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Travel review: Basel, Switzerland

The shore of the Rhine on the Grossbasel side with a view of the cathedral and the Mittlere Brcke in the background. Copyright Basel Tourismus
The shore of the Rhine on the Grossbasel side with a view of the cathedral and the Mittlere Brcke in the background. Copyright Basel Tourismus
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It took a while for us to get our heads around it and when we did we thought it was quite cool.

You see when you visit the Swiss city of Basel, you actually have the chance to be in three countries at the same time!

The Basel Christmas Market is located in the centre of Basel.  Copyright Basel Tourismus

The Basel Christmas Market is located in the centre of Basel. Copyright Basel Tourismus

Down on the River Rhine there is the three countries bridge and sculpture which signifies where Switzerland, Germany and France all meet at the water, meaning you can literally visit all three places in a relatively short time. A few months ago a tram service was introduced between the Swiss and German borders meaning fluctuations in the exchange rate can result in some very attractive shopping depending where you live.

There are not many places in the world where you can do such a thing and it is one of the many reasons to visit Basel. Infact the tourist board gives you 17 thoughts on why you should visit including the city’s love of art and its beautiful people.

When you arrive at the airport which serves the three countries, the Swiss side allows free transport for the whole of the stay as long as you have booked accommodation.

And a short 20 minute journey on the ever efficient public transport system soon has you in the heart of Basel and at its train station, a beautiful building in itself, with some lovely artwork.

The sculpture Utopia was created by Jean Tinguely in 1987 and is one of the museums biggest attractions. Copyright Musuem Tinguely

The sculpture Utopia was created by Jean Tinguely in 1987 and is one of the museums biggest attractions. Copyright Musuem Tinguely

A 10 minute tram ride took us to our base for the weekend, the Adagio Aparthotel, a modern facility which allows you the freedom of cooking for yourself in the same place as you sleep.

The apartments are bright and clean and have all the mod cons you need and there are breakfast , gym and parking facilities available.

The hotel is in the heart of the city and there are plenty of shops and transport links nearby. Basel is such a compact city anyway, it is hard to get lost. One of the best ways to find your way round quickly is to take advantage of the city tour bus. The hop on and hop off service has 15 stops at tourist sights and every person has their own I pad and headphones to give a history of the city and see what is on offer.

It saves lots of time which can be wasted trying to find places and is well worth it if you want to see as much as possible.

We were only in Basel for two nights, but top of the list was the famous Christmas markets which host a wide selection of crafts and tasty snacks and drinks. The biggest in Switzerland, it really is a joy to visit with singing reindeers, choirs entertaining with festive carols and beautiful decorations making everything really special.

Culture was high on the agenda too and first stop was the Tinguely Museum, which pays homage to Swiss artist and sculptor Jean Tinguely who created the weirdest, most fun pieces of art out of scrap metal in the 1950s.

Tinguely was like Willy Wonka, a master of inventions, most of which are so very eccentric that they are pure fun. The museum houses his best creations and it is great fun setting them off and seeing how they move. In the city centre there is a Tinguely fountain and the airport contains one of his best works of art too, the Luminator which is 24 metres long and weighs nearly five tonnes.

From the weird to the wonderful and Europe’s biggest doll museum, the Spielzeug Welten, which is literally a child’s paradise, with floors full of old fashioned teddies, dolls houses and magical fairgrounds, all brought to life.

The museum is currently showcasing a perfume exhibition which charts the history of fragrances and also a look back at Christmas’s past, all lovingly cared for and well set out for all to enjoy.

The Basel Paper Mill is the place to go to find all there is to know about the history of paper, writing and printing and is housed in the medieval area of the city.

It’s a fascinating spot with hands on exhibits for all to enjoy and like the people, beautiful architecture, cruises across the river and the wonderful crystal clear air and water, another reason to visit and love Basel!

Factfile:

Accommodation: Switzerland can be a very expensive country to visit, so staying in an aparthotel is a great way to keep the accommodation prices down. The Adagio Aparthotel in Basel is situated in a nice neighbourhood and the city’s excellent transport links mean it is easy to get around. The hotel apartments are comfortable and have good cooking and leisure facilities plus a gym to keep you trim and there are plenty of supermarkets and transport links nearby. For latest deals and a virtual tour, log onto www.adagio-city.com/gb/hotel-7039-aparthotel-adagio-basel-city/index.shtml

Tourist information: There is much to see and do in Basel with 40 museums to keep your arts and culture levels up. The online tourist board link www.basel.com provides the inspiration needed for a great trip and the Basel City Tour bus, www.baselcitytour.ch, is a great way of looking round if you are short of time.

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