Basel is the closest Switzerland comes to having a seaport; the Rhine is navigable for decent-sized ships from this point until it reaches the North Sea in Holland. It follows a gentle bend through the city, from southeast to north.
Basel’s year-round attractions, including the engaging Old Town, are mostly concentrated in Grossbasel (Greater Basel) on the south bank of the Rhine. Over the river, Kleinbasel (Little Basel) is a grittier area, long home to this rich city’s working class. The relief bust of Lällekeenig (Tongue King) – there’s a copy at the crossroads at the southern end of Mittlere Brücke – sticking his tongue out at the northern end, just about sums up the old attitude between the two sides of town.