14 of the Best Day Trips From Basel by Train

When you have the opportunity to see some of the natural scenery and quaint towns of Switzerland, France, and Germany without renting a car, you know you have to take at least one or two day trips from Basel by Train (you can also book guided day tours from Basel).

Switzerland’s cultural hotspot may have a lot to offer, but its surroundings are also well worth exploring, so don’t hesitate to extend your weekend trip to Basel and travel by train to the beautiful places on this list.

*This post may contain affiliate links from which I earn a commission (for more info, read my disclosure). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

*I try to keep the information on this blog as updated as possible, but I still recommend consulting the latest prices, opening hours, and other details on the official website of each site, hotel, and tour, as well as checking the updated public transport routes and timetables.

Day trips from Basel by train in Switzerland, France, and Germany

Where to Stay in Basel

The best area to stay in Basel is the Old Town (Altstadt), not only because of its location but also because it’s home to many of the city’s points of interest.

I stayed at The Passage Hotel, situated only a minute from Steinenvorstadt, a lovely street in the old town packed with restaurants, cafes, and shops. Also, the train station Basel SBB is just one bus stop away.

The hotel’s staff made me feel very welcome, and my room was bright, spacious, and comfortable, so I would definitely go back for another stay. You can read more reviews on The Passage Hotel here.

Fun fact: If you book a hotel in Basel, you get the Basel Card when you check in. With the card, you can use public transportation for free and get a 50% discount at the city’s museums. Even the journey from the airport or train station is free with your hotel booking confirmation email.

Spalentor, a landmark in Basel old town

Basel Day Trips by Train: Direct Routes

Good to know: All the mentioned countries are a part of the Schengen Area, so there is no passport control when you cross the border from one to the other. Simply hop on your train from the station of Basel SBB, and you’re good to go.

Strasbourg, France

The largest city in the Grand Est region (formed by Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, and Lorraine), Strasbourg is an ideal day trip for those who love history, culture, architecture, and good food accompanied by welcoming locals and a vibrant atmosphere.

Its historic center, the Grande Île, along with the Neustadt district, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surrounded by the Ill River, it is packed with beautiful squares, charming streets, and impressive landmarks like the jaw-dropping Strasbourg Cathedral and the Rohan Palace.

Also notable is Petite France – the picturesque canal quarter with its lovely half-timbered houses, the Vauban Dam, and the Parc de l’Orangerie.

If you’re a foodie, the local culinary scene is diverse, ranging from traditional Alsatian restaurants and cozy French cafes to international cuisine restaurants and trendy brunch places.

You’ll also find plenty of museums in the city, including the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Historical Museum of the City of Strasbourg, and the Strasbourg Museum of Fine Arts.

Strasbourg can be visited throughout the year, yet it is especially known for its enchanting Christmas markets, making it one of the best cities in Europe for a winter break.

Travel time: 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Top tour in Strasbourg: A free walking tour of the city.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Strasbourg in advance.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Zurich, Switzerland

By Josh from A Backpacker’s World

One of the best day trips from Basel by train is to the Swiss city of Zürich. Many mistakenly believe it is the capital city of Switzerland, but it isn’t. Though it definitely feels like a capital city when you visit.

The train takes just over 1 hour and leaves from Basel SBB straight to Zürich HB. There are only 5-6 stops between, and it’s an extremely scenic train journey through the countryside, passing through some small towns.

There are lots of reasons to visit Zürich. It’s a place with a lot of history and culture, and you only need to look as far as the language in Zürich to catch a glimpse.

Another reason to visit Zürich is because it has a perfect mix of natural beauty and architectural beauty. 

Zürich Lake offers the perfect place to relax and watch the swans swim past with a view of the Alps in the background on clear days. And then you have the beauty of the Fraumünster and Grossmünster just a few minutes walk away.

It’s also very walkable, and you can see everything in half a day, making it the perfect day trip destination.

Travel time: 1 hour.

Top tour in Zurich: A walking tour of the Old Town.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Zurich in advance.

Zurich city and river views
Zurich by A Backpacker’s World

Interlaken, Switzerland

By Kristin from Global Travel Escapades

Another fantastic place to visit if you’re in Basel is the picturesque city of Interlaken! Perfect for a day trip, this city is located between two stunning lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and offers a variety of activities.

For starters, you can participate in an adrenaline-inducing activity, such as paraglidingwhich allows you to take in views of the city from above! 

Or, you can hike to the top of Harder Kulm and admire the incredible panoramic views. This hike takes about 2.5 hours to complete and is moderate in difficulty.

Alternatively, if you prefer something more relaxed, take a stroll along the river Aare! This river has a bright turquoise color and makes the perfect backdrop for beautiful pictures!

Just be sure to wear lots of sunscreen as the altitude means the sun is more intense!

Travel time: 2 hours.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Interlaken in advance.

natural landscapes of Interlaken
Interlaken by Global Travel Escapades

Bern, Switzerland

By Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker

Just a one-hour domestic train ride away from Basel is Switzerland’s de facto capital city Bern. It’s Switzerland’s fifth biggest city and the perfect size for a day trip or one overnight hotel stay to get free public transit with the Bern Ticket. 

Upon leaving the train station, it’s a short walk to the stately Swiss government building. From the Bundeshaus, there are wonderful views of the Aare River, which wraps around the Old City or Altstadt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

One legend of the city name tells that Bern was named after the first animal a duke shot in 1191: a bear. You’ll notice a lot of bear-themed things in the city, such as the flag, the bear statue at the famous astronomical clock Zytglogge and the bear pit Bärengraben. There you can see the city’s small bear population forage and wander.

For the best vistas of the entire city, take the tram away from the center to the Gurtenbahn funicular and walk up the observation tower. If you’re visiting on a particularly hot summer day, make sure to pack a bathing suit to go for a swim in the Aare River as the locals do.

Travel time: 1 hour.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Bern in advance.

Bern city and river views
Bern by Mind of a Hitchhiker

Bellinzona, Switzerland

By Zoe from Together In Switzerland

For a wonderful day trip south of Basel, consider taking the train to Bellinzona in Switzerland. The quickest and most direct route takes 2 hours and 39 minutes, so a long but enjoyable day trip is possible!

Bellinzona is quite a highlight to visit, located in the sunniest canton of Switzerland.

You can practice your Italian here as it’s the main language, compared to the rest of Switzerland with German or French. Bellinzona is the capital of the Ticino canton, where there are many things to see and do while visiting. 

To start with, Bellinzona is beautifully known for its 3 UNESCO World Heritage castles that are dotted in and around the city.

Given this title in 2000, you can visit all in one day (by walking or local transport), with all castle grounds and walls being free to wander. They all have something unique, with a museum or exhibit you can attend to learn more. 

If you can, visit on a Saturday for the local market, where they sell local treats like honey, wine, and Swiss cheeses! You could also grab some snacks and choose a local walking tour around the city and river.

For a sit-down restaurant, consider a table at il Piazza Ristorante at the Piazza della Foca. They have some great local options as well as many Italian cuisine dishes.

Travel time: 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Top tour in Bellinzona: A combo ticket of the three castles of Bellinzona.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Bern in advance.

One of the castles of Bellinzona
Bellinzona by Together In Switzerland

Colmar, France

To get a taste of what France’s oldest wine route, the Alsace Wine Route, has to offer, take a day trip from Basel to Colmar, a fairytale town surrounded by dreamy villages and countless vineyards.

The medieval town boasts stunning architecture with half-timbered houses, quirky decorations, and Gothic and Renaissance landmarks like St Martin’s Church and Maison Pfister.

It is also known for its tiny yet photogenic canal district, La Petite Venise, as well as for museums such as the Unterlinden Museum and the Bartholdi Museum, dedicated to the Colmar-born sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty.

You can also stay the night in Colmar and spend a day exploring postcard-perfect Alsatian villages like Eguisheim, Riquewihr, and Kaysersberg (using the Kutzig hop-on hop-off bus, which has a circular route starting in Colmar).

Travel time: 45 minutes.

Top tour in Colmar: Walking tour with wine tasting.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Colmar in advance.

Read more: Is Colmar worth visiting?

Petite Venise of Colmar

Lucerne, Switzerland

By Lavina from Continent Hop

Lucerne is an ideal location for a train trip from Basel, located just 100 kilometers away. It is a typical Swiss city and a popular tourist spot.

It is the most populated city in the country and a hub for transport and telecommunication. It has a scenic view of Lake Lucerne with the Swiss Alps in the background, making it perfect for a day trip.

Lucerne is home to wonderfully built churches, and you can start your day trip by visiting the 17th-century Jesuit Church. It is built on the beautiful Reuss River and has white and gold interiors. 

A short walk from the church will take you to the chapel bridge, also known as Kapellbrücke, one of the most iconic sites in Lucerne. It is one of the oldest wooden bridges in Europe, adorned with artworks from the 17th century.

There are many cafes surrounding the chapel bridge where you can have lunch or a hot cup of coffee.

You can also take a boat tour to explore Lake Lucerne or head up to Mount Pilatus by taking a gondola ride to enjoy a scenic view of the lake and the mountains.

Next, you can explore the Old Town to get a taste of the traditional alpine houses and colorful artwork. You should also visit the Musegg Wall, which is one of the most well-preserved medieval walls in the country.

Also, explore the famous Lion Monument, known as Löwendenkmal, a famous tourist attraction and a must-see in Lucerne.

Extra tip: You must try to visit Lucerne in winter, as it has a lot to offer, and the Christmas markets are enchanting.

Travel time: 1 hour.

Top tour in Lucerne: A walking tour of the Old Town.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Lucerne in advance.

Lucerne old town
Lucerne by Continent Hop

Freiburg Im Breisgau, Germany

By Sharon from Germany Footsteps

Freiburg im Breisgau (or just Freiburg) is the perfect place for a day trip from Basel.

In just 40 minutes by train, you can be exploring a slice of Germany. Located in the famous Black Forest, it’s a pretty city with plenty to do in the city itself and its surroundings.

Freiburg started life in 1091 when a castle was built on Schlossberg (Castle Hill) to control the nearby trade routes. This resulted in a settlement growing at the foot of the hill in what is today the Old Town area of Freiburg. Freiburg was then founded in 1120.

The castle itself no longer exists, but you walk up and around Schlossberg with some great trails, and you can find old ruins of the forts and the castle that used to exist here.

Another must-visit is the Old Town. It’s a great mix of old and new, as much was destroyed in World War II. It’s a fantastic place to wander with the Dreisam River on one side and Schlossberg on the other.

Make sure you visit Freiburger Münster (Cathedral), which dates back to the 13th century. There are also amazing museums, old city gates, and more to visit as you walk about Freiburg’s Old Town.

If you want to experience the Black Forest, there are also some great hiking trails starting from Freiburg.

Travel time: 40 minutes.

Top tour in Freiburg: Freiburg city tour.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Freiburg in advance.

a street in old town Freiburg
Freiburg by Germany Footsteps

Karlsruhe, Germany

By Elle from Only in Germany

On an exciting Basel day trip, you can discover the best things to do in Karlsruhe, a captivating blend of German charm and Mediterranean flair, also perfect for a weekend break in Germany.

The history of Karlsruhe dates back to June 17th, 1715, when Margrave Charles III William of Baden-Durlach dreamt of founding a new city under a tree.

And so, Karlsruhe, meaning ‘Charles’ peace,’ was born, with the Karlsruhe Palace at its heart. The palace’s unique fan-shaped layout, resembling a bicycle wheel, earned it the nickname ‘Fan City.’

Your journey begins at the Karlsruhe Palace and the Badisches Landes Museum inside, immersing yourself in the city’s past. Don’t miss the stunning views of the ‘Fan City’ from the palace’s roof tower.

Venture into the lush Palace Gardens and the majestic Botanical Garden, offering a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. Take a train ride around the gardens for a leisurely tour.

Delve into Karlsruhe’s vibrant cultural scene at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) and the unique Majolica Porcelain Manufactory Museum. Admire the artistic spirit that defines the city.

Savor the city’s delightful Schwarzwald cake at one of the charming pastry shops, and soak in the lively atmosphere at Karlsruhe Market Square. Visit the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, a symbol of Karlsruhe’s commitment to democracy and human rights.

Explore the enchanting Durlach neighborhood, and don’t miss the Turmbergbahn for stunning panoramic views.

Located close to the Schwarzwald Forest, the Rhine River, and the French border, Karlsruhe offers the perfect blend of cultural experiences and natural beauty.

Travel time: 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Karlsruhe in advance.

One-Day Trips From Basel by Train With an Interchange/Transfer

Good to know: All the mentioned countries are a part of the Schengen Area, so there is no passport control when you cross the border from one to the other.

Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, France

The medieval Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle is a must-see historical landmark in Alsace, offering gorgeous panoramic views of the Vosges Mountains, the Plain of Alsace, and even the Black Forest.

Throughout the centuries, it was owned by the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the Counts of Thierstein, and the Swedish Empire, until it was reconstructed by the German emperor Wilhelm II at the beginning of the 20th century.

During your visit, you can tour the chateau’s rooms at your own pace and learn about its history while also taking in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes and the enchanting architecture.

To get to Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, you need to take the train from Basel to the town of Selestat, where a shuttle bus (number 500) can take you from the train station to the castle.

Using the shuttle bus also gives you a discount of 2 euros at the castle (browse its latest prices and timetables here).

Total travel time: 1.5 hours.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Selestat in advance.

haut-koenigsbourg castle in alsace France and the surrounding views
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

By Martha from May Cause Wanderlust

Lauterbrunnen is a picturesque village in a steep-sided U-shaped valley at the foot of the Bernese Alps.

One day in Lauterbrunnen will be filled with classic Swiss beauty: stunning views of waterfalls, impossibly steep mountains, and quaint wooden chalets.

The village itself is so pretty: there’s a church with a steeple next to a gushing river; you could walk up to Staubbach Falls, the highest free-falling waterfall in Switzerland.

There are also some scenic hiking and cycling routes in the surrounding countryside. And there are several cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy classic Swiss fare like raclette and rosti.

You could also take advantage of the mountain trains and cable cars to explore some of the mountainside attractions, such as the car-free hamlets of Mürren, Wengen, and Kleine Scheidegg.

And if you set off from Basel early enough, you might even be able to fit in a visit to Jungfraujoch, a high-altitude observation station offering panoramic views across mountains and the Aletsch Glacier.

The journey here from Lauterbrunnen is about an hour and 40 minutes, so it does take some time to visit Jungfraujoch, but the journey itself has stunning scenery all the way.

To get to Lauterbrunnen from Basel by train, you’ll travel first to Interlaken and then change for a short train ride to Lauterbrunnen.

Total travel time: 2.5 hours.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Lauterbrunnen in advance.

village views of Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen by May Cause Wanderlust


By Paul from Paulmarina

The principality of Liechtenstein is a micronation in Europe. In fact, it’s the 6th smallest nation in the world and one that you can easily visit on a day trip from Basel.

Its capital, Vaduz, is known for its contemporary and modern art scene and, as a fan, you will appreciate the street art and the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein.

With that, you will also immerse yourself in the history of the nation, with its proud postal stamp traditions and medieval castles and ruins.

I highly recommend taking part in a wine-tasting session. The prince’s own winery will introduce you to the top Rhine Valley wine domain, and perhaps you might even encounter Princess Marie on your visit.

To get to Liechtenstein, take the direct SBB train IC3 from Basel and get out at Sargans, a Swiss border town. From there, grab a short bus ride to Vaduz.

The complete trip doesn’t take longer than 2 1/2 hours, giving you plenty of time for the top things to do in Liechtenstein.

Total travel time: 2.5 hours.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Sargans in advance.

Liechtenstein from above
Liechtenstein by Paulmarina

Triberg, Germany

By Angie from We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Triberg, located in the Black Forest Region of Germany, is an easy train ride from Basel. There’s enough to do in this small town to fill an enjoyable day trip itinerary.

Triberg is the quintessential “Black Forest” with dense forests and all the wonderful things associated with this popular region of Germany.

Colorful shops line the main street in town, where you can shop for quality handcrafted cuckoo clocks. You won’t want to miss the world’s largest (and smallest) working cuckoo clock.

Try some savory Black Forest ham and finish off your meal with a piece of delicious Black Forest cake, which was invented right here!

No visit to Triberg is complete without a trip to the famous Triberg Waterfall, one of Germany’s highest.

Take a short, dreamy trail through the forest, where you’ll experience babbling brooks, moss-covered rocks, and wooden bridges and walkways. Your reward at the end is the stunning Triberg Waterfalls!

Total travel time: 2.5 hours.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Triberg in advance.

Triberg waterfalls
Triberg by We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Grindelwald, Switzerland

By Daniel from North Carolina Travel Guides

Situated about 3 hours from Basel by train is the village of Grindelwald. To get to the village, you have to transfer trains in Interlaken and travel by the scenic Bernese Oberland Railway from that city.

Grindelwald is a picturesque village in the Jungfrau Region, located 1034 meters or 3392 feet above sea level, and it is known for its beautiful landscapes, stunning nature, and impressive surrounding mountains.

The history of the village dates back to the year 1146, but there were earlier settlements in the area.

You can visit the village all year round, and there is a lot to do and see. One of the best things to do in Grindelwald is hiking. The village boasts numerous hiking paths with beautiful viewpoints. It is also a popular skiing destination in winter.

Besides that, it is possible to do all sorts of other outdoor activities in Grindelwald, and attending the Grindelwald Market, an annual outdoor market in the center of the village, can be a fun activity as well.

Total travel time: 2 hours and 50 minutes.

Save time and book your train ticket from Basel to Grindelwald in advance.

A chalet in Grindelwald
Grindelwald by North Carolina Travel Guides

Train Trips From Basel, Switzerland – Map

Access the map here to see the best day trips from Basel, Switzerland.

Tip: After accessing the map, you can also open it on your Google Maps app. Simply open your app, tap the ‘saved’ icon at the bottom, scroll down and tap the ‘maps’ icon, and choose the MyMaps map you want to see (you can do the same on your computer).

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About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). I'm always planning my next trip to Spain, Italy, or any other country in Europe, and my goal is to help you make the most of each destination.

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