Why go to Basel?
Charming Basel combines medieval architecture with a lively social scene
Most shops are closed on Sundays, museums on Mondays
This city offers a unique vibe with subtle French and German influences
Basel Cruise Port Facilities?
There's nothing much near the boat dock, just suburban streets. The best bet is to go to the tram station (an easy few minutes' walk away) and head for central Basel. Residents are very friendly and will help with directions.
Good to Know?
Most of the shops are closed Sundays. Main shopping hours in Basel are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, though big department stores tend to stay open later, until 8 p.m., and Thursday is late-night shopping day, when most city stores are open until 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m.
If you are in the city on a Monday and love art and culture, you might be disappointed because nearly all the city's galleries and museums are closed on that day. A notable exception is the Fondation Beyeler and Basel Munster.
From the Airport: The EuroAirport Basel is located 15 minutes away from central Basel (by taxi). Alternatively -- if you're traveling light -- you can take a tram to the German railway station Badischer Bahnhof and pick up Bus No. 50 to the airport.
Every traveler staying in a hotel in Basel receives a free Mobility Ticket when they check in. This is valid for 30 days and allows free use of Basel's excellent public transportation system; it also extends into the city (zones 10, 11, 13 and 15, including the airport).
If you're staying in Basel before your river cruise, print out the hotel reservation confirmation and take it with you because you'll also qualify for free transport from the airport to your hotel if you show it to the bus or tram driver.
By Tram: Basel is immensely -- and rightly -- proud of its transportation system, and tourist offices and hotels are very efficient at advising which particular trams you need to take to get to various parts of the city. Residents also are very helpful, and most speak English, at least to some extent.
By Taxi: Basel prides itself on being an eco-friendly city, so extensive use of taxis is somewhat frowned upon and correspondingly expensive. A taxi from the city center to the EuroAirport costs about CHF 40, while a cab to the Swiss or German railway stations (SBB Bahnhof or Badischer Bahnhof/BBF) would cost about CHF 20. And that's without surcharges for trips in the evening or on Sundays.
Taxi services include 33er Taxi AG (+41 61 333 33 33) and Taxiphon Genossenschaft (+41 61 444 44 44).
By Car: All the major car rental companies -- including Hertz, Avis and EuropCar -- are represented in Basel.
By Rail: If you want to go traveling before or after your cruise, Basel offers good rail links throughout Switzerland (including to Geneva and Zurich). It also has fast links to destinations in France and Germany. Paris is about five hours away, Frankfurt just under four, Brussels about seven and Berlin nearly a 10-hour trip. You can zip over to lovely Strasbourg in only 90 minutes.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The currency in Switzerland is Swiss francs. For exchange rates, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.
Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops. Some taxis also accept credit cards, but it is worth changing some money if you plan to spend time in the city. Euros are not widely accepted, and even where they are, you could lose out badly on the exchange rate. ATM machines are located throughout Basel -- in banks and main post offices.
The official language of Basel is Swiss-German, but both French and English are widely spoken. In different parts of the country, you'll also hear people speaking German, French, Italian and Romansh.