Before moving to Basel in April, I had never been to the city or even to Switzerland. Upon my arrival, I dove right into exploring my new home. From my first day walking around the city square and along the Rhine, I fell in love with Basel. It’s a charming city full of winding alleys, pastel buildings with brightly colored shutters, and bikes along the river. It’s also one of the most well-preserved medieval cities in Europe. Walking around Old Town Basel you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.

Basel is not only picturesque, it’s also steeped in culture. Despite its small size, Basel is known as the “cultural capital of Switzerland“ and the city lives and breathes art and culture. In fact, many of its cultural institutions and events, such as Art Basel, are internationally acclaimed.

What’s more, Basel is located in the heart of Europe with Germany and France just across the border. It’s a clean, safe city that is easy to navigate by foot, bike, or public transportation, making your visit all the more enjoyable. So put Basel on your bucket list and while there, use this guide to discover the very best that Basel has to offer!

rhine basel

1. Discover Old Town Basel

On every corner of Old Town Basel you will find buildings dating back as far as the 15th century. Wander the streets and get lost amongst the winding alleys, picturesque buildings, and elaborate fountains. You’ll feel like you just walked into a fairytale! Don’t miss the Spalentor, the city’s most magnificent medieval gate, and the impressive Basler Münster (Basel Cathedral) with its red sandstone walls, colorful roof tiles, and twin towers.

2. Immerse yourself in art at the Beyeler Foundation

Visiting the Beyeler Foundation is a must-do for any art lover. The Beyeler’s collection of classical modernism is internationally renowned and its current Monet exhibit is a real treat. After touring the museum, enjoy the foundation’s lush gardens where art, architecture, and nature are united.

beyeler foundation basel

beyeler foundation basel

3. Experience old-world luxury at Les Trois Rois

A visit to Basel is not complete without experiencing Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois. Les Trois Rois, or The Three Kings, is Basel’s nicest hotel and one of Europe’s oldest. Founded in 1681 as an inn for gentlemen and rebuilt in 1844 as a Grand Hotel, Les Trois Rois’ guest book reads like a who’s who of world history. Situated directly on the banks of the Rhine, Les Trois Rois boasts one of the city’s best views. At night, the hotel is completely lit up and it glows in the most magical way. If you’re willing to splurge, have dinner at three Michelin star gourmet restaurant Cheval Blanc (read about my birthday dinner at Cheval Blanc here). If you want something more low-key but still a special fine dining experience, La Brasserie is another fantastic option. You can also stop in for tea or a drink and soak up the old-world glamour of this grand hotel.

Cheval Blanc Restaurant basel

Cheval Blanc Restaurant

Les Trois Rois basel

Les Trois Rois from the bridge

Les Trois Rois basel

4. Explore Marktplatz

Basel’s market square is dominated by the imposing bright red City Hall. Peak into the inner courtyard of this 500-year-old building which continues to serve as the seat of government of the Basel-Stadt Canton today. During the week, the square is transformed into a market full of fresh produce, flowers, meats and cheeses, and food stands. My favorite food stand is Piadina which serves up their namesake, a thin Italian flatbread with cheese, meat and vegetables.

marktplatz basel

5. Take a dip in the Rhine

When the temperature soars, the Rhine is the only place to be (especially since air conditioning is almost nonexistent in Basel). The Rhine becomes full of life with people grilling on the steps, drinking beers, and hanging out with friends. In the summer months, the Rhine is dotted with what the locals call “fish.” These fish-shaped floats keep your belongings safe and dry while you float down the river. Get yourself one and join in on the fun!

rhine basel summer

Spot the fish!

6. Visit the quirky Tinguely Museum

This hands-on art museum contains the works of Jean Tinguely, a famous Swiss sculptor who created intricate sculptural machines out of junk. Tinguely’s interactive, moving art is fun for children and adults alike. Also, the museum’s park on the Rhine makes for a great setting for some of his massive works.

tinguely museum basel

tinguely museum basel art

One of Tinguely’s massive, interactive moving art pieces

7. Enjoy top-notch restaurants and bars

The Swiss take their food seriously and Basel has many great restaurants to choose from. After living there for four months I still didn’t get to go everywhere on my list! While in Basel, take advantage of the Swiss love for all things local and organic and treat yourself to some seriously memorable meals. Top on my list: the baguettes at Kaffe 1777, the Wiener Schnitzel at Walliser Kanne, the meat and veggie plate at Landestelle, and the cocktails at Werk 8. For more recommendations, check out my food and drink guide for Basel.

werk 8 bar basel

8. Spend an afternoon at the Vitra Design Campus

Vitra is a Swiss furniture company that manufactures some of the most internationally renowned furniture designs. But Vitra not only makes furniture, it also has its own Campus with buildings by prominent architects such as Nicholas Grimshaw, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid. Today the campus serves as a fully operational production site and as a field of experimentation for architecture and design. Located about 20 minutes outside of Basel, Vitra’s sprawling, otherworldly Campus is open to the public and it is a must-see. While there, make sure you stop by VitraHaus, Vitra’s flagship store. At VitraHaus, you can see their furniture in different settings and try out their latest contemporary designs. There’s even an all-pink Alice in Wonderland themed room which is not to be missed.

vitra design campus basel vitrahaus basel alice in wonderland pink vitrahaus chain design basel vitra design campus basel party

Read about Vitra’s famous Summer Party during Art Basel here.

9. Relax in the city’s parks

If you need a break from sightseeing, head to one of the city’s many well-kept parks for a little R and R. In nice weather, the parks become a hub of activity with Baselers sunbathing, grilling with friends, and playing with their kids. We loved relaxing in Schützenmattpark, a leafy green park right by our apartment. If you’re lucky, a local stork will make an appearance! You can find more great parks in Basel here.

Schützenmattpark basel

Enjoying a sunny day in Schützenmattpark

basel aerial

As you can see, Basel is a very green city! Drone shot by Julian.

10. Wander around

Finally, just let yourself wander around the city. If you see an intriguing alley, take it. If you’re curious about what’s around the corner, see what’s around the corner! I discovered so many unexpected and delightful parts of the city simply by walking around and taking a few detours along the way. The best part is, Basel is small enough that you won’t get yourself truly lost. It’s also so safe that you don’t have to worry about running into harm’s way. So go explore! You just may stumble upon a few treasures 🙂

basel house flowers

spalenring basel

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top 10 things to do in basel

top 10 things to do in basel

If you find this list helpful or have something to add, I’d love to hear from you!

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When Julian and I moved to Basel, we found ourselves faced with a plethora of dining options. The only problem was, it was a bit of a struggle figuring out where to go. In Switzerland, eating out is outrageously expensive so we wanted to make sure that when we did eat out, it was worth the price. It took us several months to find those special places that we kept returning to time and time again. Now I want to pass our carefully curated list of favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and bars to you!

Where to get your caffeine fix 

where to eat in basel kaffe 1777 basel

Kaffe 1777– This cafe is tucked away in a beautiful cobblestoned courtyard right off of the city square. When the weather is nice, this is the perfect place to work outdoors. They model themselves after the Viennese coffee houses and and make a killer cappuccino. Bonus: They are attached to a great library so if the weather turns or it gets too busy, you can easily take refuge there. Extra bonus: On many days, you’ll be treated to the sound of a nearby orchestra.

where to eat in basel mitte cafe

Mitte– Located in what was once the Swiss National Bank, Mitte is a spacious establishment where you can hang out, work, have lunch and get coffee. But don’t feel obligated to buy anything, Mitte is a nonprofit with a mission to support the local community and culture so they are happy for you to just enjoy the space. They take their coffee seriously and make one of the best cappuccinos I’ve ever had.

Where to Eat

Brunch

where to eat in basel les garecons restaurant

Les Garecons– It took us a while to find a good brunch place that didn’t break the bank. But once we tried Les Garecons in the Badischer Bahnhoff railway station, we knew we’d discovered our new go-to brunch spot. They have everything you could want, from inventive egg dishes to waffles, meat and cheese plates, and fresh juices.

where to eat in basel zum kuss

Zum Kuss– When it’s too beautiful to be indoors, head to Zum Kuss. It’s located on a great little park and you can sit outside and enjoy their mouth-watering cakes and coffee in the sunshine.  

Lunch

where to eat in basel kaffe 1777

Kaffe 1777– In addition to being a great work spot, Kaffe 1777 is also one of my favorite places for lunch. Their build-your-own baguette and salad menus are full of yummy options. All of the ingredients are fresh and local and their bread is to die for. Don’t skip their iced tea!

Kombüse– In the summer, Kombuse opens as part of the Mitte establishment. They serve regional, seasonal and organic lunches such as paninis, pizza, salads and a special of the day. Sit outside and people watch as you enjoy your lunch. Get there early or you’ll miss out!

where to eat in basel marktplatz piadina

Piadina Stand– Every weekday Marktplatz (the city square) is transformed into a market full of fresh produce, flowers, meats and cheeses, and food stands. Piadina is one of these stands. They serve up their namesake, Piadina, a thin Italian flatbread with cheese, meat and vegetables. A prosciutto Piadina (my favorite) will run you about $15 but that’s about the cheapest lunch you’ll find in Basel.

where to eat in basel rhine bicycles

View from Zum Schmale Wurf

Zum Schmale Wurf– Located right on the Rhine, this restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy the view of the water on a nice day. They serve delicious pastas and salads on a pleasant terrace.

noohn restaurant where to eat in basel

Photo courtesy of Noohn

Noohn– If you’re craving Asian, Noohn is the place for you. Noohn is a swanky, beautifully designed space with a bar, lounge, sushi bar, restaurant garden, and a roof terrace. They have a large selection of Asian fusion dishes, from sushi to flavorful curries, and their portions are generous. It also makes for a quick lunch as you pick up your food at the counter as soon as it’s ready.

Dinner

cheval blanc Les Trois Rois where to eat in basel

Cheval Blanc – Dining at this three-Michelin-star restaurant in the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois was such an incredible culinary experience, I wrote a whole post on it! Cheval Blanc is one of my all-time favorite restaurants but it should definitely be reserved for special occasions.

Les Trois Rois la brasserie where to eat in basel

Photo courtesy of Les Trois Rois

La Brasserie – Also located in Les Trois Rois, La Brasserie is a little more low-key than Cheval Blanc but is still a special fine dining experience. This romantic restaurants offers incredible dishes and a view of the Rhine at night. Their pork dish is simply sublime.

walliser kanne wiener schnitzel where to eat in basel

Wiener Schnitzel with egg noodles. My mouth is watering just looking at this!

Walliser Kanne– Our local friend took us here promising the best Wiener Schnitzel in Switzerland and this traditional Swiss restaurant certainly delivered. FYI their Wiener Schnitzel is absolutely enormous so I’d recommend splitting with a friend.

krafft restaurant where to eat in basel

Photo courtesy of Krafft Basel

Krafft Basel – On summer nights, Krafft is the most popular restaurant along the Rhine. With their perfectly cooked filets, flavorful pasta, and extensive wine list, it’s easy to see why. Their large also terrace offers great people watching on the promenade and a breathtaking view of the river.

acqua restaurant where to eat in basel

Acqua– This trendy Italian restaurant in a renovated old water plant is the place to see and be seen in Basel. The rustic brick walls, opulent chandeliers, and slick modern furnitures create a posh and romantic space and the food does not disappoint.

bon vivant restaurant where to eat in basel

Photo courtesy of Bon Vivant

Bon Vivant – The concept of Bon Vivant is simple: a constantly changing daily menu offers the best seasonal ingredients of the region. The food is prepared in an open kitchen so you feel as though you’re being cooked for in your home. Take a date here or go with friends and sit back and relax. Word of advice: Go with the restaurant’s recommended wine pairings, you won’t regret it.

bottmingen castle switzerland where to eat in basel

Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen– A quick tram ride outside of Basel is Bottmingen Castle. Dating from the 13th century, it is one of the few such buildings in Switzerland that are still intact. For my last meal in Switzerland Julian and I went here because what’s more romantic than dining in a castle?? Though I assumed the castle would be a tourist trap, I was pleasantly surprised to find I was mistaken. It’s an intimate, upscale locals spot serving creative and inspired French cuisine.

Where to Drink

werk 8 bar where to drink in basel

Werk 8– Located in an old machine factory, this cool restaurant and bar is super spacious both inside and out and is a great place for a group. The bartenders are true experts at their craft and they mix up the best cocktails in town. Go for sunset and climb the old factory stairs up, up, up for an awesome view of the city. The food is also delish.

sandoase where to drink in basel

Sandoase– As a beach girl, I was a bit skeptical of a tropical beach bar in Basel but it totally works! At Sandoase, enjoy the chill beach vibes with a tropical drink in your hand and your feet in the sand. You’ll immediately feel transported to the tropics.

landestelle where to drink in basel

Landestelle– This open-air restaurant and bar is Basel’s happening spot in the summer. Located in the industrial part of the city, it’s off of the main thoroughfare but well worth the trek. Food and beer are served in little wooden sheds by the river and the vibe is hip and relaxed. Get the regional plate full of fresh local veggies, hummus and meat to share with a friend and leave feeling happy and satisfied.

Flora Buvette where to drink in basel

Flora Buvette, one of our favorites!

Buvettes along the Rhine– The buvettes, or refreshment stalls, open up for the summer season to serve Baselers enjoying the Rhine. They always have a few local beers on tap and some serve bar food such as burgers and fries. A warning, when the weather is nice the lines can get very long so we soon learned to BYOB!

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where to eat and drink in basel

where to eat and drink in basel

If you find this guide helpful or have something to add, I’d love to hear from you! Also, read my top 10 things to do in Basel here!

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gumm mountain swiss alps

Sunday morning, Julian and I woke up at the crack of dawn to visit our friend Linda Bach at her home in the Swiss Alps. Linda grew up in a village called Feutersoey in the mountains outside of the posh ski resort town of Gstaad. Her family owns a dairy farm there, making Linda a real-life cowgirl. We met Linda in college at the University of Virginia. Since moving to Switzerland, we had hoped our paths would cross. Last weekend, the stars finally aligned. Linda was home from Oxford for the weekend and she invited us to spend the day at her home. Though she’s currently busy writing her thesis, she generously offered to show us the wonders of life in the Swiss Alps. Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity!

Cheese please!

First on the day’s agenda was cheesemaking. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we hopped in the car and headed towards Gstaad. As we grew nearer, the scenery became more and more majestic. I especially loved the traditional Alpine chalets with sloped roofs and intricate woodwork dotting the lush, green mountains. Two hours later, we had arrived in Gstaad. We met Linda outside of town and followed her car up the steep, winding roads to the Bach’s mountain house.

gstaad alps countryside

Annual Move to the Mountain House

During the summer months, the Bach family moves from their chalet in the valley to their mountain house for the cheese-making season. Summer is considered the best season for cheese production because temperatures allow cows to graze on flowers, herbs, and clover, producing a milk of excellent quality which makes for very flavorful cheese. In keeping with Alpine tradition, this move is made with much pomp and circumstance. With the arrival of summer, the Bach’s strap elaborate ceremonial bells on their 130 cows and take them up the mountain. These big bells cost upwards of $1000 apiece and they are Linda’s father’s pride and joy. When the cows arrive at their summer home, the bells are proudly displayed under the eaves.

swiss mountain chalet cow bells

The Bach’s prized cowbells proudly hung under the eaves of their mountain house

swiss mountain chalet

Linda, her mother, and their dog Suki outside of their mountain house

Cheese Making Process

The cheese making process begins with an early wake up call to milk the cows. Afterwards, the fresh morning milk is mixed with the milk from the evening before and poured into a large stainless steel cheese vat. Next, enzymes are mixed in with the milk to cause it to curdle. After about 30 to 40 minutes, a jelly-like mass appears and the milk has curdled. The curdled milk is then broken up into small pieces using a cheese harp.  These pieces are then heated slowly and stirred constantly. Once the desired temperature has been reached, the vat is switched off and a cheesecloth is dipped in the vat to separate the curdled milk from the whey, or the watery part (Photo 1). Next, the curdled milk is lifted out of the vat (Photo 2) and pressed into molds (Photo 3). After a day, the cheese is taken out of the mold and stored during which time the cheese ferments and gets its distinctive flavor (Photo 4).

cheese making swiss alps

Photo 1

cheese making swiss alps

Photo 2

cheese making swiss alps

Photo 3

cheese making swiss alps

Photo 4

The Bach’s recommend eating their cheese after it’s been stored for a year. Their personal favorite, however, is three year old cheese. The cheese they produce is known simply as Swiss Mountain Cheese and it tastes similar to Parmesan. Each summer, the Bach’s produce about 8 tons of it. In the fall, they sell it and make a seriously good profit.

Farm-to-Table Lunch

Once the cheese was taken care of, Linda’s mother graciously invited us for lunch. The meal consisted of ham from a local pig, fresh bread baked by a neighbor, salad from their garden, and, of course, their cheese. Everything was, in the truest sense, farm to table. In Switzerland, almost all of the food you buy is certified organic and hormone-free but this was on another level. After lunch came dessert— an almond cake with Linda’s favorite treat, fresh, homemade cream. I had never tasted cream like that before. It was thick and less sweet than I’m accustomed to but absolutely delicious.

Hike up Gumm Mountain

After lunch, it was time for a hike. The forecast was (once again) calling for thunderstorms in the afternoon and so we decided on a relatively short hike. Linda led the way with her beloved, and extremely photogenic, dog Suki by her side. We hiked through her family’s property, ascending Gumm mountain until we reached the top. At the top, there is a low rock wall marking the entrance into French-speaking Switzerland. I found it fascinating that on the same mountain there are two different communities, languages, and customs with little interaction between the two.

gumm mountain swiss alps dog

gumm mountain swiss alps dog

Suki is always ready for her close-up

gumm mountain swiss alps

gumm mountain swiss alps sign wall

Wall between French speaking and German speaking Switzerland

The view from the top was stunning and we stopped for a few minutes just to take it all in. As we stood there, the sun came out and illuminated the valley below. Once again, the weather gods had looked kindly upon us and we thanked our lucky stars!!

gumm mountain swiss alps

gumm mountain swiss alps panorama

 

Getting Cozy with the Cows

On the way down, we took a different route to visit the cows grazing in a nearby field. As we approached, the cows eyed us warily. But gradually, curiosity overcame them and they edged nearer. The feeling was mutual as I was a little apprehensive of their horns, not to mention the sheer size of them (I swear they’re bigger than American cows), but Linda assured me they wouldn’t hurt a fly. With her encouragement, I reached out and let them sniff and lick my hand.

gumm mountain swiss alps cows

gumm mountain swiss alps cows

gumm mountain swiss alps cows dog

gumm mountain swiss alps wildflowers

Back at the mountain house, we peeked in the barn to see the pregnant cows. They were absolutely mammoth! I would not want to mess with one of them.

swiss alps cows pregnant

The Bach’s give every cow a name reflecting their distinctive personalities

Mountains Goats and Marmots

Hearing that there were Steinbock mountain goats on the adjacent mountain, we grabbed the binoculars for a closer look. With the binoculars, we could make out about a half dozen of them and their imposing horns on the apex of the mountain. We also saw some marmots, a small animal similar to a groundhog, and their pups running to and from their dens. Julian decided to fly his drone for an even closer look. While he couldn’t get close enough to take a good picture of the wildlife, he did get some great shots of the lush green mountains and valleys.

gumm mountain swiss alps aerial drone

gumm mountain swiss alps aerial drone chalet

The Bach’s mountain house from above

gumm mountain swiss alps aerial drone

Gstaad — Ski Resort of the Rich & Famous 

After saying goodbye to Linda’s parents, we headed down the mountain to the town of Gstaad. Since the 60s, Gstaad has been a popular destination for the rich and famous to ski and vacation away from the spotlight. Madonna, Kofi Annan, Valentino, Prince Charles and Princess Diana are just a few who have frequented Gstaad over the years. Today, Gstaad is more popular than ever among international jetsetters and it’s easy to see why. In Gstaad, we walked through the charming streets and I couldn’t get over the fact that the banks, restaurants, and stores are all housed in the most adorable chalets.

gstaad palace hotel

Famous Gstaad Palace hotel in the background

gstaad bank chalet

gstaad louis vuitton chalet

gstaad church

I would’ve loved to have spent more time in this town. Unfortunately, Julian and I needed to get on the road. Our weekend in the Swiss Alps had come to an end all too soon. However, our short time there opened my eyes to just how stunning Switzerland is. I can’t believe it took me until the end of my stay to discover the natural wonders of Switzerland! But I leave eager to return one day to see more of this beautiful country.

If you missed Part 1 of the Discovering the Swiss Alps Series about our day trip to beautiful Interlaken and Adelboden, you can read it here!

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Saturday morning, Julian and I set off bright and early for a weekend of exploring the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps. During my time in Switzerland, we’ve tried to take full advantage of Basel’s location in the heart of central Europe. We have traveled both near and far– from across the border to Alsace to Milan and Beirut. But in the process we inadvertently neglected Switzerland! For my last weekend in the country, I wanted to remedy this by going somewhere to revel in the natural beauty of Switzerland. The famously picturesque Interlaken seemed like the perfect place to start.

After hearing wonderful things, Interlaken has been top on my list of places to visit while in Switzerland. Our only fear was that it would be packed with tourists this time of year. In anticipation of this, we decided to spend just half a day there and then head to the nearby Alpine village of Adelboden.

Interlaken

From Basel, the drive to Interlaken is just a little under two hours. You can also take the train for just a tad bit longer. But if you want to explore anywhere outside of Interlaken, a car is essential. After an extremely scenic drive, we arrived to Interlaken just after noon. The first thing we did was walk around the town. Before long, we stopped at an open field to admire the snow-capped Alps and watch the many paragliders descend from the sky. Someday I would love to try paragliding in a place like Interlaken! Their view of the mountains, lakes, and town in between them (hence the name Inter-laken, meaning “in between the lakes”) must be unparalleled.  

interlaken paraglide

interlaken

Snow-capped Alps blending into the clouds

Interlaken has been a popular tourist destination since the early 1800s when people would come for the mountain air and spas. The completion of the Bernese Oberland Railway in 1890 and the Jungfrau Railway in 1912 caused the town to really take off. Today, luxurious 19th century hotels like the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa and the Lindner Grandhotel Beau Rivage still offer guests the best of Swiss luxury.  

The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa interlaken

The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa

Lindner Grandhotel Beau Rivage interlaken

Lindner Grandhotel Beau Rivage

Harder Kulm Mountain

After grabbing a bite to eat on the terrace of the Restaurant Taverne at the Hotel Interlaken, we set off for Harder Kulm mountain. We knew we didn’t have nearly enough time to do everything in Interlaken, so we settled on one of the highlights– riding the panorama funicular up to Harder Kulm for the best view of Interlaken. The ride costs 32 francs and takes only 10 minutes to the top. Otherwise, it’s about a two and a half hour hike. We would’ve liked to have done the hike but since we were on a tight time frame we opted for the easy way up.

harder kulm interlaken funicular

harder kulm interlaken

Upon exiting the funicular, I was immediately struck by the brilliant blue color of the lakes. The turquoise and emerald hues of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are so vivid they almost don’t look natural. I had never seen that exact shade of blue before, not even in the tropics. I later learned the color results from glacial particles that reflect the blue-green sector of the light spectrum. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy when we were there but luckily the sun came out briefly, illuminating the icy blue water.  

harder kulm interlaken

The suspended lookout boasts the best view. From it, you can see both lakes, all of Interlaken, and the Alpine triumvirate of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. This is the place to take your selfies, panoramas, and tourist photos. Surprisingly enough, Harder Klum was not packed with tourists and we were able to get all of the shots we wanted. Perhaps the predicted thunderstorms scared people away but we were glad we didn’t let the forecasted weather deter us!

harder kulm interlaken lookout bridge

harder kulm interlaken panorama

harder kulm interlaken

After taking loads of photos, we sat for a drink at the Harder Kulm Panoramic Restaurant. Although it’s a tourist trap, we really enjoyed sipping on our drinks with such an incredible view.

harder kulm

After about an hour at the top, it started to rain and so we headed back down the mountain. The rain was almost a blessing because it forced us to abandon the gorgeous vista and forge onto our next destination, Adelboden.

Adelboden

The Cambrian Hotel

It was actually The Cambrian Hotel & Spa that led us to the Alpine village of Adelboden. We had been having some difficulty finding a decent place to stay in Interlaken (the grand hotels were all booked) so we expanded our search to the surrounding area. As soon as we saw The Cambrian, we knew we’d found our hotel. The Cambrian is one of the only design hotels in the Swiss Alps and it was built to showcase the natural beauty surrounding it. We later learned Adelboden has much to offer and were so glad The Cambrian led us to this stunning village.

cambrian hotel adelboden

Photo credit: The Cambrian

cambrian hotel adelboden

adelboden

cambrian hotel adelboden

View from our room

Engstligen Falls

While Adelboden does not have any lakes, it does have some amazing waterfalls. We were determined to see the Engstligen Falls, the second highest waterfalls in Switzerland, before nightfall. After quickly checking into our hotel, we set off for the falls. A ten minute drive and short hike later, we had arrived.

Engstligen Falls drone

From a long way off, you can see the 600 meter (1969 feet) falls. But it’s not until you’re right underneath them that you truly grasp their immense size and force. Next to the thunderous falls and towering rocks, I felt very small. For a long while I stood on the bridge over the base of the falls, feeling the fall’s spray on my face and standing in awe of their power.
Engstligen Falls

Unfortunately, we were too late to take the cable car to the top of the falls but with Julian’s drone we were able to get the same perspective.  Seeing the falls from the sky allows you to better grasp their enormity. A drone also gives you an unparalleled view of the wide meadowlands and dense pine forest below.

drone adelboden Engstligen Falls

drone adelboden

We would’ve liked to stay for longer but as the sun began to set, we knew it was time to head back to the hotel. One thing I underestimated was the temperature difference in the mountains. In Interlaken it was over 90 degrees but once we got high into the Bernese Oberlands, the temperature dropped dramatically. Luckily, I had brought one sweater for the weekend.

drone Engstligen Falls

After a delicious, fresh dinner at The Cambrian’s restaurant, we retired to our room. We were exhausted after our busy day but went to bed excited for what the next day would bring. We were going to visit our college friend Linda at her home in the mountains outside of Gstaad. Her family owns a dairy farm there and they had promised to show us the wonders of mountain life– from making cheese, to tending to cows, and hiking in their breathtaking backyard. We couldn’t wait!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Discovering the Swiss Alps series about our day spent with Linda making cheese, hiking, and exploring the glam resort town of Gstaad!

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art basel messe

The Fair

If you’re into art, you know Art Basel is the world’s top art fair and a destination event for collectors, gallerists, curators, artists, and art lovers. Conceived by Basel gallerists in 1970, today Art Basel brings the international art world together with 291 of the world’s leading galleries showing the works of over 4,000 artists. In 2002, a Miami Beach show was launched and in 2013, a Hong Kong show was added. However, the Basel fair in June remains the main attraction on a global scale.

Last week, over 95,000 visitors from over 100 countries descended on the small Swiss city of Basel for the fair. For the past three months, I’ve been living in Basel and have been looking forward to this prestigious event. What’s cool about Art Basel is it’s more than just a fair. Over the years, it has inspired a region-wide art week. Cultural institutions offer special exhibitions and events, companies host parties, and local businesses run promotions. All of Basel becomes alive with the art buzz and it was exciting to be in the midst of it.

This year, Julian and I received preview tickets through his company. This means we had the opportunity to see the fair two days before it opened to the general public. The preview days are when the who’s who of the art world and high-net-worth individuals come together, compare notes, and network. It’s also when the collectors do their buying. This year the collectors were not afraid to spend the big bucks with many of the galleries reporting record sales. Personally, we were not at the fair to buy but we enjoyed viewing the exhibits without the large crowds and had a lot of fun people watching. If you want to see some outrageous fashions, go to Art Basel!

Unlimited Exhibition

Art Basel is absolutely immense and it would take several days to see everything. Julian and I went on two different evenings and were still unable to see it all. On the first evening, we attended the Unlimited Exhibition. In the fair’s words, Unlimited is Art Basel’s exhibition platform for projects that transcend the classical art-show stand, including massive sculpture and paintings, video projections, large-scale installations, and live performances. In my words, it’s like art on steroids.  

Below I have included some photos from this dramatic exhibition. While much of the power of these pieces comes from seeing their sheer size, movement, or physicality in person, I hope these photos will convey a sense of their scale and resonance. I am not an art critic so I will not add my personal opinions about these works. Besides, the great thing about art is it’s perceived differently by every person who comes into contact with it. Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to a piece of art, it’s your own interpretation. However, for exhibitions like Unlimited I would suggest going with a guide. A guide can give you the context behind the pieces, as well as the artist’s intent, and I personally think this makes for a much richer viewing experience.

art basel unlimited 2017

A 40-foot-long zeppelin, or blimp, that floats for 15 minutes around a fixed point and then comes back to earth.

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017

Yes, these are real women covered in body paint

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017 jenny holzer

Jenny Holzer’s swinging metal beam displaying neon messages

Galleries

On our second evening at the fair, Julian and I visited the Galleries sector. The Galleries is the “anchor” of the show with modern and contemporary works including paintings, drawings, sculpture, installations, prints, photography, video and digital art by more than 4,000 artists. In this section, works by many acclaimed artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor were for sale.

art basel 2017

art basel 2017

art basel 2017

art basel 2017

art basel 2017

Exhibition Site

The second night we also took the time to walk around Messe Basel, the exhibition complex designed by renowned Basel architects Herzog & de Meuron. Messe Basel is a sight in itself. It is a modern architectural marvel and one of the most important exhibition centers in Europe. This year, its plaza had a carnival vibe with music, dancing, and games.

art basel messe

Photo credit: MCH Group

messe basel art basel 2017

messe basel art basel 2017

Parties

Besides the art, another reason to love Art Basel is the parties. Every night of the week there are multiple parties across town thrown by companies catering to Art Basel’s clientele. While Art Basel Miami is famous for its parties, the original Art Basel gives Miami a run for its money.

Vitra Summer Party

By far the coolest and most fun party we attended during Art Basel was Vitra’s annual Summer Party. Vitra is a Swiss furniture company that manufactures some of the works of the most internationally renowned furniture designers. But Vitra not only makes furniture, it also has its own Campus with buildings by prominent architects such as Nicholas Grimshaw, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid. Today it serves simultaneously as a fully operational production site and as a field of experimentation for architecture and design. Ever since Julian took a tour of it, I had been dying to visit Vitra’s Campus.

Located just outside of Basel, Vitra’s sprawling, otherworldly Campus was the perfect setting for a huge summer party. It also had all of the elements of a killer party– great DJ, cool people, awesome setting, and never-ending free drinks.

vitra design campus summer party

vitra design campus summer party

VitraHaus

Midway through the party, we took a break from dancing to visit VitraHaus. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, VitraHaus is not only an incredible building but also Vitra’s flagship store. It’s where you can view their furniture in different design styles, including Vitra’s classic pieces, such as the Eames chair, and their latest contemporary designs. I especially loved the all-pink Alice in Wonderland themed room which is both avant-garde and nostalgic. You can also try out their sofas and chairs for yourself. Even cooler, you can watch your own Lounge Chair be handcrafted in the Lounge Chair Atelier.

Photo credit: Arch Daily

vitrahaus vitrahaus vitrahaus vitrahaus

A party, however, is not the best time to see all that Vitra’s Campus has to offer. I hope to return soon for a full day of exploring this campus and its famous Design Museum.

What do you think of the art at Art Basel?? Comment below!

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