A typical route to leave Switzerland when you're heading north to France is traveling via Basel, which is a great international city right on the border, and while you're changing trains, perhaps you'll have enough time to take a look at the city of Basel. In our case we only had a hour and a half between trains, but you can leave your luggage of the station, hop in a taxi and head right into downtown Basel which is very close to the train station, of course.
Our driver dropped us off at Claraplatz, only took about ten minutes to get here from the station. And this is part of the new town. You see it's a lovely little square and flowers and benches and shops around it, and the tram line with lots of trams running through Basel. Trams make an ideal way to travel for visitors with little time, because the service is frequent so we figured okay, let's hop on the tram and head into the Old Town, crossing the river Rhine.
Although the city is worth staying a few days, if you are only changing trains and are pressed for time you can see a few highlights of Basel in just about one hour. In that case, head straight for the main square of the Old Town, the Marktplatz, the marketplace, and you'll find there's food stands, lots of people, cheese, and flowers for sale, then maybe you can get a quick lunch at the sausage stand. Don't worry about their schedule, because this market is open every day of the week.
The town hall has a magnificent delicately carved front with a clock, a belfry pointed like an arrow, fresco paintings and a heralded arms in splendid plume bearing the coat of arms of Basel. Its iron gate is like a great window blind embroidered in open ironwork. All over the courtyard there are statues and doors of carved wood. A stone staircase leads from the court to the vestibule on the first floor, and it's all freely open to the public.
Of course you could spend several days enjoying Basel and its surroundings. There is so much to see here. For example, you could visit forty different museums and soak up the multicultural ambience of the city with that international location at the border of Switzerland, France and Germany.
Basel claims a Mediterranean flair, with three hundred days of sunshine a year and a mild, temperate climate. Basel is generally counted among the cities with a very high standard of living, so you could really enjoy an extended stay here. However, in our case we're just changing trains so we're giving you a quick look.
There are ten different tram lines that run through the center of the city and at the marketplace there are two lines that will take you directly back to the train station, only takes about five or ten minutes to make that quick little journey. It's a scenic ride. You'll see more of the city along the way, and you'll notice there are very few automobiles or buses in the center. They rely more on the trams and bicycles and walking. And you'll soon be back at the Bahnhof ready to resume your journey.
As mentioned, we only had an hour and 1/2 between trains and we managed to see this much of Basel in just one hour. That was an hour very well spent and gave us lots of reasons to come back again in the future and spend more time in this great city.
The large train station straddles the border of Switzerland and France but you'd never know it because there's no passport control between these two friendly countries.