Barely an hour from Zurich, Basel has enough history and culture for several cities. Switzerland’s 2,000-year-old cultural capital has splendid architecture, such as the Romanesque Münster Cathedral and the Gothic Town Hall. Music is heard throughout through the year, especially during Fasnacht, the elaborate 3-day carnival with a climax on the Monday after Ash Wednesday.
Basel is served by EuroAirport, which is shared with Mulhouse in France and Freiburg in Germany. It has flights from all over Europe. The closest airport with intercontinental flights is Zürich Airport.
Many people visit from other European cities via the excellent train service. Swiss Federal Railways has trains from Geneva, Bern, Zurich, and other cities. A rail pass is a very affordable way to get around, even in first class.
The best way to see Basel is by foot or by tram, as most of the sights are in or around the old town center. BVB is the city's public transportation system with buses, and trams. For general tourist information in English, including ferries and transportation to surrounding areas, see Basel Culture Unlimited.
The city sits right at the point where Switzerland, Germany and France meet at the Rhine, so it's a multilingual place. German is the language most spoken here, but French and also English are common too. The river splits the city into two distinct sections: on the southwestern bank lies Grossbasel (Greater Basel), the cultural center of the city, and the winding medieval streets of St. Alban. On the opposite bank is Kleinbasel (Little Basel), the commercial quarter of the city. Basel has a small but tight and affable gay scene of bars, dance parties, restaurants, stores, and saunas.
What to do
The Basel Stadttheater (Theaterstrasse 7) offers a wide array of operas, operetta, and plays in German. For cultural types there’s art at the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Museum Tinguely, and the Beyeler Foundation.
Queersicht, the gay film festival, is held each November in Bern. For Pride it's to Zurich that people head to celebrate, mid-June each year.
Currency and Money
The franc is the local currency for Switzerland (and neighboring Liechtenstein). Many businesses also accept euros, but don’t count on it.
Media & resources
GayBasel has info on all the circuit parties, gay sports activities and other events listings, plus good photos from around town. Habs is an online resource for gay organizations and community resources in Basel. Gay.ch is another source for gay Switzerland. Lesbian&GaySport has the scoop on gay places in Basel to swim, bowl, play badminton, tennis, volleyball - or staying in shape, walking, hiking or doing yoga. All four are in German.
MySwitzerland.com has gay pages included among lots of general information, on this official Swiss Tourism website.
For gay information on Basel and other major Swiss cities in English see GayMap.ch
Basel.com is another good general information tourist website, with hotel and restaurant listings, plus arts, entertainment and cultural events.
For an overview of museums in Basel, with current and upcoming exhibits and events in five languages, see the website Museen Basel.
A keen appreciation for the great outdoors, backpacking, camping, and hostel stays are a passion of Swiss of all ages. The Swiss Youth Hostels association has a network of 52 establishments, ranging from romantic castles and stately manors, cosy rural hostels and vibrant city sites --open around the clock, with no age limits. Most offer double and four-bed rooms as well as dorms. Memberships are 33 CHF/year, (internationally valid) or 6 CHF/day, for those 18 and over.
See our map & listings tab for hotel and restaurant suggestions, plus major museums and theaters, along with locations and website links for the gay and gay-friendly businesses listed below.
It's a small but tight and affable gay scene in Basel, with some bars, stores, saunas, and local events.
Baragraph (Kohlenberg 10), trendy but casual cocktail bar and lounge, mixed young crowd, minimalist modern decor/design.
Besenkammerbar (Baselstrasse 48; Besenkammer.ch.vu), to the south in Reinach, private, informal, comfortable gay/lesbian/bi old-style gathering place, Thursday - Sundays from 6pm.
Hirscheneck (Lindenberg 23) gay and alternative restaurant, meat, vegetarian and vegan; concert and dance cellar bar, non-corporate easygoing vibe. Hardcore Untragbar gay Sundays at Hirscheneck, from 9pm; DJs, sci-fi, porn and Funny as Fuck TV videos.
Kaserne/ KaBar (Klybeckstrasse 1b), bar/cafe, lunch daily, nightly snacks; Zischbar (Zischbar.ch) gay nights take place here every Tuesday 9pm-1am, DJ music, summertime terrace.
L39 (Rebgasse 39), longtime gay neighborhood bar and lounge for men and women, the former Elle et Lui, open nightly to 3am.
Les Gareçons, gay-frequented cafe/bar in Badischer Bahnhof station, men and women, open 9am - midnight, (weekends 1am); DJ music, shows, Tango Mondays. Sunday breakfast until 10pm, Pink Sofa - Sunday gay coffee shop from 4pm.
Parterre (Klybeckstrasse 1b), restaurant and bar, daily from 7pm, outdoor lounge; creative, seasonal, fresh market cuisine, constantly changing menu.
Bodygage, periodic gay techhouse electro dance party at Borderline (Hagenaustrasse 29), two dance floors, chill zone.
Game Boys, monthly gay/hetero-friendly dance party at Kuppel (Binningerstrasse 14). See Game-boys.ch for dates.
QueerPlanet, monthly gay dance night at Singerhaus (Marktplatz 34). See Queerplanet.ch for more on this "hot House & Electro House Event for Gays, Lezgirls & friends."
For more dance night dates, and photos from around town in the clubs, see Gaybasel.ch.
Sauna Sunnyday (Grenzacherstrasse 62), basement level hot spot, cabins, lockers, bar, sauna, bio-sauna, whirlpool, sling, TV/video lounges, gym, gay sex shop, plus exotic and erotic masseurs.
The compact city center, easily covered on foot, is packed with many shops, large and small. The Stücki shopping center is easily reached by way of the tram system.
Arcados (Rheingasse 67), gay art, photography, books, videos; doubles as a community center of sorts to locals and visitors alike. Their website, in German, has book reviews and commentaries.
The Gay-Mega-Store (Laufenstrasse 19) is just that. From DVDs to gay literature and novelties to clothing and porn, the place is packed with stuff.
Joy4Men (Spalenring 1), erotic shop for all tastes, DVDs, accessories, plus gay sex cruising stop.
Manor (Greifengasse 22), department store beside the Rhine River, men's and women's fashions, bath and beauty, toys, wine shop, pizza restaurant, WiFi hotspot.
Migros Claramarkt (Ochsengasse 2), large coop supermarket, big chocolate selection, M-Budget mobile phones, restaurant.
Stücki (Hochbergerstrasse 70; Wiesenplatz tram stop), Kleinhüningen shopping center, by Swiss-German-French border, 100 shops, restaurants, cafés and services.
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