With its location in the north west corner of Switzerland, Basel may not seem an obvious location from which to explore the Swiss mountains by train, after all the Alps are some distance away.
However, fast express trains fan out from Basel's main station on multiple routes across Switzerland.
Hence it makes a great base for those who want to experience scenic journeys in multiple different Swiss areas, without having to switch between overnight locations.
Basel is also a particularly good spot from which to put Swiss Travel Passes, which can be used across the Swiss rail network, to good use.
That's because Basel has direct trains to:
Thanks to the many routes which can be taken to and from Basel, it can be a great idea to exploit the money saving potential of Swiss Travel, InterRail for Switzerland and Saver Day Passes, to spend beautiful days travelling on multiple scenic routes.
The logic being that because you'll need to travel some distance from Basel, you may as well make the most of it when you get there.
Multi-train itinerary ideas
All of these routes can be completed in a single day.
1: The Golden Pass route: Basel → Visp → Montreux → Zweisimmen → Spiez → Interlaken Ost → Luzern → Basel
2: The Glacier Express route #1: Basel → Visp → Andermatt → Disentis/Muster → Chur → Zurich → Basel
3: The Glacier Express route #2: Basel (depart 09:33) → Chur → St Moritz (depart 15:37) → Landquart (via Klosters) → Zurich → Basel
4: The Centovali Express and The Gotthard Express route: Basel (depart 10:28) → Domodossola → Locarno → Basel
5: The Mount Rigi route: Basel → Luzern →** boat to Vitznau →** Rigi-Kulm →** Arth-Goldau → Fluelen → boat to Luzern** → Basel
6: The Bernese Oberland Railway: Basel → Interlaken Ost →* Grindelwald →* Kleine Scheidegg →* Jungfraujoch →* Kleine Scheidegg →* Lauterbrunnen →* Interlaken Ost → Basel
8: The Mont Blanc Express route and The Lotschberger route: Basel → Biel → Lausanne → Martigny → Le Châtelard → Martigny → Brig → Thun or Bern via Kandersteg → Basel
Journeys marked with an * are those on which Eurail, InterRail and Swiss Travel Pass users have to pay a discounted ticket price.
Plus users of Saver Day Passes don't qualify for the discount unless they also have the Half Fare Card.
Journeys marked with an ** are those on which only Eurail and InterRail users have to pay a discounted ticket price.
Thanks to its plethora of international rail connections, with direct trains from France, from Germany, from Italy and The Netherlands, Basel is a great base for exploring Switzerland while on a pan-European itinerary with a 'global' type of Eurail and InterRail pass.
Another good reason for a holiday in Basel, is that you can combine exploration of Switzerland by train, with some easy day trips to France.
Frequent French TER trains link Basel SBB station to the charming town of Colmar and the beautiful city of Strasbourg – so it’s simple to combine both locations on one day of exploration.
The train journey to Strasbourg takes less than 90 minutes and on the way there the trains make stops in Mulhouse and Colmar.
For those with an interest in railways, one of the world’s greatest rail museums, the Cité Du Train is a very easy day trip from Basel thanks to the TER trains which depart at least hourly to Mulhouse.
From in front of its main station Tram line 3 departs every 10 – 15 minutes and the journey to the Musées stop – which is a 10 min walk from the museum entrance, takes around 15 – 20mins.
The end-to-end journey between Basel SBB station and the Cité Du Train will take around 1hr 15mins.
Or you could stop off to see the museum on the way to or from Colmar or Strasbourg.
Tickets for journeys by the TER trains won’t cost any more if you book them last minute at the station, but something to remember is that you have to stamp your ticket in the machines by the entrance to the platforms/tracks.
It’s easy to forget, because you don’t have to do this when boarding any other train at Basel’s main station.
If you will be spending a holiday in Basel, then a trip to the The Black Forest by train is a must, as it's closer to the city than any Swiss mountain.
The easiest means of experiencing The Black Forest from Basel is to make the journey to the incredible Schauinslandbahn which can proudly claim to be Germany’s longest cable car ride.
(2) On arrival at Freiburg (Breisgau) hbf, don’t head to the main exit, instead head up to the bridge across the station, which will be located beyond the rear of the train – the tram stops are up on the bridge
Take tram line 2 (direction Gunterstal) to its final stop.
(3) At the Gunterstal tram stop you can transfer to bus line 21 (direction Horben).
Bus line 21 stops at the funicular base station – ‘Schauinslandbahn Talstation'.
This sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, all the connections run fairly frequently.
You can be tucking into a slice of the iconic gateaux and taking in the stunning views at the top of the mountain, one of the highest peaks in The Black Forest, within 2hr 30 mins of heading off from Basel.
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.
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