Streets Ahead: A Creative Guide to Basel, Switzerland

A small, quirky university city – and an international epicentre for art and architecture – Basel makes the perfect urban getaway for design-loving travellers.

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is an enigma: a small, student-filled Swiss city that also
happens to be a successful international incubator for contemporary
art and architecture. But we begin to understand why, as we tour
the town and its environs with BustArt, an affable and anonymous
30-something who founded Urbane Kunst, a collective of global
graffiti and street artists.

“In Basel, people pay for art,” he explains, as we ride the bus
out to the Big Wall at Basel Airport. On it is Switzerland’s
largest street mural, which was painted by Urbane Kunst in 2020.
“When I lived in Amsterdam, for example, everyone expected
creativity to come for free. But in Basel, individual
customers actually pay artists for a canvas in their home.
Companies pay artists for sponsored artwork on their walls. The
city authorities pay artists for installations and murals.” It can
never be said too often: to support artists and creatives, pay them

Riverbank, Basel, Switzerland
Street art on a wall in Basel

Urbanites enjoying the river in the Old Town, left, and a
street art mural in Basel. | Photo credit: Kevin

With a modest population of some 175,000, Basel is Switzerland’s
third-largest city, situated in the north-western corner of the
country, a few miles from both the German and French borders. It’s
home to the country’s oldest university, founded in 1460. This,
perhaps, is key to understanding this culturally dynamic hub and
its centuries-old commitment to creativity, respect for artists and
academics, and high regard for humanism.

Basel unpacked: the city address book

To stay

Volkshaus in Basel, Switzerland
Photo credit: Kevin Faingnaert


Volkshaus Basel

In 2020, Herzog & de Meuron designed a boutique hotel within a 1920s building, creating a near-perfect and affordable 45-room boutique hotel. Every detail is thoughtful, including the buffet breakfast, with pastries by cult bakery Beschle.


Rebgasse 12-14
Postfach 603
4058 Basel

A junior room at Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois


Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois

This grande dame is one of Europe’s oldest city hotels, which
now combines beautiful Belle Époque design flourishes with sleek,
contemporary furniture. There’s a Michelin-starred restaurant in
addition to a more informal brasserie.


Blumenrain 8, 4001 Basel, Switzerland

A room at Nomad Design & LIfestyle Hotel
Photo credit: Mark Niedermann


Nomad Design & Lifestyle Hotel

Housed in a 1950s apartment building, this design-led, 65-room
hotel is a favourite with luxury-lovers on a budget who want a
prime address minutes from the city centre. Polished concrete,
foliage and natural wood sit alongside curated art.


Brunngässlein 8, Ch-4052, Basel

The Lowdown

Seeking more recommendations for Basel hotels? Head to
purchase Volume 37: Craft today and receive A
Creative’s Guide to Switzerland, an 80-page SUITCASE travel
companion to Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux Riviera, and

Main photo credit: Kevin Faingnaert