mostly pedestrianised making travelling by foot a very good way of taking in the sights of Basel. Some of the streets, however, can be quite steep so it can become quite tiring navigating the city after a while.
By public transport
Basel has a good connection of both trams and buses that are clean, efficient and (almost always) on time. All hotels and hostels in Basel offer you a mobility pass which offers you free travel on the transport network for the duration of your stay. Otherwise, singles start at 3.40 CHF and day passes are 8 CHF.
Services run between 5.30am and to midnight with limited night bus services operating between 1am and 4am. During the day services run every 7.5 minutes rising to 15 minutes in evenings (every 10 minutes on Sundays). Ticket inspectors operate on the network.
A popular way for tourists to cross the Rhine is by small boats known as Fähri. Single trips start at 1.60 CHF.
Where to Stay in Basel
For the latest hotel discounts in Basel, please check the Basel Hotels page.
Things to See & Do
Kunstmuseum – the oldest art gallery in the world and the largest and most significant public collection of art in Switzerland. Here you will find works stretching from the Renaissance up until the modern era with works by Andy Warhol sharing space with Rembrandt.
Münster – one of the main heritage sites in Switzerland. This iconic sandstone minster is an impressive fusion of both gothic and romanesque architecture.
Marktplatz – here local vendors will sell fresh produce, pastry and flowers everyday (more vendors on Saturdays) and is a great spot to grab a bite to eat or a souvenir.
Cartoonmuseum – small museum dedicated to cartoons and cariactures of famous people and celebrities. You may find someone you recognise here.
Theater Basel – the municipal theatre in Basel and a haven for the arts- ballet, opera, classical music and drama.
Zoo Basel – the oldest zoo in Switzerland and the second most visited attraction in Switzerland. In autumn 2016 a brand new elephant enclosure opened and by 2019 the zoo should have its first oceanarium.
When to Visit
Basel is the warmest place in Switzerland meaning that winters are milder than in other parts of the country but summers can be unbearably hot. May is the wettest month but this gets better towards the end of May which combined with June and early fall are the best times weather wise to visit Basel.
Basel has a good selection of events and festivals held throughout the year to interest visitors to the city. Its Christmas markets are the biggest in Switzerland and attract many locals as well as tourists. The Fasnacht festival is held every Ash Wednesday and has a Carnivalesque vibe.
Switzerland is within the Schengen visa area. If travelling from outside Europe, you should check to see if you require a Schengen visa.
The Swiss currency is the Swiss Frank (CHF). Prices in Switzerland are generally far higher than in other parts of Europe.
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