Visiting three countries in one day isn’t just a great life experience – it’s also a fantastic bragging point. You don’t need to spend hours trekking across Europe on planes, trains and automobiles to become a border-hopping savant. Just head to Basel, the “Dreiländereck” of Switzerland, Germany and France.
The borders of France, Germany and Switzerland meet along a bend in the Rhine River. The exact tri-corner point is marked by a pylon proudly flying the national flags of all three countries. Under twenty minutes from our Radisson Blu Hotel Basel, we think it’s one of the most exciting corners of Europe. Thanks to the Schengen agreement, it’s technically possible to hop from one country to the next without flashing your passport – though in practise, most travellers find it’s still the most reliable form of ID to get past the frontier guards. Culturally and architecturally, you’ll notice a lot of similarities – the only changes you’ll really notice from one side of the border to the next are language and currency, so don’t forget to bring some Euros.
Start in Switzerland
There’s no more picturesque way to start the day than by strolling through Basel’s mediaeval Old Town. The route between Basel Zoo and the Rhine is studded with architectural gems, from the vibrant red town hall to the imposing Gothic and Romanesque facade of the iconic Basel Munster cathedral. It’s worth navigating the steep walkways surrounding the cathedral simply to take advantage of the stunning viewpoint from Pfalz, an elevated terrace glimpsing across to Germany’s Black Forest and France’s Vosges mountains. While most of the city’s sights are concentrated in the Old Town, the best bites are across the river in Kleinbasel. The neighbourhood is scattered with coffee shops and art boutiques, and it’s a great place to get some snaps of the city.
France isn’t far
Catch a tram to Saint-Louis from downtown Basel. This quiet town in Alsace is best known for hosing Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport – so if you flew directly to the city, you’ll already have a stop in France under your belt. While there aren’t many tourist attractions to draw the crowds, this is a beautiful place to while away an afternoon. Pick up some baguette and cheese along your way and head to the Petite Camargue Alsacienne Nature Reserve for a picnic. The park is full of nature trails weaving around pretty ponds, and there are plenty of unique species of birds to look out for. You’ll also find a museum charting the history and evolution of the Rhine.
Gallivanting in Germany
Hop on board a tram to Weil am Rhein, a suburb that’s home to the Vitra Design Museum and the Tri-Countries Bridge. This is a fairly quiet part of town; best known for its modern architecture, it also hosts an open air chair museum, a unique spot for holiday photos. For dinner, head to Rebstock, a traditional German restaurant serving up familiar favourites like spaetzl and black forest gateau. Weil am Rhein sits in one of Germany’s most beloved viticultural regions, so be sure to sample some local wine with your meal before catching the tram back to Switzerland.