Northwestern Switzerland - Nature and Culture at the Rhine
Basel-Stadt offers an exciting nightlife and countless shopping opportunities, while the Cantons of Aargau and Basel-Landschaft allure visitors with sporting and leisure activities. Numerous culinary delicacies and historical buildings complete the picture.
Geography - City, country, river
Northwestern Switzerland comprises the Cantons of Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft as well as Aargau and lies - as is apparent from its name - in the north-west of Switzerland. The region has an area of about 1,959 km² and counts about 1,107 million inhabitants. Its official language is German. While the city of Basel can be considered the region's main city, there is a number of smaller towns. Important towns are Baden, Aarau, Rheinfelden, Liestal, Wettingen, Wohlen and Lenzburg. The canton borders within Northwestern Switzerland run through the region in confusing and complicated lines. In this way, big cities are separated from their suburbans. Even valleys and whole communities are affected and constitute so-called exclaves or enclaves. Basel-Stadt is the smallest Swiss canton and is characterised by the Rhine. The canton contains the Rhine knee, at which the river changes its direction towards the north. Due to the region's position between the Jura Mountains, the Black Forest and the Vosges Mountains, its climate is very mild.
Nature - Great natural beauty along the Rhine
Northwestern Switzerland's variety of landscapes answers everyone's wishes. The Canton of Basel-Landschaft is mostly characterised by its alternating mountain and valley landscape and is generally diverse. There are parts of the Jura Mountains in the north and south, the hilly landscape of Sundgau, the Upper Rhine Plain and a lot of water. The triangle between the small towns Brugg, Turgi and Klingnau is not called the "water castle of switzerland" for no reason. It is the point at which the rivers Aare, Reuss and Limmat unite to issue into the Rhine. The pastureland in this area is unique and was declared a protected landscape of national significance by the Federal Environment Agency. Travellers should also explore Lake Hallwil in Seetal. In the Canton of Basel-Landschaft, you find an abundance of breathtaking waterfalls at a height of about 1,000 metres and the greatest English garden in Switzerland in the Eremitage in Arlesheim. In addition, there are many thermal springs. The numerous cherry trees with their beautiful blossoms create a magical sight in spring. Families like the Basel Zoo - the Zolli - with the Etosha House and its 600 different species of animals.
Culture - Old castles and Roman settlements
The Canton of Basel-Stadt with the main city Basel owes its long-standing fame to its status as an art metropolis of international standing. It attracts lovers of art and culture with over 40 museums such as the Kunstmuseum Basel, the Fondation Beyeler or the Tinguely Museum. Furthermore, one of the greatest and most important international art fairs takes place here, the Art Basel. Renowned institutions from the music and theatre industry have set up business in Basel. There are many theatres, musical and concert stages of all kinds and different sizes. A highlight for lovers of culture is a visit to the archaeological site Augusta Raurica, a former Roman settlement, which provides an impressive insight into the population's way of living 2,000 years ago. A number of buildings such as the amphitheatre, a temple or several aqueducts are in great condition. The history and historical garden culture of Wildegg Castle is equally fascinating. The monastery in Wettingen, the Messerturm from the 15th century in Rheinfelden and the 500-year-old St. Anne's Chapel in Wohlen are also worth a visit. Lenzburg Castle in the town of the same name is one of the oldest hill castles in Switzerland. One of the country's most beautiful water castles is Hallwyl Castle, which is spread over three islands in the Aarbach. Visitors can generally discover countless castles, theme trails and natural beauty in Northwestern Switzerland.
Experience - Culinary delicacies and time-honoured traditions
Travellers can experience many delicacies in Northwestern Switzerland. Those who like is savoury and hearty should try the Aargau roast with prunes (a pork roast), the Aargau Sonntagswurst ("Sunday sausage") or the Basler Lummelbraten. Visitors with a sweet tooth will enjoy the Spanischbrötli (a pastry), the Aargau Rüeblitorte (a carrot cake), the Basler Läckerli (a honey pastry) or the Zimtstängel ("cinnamon sticks"). A great souvenir for friends and family - but also for oneself - is the Burgermeisterli (a white herbal liqueur with aniseed flavour). The Rüeblimarkt ("carrot market"), which is considered the region's most beautiful market, takes place on the first Wednesday in November in Aarau's old town. If you are in Switzerland at that time, you should definitely consider visiting it. A great location for relaxing from stressful everyday life are the thermal baths. Shopping fans do not go short either. They can indulge in a spending spree in the numerous boutiques. The region, most of all the Canton of Aargau, has maintained its traditions. An important festival is the Maienzug ("May parade") in Aarau on the first Friday in July. The highlights of this festival are the parade of the school children through the old town and the great banquet on the Maienzugplatz ("May parade square"). Aarau's old town functions as a gigantic festival ground during this event. This tradition has been preserved for 400 years and has kept its magical appeal. Other worthwhile events are the Fastnacht, the Santichlaus-Ylüüte (a parade) or the Banntag (a festivity which had the original purpose of checking the community's borders). Especially the inhabitants of Basel enjoy celebrating exuberantly when they enjoy the city's colourful nightlife.
Activities - The hilly landscape invites visitors to be active
Northwestern Switzerland offers a great variety of worthwhile landscapes, which invite visitors to go hiking, climbing or gliding. The cable car Reigoldswil-Wasserfallen takes you to the majestic waterfalls of the Canton of Basel-Landschaft. A little less thrilling but still exciting is the Waldseilpark (a rope park) in Reigoldswil or the Waldseilgarten (a rope garden) in Rütihof. A highlight for families is a visit to the water park Aquabasilea in Pratteln. You can also go on day trips to the regions's lakes. A great destination is Lake Hallwil, at which you can bathe, grill, take walks or go hiking but also the Egelsee in the Limmat Valley, the Klingnauer Stausee ("Klingnau reservoir") or the Flachsee on the Reuss River. Cyclists and mountain bikers also get their money's worth. All cycling tracks amount to a length of 1,500 kilometres altogether. The same is true of golfers, who can pursue their hobby on six golf courses. Furthermore, there is an outdoor and indoor paintball facility in Liesberg. The Rhine, which flows through Northwestern Switzerland, is a popular local recreational area and is often called the region's lifeline. It offers a valuable space far away from stress and everyday life, in which people can relax, do sports or simply enjoy life. Even in winter there is no room for boredom in this region as it offers great conditions for Alpine or cross-country skiing, snow hiking or tobogganing.
Travellers can easily reach Northwestern Switzerland by car, train or plane. At peak times like holidays you should avoid the border crossing point Basel-Weil because of the high probability of traffic jams. The nearest airport is located in Basel-Mülhausen (BSL). Holidaymakers best change money before they set on their journey as the Swiss pay in Swiss franc (CHF).
Northwestern Switzerland is a popular holiday destination with lovers of culture, art, nature and sports as well as with families. It simply caters for all tastes.