Neighbourhoods in Basel
Which district will become your new home?
On the banks of the Rhine, Basel has a lot to offer. The city is the self-declared ‘Cultural Capital of Switzerland’. The range of museums, cultural sites and historic highlights is correspondingly vast. But culture is by no means the only thing you can find in the border triangle. As home to the headquarters of some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Basel offers jobs in a wide variety of areas. The city is a vibrant mix of culture, tradition and modernity. We reveal the distinctive features of the individual neighbourhoods and show how much it costs to live in Basel.
The districts of Basel
Basel is both a city and a demicanton. This means that the canton of Basel-Stadt comprises not only the 19 districts of the city, but also the municipalities of Riehen and Bettingen to the north.
Each of these 21 parts has its own distinctive character. In Basel, idyllic green residential areas adjoin lively districts where you can stroll and discover places of interest for hours on end. The border triangle and its port is also part of Basel, and has long had an international flavour. Some cities in Alsace and Baden-Württemberg are just a stone’s throw away and make for a great day out.
But Basel is much more than pharmaceuticals, football and carnival. Let us give you an idea of what the different parts of the city and their neighbourhoods have to offer.
Zmitzt im Daig
The ‘Daig’ is the historical name for the wealthy people of Basel and the families of philanthropists who are still active in the city today. Traders, bankers, art collectors and – of course – pharmaceutical heirs all number among the Daig. Their wealth meant that they were usually able to afford a beautiful house in the heart of Grossbasel. The southern part of the city was historically the ‘better’ part of Basel, so you will find most of the shopping facilities, secondary schools and major sights here.
As a central landmark and prominent tourist attraction, Basel Cathedral stands on the Münsterberg and watches over the two Basel districts. Right beside the city centre is the suburb of St. Alban, where many descendants of the Daig still live today. The prestige of the district, the wide range of amenities close by and the superb connections offered by the Basel SBB central train station make the city-centre district of Grossbasel an attractive place to live, but they also mean that rental prices and demand are sky-high.
The Kunstmuseum Basel is one of the most important institutions in the city. Classic works from art history can be found in the old part, while prominent modern artists feature in the new building.
Districts: Altstadt Grossbasel, Vorstädte, Am Ring
Am Puls vo dr Zyt
The southern side of Basel has three districts, each of which captures the zeitgeist in its own unique way. Gundeli is a melting pot of cultures and for a long time laboured under its seedy reputation. Today, however, it is one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Basel, with something for every taste. The newest building in Gundeli is also its most impressive: the Meret Oppenheim Tower was designed by top Basel architects Herzog & de Meuron and is a thrilling landmark next to the main train station. Right in front of it is the new Meret Oppenheim Platz, an inviting place to while away some time.
To the southeast is the Dreispitz industrial district, which has undergone exciting development in recent years. Along with the University of Art and Design, there’s the architectural masterpiece Transitlager, by the Bjarke Ingels Group, which offers modern apartments.
Those who prefer to be a little higher above things will feel right at home on the Bruderholz. The nearby mountain offers refuge from everyday city life and enough space for long walks. Old mansions are juxtaposed with modern apartments and high-rise buildings at good prices. This is also where you’ll find the Restaurant Stucki, run by Michelin-starred chef Tanja Grandits. Anyone who lives in Basel should treat themselves to a feast here at least once.
The Stucki team under Tanja Grandits has now been awarded two Michelin stars and 19 Gault&Millau points. There is also a shop selling speciality foods next to the restaurant.
Districts: Gundeldingen, Dreispitz, Bruderholz
Di Grien Oase
Walking through the Iselin, Gotthelf or Bachletten district, you might almost forget that you’re in a city. These districts are among the most popular residential areas in Basel, not least because of the remarkable number of green spaces, plus their family-friendly vibe.
There’s no shortage of options for weekend excursions, either: you can spend many an hour in the sunshine at the Bachgraben outdoor pool, while the Bachletten entrance takes you directly to Basel’s historic zoo, affectionately known as ‘Zolli’. Then there are the most beautiful parks that Basel has to offer. You can have all this without getting off the beaten track; in fact, you’re just a few minutes’ drive from the city centre, with its excellent public transport system. Just hop on the bus or tram to leave this tranquil idyll and venture into the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Zolli is run with great love and care. The enclosures are constantly being upgraded and adapted to the animals, so it’s worth coming back regularly.
Districts: Iselin, Gotthelf, Bachletten
The status of the former working class district of St. Johann has improved over recent years after becoming home to the headquarters of pharmaceutical giant Novartis. Yet although the Novartis campus is a central part of St. Johann today, there’s so much more to it than just that. The alleys and streets of the district have retained their original charm. After a long day at work, up-and-coming artists, designers and workers meet here in the hippest bars and restaurants to chat the evening away.
On sunny days, St. Johanns-Park is a gathering place for people of all ages relaxing to the gentle murmur of the Rhine. It also draws thousands of music lovers to the free Pärkli Jam festival, showcasing regional music and dance groups on the big stage. St. Johann does it all – except boredom.
Bierjohann offers 18 different beers straight from the tap and has a lot more up its sleeve. You’ll discover a whole new dimension to beer here.
District: St. Johann
Die wiit Wält
The border triangle and the port area both give Basel its international feel. At the northernmost point of the city, Switzerland meets France and Germany. The borders of the different countries come together, and so do their people. In the districts of Klybeck and Kleinhüningen, you can literally feel the character of the three nations in the air. Make your way to the port area and its open-air bars and parties on warm summer evenings, and you’re bound to run into people from the two neighbouring countries.
A good time is guaranteed on winter weekends, too: the Nordstern club is famous across Europe and attracts top international DJs. Since 2016, the club has been based on a boat, making it doubly special.
Feldbergstrasse in the Klybeck district is lined with independent shops dedicated to all kinds of hobbies, while foodies flock to the cafés and restaurants on Klybeckstrasse. But the port isn’t the only place where cultures and people from all over the world come together: the districts of Matthäus, Klybeck and Kleinhüningen are one big gathering place.
The Nordstern club draws the biggest names in electronic music to Basel for unforgettable nights aboard a boat with a difference.
Districts: Matthäus, Klybeck, Kleinhüningen
Mehr als Minder
Kleinbasel used to be referred to as ‘lesser Basel’. Today this nickname has long been outdated; in fact, in some ways Kleinbasel has more to offer than Grossbasel. The city’s most exciting restaurants can be found in the old town of Kleinbasel and in the Clara district.
The most striking points on the modern Basel skyline – the huge Roche skyscrapers – are in the Wettstein district. Right next door is the Tinguely Museum, which has a permanent exhibition of works of art by Jean Tinguely, a famous industrial artist from Basel. There’s always a large crowd here in summer, not just because of the museum but because this is where people from Basel clamber down into the Rhine and let the current carry them to the Dreirosenbrücke bridge. On the way back, they stop at one of the many taverns on the banks of the Rhine. Why not enjoy summer in the city to the fullest by following suit?
The Rosental district, home to Messe Basel, attracts visitors from all over the world to major trade fairs like Art Basel. The Musical Theater puts on world-famous plays, along with exhilarating amusement rides during the autumn fair. The range of leisure activities is matched by the broad spectrum of rental options, with an apartment overlooking the Rhine costing considerably more than an equally attractive apartment in an old building in Kleinbasel’s old town.
Messe Basel has an ongoing programme of interesting trade fairs. The building by Herzog & de Meuron is also impressive.
Districts: Clara, Wettstein, Altstadt Kleinbasel, Rosental
Did you know that there’s a piece of Germany in the heart of Basel? To get onto the platforms of the Badischer Bahnhof, you actually have to cross the border. Operated by Deutsche Bahn, the station offers trains to destinations all over Germany and acts as a mini city boundary to the Hirzbrunnen district. Hirzbrunnen is the northeasternmost of Basel’s city districts and borders the other two municipalities in the demicanton. Here you’ll find the Lange Erlen, Basel’s largest swathe of forest. Popular with joggers, dog owners and walkers, it also has its own zoo. Right next to it is the Eglisee, which serves as an artificial ice rink in winter and an outdoor pool (including a women’s pool) in summer.
If you take tram line 6 north, you’ll pass the lovingly tended leisure gardens before coming to the municipality of Riehen. This is home to the Fondation Beyeler, the most important art museum in the canton of Basel-Stadt after the Kunstmuseum Basel. Riehen has few traces of the city, but it’s a lively community with everything that makes village life special.
If you want to live in the canton of Basel-Stadt but actually hanker after quiet village life, Bettingen is just the ticket. Set on the slopes of St. Chrischona mountain, this little village offers peace and quiet and lots of greenery. And there’s the 250-metre TV tower that offers views of the entire region!
The Fondation Beyeler offers art and music. In summer, there are open-air celebrations in the museum garden.
Districts: Hirzbrunnen, Riehen, Bettingen
How much does it cost to live in Basel?
You’ll find apartments for almost every budget in Basel. Many apartments can be found in quiet locations in the family-friendly districts for a reasonable rental price.
As a rule of thumb, Kleinbasel tends to be cheaper than Grossbasel. With its central location and good connections to the Basel SBB train station, Grossbasel offers the advantages of a big city, while Kleinbasel offers a wide range of cultural activities and great options for going out.
Rental prices are rising again in the peripheral areas of Bruderholz and Riehen, as these primarily attract older clients and wealthy families.
If you want to live in a trendy district like Gundeldingen or St. Johann, you’ll find lots of appealing options, including apartments in charming old buildings.
Let’s take a three-room apartment in the Gundeli district to demonstrate monthly living expenses:
How much does rent cost per district?
Rent in Basel is highly dependent on the rental property. In general, however, you can live in Basel for a fairly reasonable price. There are lots of affordable apartments that offer sufficient living space.
Rental prices vary greatly between the different parts of the city (as of October 2022):
Where’s the most affordable place to live in Basel?
Basel is one of the cheaper cities in Switzerland in terms of rent. Generally speaking, you can find affordable housing in every part of the city.
The cheapest apartments are located in the districts of St. Johann and Gundeldingen, and in the municipality of Bettingen. Apartments in the heart of the city – in the old town of Grossbasel or in the Vorstädte – demand the highest prices.
Are you looking for an apartment in a trendy district of Basel or would you prefer a quiet, leafy part of the city? You’ll find the right rental property for your needs at Homegate.