Basel is located in the north of Switzerland and is a very nice town to spend a few days. It has a very special historic center full of atmosphere, including the Romanesque Cathedral and the renaissance style City Hall. There are also very interesting museums and the carnival of the city is very special and exuberant.
The city itself has almost 170,000 inhabitants, the entire Basel metropolitan area is however much greater with 730,000 inhabitants.
Basel is located on the River Rhine at a place where Switzerland, Germany and France meet. It is the gateway to the Jura Mountains to the south of the city. To the north of Basel lies the German Black Forrest and the French Alsace to the northwest.
The Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical industry is mainly concentrated in and around Basel. Large corporations as Novartis and Hoffmann-La Roche have their head quarters in this city.
Furthermore, like the rest of Switzerland, the financial industry plays an important part. The Bank for International Settlements is based in Basel.
The inland harbor is also important, large inland vessels can navigate from Rotterdam to Basel, but further up the River Rhine, inland navigation can only be executed by smaller vessels.
The city hosts several large annual exhibitions such as BaselWorld and ArtBasel.
The airport of Basel is unique, it is located on French territory and is the only airport on earth that is being jointly operated by two countries. The international EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is located approximately 8 kilometers to the northwest of Basel, along the A35 highway.
There are street cars and buses in Basel. The public transport network is very efficient, street cars and buses run on schedule, are exceptionally clean and tickets are cheap. Tickets can only be purchased at the ticket machines at every (street car/bus) stop.
Furthermore, there are bus connections to cities in France and Germany, including to Mulhouse and Freiburg.
Basel also has a high-speed train (TGV) which connects with Paris, via Strasbourg.
Traffic and parking
There is a beltway surrounding the city, but driving around in the historic center can be confusing for visitors. Furthermore, it is difficult to find one of the expensive parking spaces on the streets in the old part of town. It is best to park your car in one of the 13 parking garages (total capacity of 6,000 parking spaces) surrounding the center. There is a dynamic guiding system that will lead you to a parking garage with available spaces. The parking garages are significantly cheaper than parking on the street.
Basel has a large variety of hotels to offer in each price category, although in comparison with other Western European countries, the rates are quite high. You need to take into account that during exhibitions and the yearly carnival all hotels are occupied. It is advisable to book your hotel room well in advance.
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