Dear Heidi,

Is it true that you have to be careful of pickpockets in Basel? It seems such a safe city!


Dear Beth,


Yes, Basel is a generally a very safe city. Unfortunately, pickpocketing has increased, especially during the many Messes (fairs) it hosts throughout the year. Herbstmesse, Weihnachtsmarkt, Fasnacht, and BaselWorld are perfect examples!

If you’re in a crowd, hold on to your purse. Carry long-strapped handbags across your chest. Smaller sized handbags that you can clutch under your arm are safer. Go for something that can be zipped shut — open purses are open invitations.

Wallets are easy to pick from your back pockets. Try keeping them in your front pocket. A rubber band tied around the wallet makes it more difficult to slide out. In a public place, don’t place your jacket on a clothes hook or around a chair without first taking out your wallet! It’s better not to take all your valuables and money with you. If possible, leave them in a safe at your hotel. If not, don’t keep all your money in the same place.

Watch out for pickpockets on crowded streets, restaurants, public transport, and train stations. Remember what your Mutti told you. Don’t talk to ‘needy’ strangers!

Above all, be alert! Know where you are going and what’s going on around you. Distracted or clueless people (especially those reading out of maps!) are easily spotted and make nice, easy targets. If you feel unsure about anything, go with your instincts. It’s better to be safe than polite!

Be careful, but don’t forget to have fun!


Updated October 2019

If you plan on doing any traveling this summer, you’ll be seeing a lot of the SBB, with its excellent connections to destinations within Switzerland and to the surrounding countries of Germany, Italy, and beyond. The SBB, Basel’s main railway station, is the self-proclaimed first international train station in the world. It is also home to Bâle SNCF, the French railway station, located through a border crossing/passport control point.

The Centralbahnplatz right outside the entrance of the SBB is a major connection center for trams and buses to other places in Basel. You can catch Bus 50 to get to the Basel/Mulhouse EuroAirport, or any number of other trams into the city center and its outlying regions.

For more information on the SBB, including timetables, visit their website at sbb.ch/en/home.html.