Basel : arrival and information
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Basel has two train stations straddling three countries. The huge Basel SBB is the main one, most of it in Switzerland, although all trains from France terminate in an area known as Bâle SNCF which is in French territory; you’ll have to go through passport control to reach the station proper. Trams #1 and #8 from outside connect to Barfüsserplatz. Many fast trains from Germany serve Basel SBB, but plenty – including local trains from Freiburg-im-Breisgau – stop short at Basel Badischer Bahnhof (Basel Bad. for short), run by Deutsche Bahn (DB; 061/690 11 11) in an enclave of German territory within Kleinbasel. Again, passport control separates the platforms from the ticket hall. Tram #6 from outside runs to Barfüsserplatz.

The airport – cringingly dubbed EuroAirport – is actually in French territory 5km north of the city, shared between Basel (Switzerland), Mulhouse (France) and Freiburg (Germany). A special customs-free fenced road links the Swiss terminal with Switzerland proper, along which bus #50 runs every twenty minutes, connecting the airport and Basel SBB station (daily 5am–midnight; Fr.2.80; journey time 15min).

By car, the N1 from Bern or Zürich and the N2 from Luzern all feed into Basel from the southeast; the Basel-City exit delivers you directly to parking facilities at the SBB station, but those in Basel-Nord at the Messe and beneath Basel Bad. station are less outrageously priced. The same highway goes on to form the French A35 (direction Mulhouse) and the German A5 (direction Freiburg).

The two branches of Basel tourist office (061/268 68 68, www.baseltourismus.ch) are at Schifflände 5 (Mon–Fri 8.30am–6pm, Sat 10am–4pm), and inside the main SBB train station (June–Sept Mon–Fri 8.30am–7pm, Sat 8.30am–12.30pm & 1.30–6pm, Sun 10am–2pm; Oct–May Mon–Fri 8.30am–6pm, Sat 8.30am–12.30pm). They both have tons of information, free maps and brochures, as well as more detailed maps and books to buy. If you’re planning to be in the city longer than a day or two, pick up the invaluable pocket-sized Tourist’s Companion (Fr.5), crammed with all kinds of useful background. Don’t, though, ask the tourist office to make a hotel reservation for you, since you’ll get stung for Fr.5 at the main office, or Fr.10 at the SBB branch. Instead, you could ask about their good-value weekend package deal, which offers one night (either Fri or Sat) in a hotel, plus free museum entry, and discounts on car-rental, a boat trip, a sightseeing tour and more, from Fr.76 per person sharing a double in the lowest grade of hotel, up to Fr.138 for more upmarket accommodation. The Basler Museumspass (Fr.32) covers free entry to all the city’s 35 museums (including the the Roman remains at Augusta Raurica and the Vitra museum in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany), and is valid on any four days within a one-month period. Also available from the tourist office, the Basel Card gives a range of discounts throughout the city, including free entry to all museums, free sightseeing tours, free rides on the river ferries which cross from bank to bank and discounts on river cruises, taxis and car rental and in some shops, restaurants and theatres; the card costs Fr.25/33/45 for 1/2/3 days.

You’ll find listings and cultural information in the Basler Zeitung newspaper, and also in the tourist office’s free Basel Live, published fortnightly.

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