Hello everyone! Finally we are less than one month away from the most important festival in Europe – Christmas! Most of the Christmas markets are open from now on! What can be better than having a cup of mulled wine and some roasted almonds while surrounded by happy people, Christmas lights, Santa Claus, Christmas wreaths, stars, reindeers, candles, bells, angels, snowmen, and of course, Christmas trees! When it’s in this season, Christmas markets are the best places to enjoy Christmas atmosphere. You can hangout with your friends, have some snacks and drinks, choose some handmade Christmas gifts for your family, or, alternatively, just immerse yourself in this festive environment.
I guess many people are thinking, you’re from China, and you don’t even celebrate Christmas in China, why are you so excited and happy about Christmas? Well, the answer is actually quite simple. I would definitely fall in love with it, if there is another festival, one month before which, all the shopping malls, streets, houses, flats, train stations, squares, basically everywhere are decorated with lights, stars, wreaths, candles, bells, angels and Christmas trees. I would definitely fall in love with it, if there is another festival, before and during which, you can go to the specially decorated markets to enjoy a cup of mulled wines, some special snacks and have a laugh with your friends, whom you might not have seen for almost a year or even longer. I would definitely fall in love with it, if there is another festival, before which you and your beloved ones will clean and decorate and make your sweet home warm and comfortable again. I would definitely fall in love with it, if there is another festival, during which you get the chance to spend some quality time with your beloved family, whom you have missed and have only chatted through phone or video calls in the last year.
I guess it’s pretty much like my love for the Toffee Nut Latte in Starbucks. The first time I had it was in Starbucks in Suzhou, China around 7 years ago. I liked it at that time and since then, I drink it every year when it’s Christmas time, whether in China, the UK or Switzerland, because each year when I drink it, it reminds me of the Christmas of the previous year or years. I might not remember clearly how many cups I had, but I definitely remember those dearest friends and family members that I drank it with. Some people might say they haven’t even heard of Toffee Nut Latte in Starbucks, some people might say it’s too sweet, some people might say it’s too fat, but I don’t really care, because it makes me happy and it reminds me of something that I cherish.
Since now I’m living in Switzerland, and inspired by my friend Julia, I asked myself, why don’t I visit the Christmas markets in and around Switzerland during this festive time of the year? I’ve been to quite some mountains, cities and some villages, but seeing them in Christmas lights, candles, and under Christmas atmosphere? I’m sure I’ll see and feel more about them. It feels like visiting an old friend, but this time, in a fairyland, more magical and surprising I guess.
Wouldn’t the Christmas markets be all the same? I can guarantee you, no, they are not, at least not in Switzerland. There are so many high, snowy mountains, peaceful villages, modern cities in Switzerland. There are towns sitting at the foot of the giant mountains, or by the amazing lakes. There are German, French and Italian parts of Switzerland, which respectively convey the culture and tradition of Germany, France and Italy. Doesn’t this country offer the best opportunity to explore the Christmas markets in western Europe? Basel, Bellinzona, Montreux, Lucerne, Bern, Zürich, Locarno, St. Gallen, Chur, Lugano, Einsiedeln, Rapperswil-Jona, Constance, Colmar, Stuttgart, Munich, Strasbourg, Freiburg, Heidelberg and so on, what are the Christmas markets like there? I’m not confident that I can visit all the Christmas markets this year, but I’m confident that they will make my Christmas this year unforgettable.
My first visit to the Christmas markets is in Basel, I’ve been there at the beginning of the year and it was snowing heavily! If you wanna know more about the attractions in Basel please click here to read my previous post about it “Basel – a Swiss City Neighboring Germany and France”.
In this post I’ll focus on the Christmas markets, which includes the opening hours, unmissable attractions, activities, tips, suggestions and etc. I’ll list them in the form of bullet points so that it’s easier and faster for you to read. I’ll attach the photos of specific markets right after the bullet points so that you have a more direct understanding and you can decide whether you are interested or not. The info I provide below is a combination of the info from the SBB website (if available) and my own visiting experience. and I’ll provide a link to the SBB website by the end if you are interested in the RailAway Combined Offer benefits and prices.
After the introduction to the Christmas markets I’ll show you a bit more about the city of Basel, in addition to the previous post about Basel I published before.
1. Christmas in Basel
- There are two Christmas markets, which are located at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz respectively, but there is a sign telling you how to reach the other one.
- The opening hours of Christmas markets at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz: 11 a.m. to 8.30 p.m.
- You can get mulled wine (Glühwein), Christmas punch and roasted almonds and other Christmas drinks or snacks in both markets.
- Almost all the hot drink are served in shoe-shaped cups, which are unique in Basel Christmas markets.
- You need to pay a deposit of 3 CHF when you buy the drink, but you can get your deposit back at any booth which serves hot drinks using the same cups. (I’m not sure whether you can keep them or not but you can definitely buy them at some booths)
- The booths of the market on Barfüsserplatz are not only on Barfüsserplatz but also around the Basel historical museum.
- The market on Barfüsserplatz is bigger than the one on Münsterplatz and it’s more crowded, but there are many more booths, thus providing more options.
- You can reach the two markets by foot (which takes around 15 mins) or by tram (tram No.8, direction Kleinhüningen, to Barfüsserplatz). I suggest you go there by foot because it’s not too long and you can visit the streets with Christmas light as well.
- There is a 14-metre high Christmas tree, decorated with 750 Christmas baubles, being located on the Marktplatz (in front of the famous City Hall).
- Inside the City Hall courtyard, there is a big Basler Buch (Basel book of wishes), on which you can write your wishes either for the city or for yourself and your family.
- Sunday Shopping in Basel: on 11th and 18th December 2016, the shops in the city centre are open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Basel Tourism offers Christmas tours in German on the following dates: 26th November, 3rd, 10th and 17th December 2016. Each starts at 4 p.m. in front of the main portal of the cathedral.
- For more info about tourism and Christmas in Basel please contact Basel Tourism (Tel: 061 268 68 68 website: www.basel.com & www.baslerweihnacht.ch)
- If you are interested in the RailAway Combined Offer for Basel Christmas markets, please click here to check the benefits, prices and purchasing options.
1.1.1 Market on Barfüsserplatz at night
1.1.2 Market on Barfüsserplatz in daytime
1.2 Market on Münsterplatz
1.3 Lights on the street (mainly on Freie Strasse)
1.4 Interior courtyard of Basel City Hall (Basel Book of Wishes)
2. Basel attractions in addition to my previous post
As I’ve mentioned above, if you also wanna explore the city in addition to the Christmas markets in Basel, please click here to read my previous post “Basel – a Swiss City Neighboring Germany and France” about the tourist attractions in this city. In addition, I visited some attractions (some of them I did, some of them I didn’t visit in my previous trip) on my way to the Christmas markets, so maybe you can also think about visiting these sites on your way to Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz.
2.1 Tinguely fountain
Basel got a new landmark in 1977 when Jean Tinguely placed some amusing machine sculptures in an enormous pool of water on the site where the stage of the old city theatre was once located. The Swiss artist had black asphalt poured into a shallow basin before placing these low power-operated, water-spouting objects in it. These nine iron eminences are in constant motion and “talk” to each other just as did the actors and dancers who once performed at this very spot.
2.2 Basler Münster (Basel Minster)
- For more info about the winter or summer opening time, opening hours during autumn mass, special opening hours due to holidays and events please click here.
- Tickets for climbing the towers: Adult: 5 CHF. Student: 3 CHF. The last entry to the towers is half an hour before the closing time of the minster.
- School classes from Basel-Stadt climb the towers for free.
- For more info about the minster please click here to read the description in my previous post.
2.3.1 Opening hours:
Tue – Fri: 10 am – 9 pm. Sat: 10 am – 6 pm. Sun: 1 pm – 6 pm
Tue – Sat: 10:30 am – 5 pm
Tower: 3 CHF
The tower of this church is even taller than the ones of Basel Minster. Do be careful that the opening hours of the church and tower may be different because this is an open church. There are various events happening here. If you are interested in a concert or other kinds events in this church, please click here to see the following events.
Don’t forget! At this time of the year, Christmas markets here in Basel are the focus and according to official Basel Tourism Website, it’s even the biggest Christmas market in Switzerland. How can you miss it right?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!