48 Hours in Basel

A water taxi on the Rhein

A water taxi on the Rhein

As we mentioned in an earlier post about the city’s best hotels, Basel is a cultural hub, packed with fantastic galleries and museums, not to mention an abundance of delicious dining destinations. However, we realize Basel is not the only city in Switerland worth your time, and a packed 48 hours is a great way to catch the highlights of this great place.  Where do you start? Read on for a play-by-play of how to experience this rich city.

DAY 1
9:30 a.m.
— Grab a tram and head to Fondation Beyeler. Here you’ll be able to experience the incredible collection of Hildy and Ernst Beyeler, which only opened to the public in 1997. Many art experts have called Ernst one of the most important art collectors of the 20th century and with good reason. Housing over 200 works by 40 artists from van Gogh, Monet, Picasso to Matisse and Kadinsky, the pieces here are extremely special (he had personal relationships with many of the artists). Aside from the permenant collection, every year about three to four special exhibitions are shown, most recently was the controversial artist from New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat. It’s a stunning museum, you’ll definitely want to spend the morning at.

Fondation Beyeler

Fondation Beyeler

Note: Taking the trams in Basel are very easy and affordable. All hotels in the city offer their guests a complimentary “Mobility Pass” allowing you to travel throughout Basel for free, so make sure you’ve got that on hand.

Noon — Take a snack break at the on-site Restaurant Berower Park. Featuring a light Mediterranean menu, and a tranquil outdoor patio, ideal for the summer months, it’s a great place to have a break before you head back across the river into the downtown.

2 p.m. — Start your shopping along Freie Strasse. Here you’ll find plenty of luxury boutiques from labels like Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Lacoste, to watch stores like Mezger and retail fashion fixes like H&M and Zara. Be sure to pop into Trois Pommes, filled with designer labels like Balenciaga, Lanvin and Dior.

4:30 p.m. — If chocolate and Lackerli, the sweet gingerbread biscuits that are a speciality of Basel, are on your “bring home” list then you must make a stop at Schiesser Confiserie & Tea Room. Opened in 1870, the speciality of the bakery is their handmade chocolate, high tea with cookies and ice cream, which they have made since they first opened. It’s a delightful little shop, with plenty of seating upstairs and a small outdoor terrace out front, perfect for people watching along the Marktplatz.

Stucki

Stucki

7:30 p.m. — Definitely the best restaurant in Basel, and certainly one of the best in Switzerland, Stucki, is a French dining destination, that lives up to its hype. Boasting 18 Gault-Millau points and one Michelin star, if you are planning on dining here, be sure you’ve made a reservation prior, or else you may be out of luck! Set in an old manor, with cozy outdoor garden seating, Chef Tanja Grandits leads the kitchen with her aromatic cuisine. Scallops marinated with elderflower, char ginger confit and beef glazed with Maggia pepper are just a sample of what is offered. Don’t skip out on dessert and be sure to dine outside if the season permits. This is a food journey you’ll be thrilled you went on.

DAY 2
9 a.m.
— Start your day off with a trip to the Basel Zoo. Open 365 days a year, the zoo covers about 24 acres of land and is home to animals from around the globe. Elephants, zebras, monkeys, kangaroos, lions and rhinoceros, you name it — it’s here. There’s the Vivarium where you can see the underwater world, visit the Monkey House or the Gamgoas to view their lions close up. It’s a great experience just walking on your own, but guided tours are also available.

Acqua Restaurant

Acqua Restaurant

1 p.m. — After a morning of walking, you’ll want to regenerate with a good meal. Take a seat at Acqua, just minutes away by foot from the zoo. Be sure to book ahead, as this place is always packed and is a well-known meeting place in Basel. Serving Italian cuisine, a lot of people come here just for the atmosphere. In summer there’s a nice patio out back, ideal for sipping a cocktail or wine while enjoying the weather.

3 p.m. — Next make your way over to Kunstmuseum Basel, a fine arts museum with the largest and most significant art collection in all of Switzerland. Featuring a strong showing of Upper Rhenish and Flemish pieces as well as 19th and 20th century international artists such as Gaughin, Cezanne, Chagall and Giacometti. The museum also hosts regular exhibitions, with Andy Warhol, Lovis Cornith and Kirstine Roepstorff as a sample of what’s to come in 2011.

7 p.m. — Either make your way to Cheval Blanc at Les Trois Rois or Teufelhof restaurant, both in fantastic hotels. Cheval Blanc, led by Chef Peter Knogl, who was recently awarded “Chef of the Year 2011,” serves up Mediterranean haute cuisine. Recipient of 2 Michelin stars and 18 Gault-Millau points, the critiques seem to agree too. Bel Étage restaurant in Teufelhof is a unique dining experience thanks to the artistic atmosphere, from one of a kind paintings to cemeted books in the wall, nicely complements the fresh gourmet cuisine.

Bar Rouge

Bar Rouge

10 p.m. — Have a nightcap at the library bar at Les Trois Rois for a delightful cocktail or if you’re up for it, head out on the town. Bar Rouge is found on in Switzerland’s higest building, 30 floors above ground. Floor-to-ceiling windows, international DJ’s on the weekends and pricey drinks, it’s definitely a place to catch the panoramic views and Basel nightlife.