Must see attractions in Northwestern Switzerland

  • Top ChoiceSights in Basel

    Vitra Campus

    Showcasing the works of the adjoining, eponymous high-end furniture manufacturer, Vitra Campus comprises the dazzling Vitra Design Museum (of Guggenheim Bilbao architect Frank Gehry fame), the Vitra Haus, the Vitra Schaudepot (both by Herzog & de Meuron) and an ever-expanding bevy of installations by cutting-edge architects and designers, including Carsten Höller's whimsical, corkscrewing 30m-high Vitra Slide. Visiting is a must for serious lovers of architecture and industrial and interior design. Save your pennies and suitcase space for ubercool souvenirs. Two-hour architecture tours run at 11.30am and 1pm. The campus is located just across the German border, in Weil am Rhein. To get here, take tram 8 from SBB Basel station, Barfüsserplatz or Claraplatz to the terminus at Weil am Rhein Bahnhof/Zentrum, or walk the Rehberger-Weg.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Basel

    Fondation Beyeler

    This astounding private-turned-public collection, assembled by former art dealers Hildy and Ernst Beyeler, is housed in a long, low, light-filled, open-plan building designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The varied exhibits juxtapose 19th- and 20th-century works by Picasso and Rothko against sculptures by Miró and Max Ernst and tribal figures from Oceania; there are also regular visiting exhibitions. Take tram 6 to Riehen from Barfüsserplatz or Marktplatz. A great way to visit the museum is to make a day of it and walk the '24 stops' Rehberger-Weg between Fondation Beyeler and the Vitra Campus.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Basel

    Augusta Raurica

    About 17km east of Basel, on the Rhine's south bank, Switzerland’s largest Roman ruins are the last remnants of a colony founded in 43 BC, the population of which grew to 20,000 by the 2nd century AD. Today visitors can stroll at will through a hotchpotch of ruins, highlighted by one of the best-preserved Roman theatres in Central Europe. Take the S-bahn (S1) from Basel to Kaiseraugst (Sfr3.80, 11 minutes) then walk 10 minutes, following signs to the site. At the entrance to the site, the Römermuseum is also well worth a visit for its authentically restored Roman house and its unparalleled 270-piece collection of antique silver.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Basel

    Kunstmuseum Basel

    Housing the most comprehensive collection of public art in Switzerland, this superb fine arts museum reopened in mid-2016 after updates to the existing galleries (Hauptbau) and construction of a new modernist wing (Neubau). It houses the world’s largest collection of Holbeins and a substantial collection of Renaissance and impressionist works among its thousands of pieces. The entrance price includes admission to the permanent collection – surcharges are applicable for visiting exhibits. Guided tours (from Sfr5) are available. Entry includes admission to Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Basel

    Museum Jean Tinguely

    Designed by leading Ticino architect Mario Botta, this museum showcases the playful, mischievous and downright wacky artistic concoctions of sculptor-turned-mad-scientist Jean Tinguely. Buttons next to some of Tinguely's ‘kinetic’ sculptures allow visitors to set them in motion. It's great fun to watch them rattle, shake and twirl, with springs, feathers and wheels radiating at every angle, or to hear the haunting musical sounds produced by the gigantic Méta-Harmonies on the upper floor. Catch bus 31 or 36 from Claraplatz.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Basel

    Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel

    Adults and kids alike love this fascinating and lovingly curated fantasy land claiming the world’s biggest collection of teddy bears and a slew of extraordinarily detailed doll houses among its 6000 objects displayed over four floors.

  • Sights in Basel

    Marktplatz

    Begin exploring Basel's delightful medieval Old Town in the Marktplatz, dominated by the astonishingly vivid red facade of the 16th-century Rathaus. From here, climb 400m west along Spalenberg through the former artisans’ district to the 600-year-old Spalentor city gate, one of only three to survive the walls’ demolition in 1866. Along the way, linger in captivating lanes such as Spalenberg, Heuberg and Leonhardsberg, lined by impeccably maintained, centuries-old houses.

  • Sights in Basel

    Rathaus

    One of Basel's most entrancing landmarks, the 16th-century Rathaus takes pride of place on Marktplatz. Its ornate red sandstone facade is smothered in whimsical trompe l'œil frescos of frolicking cherubs, deities and nobility. You can visit the inner courtyard for a closer look. It is now the seat of local government.

  • Sights in Basel

    Museum für Geschichte

    This flagship of three museums operating under the banner of 'Historisches Museum Basel' (Basel Historical Museum), which opened in 1894, is well worth a look. Its diverse historical collection is one of the largest of its kind in Switzerland, attractively housed under the vaulted ceilings of the former Barfüsserkirche, and showcasing two millennia of applied arts, ceramics, weaponry and more. Highlights include 15th-century 'dance of death' mural fragments and a well-preserved 16th-century choir stall.

  • Sights in Basel

    Feldschlösschen Brewery

    In Rheinfelden you'll find the Feldschlösschen brewery, 18km east of Basel and housed in a 19th-century building with a name that means ‘little castle in the field’ – an accurate tag. Two-hour tours (in German) with beer tastings can be arranged. The brewery is a 10-minute walk from Rheinfelden train station. Call ahead to see if you can tag along with an existing group (per person Sfr20).

  • Sights in Basel

    Münster

    Blending Gothic exteriors with Romanesque interiors, this 13th-century cathedral was largely rebuilt after an earthquake in 1356. Renaissance humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466–1536), who lived in Basel, lies buried in the northern aisle. Groups of two or more can climb the soaring Gothic towers (Sfr5 per person). Behind the church, leafy Münster Pfalz offers sublime Rhine views.

  • Sights in Basel

    Naturhistorisches Museum

    With almost eight million objects and artefacts relating to zoology, anthropology and archaeology in its holdings, the mission of the Natural History Museum is to maintain an archive of human and animal life in the region. Comprising plenty of life-size and hands-on exhibits, the museum will educate and entertain inquisitive kids and adults alike.

  • Sights in Basel

    Schweizerisches Museum für Papier, Schrift und Druck

    Set in an old paper mill astride a medieval canal and complete with a functioning waterwheel, the Paper Museum evokes centuries past, when a dozen mills operated nearby. This one produced paper for centuries and the museum explores that story. Just to the east stands a stretch of the old city wall.

  • Sights in Basel

    Museum für Wohnkultur

    Housed in the beautiful Haus zum Kirschgarten building (1780), this lovely museum features two floors of the house with rooms laid out immaculately in the style of 18th- and 19th-century Basel and showcases a fine Meissen porcelain collection among its many antiques.

  • Sights in Basel

    Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart

    Down by the riverfront, this extension of Basel's Kunstmuseum has a focus on visiting exhibitions of contemporary art (1990s and later) and a small permanent collection. Entry includes general admission to Kunstmuseum Basel.

  • Sights in Basel

    Römermuseum

    At the entrance to the Augusta Raurica site, about 17km east of Basel on the south bank of the Rhine, the Römermuseum features an authentic Roman house among its many impressive historical exhibits.

  • Sights in Basel

    Mittlere Brücke

    It's hard to believe that this bridge, the symbol of Basel, has been spanning the rushing Rhine, connecting lofty Grossbasel with lowly Kleinbasel, since 1226. Strolling across it when in town is an essential activity.

  • Sights in Basel

    Museum für Musik

    This museum, featuring the nation's largest collection of musical instruments – a veritable orchestra – focuses on a period spanning five centuries and explores the musical and social context of each instrument.

  • Sights in Basel

    Antikenmuseum Basel

    This multilevel museum contains Switzerland’s most comprehensive collection of ancient artefacts, dating from the heyday of the pharaohs in Egypt to Roman times. Entry is free after 7pm on Thursdays and Fridays.

  • Sights in Basel

    Lällekönig

    You'll find this replica of the 15th-century animated bust of the Lällekönig (Tongue King) on the Grossbasel side of the Mittlere Brücke, sticking his tongue out and rolling his eyes at the 'lowly' residents of Kleinbasel over the other side – actions that neatly sum up the historical attitude between the two sides of town. The original is housed in the Museum für Geschichte.