5 Winter Day Trips from Basel, Switzerland

5 Winter Day Trips from Basel, Switzerland
[Our day trip to Colmar, France – this is “La Petit Venis”, or Little Venice, that is a popular place for photos]
We LOVED Switzerland. Like, I would go back there in a heartbeat. Except for the stupid stupid expensive sad prices 🙁

But everything else – the nature, the beautiful cities, the food (aka cheese)…We loved (and ate) it all.

Tiled rooftops in Basel, Switzerland in February
[Pretty rooftops in Basel]
We had our Switzerland itinerary written out, which was made up of the typical tourist places: Interlaken, Bern, Zurich, St Gallen, and Lucerne.

We booked a private room in Basel on AirBnb (which is pretty much the cheapest place in Switzerland that we could find for accommodation) and hit it off with our hosts. They showered us in chocolate and beer our first night there, and even invited us to go dancing with them!

They asked what we had planned, and I proudly announced our chosen destinations. Our hosts looked at each other, shook their heads, and were like nahhh we have MUCH BETTER IDEAS FOR YOU.

So, here are the best places to go in Switzerland in winter according to 2 Swiss locals!

BASEL MAKES FOR A GOOD BASE

The Spalentor (Gate of Spalen) is one of the three city gates that still remains from the original Basel city wall in Basel, Switzerland
[The Spalentor (Gate of Spalen) is one of the three city gates that still remains from the original Basel city wall and is SO FREAKING BEAUTIFUL I cannot stand it]
We stayed in Basel – mainly because it was the cheapest area we could find. Keep in mind that Basel is a little far from the Alps etc. – it’s very very far north, like stupid close to both France and Germany. BUT you can totally still visit the Alps during the day, and do some awesome day trips!

Basel makes a great base for exploring Switzerland, and is full of beautiful architecture!
[I love the architecture here take 2485748]
Other than being a really pretty (and safe) city, Basel has a pretty cool hook up: you get access to FREE transportation within Basel during your stay!

Apparently all the AirBnbs/hotels offer this perk which is pretty cool. And no, that doesn’t mean you get a free train to the alps, but it means that all the trams/buses you take within Basel are all free! And this includes to and from the Basel airport, which is pretty lit if you ask me – usually getting to and from the airport is ridiculously expensive.

Buildings along the Rhine River that runs through Basel, Switzerland
[Buildings along the Rhine River that runs through Basel. The steps make for a great chill spot]
Basel, Switzerland is full of colorful pastel buildings
[I loved the colors of the different buildings in Basel, so of course I had to pose moodily beside one because what else are you supposed to do]
Our first day we mainly wandered around and got lost in the Old Town and amongst the canals. We also stumbled upon some botanical gardens (I’m a sucker for plants and greenhouses) and those were pretty (and free), too.

The University of Basel Botanical Gardens consist of greenhouses full of different plants and are a great rainy day activity
[The University of Basel Botanical Gardens are free and do not disappoint! And are a great place to take shelter during the cold, rainy days of winter]
We didn’t really have anything on our agenda, just kinda wandered, which I am a lot more apt to doing these days. My friend and I aren’t really big museum people (although I love me a good natural history museum) but there are tons in Basel if you’re interested!

But to be honest, wandering was really nice.

All the following day trips take place from the Basel SBB railway station, the central station in Basel.

COLMAR IS THE PRETTIEST LITTLE FRENCH TOWN

Colmar, France in the Alsace region is full of cobblestone streets and colorful half-timbered buildings and houses
[I really dig the architecture in Colmar, as does 100% of the world, I think! I also just looked up what it’s called and according to Google it’s “half-timbered”]
Our second day we were supposed to go to Colmar (which yes, is in France, but only about a 45 min train ride from Basel!) but we missed our train. Basically, we could NOT get it to change the language to English, and were trying to guess everything in French. We had no idea what we were doing, and our train just left. There’s also only ONE ticket booth that we could find in the French section (you have to purchase tickets to France in the French section of the station).

I would suggest you bypass the annoying machine and just purchase your tickets inside the Basel train station from people that can help you in the information section. Don’t even bother with the machines. That’s what we did on our second attempt and it was so much easier.

The canals of Colmar along the La Lauch are beautiful next to the colorful, half-timbered buildings and houses
[The canals of Colmar make it look so romantic – the very top photo is called “La Petite Venise”, named for the numerous Italian restaurants and resemblance to Venice, Italy]
Colmar, France is an easy day trip from Basel, Switzerland and is full of colorful buildings and houses
[I die]
Then, you have leave the Swiss part of the station and go to the French part to get your train. To get to the French part, you have to go outside of the SBB station and turn left. Just ask for directions from the person at the ticket booth.

But, once we made it to Colmar we forgot all of our train station woes. It was stunning!

It’s usually a very touristy place, but it wasn’t that crowded since we went on a weekday in February. That is my advice to you if you want to avoid all the people.

Colmar is an easy day trip from Basel, Switzerland
[The colors make me happy]
And again, we didn’t really have an itinerary – just wandered around, which in my opinion, is all you really need to do in Colmar. Map yourself to “La Petit Venise” – that’ll take you right to the center where the famous canal shot is, and then you can just go from there.

Colmar is an easy day trip from Basel, Switzerland
[Shutters are a future must have on my house]
We found lots of little cafes and bakeries to duck into when it got too chilly out. There are also lots of shops, but most weren’t open – I’m assuming lots of places only open in the spring/summer. But to be honest, just walking around and looking at all the pretty buildings was more than enough for us!

LUCERNE IS MORE THAN JUST A BRAND OF DAIRY PRODUCTS

Lake Lucerne in February
[Lake Lucerne in the winter is SO DAMN PRETTY]
Okay, so we pretty much only stopped in Lucerne for 45 minutes on our way to Rigi, and you can totally kill 2 birds with one stone by doing this.

You can also get up earlier so you can enjoy more time in Lucerne before taking the ferry to Rigi (I believe ferries leave every hour or 2). Or you can just come back to Lucerne on your own because it’s so freaking pretty??? Especially dusted in snow??

Lake houses in February are covered in snow on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland
[Houses/cabins (???) on the boat ride from Lucerne to Rigi]
I would definitely recommend a boat ride on the lake as it’s gorgeous (which you’ll get to do if you take the ferry) because boat rides are just nice. Walking around the town and on the lake is so pretty and relaxing.

RIGI IS THE COOLEST MOUNTAIN

The view from the top of Rigi in Switzerland is full of clouds and mountain peaks
[It is the coolest thing to be above the clouds]
So once you get off the ferry, you have to take a cable car up the mountain. It stops a bunch of times, but we kind of just kept riding it to the last stop (save for when we got off at the first stop, mistakenly thinking we were at the top), and that was the one!

Rigi in Switzerland has beautiful views of mountain peaks
[Them views tho]
It was quite an adventure. Oh, and get the Swiss Alpine Pasta at the top! It has cheese and potatoes and applesauce in it. Like what could be better?!

I’d highly recommend this or Pilatus (the other mountain similar to Rigi, although I believe Pilatus is a little higher), as it’s really really cool to be above the clouds!

Especially during a cloudy winter – great way to get some sunshine. Although remember to bring your sunglasses and sunscreen, PLEASE – and a hat if you’re feeling crazy. The sun is really strong up there, especially since it’s reflecting off the snow.

Clouds surround the top of Rigi in Switzerland
[You have to take a cable car up to the top of the mountain and literally DRIVE THROUGH THE CLOUDS. Like. WHAT. Can it get any more cool?!]
Lots of people go skiing etc. up there, but we didn’t – we just came to see the mountain. I’d imagine doing some sort of snow sport up there would be mega rad but I haven’t done any of that since I was 12, so I wasn’t about to start now – I saw 4 year olds that could ski better than me!

Oh and try and tell me that seeing toddlers in snowsuits isn’t the CUTEST THING EVER. Ok actually, toddlers in snowsuits riding in old wooden sleds was the cutest thing ever. One kid was totally passed out in the sled with his limbs just flopping around, which was absolutely adorable.

LAUTERBRUNNEN HAS SOME EPIC VIEWS

Lauterbrunnen is a pretty Swiss Alps ski town to visit in winter in Switzerland
[The train station! I know this isn’t like, the prettiest picture ever, but I promise you it’s soooo nice!]
You have to stop here to get to Mürren, so might as well explore if you have time (…and didn’t sleep in too long like we did…). It’s such a pretty (but very small) town and I wish we’d had time to walk around a bit!

Cable cars that take you from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren in Switzerland in winter
[The cable cars that take you from Lauterbrunnen to another train that takes you to Mürren – it’s quite a journey lol]

MÜRREN IS THE PERFECT SWISS ALPS SKI TOWN

Mürren is a quintessential Swiss Alps ski town, and is full of large mountains and ski chalets - worth a visit in February!
[Mürren is breathtakingly beautiful – I really want to go back in summer!]
Mürren is one of those classic Swiss Alps towns. They suggested this instead of Grindelwald and Interlaken as it’s much less touristy! I think 90% of the people we encountered there were locals.

Hotel Alpernath is a good spot to get a rösti in Mürren, a ski town in the Swiss Alps
[This is where we got our rösti! Aside from the slightly slow service, the food was delicious and the view was absolutely beautiful, so we didn’t mind waiting]
I will warn you that it is a MISSION to get there from Basel – I think it took about 3 hours each way via public transportation – but I love riding trains so I really didn’t mind. Plus it is WORTH IT.

You have to switch trains at Interlaken (so you still get to see it if it’s really on your list), then take a cable car/gondola thing up the mountain, then another train. But it’s soooo freaking beautiful and worth it, I promise! Even if you’re a non-skier, it’s fun to just walk around! OR they have ski lessons and sleds you can rent.

Ski chalets in Mürren, Switzerland, a classic ski town in the Swiss Alps, covered in snow in February
[More Mürren views – wouldn’t you just die to own one of those chalets????? I would give my left arm. And I guess probably my right one, too]
Make sure you eat a rösti while you’re there! It’s this dish that’s all about cheese and potato and more cheese. Do you see a theme from these classic Swiss dishes?!

Mürren is classic Swiss Alps ski town, and a great winter day trip from Basel, Switzerland!
[Isn’t this place just the prettiest]
Mürren is classic Swiss Alps ski town, and a great winter day trip from Basel, Switzerland!
[Imagine if this was your view waking up every morning]
We also really wanted to do the Glacier Express (which is a LONG ASS ride round trip from Basel – like 14 hours – but it’s doable), and apparently you don’t have to buy the actual pass (although our host was telling us the panoramic windows make it worth it), but if you’re on a budget you can just buy the train ticket to Zermatt and see the same scenery that way!

Mürren is classic Swiss Alps ski town, and a great winter day trip from Basel, Switzerland!
[I can’t tell you how many times I almost slipped trying to walk up the snowy roads! Definitely wear shoes that have some traction if you can haha]
They also suggested we go to Rheinfelden Solbed Spa if we were feeling it. Apparently it has a big saltwater pool, is super relaxing, and is only about €30 for 2 hours. Not bad, right? We didn’t end up going, but it would have been sooo nice for our tired traveler’s bodies.

And we opted not to go to many big cities simply because we’re not city people, and really wanted to see nature! But if you’re a city person, by all means check out Zurich and Bern! You can also check out the southern parts of Switzerland like Geneva or Lugano. We just didn’t feel like riding on a train ALL DAY to get there and then head back.

HOW TO GET AROUND

We mostly took trains to explore Switzerland! In Basel, you can use the trams and buses (for free!) and we just used Google Maps to plan everything out. We used the SBB website (the Swiss train site) to look up tickets, but you can also use their app which is a little more handy.

Having AirBnb hosts was also really great as they helped us out with purchasing our tickets, too! And again – Google Maps is your BFF.

Keep in mind that Swiss train tickets can be pretty pricey, so book early if you can!

Basel is a great base for exploring Switzerland, and it's old town is especially pretty in the winter!
[The Old Town in Basel is so pretty, even on a rainy day]
Overall I think this was a pretty good introduction to Switzerland! We got to see pretty cities, towns, nature, mountains, and eat all the cheese – all quintessential things for a Switzerland trip in my opinion 🙂

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5 winter day trips from Basel, Switzerland including trips to the Swiss Alps, cities, and towns! This includes the best things to do in each of these places. 5 winter day trips from Basel, Switzerland to the Swiss Alps, Colmar, and Lucerne! The best day trips from Basel, Switzerland to take in the winter! Winter in Switzerland is beautiful and there are many amazing destinations, like the Swiss Alps, and many towns and cities. The best day trips from Basel that will let you see the best of winter in Switzerland! From the Swiss Alps to small towns like Colmar, there's plenty to see and do!

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14 thoughts on “5 Winter Day Trips from Basel, Switzerland

  1. Oooh so I like the look of the buildings in Basel, but wooooow for the views at Rigi and the others areas up in the mountains. Wowza!

    p.s. I think you might need some microspikes to strap over your shoes/allow you to walk on snow and ice! 😉

    1. Yeah the views at Rigi were unlike any other! I’ve never been above the clouds like that before (besides being on a plane lol.)

      And haha, yes I definitely should invest in some microspikes! They look handy. And then I wouldn’t have to worry about suffering any potential broken bones…

    1. Ah yes I loved Lucerne! Such a pretty place. And same – I’d love to explore more mountain towns next time (and perhaps stay closer to them lol)!

    1. I’d also love to see Switzerland in the summer for hiking! I’m sure the Alps are just gorgeous with flowers blooming, too.

    1. Yeah there are so many cool places to see! They were my favorites, too, haha. Lauterbrunnen was also gorgeous but I just didn’t get any great photos.

  2. It looks like you had such a good time! Your photos are beautiful!! That is so cool the buses and trams are free within Basel! This has really made me want to visit Switzerland in the winter!

  3. I actually visited Colmar this summer. It’s indeed a pretty amazing place. I only had a long weekend and so I did Colmar and Strasbourg, but I am kicking myself for not booking a day in Basel. It looks pretty awesome and I am totally in love with that type of architecture.

    1. Oh I wanted to go to Strasbourg!! And yes, I loved Basel, but I (personally) thought Colmar was prettier so I think you def lucked out there 🙂

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