Leisure, sport and community

Basel is surrounded by countryside. Numerous recreation areas and the Rhine offer plenty of room for relaxation, get-togethers and exercise. Using public transport, there is always something new to discover in the Baselbieter Jura, in the Black Forest in Germany and in French Alsace. Showplaces of nature and history, cultural institutions, parties and festivals, sport clubs, clubs and organisations, but also a rich hospitality and colourful traditions in Basel leave little more to be desired for organising a leisure time full of variety and enjoying a fulfilling social life.

Cosy garden restaurant in the centre of Basel.
Cosy garden restaurant in the centre of Basel.
Orangutan at Basel Zoo.
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The animals in Basel Zoo do not just amaze the children.

The Basel region offers many opportunities for enjoying many leisure hours: in the parks, the woods around the city, along its rivers, and in the nearby recreational areas in Baselland, in the Black Forest, and in Alsace.

Sights and Popular Tours

Relaxing in the city

Basel is a city with many green areas and cosy, inviting parks. The Rhine promenade in Kleinbasel, with its broad steps and restaurants, is popular throughout the year. You can sit there, relax, and enjoy a splendid view of the historic Grossbasel skyline. The Zoological Garden in Basel is another busy and attractive place to spend a pleasurable day. The recreational area "Lange Erlen"  in Kleinbasel is another, smaller zoo that focuses on domestic fauna. There are pleasant walks along the banks of the rivers Wiese and Birs. The University’s Botanical Garden, which is open to the public, lies within the city limits. On the edge of the city, in the large "Park im Grünen" lies the City’s Botanical Garden. Impressive views across Basel and the surrounding districts can be enjoyed from the towers of the Minster, as well as from the Water Tower located on Bruderholz and from Chrischona in Bettingen.

The busy River Rhine

No visit to Basel would be complete without a trip on one of the four Rhine ferries, powered solely by the river currents. The Rhine harbours with the "Dreiländereck", where Germany, France and Switzerland meet, are always worth visiting. "Das Schiff", a swimming club with bars and restaurants on three levels anchors nearby. Passenger boats ply the Rhine throughout the year, and also provide trips to see special events. There is also the "Rhy Taxi", which ferries passengers up and down the river. And last, but not least, the Rhine is Basel’s most popular public swimming pool in the summer.

Varied Basel-Land (Switzerland)

Basel-Land offers a wealth of attractive landscapes within easy reach of Basel. Country walks to castles or beautiful hilltops and promontories are very popular. The hills of the Jura mountains, for example, offer splendid all-year views across the city and the Rhine valley, with the Jura, the Black Forest and Vosges on the horizon. Further up the Rhine, in Augst or Augusta Raurica, lie the remains of the oldest Roman colony on the Rhine (44 BC). About 20 buildings have now been restored; including an amphi theatre, a temple and the forum. There are open air shows at the amphi theatre every summer. Mariastein is popular place of pilgrimage, high up on a range of hills in the canton of Solothurn. Nearby, the town of Dornach is the centre of the Anthroposophical Movement centering around the Goetheanum building which serves as college, theatre and international meeting place.

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The Black Forest (Germany)

The Black Forest, whose highest peak Feldberg has an altitude of 1'493 m, lies to the north of Basel in Germany. Ski resorts and recreational areas in the Black Forest are extremely popular, as are a number of health resorts which have been known for thousands of years. Most of them can be reached by car from Basel in less than one hour. Other popular destinations are the numerous castles and castle ruins scattered throughout the region. The local fish and game specialities and the fine wines of the Baden region are becoming more and more popular with gourmets and wine lovers. Even closer to Basel, the towns of Lörrach (with well known Burghof Cultural Centre) and Weil am Rhein (with the Vitra Design Museum) are popular destinations.

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Vosges and Sundgau (France)

The French Alsace plain begins to the west of Basel. The Vosges Mountains on its northern edge can be seen clearly from Basel on a fine day, and the area is dominated by the 1'247 metre high Ballon d’Alsace. Another part of the Département du Haut-Rhin is Sundgau, a varied, hilly landscape with old, intact villages, castles and forests. They can easily be explored from Basel by bicycle.

Sundgau includes Mulhouse, the nearest large French city. Mulhouse was affiliated to the Swiss Confederation for many centuries. The famous Alsatian town of Colmar is less than an hour away from Basel by road or rail. Its fascinating buildings, particularly those dating from the Renaissance, and its priceless treasures, such as the «Isenheim Altar» in the Unterlinden Museum, attract many visitors.

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Greenbelt around Basel

Regio Greenbelt is the green lifeline for leisure time and recreation of some 535,000 people. It helps to breathe deeply and freely, get some exercise and gain some distance from the routine of everyday life. In addition, Regio Greenbelt is the habitat of several thousand animal and plant species, including some rare ones and others close to extinction.

Regio Greenbelt is a website which describes 50 extraordinary natural areas in the trinational region of Basel. As well as the natural environment, details of how to get there, info on the time required for walking tours and food and drink establishments are also given for every site.

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Four women chatting in a restaurant.
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Numerous Basel restaurants invite you to come in and enjoy yourself.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Enjoy a good meal! Have a party! Basel is a good place for gourmets. There is everything from regional specialties to haute cuisine. And it’s off to the club after the meal.

  • Find a selection of the best restaurants and bars in Basel.
  • A range of tips for going out is available here 
  • Event tips for lesbian and gay audiences are available here

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Both the young and old take part in the Basel City Run every year.

Mainstream Sports

Basel is a city that loves sport. No wonder, because the opportunities for recreational sports are limitless and the facilities excellent. In addition to the largest football stadium in Switzerland, a large, multi-purpose sports hall and a state-of-the-art ice hockey stadium, the St. Jakob sports centre also offers a multi-sport swimming pool complex, an athletics stadium and numerous sports and grass courts. The historic old town of Basel is also regularly turned into a sports arena: the traditional «Stadtlauf», in which thousands of men, women and children take part, is staged In the pre-Christmas period, and public sports event are regularly organised on the Barfüsserplatz. The car-free "slowUp" Movement and Experience Day also takes place every year in the Basel Region.

Numerous public swimming pools, ice rinks, golf courses, fitness centres and tennis clubs complement the well developed infrastructure, and the "Gsünder Basel" organisation organises free movement courses in the public parks every summer.

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The "IWB Run to the Beat Basel" marathon takes place every year. The marathon and the half-marathon start from the St. Jakob Park, with the finish in the Marktplatz in the Basel old town.

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High Performance Sport

People in Basel are great sports fans. Top tennis player Roger Federer grew up in the area. He started a real tennis craze in Basel. And the city is very proud of its football club, FC Basel. For some years now, the club has been amongst the top teams in the Swiss football scene. It is also the richest club in Switzerland and plays in the biggest stadium (42’000 seats). Home matches are often real parties.

Swiss Indoors Basel

The Swiss Indoors Basel is a tennis competition of superlatives, Switzerland’s top sporting event, and the third-largest indoor tournament in the world. Many of the world’s best tennis players therefore come to Basel every year. Some 70,000 spectators watch the matches live in the St. Jakobshalle, while millions of viewers in more than 50 countries watch them on television.

Ice hockey

Ice hockey is another extremely popular spectator sport in Switzerland. The EHC Basel Sharks has been playing its home games in the St. Jakob Arena since 2002. The hall has room for 6,612 spectators and is one of the largest and most modern in the National League B.

Fencing

The 130-year old Basler Fechtclub (Basel Fencing Club) is one of the oldest sports clubs In the Swiss stronghold of fencing. The Fechtgesellschaft Basel (Fencing Association Basel) is a little younger – and has been the the most successful fencing club in Switzerland for decades, with countless top results in national and international tournaments. In 2004, the Fechtgesellschaft Basel was able to celebrate "its own" Olympic champion in épée individual, and also organises international competitions every year.

Handball

Another great tradition enjoyed in Basel is the sport of handball. The club RTV 1879 Basel, founded over 130 years ago, is the handball showpiece for an entire region. The two-time Swiss champions have played successfully in the Nationalliga A (Swiss first division) for many years. The venue for playing home games is Rankhof sports hall.

Events

Various international sports events and tournaments take place in Basel throughout the year. In 2016, Basel will host as many as two international sporting highlights: the UEFA Europa League and the World Men‘s Curling Championship. Major events, such as the Swiss Indoors Basel, the Badminton Swiss Open, the CSI Show Jumping Championship, the Basel Head Eights Regatta and the Women’s Top Volley International take place on an annual Basis.

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Organizations, Clubs, Associations

Switzerland is a country of clubs and associations. People like to get together and share a hobby: musical clubs, sporting clubs, nature lovers and collector’s clubs – nothing is too eccentric. International associations, such as Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis also have many supporters in the region. Youth associations include the «Pfadfinder» (Boy Scouts), the Jungwacht and the «YMCA». It goes without saying that voluntary and charitable work is held in high regard in the country where the Red Cross was founded, and most of it is also organised by associations or foundations.

A collection of links to many different clubs and associations can be found here.

With the free App HelloSport one can find easily many sport activities, sport partners, courses and events as well as over 2'000 sports in the region of Basel.
Download: App Store / Google Play

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International Community

As a border city, as a city of commerce and industry and as a university city, Basel has always attracted people from other parts of the globe. Basel has an attractive mix of different cultures and languages, and the city authorities make every effort to ensure that newcomers are all successfully integrated.

Centrepoint

Centrepoint is a non-profit, volunteer-managed association for expats of all nationalities living in the Basel region who want to exchange views in the English language.

Spouse Career Centre

The Spouse Career Centre offers advice for spouses and partners of people who move to Basel to a new job.

Crescenda

Women from abroad who want to start their own business can turn to Crescenda  for advice. There, women find support in starting their business and meet people to build up a network.

Working together for Basel

The website www.you4basel.ch a platform for expat associations, volunteer work, and the launching of private initiatives. It is operated by the Komitee Sozialkonferenz Basel (Basel Social Conference Committee), and aims to promote the integration of «expats» through social commitment.
BaselConnectsPeople is a mentor programme that is looking for people living in Basel and recent arrivals who want to exchange ideas with each other.

Bookshops

International bookshops include Bergli Books (English), Bider&Tanner (English), Thalia (English, French, Italian), Olymp und Hades (English, French) and La Libreria (Italian) in the St. Johanns-Vorstadt.

Cafés, Pubs, Bars

The international community is, of course, welcome in all bars and restaurants in Basel. Some are especially popular with expats, however:

Paddy Reilly’s Pub and Mr. Pickwick Pub: real Irish beer and many British expats

Starbucks: The branches of Starbucks are popular with Americans, who feel at home there.

Bar Rouge: For a New York feeling in Basel, visit the bar at the top floor of Messe tower.

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The Cathedral of Basel is one of the main attractions in the City of Basel.

Church and Religion

Basel is Protestant by tradition. The Catholic Church and the Jewish community are also recognized religious communities regulated by public law. All the other important religious communities are also represented and active in Basel.

The eight Protestant parishes of the Evangelical Reform Church in Basel not only carry out church services, they also play an important role in the social life: youth centres, family clinics, neighbourhood celebrations or clubs for the elderly. Every parish has its own characteristic profile. For example, the city-centre Elisabethenkirche organises discos and concerts in the old church. The Evangelical Reform Church also runs information centres and adult education classes.

Catholic church

The Roman Catholic Church in Basel is divided into 6 parishes, including two parishes and three pastoral care offices for other languages. The Catholic Church also runs a centre for adult education and employs a hospital priest, as well as various other cantonal church services.

Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland

The Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland is the third national church and is recognised by most cantons. Through its history, it regards itself as an alternative to the hierarchically structured Roman Catholicism. The Basel Community is based in the Predigerkirche.

Jewish Community

The majority of the Jews who live in Basel are members of the Israelitische Gemeinde Basel (IGB), which runs the large synagogue on Leimenstrasse. The community also runs a restaurant a school, a youth organisation, sports clubs and various social groups. There are several smaller groups within the larger Jewish community. It is one of the largest Jewish communities in Switzerland.

Churches recognised under private law

The Parliament has also awarded cantonal recognition to the following churches and religious communities organised in accordance with private law:

International Christian communities

Islam

Muslims in Basel come from very diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and most of the various groups are organised in some way. There are several mosques and prayer rooms in Basel. All the activities are coordinated by the Basler Muslim Kommission. All addresses can be found there.

More information

Overall, there are many religious communities in Basel. The Inforel association offers information about all the churches, free churches, religions, religious communities, meditation groups and other non-material and spiritual groups that can be found in the North-west of Switzerland.

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