Home Moving to Switzerland Where to Live City guide: Living in Basel
Last update on September 22, 2020
Written by Suzanne Ong, Sascha Becker and Chris Morillon

Moving to Basel? Here’s an introduction to help you explore shopping, nightlife, art, food, and living in Basel.

Living at the meeting point of three countries, the people of Basel have a great deal of savoir-vivre; good food and drink are as important to them as art and culture. Nearly all the world’s cuisines are richly represented in Basel: from starred gourmet eateries to the takeaway around the corner. The street cafés, patisseries, sweet shops, and traditional neighborhood restaurants all provide opportunities to become acquainted with the Basel lifestyle, and also make living in Basel a delight.

Living in Basel

The lively inner-city and romantic Old Town are a shopping center offering a range of brands. The traditional daily market held in the square of the historic City Hall also serves as a charming and colorful reminder of all things Swiss.

Basel offers limited nightlife for a city of its size. During the week most bars are rarely open after midnight, while more vibrant nightlife takes place during the weekend, when the city’s larger venues are open. Weekends in Basel offer more trendy options for going out, with a wide selection of fancy restaurants, hip nightspots, and cozy pubs.

Young people often tour the taverns in multi-cultural, multi-faceted Lesser Basel across the Rhine. Many street cafés along the Steinenvorstadt provide a casual Mediterranean style.

The River Rhine, which cuts the city in two, is Switzerland’s main port and has long been an important trade route into Germany and the North Sea. The Rhine also offers ample space to walk, swim and relax.

Many residents choose Basel due to its location at the convergence of three countries. With France and Germany within walking distance, many people take day trips to the surrounding towns and villages to enjoy either Alsatian delicacies or southern Germany’s beautiful landscape.

Cultural life and entertainment in Basel

Basel offers many cultural and arts opportunities. The city hosts annual festivals and has numerous theatres offering ballet performances, plays, operas, and concerts ranging from classic to jazz and pop.

Perhaps the most important event in Basel’s calendar is the annual ‘Fastnacht’ carnival. Along with many other Swiss cities, the inhabitants of Basel celebrate for four days the week after Ash Wednesday. Festivities start on Monday morning at 4h00 with thousands of people joining in the streets to watch street processions accompanied by traditional regional music.

With more than 40 museums covering an area of almost 37 square kilometres, Basel is the art and architecture capital of Switzerland. Most museums are located in the Old Town and are easily reached on foot.

The Basel Museum of Fine Arts displays the finest and oldest art collection in Basel. The modern art center Schaulager opened in 2003. The Fondation Beyeler is also internationally recognized for its special exhibitions and the impressive building designed by architect Renzo Piano.

Another point of interest is the University of Basel, Switzerland’s oldest centre of higher education. The 12,000 students in full-time courses enliven the city with a youthful energy.

Basel at a glance

Facts and Figures:

Inhabitants: 189,848
Unemployment rate: 3 percent
Average income per inhabitant: CHF 54,000

Cost of living:

Glass of beer: CHF6
Cup of coffee: CHF 5
Glass of mineral water: CHF 3.70
Restaurant meal: CHF 19
Pack of cigarettes: CHF 5.95
Apartment rental: CHF 1,400 per month