The Kunstmuseum, a five-minute walk southwest from Grossbasel’s minster, was the world’s first public art collection established in 1661 and still hosts Switzerland’s largest collection, including pieces by Monet, Picasso and Holbein.
A new Picasso exhibition, running from 17 March to 21 July, will include previously unseen Picasso works – including paintings, sculptures and sketches –collected by Basel locals. The painter had a special relationship with the city after it held a festival (raising 2.4 million Swiss francs) in 1967 to purchase two of his paintings – Les deux frères and Arlequin assis – both now part of the museum’s collection. Moved by the effort, Picasso contributed three additional creations to the museum, as well as a pencil sketch of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, still on display today.
Basel is also home to a booming chemical and pharmaceutical industry, home to the headquarters of Novartis, Roche, Ciba and Syngenta, among others. The University of Basel puts a strong emphasis on the subject, and its quaint Pharmacy Museum, which portrays the world’s most extensive assortment of pharmaceutical pieces, should not be missed. Expect to see everything from old medical books and medicine to a replica of an old pharmacy store, as well an exhibitions on the history of aspirin, discovered by French chemist Charles Frederic Gerhardt in 1853, and apothecary, the art of pharmacy and medical treatment that dates back to 2600 BC.
Eat and drink
After walking all day, Basel’s many cafes and restaurants offer a chance to relax and recharge. A local favourite is the Café des Art’s, a cocktail bar with live jazz performances and an excellent wine list, many from the nearby French region of Alsace. Another highlight is Bar Rouge, Basel’s only skyscraper restaurant bar. Head to its 31st-floor location for phenomenal views over the Rhine.
Finally, do not leave the city without trying the hot sweet chestnuts sold on almost every street corner of the city throughout the year, or Basel Leckerli, a sweet, spiced, bread-like and square-shaped biscuit exclusively sold in the city; try it at Leckerli Huus right beside the north side of the Mittlere Brücke – the cosy shop sells the treats all year round.