Sitting resplendently on the edge of the Rhine, Basel is a place of soaring Medieval spires, world-class art galleries and a cornucopia of cultures; thanks to the fact the Swiss city sits across borders with France and Germany. As the temperature drops and red and green trimmings start filling the shops, this pretty riverside spot turns into an epicentre of Yuletide magic.
Planned your winter trip but need somewhere to stay? Check out the best hotels in Basel.
Basel is famous for its art scene, so why not tie in a visit to one of these brilliant galleries and museums?
In fact, Basel’s Christmas market is the largest and loveliest in the Alpine country. Voted the best Christmas market in Europe in 2021 by the ‘European Best Destinations’ ranking, it packs in over 150 enchantingly decorated wooden chalets. In 2022 they'll be setting up shop in the city from 24 November to 23 December 2022, offering everything needed to get you tingling with festive feels; from the city’s famous spiced biscuits – Basel Lackerli – and mulled wine to exquisite decorations and charming wooden toys.
But, the festive vibes don’t stop there. As advent approaches even the most Grinch-like of souls would be hard-pressed not to get swept up in the festive fervour as Basel’s pretty market streets come alive with Christmas performances, IRL advent calendars, light shows and immersive wintery forests. This is, after all, the home of Johann Wanner’s Basel bauble shop, which is open all year around and one of the best destinations in the world for fir tree filigree. If you’re looking for a magical spot oozing with Christmas charm, you’d be hard-pressed to beat Basel.
How to have a perfect visit to Basel Christmas Market
Basel’s main Christmas shopping hotspots are right in the heart of the quaint Old Town on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. The former lines the street with stands selling Christmas tree decorations, gifts and belly-warming culinary wonders. The latter stands under a magnificently decorated Christms tree complete with ornaments from Wanner’s famous shop.
Look out for ‘Kulpa Weihnachtskugeln’, a stand in Barfusserplatz dressed up to look like a huge Christmas present and full of unique, eye-popping baubles and ‘Feuerzangenbowle’, a chalet serving up steaming copper pots of rum and sugarloaf punch.
Forget paper-thin chocolate. Theatre Basel will be treating people by opening each door of its IRL advent calendar with a daily stage presentation. Keep a look out for the costumed performances and, if you want more, the city will also be playing host to seasonal acrobatics from Basel Christmas Circus Cirque Noël De Bâle, while Palazzo Colombino will put on a Christmas variety show at the Rosentalanlage.
Get lost in the fairytale forest popping up on Münsterplatz where you’ll find workshops in candle-making and gingerbread icing. Or, wander along the Basel Nativity Trail. It follows a network of glowing stars suspended over the Old Town taking adventurers past ancient churches, gleaming shop windows and charming alleys.