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Basel is the third biggest city in Switzerland, and an agreeable place to spend a few days.
The Basler Fastnacht is one of the more memorable Carnival/Mardi Gras celebrations in the world. It has none of the timeless elegance of the Venice Carnival or the drunken and baudy cheer of the Cologne Carnival, instead it is rougher and the masks are more likely to give you nightmares. And unlike in the Carnival in Venice or Cologne there is a strict separation between participants and onlookers, only participants will wear masks and costumes. The Fastnacht is essentially pagan folk figures and practises for driving away the winter dressed with a tiny fig leaf of Christianity. The feast is held annually and lasts for about 3 days, exact dates vary according to the date of Easter. Basler Fastnacht is held about a week later than the Carnival in Venice and Cologne.
The summers in Basel last from June to September with average highs between 21 °C and 24 °C and lows between 11 °C and 13 °C. Winters from December to February see average highs between 3 °C and 6 °C and lows just below zero. Precipitation average almost 800 mm a year, with some more rain between May and August, the other months being slightly drier.
EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (IATA: BSL) is the only airport in Europe that is jointly operated by three countries. It is located entirely on French soil, but has excellent connections to Basel (in fact, much better than to farther-away Mulhouse and Freiburg).
Although the airport is on French soil, there is a special Swiss customs area connected to Basel by a border road.
The airport receives flights from all major European airports, a few intercontinental flights and numerous smaller cities in Europe. Easyjet flies to/from Berlin, London, Porto, Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Cagliari, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Istanbul, Lisbon, Madrid, Málaga, Marrakech, Naples, Nice, Olbia, Palma de Mallorca and Rome. Places served further away include Algiers, Montreal, Istanbul and Reykjavik, though most cities are located in central, western and southern Europe.
The airports connects to the A3 Motorway. Basel's BVB bus No. 50 connects the Swiss sector of the airport to the Bahnhof SBB, which is the main Swiss and French railway station in Basel. French Distribus bus No. 11 connects the French sector of the airport to the Saint-Louis railway station.
Basel SBB is the station where long-distance trains from Germany and Italy, and local connections to France pass through. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB-CFF-FFS) has trains to other destinations in Switzerland.
Basel is vibrant at night, and the queer scene opens up as night falls as well, although mostly on the German side of the Rhein.
|Basel Back Pack||Dornacherstrasse 192||Hostel||88|
|Best Western Hotel Stücki||Badenstrasse 1||Hotel||-|
|YMCA Hostel Basel||Gempenstrasse 64||Hostel||89|
|Youthhostel Basel||St. Alban-Kirchrain 10||Hostel||87|
|B&B Casa Romantica||Rüttiweg 8 (Arlesheim / Basel)||Guesthouse||-|
|B&B im St. Johann||Davidsbodenstrasse 8||Apartment||-|
|Hotel Balade||Klingental 8||Hotel||-|
Switzerland has a high rate of people with their own internet connection and computers, so internet cafes are not as common compared to other countries and compared to the past. But still you will be able to find a computer in the main cities and tourist areas, also at libraries, video rental shops, train stations or tourist information places. Wifi is widely available, though sometimes at a cost. A growing number of hotels, restaurants, coffee bars and fastfood joints now offer free wifi.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Switzerland's country code is 41 and the emergency phone numbers are 117 (police), 118 (fire department) and 144 (emergency rescue service/ambulance). Swiss phone numbers consist of the area code and a local phone number. The area code has three digits and starts with a zero, such as 022 for Geneva. The local phone number has usually 7 digits, but there are numbers with only 5 or 6 digits.
If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands - they usually cost around 10-40 CHF and are obtainable in the shops of the mobile service providers Swisscom, Orange or Sunrise in most cities. Mobile network coverage is close to 100% by area, even in the mountainous, non-populated areas. There are also a lot of cheap prepaid cards for local calls from other providers. The prepaid cards of the big supermarket chains Migros and Coop for example cost around 20 CHF and include already 15 CHF airtime. The cheapest prepaid card for calls within Switzerland is Aldi Mobile. The cheapest prepaid card for international communication is Yallo. The prepaid cards can be bought online (30 CHF with 30 CHF airtime inclusive), in most post offices (29 CHF with 20 CHF airtime inclusive) or Sunrise shops (20 CHF with 20 CHF airtime inclusive).
Swiss Post is the national postal service of Switzerland and has fast and reliable services. For more information about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally, they have a very useful Price Calculator. Domestically, there is priority mail (arriving the following day) and economy mail which takes 2-3 days to be send within Switzerland. Stamps can be bought at the post offices or from shops and kiosks that also sell postcards. In general, post offices are open from 8:00am to noon and 2:00pm to 5:00 or 6:00pm, with a lunchbreak in between. Opening times on Saturdays are usually only during mornings. Larger cities and central post offices might keep longer hours and skp the lunchbreak. If you want to send packages internationally, you might also consider international courier companies like TNT, DHL or UPS.
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