Dynamic Swiss City Has Lively Cafes, Pubs And Clubs
Basel – a mid-sized, manageable city in the northwestern part of Switzerland on the border of both France and Germany with the Rhine River cutting through it – is young and vibrant, fun and friendly and is sophisticated yet also simple.
It’s also not a place that’s as battered as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Prague or many of the other European cities known for nightlife. And by battered I mean swarmed with locals and tourists all trying to get into the same bars and clubs.
Sure, there are lines at places in Basel, but you can be confident you will be getting in a place without waiting half the night and/or slipping a handful of Euros to the doorman.
Rather, what you will encounter are a row of cafes that spring to life by midnight, all lined up along the pedestrian street Steinenvorstadt. Club music blares from inside the cafes while outside people stand or sit having beers, cocktails and conversations.
But if you really want to party, then head one street over to the intersection of Steinentorstrasse and Klosterberg where you will find one of the best, most fun bars anywhere in Europe.
It’s Paddy Reilly’s, an Irish bar that must have its kegs constantly pouring, because the volume of beer consumed in this place on a weekend night could fill up the Rhine.
There are two packed levels, each with its own DJ, including a basement with a dizzying dance floor. While I love going down there, I actually prefer the main level because at least for me, it’s the easiest place to strike up conversations.
There’s also a third level that’s much quieter, a place to go take a break from the frenzy taking place one and two floors below it.
Paddy Reilly’s is where the true party people go in town and it alone is worth making the trip to Basel.
It’s free to get in, very large mugs of beer only cost 8-9 CHF and it’s open until 4 in the morning. By midnight there’s a line and by 1, there’s a line around the block.
If clubs are your scene, head across the main bridge and walk toward the Civic Center; you’ll find several so just pick one according to your liking. I always look at the people in line outside a place to judge whether or not I want to try out a new club, checking their dress, the attitude of the doorman, the length of the line and whether or not it seems to be moving.
I can also recommend Atlantis, which is right around the corner from Paddy’s on Klosterberg.
Plan on arriving on a Thursday and leaving on Sunday. It’s prime party time is Friday and Saturday nights, but by arriving Thursday you can get to know the area – Basel is an outstanding walking city and it also has trams going everywhere – have some afternoon and early evening drinks at a sidewalk cafe and even get in a bit of culture in your non-drinking hours.
Basel has excellent museums, cheap food at the buzzing Marketplatz on weekend afternoons (a good place to have beers here is Movenpick cafe right across from the market) and lots of those cool narrow European streets to explore. And all the shopping a diva desires.
So put Basel on your European nightlife party list. You will leave there telling all your friends about it and wanting to go back yourself.