On my second full day in Switzerland I decided to take a train from Basel into Biel/Bienne. As soon as I arrived I walked straight to the lakeside and caught a boat around the beautiful lake. If you missed my introduction to Basel, check out Basel – A Hidden Gem and then find out about the stunning boat trip I took around Bielsee in this post.
Taking a train from Basel to Biel/ Bienne was simple to arrange. I booked my ticket through Trainline and enjoyed travelling through the villages, farmland and hills. Just over an hour, the ride was packed with gorgeous views.
I had seen Biel/ Bienne on Instagram and knew that one of its biggest assets was the huge lake. So it was inevitable that I was going to head to the harbour immediately and try to get on a boat. A two and a half hour trip round the lake cost £34.86 per person.
During the cruise, I decided to get a sandwich and ice cream. With a lovely on board eatery and plenty of deck seating, the boat was comfortable and provided great access to photogenic villages and a stunning horizon.
For me, this two hours and a half voyage went by quickly. I loved the experience and absorbed the beauty of the surroundings. There was a friendly atmosphere on board and everyone was sober and helpful.
I totally recommend taking a trip round the Bielsee if you are in the area. This was the only day I spent out of Basel and I finished it with a walk around the town of Biel/ Bienne which I have photographed here.
This lovely Swiss town is thriving with shops and restaurants as well as some beautiful historic buildings. You definitely need to take a ride on a boat if you get the chance and explore the beautiful lake that runs alongside Biel/ Bienne.
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My blog is a lifestyle site and so now and again I share my experiences of travelling around Europe. My last outing was at Christmas when I visited wonderful Antwerp, which I mentioned in my Five Favourite European Cities article. Now I want to talk about another hidden gem that I am currently exploring – Basel in Switzerland.
Getting To Basel
My regular readers will be aware that I like to travel by land and sea as much as possible. This is mainly because I believe that planes are one of the biggest direct causes of pollution in the upper atmosphere. I stopped flying 9 years ago but haven’t let it stop me enjoying travelling.
For this journey, I popped over to Paris on the Eurostar and then changed stations from Paris Nord to L’Est. I then took a one and a half hour train to Strasbourg before hopping onto a one hour train to Basel. Travelling through Strasbourg made me realise I need to spend some time there soon, possibly during Christmas time.
Getting To Know Basel
When I got off the train at Basel SSB railway station, I decided to walk the 20 minutes to the hotel rather than get on public transport. It was a great choice as I was able to check out some of the highlights of the historic city centre. It was, however, exhausting as there was a large hill running up to where our hotel stood. This was brilliant for my step count, though. Especially after spending hours on trains.
The colourful streets reminded me of Salzburg and were lined with trees. Many of the hotels and houses had plants climbing up them, making the whole place feel green and cosy.
After settling into the hotel, I walked back into the centre and found myself next to the famous Basel Munster Cathedral and overlooking the River Rhine. Plenty of restaurants, bars and shops lined the streets of this intriguing place.
Just a few hours into the holiday and I was already starting to fall in love with beautiful Basel. Look out for more of my posts about my experiences in Basel as I look back on my time in this intriguing European hidden gem.
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Many of you will know that I absolutely love city breaks. I always make sure I choose destinations that I can get to by rail or sea. In the past I have flown to so many places but now I make an effort not to fly as planes have been shown to directly pollute the upper atmosphere. So the Eurostar has become my preferred way of getting into Europe.
In the last ten years I have enjoyed some wonderful holidays. My idea of a good holiday involves great food, a little bit of culture and plenty of sightseeing (often involving a castle).
In this article I want to share the best European cities that I have visited so far. I am lucky enough to have been to Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, France and Denmark. Out of those countries, here are my favourite cities to visit by train.
As soon as I arrived in Zurich, I was taken aback by the enormity of its grand train station, which was packed with shops and exhibitions.
Zurich was a brilliant place to visit and I was happy to watch a show at the Opera House, take a boat across the immense Lake Zurich and enjoy the bustling centre.
Much like Luxembourg City, it is easy to get a train from Zurich to surrounding places of beauty. I particularly loved a day out where I went up a nearly vertical rail track (Stoosbahn funicular) and had an incredible feast up a mountain.
Influenced by Switzerland, I am now always looking for places to eat cheese fondu since trying it in the city of Zurich. I first saw this tempting fondu restaurant on Travel Man which you can check out for yourself on Youtube.
I have been to glorious Paris several times over the past twenty years. It feels like a home from home. The added bonus is that Disneyland Europe is nearby but even without this, Paris has plenty to keep me coming back for more.
Known for its fashion and food, Paris thrives on its history and grand architecture such as the Arch de Triomphe and the Louvre. Walking up to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower and then taking a lift to the top was an amazing experience which I will always remember happily.
Only one thing stops Paris being my Number 1
As much as I love the museums, the exquisite cuisine and the general vibe, one thing lets me down. Everywhere you go there are smoking rooms. Usually they are attached to the outside of cafes and restaurants so you have to walk through them to get into eateries. Often I have to eat in one of these rooms if a venue is busy and I hate the smell of smoke.
My recent trip to Antwerp was so much fun. I had picked Antwerp as a getaway destination based on some Pinterest pictures that I had seen. It turned out to be a great choice.
Antwerp was the most festive city I have been to and felt so safe and welcoming. It was also really affordable compared to many of the other places I have stayed.
There will be a more detailed blogpost about Antwerp which I will link here in future.
Luxembourg was just a two hour train trip from Paris. The train had two floors and was really comfortable. Although it is a small nation, Luxembourg has a lot to offer. There is plenty of history there and public transport is now free.
When I visited there in 2019 there was still a small fee to use trains and I popped on one to go and see some beautiful villages and a couple of historic castles.
The city was not too busy but still had a buzz about it. Everything was relatively close together and, due to it being one of the main EU administration places, there were lots of places to be entertained, such as the Luxembourg Philharmonie, where we enjoyed a magical concert.
Since being a kid, I always longed to visit the set of The Sound of Music. So when I got the chance to stay there I took the guided tour of locations. I also fell in love with this beautiful city, surrounded by imposing mountains.
A wide river splits the old and new halves of Salzburg. As a bonus, when I went it happened to be the Salzburg Festival and lots of classical music events and theatre plays were being put on.
Full of beauty
I developed an unexpected fondness for sauerkraut while I was there and had a great time exploring the houses of Mozart. Salzburg was breath-taking, full of nods to Austrian tradition and home to plenty of tasty baked goods.