This guide to taking a train from Basel SBB station explains what to look out for if you will be traveling between Basel and both Switzerland and France by train.
We also explain why Basel can be a great location for a holiday based around taking train journeys.
Despite it being a large space, Basel's main train station, is comparatively easy to use.
A lot of effort has clearly been made to make the transition between the entrance/exits and the trains as simple as possible.
Though what can be less obvious is that it's a train station of two parts:
(1) the main SBB (Swiss) station
(2) the SNCF station – which is now primarily only used by TER trains to France, including the trains to Strasbourg.
Until July 25th construction work is being carried out the main railway route which connects Basel to the south and east of Switzerland. It will impact on the following express train (IC) services:
The train services which depart from the main SBB (Swiss) part of the station include:
all trains to other cities in Switzerland; and
In this SBB station, platforms/tracks/gleis 1-4 are on the same (street) level as the main concourse.
Platforms/tracks/gleis 5-17 can be accessed via a huge bridge that is lined with shops and cafes.
This bridge has steps, escalators and lifts to/from the main concourse and to/from each gleis (platform/track).
As a result changing trains in the main SBB station is comparatively stress free, despite it not being a terminal station.
SBB also has an info desk on the bridge; so if you use the bridge to change trains and want to double check the details of your onwards departure etc, so you don’t have to descend to the main concourse when changing trains.
To the right of the main concourse, as you enter the station from the city side, (where the tram stops are) is a passage way that houses quality food stores and exceptional take-away counters.
(If you’ll be taking a long rail trip then buy some food from here, it will be superior to any that you’ll find on a train).
This passage way is also the link to the SNCF part of the station from where the TER and local trains on the route towards Mulhouse and Strasbourg depart from.
Note that the Lyria trains to Dijon and Paris don't depart from here, they depart from the main SBB station.
The SNCF platforms/gleis/tracks 30-35 are all at street level; and this part of the station has a separate character.
A temporary, but elegant space has been created by the removal of the no longer needed customs facilities, which will in future house a new main station restaurant.
When taking a train from this SNCF part of the station, you have to remember to STAMP your tickets, in the machines located at the entrance to the platforms/voies.
Basel SBB railway station is located on the southern edge of the city centre, the heart of the city is a 20 - 25 min walk away.
To access the city centre/old town from Basel SBB station take tram Lines 8, 10 or 11 to the Marktplatz stop; the trams will be heading in the opposite direction away from the station.
Basel SBB station is no closer to the heart of the city, the Marketplatz, than Basel Bad Bf. station.
So if you're heading to the city centre on a train that calls first at that station, there's no need to remain on the train until it arrives at Basel SBB.
There are frequent trams from Basel Bad Bf station to the city centre.
Basel is a city blessed with two major stations, making it exceptionally easy city to travel and from by train.
In addition to Basel SBB, the city is also served by Basel Bad Bf station.
If you'll be heading between Basel city centre and destinations in Germany by train, then using Basel Bad Bf is a better option than taking trains to and from Basel SBB.
Basel is a great base for a railway holiday centered around seeing multiple destinations, without the need to move between hotels.
It offers the possibility to easily explore three countries by train - France, Germany and of course Switzerland.
From Basel there are trains at least hourly to a swathe of must-see destinations including Bern, Biel, Colmar, Freiburg, Luzern, Interlaken, Mulhouse (for the Cité Du Train), Strasbourg and Zurich.
ALL of the these locations are served by direct trains from Basel and the journeys will take less than two hours.
If you want to tick off the ‘Grand Tour of Switzerland' railway routes, then Basel is an ideal base for a Swiss Travel Pass itinerary, particularly in the summer when the daylight hours are longest.
If you want to take one, two, or three of these itineraries, a Saver Day Pass for each day of travels will be a money saver.
If you want to follow more than three of these routes you will save with a Swiss Travel Pass; and if you'll want to make the most of the other inclusions on the Swiss Travel passes, the lake cruises, funiculars, galleries and museums etc, the Swiss Travel Pass can also be good value for money if you follow just three of the suggested routes.
All the routes below can be accomplished in a day.
The schedules may seem daunting, but virtually all the connections are as simple as possible.
1: The Golden Pass route: Basel – Visp – Montreux – Zweisimmen – Spiez – Interlaken Ost – Luzern – Basel
2: The Glacier/Bernina Express route #1: Basel – Chur – Samedan – Pontresina – Tirano – Pontresina – Samedan – Chur – Zurich – Basel
3: The Glacier Express route #2: Basel – Visp – Zermatt – Visp – Andermatt – Disentis/Muster – Chur – Zurich – Basel
5: Mount Rigi and Wilhelm Tell Express route: Basel – Luzern – boat to Vitznau – Rigi-Kulm – Arth-Goldau – Bellinzona - Fluelen – boat to Luzern – Basel
6: The Bernese-Oberland: Basel – Interlaken Ost – Lauterbrunnen – Kleine Scheidegg – Jungfraujoch - Kleine Scheidegg – Grindelwald – Interlaken Ost – Basel
Basel SBB station is located to the south of the city centre, so there are limited options for finding rooms within a 5 min walk of the station.
The hotels below are a fully comprehensive list, so booking early, particularly in the summer, is recommended.
If you can’t find a room that suits near the Basel SBB station, you can of course try the city centre as it has more options, but don’t expect to save money.
Hotels in Basel are comparatively expensive, so while the room rates near the station may raise an eyebrow, they’re typical for the city.
If you want quality on a budget then staying in Lörrach may be a good option.
There are a clutch of highly rated 3* hotels located within easy reach of Lörrach Museum/Burghof station.
It can be reached by direct local train from Basel SBB station, the line S6 trains depart hourly and the journey time is only 18 minutes.
Take trains heading to Zell (Wiesental).
Hotels within 5 min walk of Basel SBB station:
Hotel Schweirzerhof Basel
Hotel Ibis Basel Bahnhof
Money saving options with direct public transport links to/from Basel SBB station:
All of the hotels below are within a 5 – 10 min walk of Lörrach Museum/Burghof station, take trains from Basel SBB that are terminating at Zell (Weisental).
Basel is served by the EuroAirport-Basel-Mulhouse-Fribourg, but there is no train service at the airport.
When heading to Basel leave the airport by the 'To Switzerland' exits from the Arrivals Hall.
From the street outside you can take bus line/route 50 direct to Basel SBB station, the journey should take 20-25 mins and buses depart around every 8 mins.
At Basel SBB the bus stop is right by the main entrance to the station.
This is one of more than 300 station 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.