Visiting Basel, Switzerland, on a Budget – Yes It’s Possible!
There are few places in the world as breathtaking as Basel, Switzerland. With captivating scenery, it’s no wonder it has become the third largest Swiss city. Basel, like much of Switzerland, is famous for its cheese, watches, and high-quality chocolate. At least, that’s all I knew about it before deciding to visit.
I actually wasn’t planning on traveling to the land of Roger Federer, but I found a cheap flight from Croatia to Basel and saw it as an opportunity to visit yet another interesting European country. However, no one warned me that it was one of the most expensive ones (now that I think about it, maybe it wasn’t fair to expect Switzerland to be as affordable as my Eastern European destinations).
Popular Things to See and Do in Basel
Researching before my flight, I found several things I could do in Basel. The first thing that attracted me was a chocolate factory called Chocolatier Beschle where guests can taste high-quality chocolate and, to my delight, learn how to make the sweet treat as well.
When in France, eat croissants for breakfast. When in Ireland, drink beer. When in Switzerland… Eat fondue. Google suggested visiting The Walliser Kanne in Basel, a restaurant whose traditional looks promised to make me appreciate cheese more.
A two- to three-hour boat trip on the Rhine also sounded like a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Boat tours actually included music and dinner while enjoying the sights along the famed river.
Fox Trails , a fun city scavenger hunt, attracted my inner child. Museum Tinguely, on the other hand, spoke to my artistic side as one of the most popular museums that have live performances available.
However, I traveled to Europe on a budget, after months of saving in all the ways that I could have thought of. What Google suggested wasn’t for my shallow pockets: I couldn’t afford to spend $50 on a ferry ride on the Rhine.
Spending a Weekend in Basel on a Budget
Nonetheless, I managed to survive a weekend in Basel without spending all my savings. I’ll share my advice, so can you too.
The first thing you can save on is your lodging. Being geographically challenged, I wasn’t aware of the fact that Saint Louise, France, was actually only a 10-minute tram ride away from the center of Basel. Surprisingly, AirBnBs in France are cheaper than those in Switzerland. The EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg is conveniently located in France, making it easy to get to your accommodation. Also, Saint-Louise, a picturesque town that features Alsace-style houses, is worth a visit as well.
Many attractions are located in the city center, within walking distance from France. It also feels good to say “I went for a walk in France before my lunch in Switzerland”.
Talking about lunch, most food prices in Basel are similar to the U.S. with supermarket food items available if you want to save even more money. At the local grocery store, you’ll find everything from soups to baked goods. Discounts are available for fresh food at 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the shops close each day.
Frugal Fun in Basel
Although you may want to indulge in the high-end activities previously mentioned, they each have their affordable alternatives to ensure that you enjoy your travels. Instead of taking a boat trip, opt for hopping on the small ferry on the Rhine. The ride is about three minutes long, but it enables you to see views of both sides of Basel where you can take great photos.
Check out free walking tours of Basel that are available instead of expensive private guided ones. There are four different itineraries including a modern art tour, historical tour, the Downtown, and the Kleinbasel tour. You can learn about the history of the city while also experiencing the everyday life of Basel.
Instead of paying art museum admissions, you can view sculptures outside with a tour guide that will give you an insight into each piece. You’ll get to decide how much you want to tip the guide or can choose to walk alone. Discover hidden gems like a wall covered in graffiti dedicated to rock legends and a church that has been transformed into a public venue. You can also climb its tower to get a bird’s view of the whole city (they typically ask for a 3-frank donation).
A Christmas store called Johann Wanner is also available throughout the year to pick up ornaments and decor items to take home, or to just enjoy the Christmas spirit even if it’s only September.
You can take your inner child to the popular toy museum, Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel. This whimsical toy museum has guided tours available throughout the week. You can photograph the stunning window displays and view live baking demonstrations for as little as 7 franks.
The SlowUp event is also ideal if you’re traveling to Basel in September. The city closes the street to all vehicles, and everyone rides bikes during the day. The annual event is a tradition in the city and is open to all ages, making for a fun and memorable experience.
Basel is known for its gorgeous scenery in the fall, and the Rhine will look green with beautiful foliage surrounding it. This location is not cheap, so it might be challenging to have fun while still being frugal. But, that’s what traveling is all about, testing out limits and learning something new, right? You don’t have to feel limited to the activities and adventures in tourist brochures, make your way through Switzerland with affordable activities and public venues that are offered.
About the Author: Michelle Laurey is a freelance writer who enjoys fitness, relaxing in the fresh air, trying to live a healthy life and daydreaming about visiting new places (and actually visiting them). Her best ideas and problem solutions appear while she’s riding her bicycle. You can reach her via Twitter.
Image Source: Pixabay, Michelle Laurey