How to Shop Like the Pope in Basel

Happy Halloween from Geneva!! We’re told that it is not at all a holiday here in Switzerland, but it might be wise to have some candy just in case some American or British expats come by… so of course, we are stocked for an emergency!

Back to our Swiss roundup – as I mentioned in my last post, September took us on a mini city field trip to Zurich and Bern, and our last stop was Basel!


Basel is a really unique place because it is essentially equi-distant from France and Germany, but it leans hard into it’s German roots almost exclusively. It is entirely German speaking and is apparently the best place to go in Switzerland for a good Christmas market!

We had hit some travel fatigue by the time we arrived, which means we have even more of a reason to go back at the holidays, but still really enjoyed our visit- a gorgeous Old Town, lovely people, and a simple transit system.

Out of the train station, our first stop was Markthalle, a Reading Terminal vibe with many international stalls. There was Indian, Thai, Afghan, Danish, Caribbean – it was really vast and impressive! We had beers at Bierrevier, a great craft and bottle shop.

We then proceeded to the famous Johannes Wanner- allegedly where the Pope shops for his ornaments. Naturally we grabbed a commemorative ornament – my travel “must” souvenir , and some early “Christmas in September” cheer!

And if you need proof that the avocado craze is seriously continuing to sweep the globe…


We then enjoyed walking through the Old Town and a lovely dinner on the Town Hall Square, the Marktplatz, next to the red sandstone Hall.

Basel has a thriving art scene (You might have heard of Art Basel? It’s an enormous contemporary art exhibition which also shows in Miami and Hong Kong) and is home to 40 museums – but at that point I knew my husband would tolerate none of it after a long week, so we really just relaxed and took in the sights. The next day, we visited the Basel Minster, a Gothic church, and sat by the river for awhile and just enjoyed the people and the scenes.

Basel Minster
Basel Minster

We’re told in the summer that many Basel folks commute by “riding the river” to work – jumping in at home and flowing with the current to the city, and so we were disappointed to be there in the fall, and on a Saturday!

Basel River Views
Basel River Views

From there, it was clear that we were tuckered out and it was time for the trek back to Geneva. Bern is certainly more beautiful, but particularly if you are artistically minded (or are as Christmas-crazy as I am) definitely check out Basel! We will definitely plan to come back with less tired feet and minds around the holidays.

Basel Flowers

We were also anxious to get back to start packing for Paris, which we were leaving for in a few days! Stay tuned for that post, as well as our trip to Greece!

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