Basel vs Zurich

Hello. My husband and I are scheduled to take the Rhine Enchantment, Amsterdam to Milan riverboat cruise in April. We've been asked to choose between Basel and Zurich for day tours. We'd love to hear other traveler's impressions of both destinations since we're having difficulty making a decision. Thank you!


  • I suggest that you go on Trip Advisor and see what there is to see and do in each city. I spent a day in Basel before the Rhine Christmas Markets tour last month. There was a very nice museum there, the cathedral (of course!), a neighborhood of very old houses, so, with the markets, I had enough to do, but in general, it didn't impress me. I haven't spent time in Zurich (just in the airport), but even sight unseen, would opt for that city.

  • We were on this trip in May 2019. We chose Zurich because we had been told that there was not much in Basel. Nice lunch and tour of the downtown. Highlight was seeing the Chagall windows. I would call it maybe a “B” as far as excursions go.

  • We ended a Rhine cruise in Basel. Last day of the tour we had the option of Basel or Lucerne. Since we were staying on in Basel we went for Lucerne. Will see Zurich later this year after the Switzerland land tour. Basel is a nice enough town but not one of the more interesting. In addition to what MCD noted, there is the red rathaus (city hall) with interesting murals and a kinetic sculpture garden. As I recall those were the biggies the people who went on the Basel tour saw. In Zurich I'm looking forward to seeing the Marc Chagall stained glass windows in the fraumuster church. I believe scenery wise Zurich would be better. Basel is in a flat area. We didn't really see anything until the drive to Lucern. Zurich has the lake and the mountains in the distance.

  • I am booked for Amsterdam to Basel in September 2020. Tauck wrote they will take me from the boat to Zurich airport on the day of departure. Problem is it is a two hour drive to the airport and we must arrive for our 9am flight three hours prior. This means we must disembark at 4am. Apparently all flights from Zurich to Orlando are in the morning. This 10th day of our vacation will be difficult. Is anyone else going on this September 16th trip? It is our fifth Tauck tour. Jim

  • Do you mean a Tauck rep specifically told you that Zurich is your only option or is that just the standard verbiage for that cruise? In general, Tauck will take you to a train or airport in the area depending on where you're going next . Example, after a cruise that ended in London, we were joining a tour in Edinburgh and taking the train so Tauck had the transport service take us there. Last summer we ended a cruise in Amsterdam and stayed on several days at a non Tauck hotel. The CD arranged for a cab to the hotel at our expense but they then had the transport company pick us up at that hotel when we were leaving to Schipol.

    However, have you checked connections leaving from Basel airport? When we ended a cruise there we flew out of that airport (short drive) but had to fly to either Amsterdam or Paris. Both of those you need about 2 hours layover to make sure you clear customs control in time. As I recall everyone had very early departures too. You might consider staying on an extra night of two in Zurich and leaving from there. They have airports near the hotel and good public transport between the airport and city.

  • edited January 11

    Delta (Skyteam) has a number of flights leaving at various times from Zurich (many more than from Basel-Mulhouse) to the US (JFK, ATL, DTW, BOS, MSP) most with one stop but there is a non-stop to JFK that departs ZRH at 1315. We will be making reservations next Friday for flights for our southbound Köln to Basel XMAS Markets cruise. We plan to fly out of Zurich for the return flight. Google maps say takes only 58 min. to go from central Basel to ZRH via hwys 3 and 1.

  • That's about right, Alan. Last month, I flew into ZRH and was picked up and driven to Basel for my northbound Rhine cruise. Be forewarned: a large percentage of the market stalls are food and drink. I was disappointed that so few had original crafts. Still, the MS Grace, which I was on, was lovely, and the crew top-notch. And I met some very nice fellow-travelers.

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