Kicking off the holiday season in Basel

This past week the Christmas markets opened country-wide. You may recall our visits to the Christmas market last winter when Layla & John visited last winter (see post), but these last for the month preceding Christmas all over Europe. Traditionally originating in Germany, the Christmas markets are a mix of local artisans selling handicrafts and holiday trinkets, concerts, plenty of special drink and food. It’s so fun! Andrew and I have had a trip to Basel on our list for a while and when we read that their market is supposedly the best in Switzerland, we immediately knew it had to happen so we headed there this past weekend.

Accommodation: We chose to stay at the Hotel Rochat for its central location near the old town. It was in a quieter neighborhood but still within walking distance of everything we wanted to see.

Transportation: Andrew and I were at our clients on Friday so we took the train to Basel. In the end, it’s only a little over a 2 hour train ride from Lausanne, so very easy.

Eats: A fun aspect of the Christmas markets is to try local treats. Here are a few we had this time around.

Kartoffeln puffen (Potato puffs) with garlic sauce. These tasted like piles of hashbrowns but very well seasoned and fresh from the frier. Very healthy 😉
Standard for the winter months: Gluhwein (mulled wine) in the mug unique to the 2016 markets
Raclette, a traditional Swiss melted cheese typically eaten with steamed potatoes as seen above.

 

Flammlachs: Fire roasted salmon on planks
We got our flammlach salmon on a sandwich with a honey-dill sauce

 

Besides all the grazing on Christmas market snacks, on Saturday night we had dinner and house brewed beers at the Restaurant Fischerstube.

The Christmas Market: One of the top activities of our trip was to visit the Basler Weihnacht. It’s one of the biggest in Switzerland and had a great reputation. While we found we didn’t think it was better than the Montreux market close to Lausanne, it was a really nice market with amazing decorations, tons of shops and fun stuff to wander through to get into the holiday spirit.

The city was lit up with so many Christmas lights! This is the Marktplatz where the Rathaus (City Hall) is located
The market stalls lined the streets surrounding the Barfusserkirche and were topped with festive garlands and lights.
The impressive bar with a massive Christmas pyramid

The above is a bigger than life size Christmas pyramid, which is a traditional Christmas decoration from Germany that typically rotates due to the use of candles. They come in varying sizes and levels of detail. Here’s a link to a German company talking about them.  This one was lit up, rotated and topped a bar. Pretty awesome!

The city had two separate areas with the Christmas markets. This was the biggest one, on the Barfusserplatz in the Old City
The smaller part of the Christmas market, set up on the Munsterplatz with the Basel cathedral in the back


We bought some Christmas decorations at the market, including this Santa who was handmade in Germany and is a “smoker” which would hold incense.

Sites in the city: On Saturday morning we got up early and went for a run along the Rhine river. Running is always such a great way to get to see the city on foot and especially areas where we didn’t plan on walking through during the rest of our trip. Here we are on the path across the river from the Old City where we spent our time seeing the Christmas Market and other major sites.

 

Andrew found that the Basel Tourism office had a great app on our phones with a free audio walking tour guide for the city. We brought some head phones and took ourselves on a walking tour of the city on both Saturday and Sunday as we casually wandered our way through the city.

A view of Kleiner Basel on the other side of the river
The Spalentor: This is the remnant of the old city walls along with a city gate. As you can see, the city has Christmas trees lining the streets all over the place 🙂
In the courtyard of the Rathaus (City Hall)
The City Hall

Basel was great for a short weekend trip. I loved getting to see the Christmas Market and wander the city!

2 thoughts on “Kicking off the holiday season in Basel

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