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Basel is one of Europe's main railway interchange points. Basel has two stations, on opposite sides of the River Rhine.
"Basel Badischer Bahnhof" is on the right bank (north side of the river) and is owned and operated by DB (German railways). It serves all German destinations. It counts as a "German" railway station, even though it is on Swiss soil. You have to go through customs when you enter or leave the station.
"Basel SBB" is the larger station on the left (south) bank. It serves all Swiss destinations, plus trains to Milan. Intercity trains to and from Germany call at both Badischer Bahnhof and SBB. French destinations served include Paris by TGV and intercity trains to Strasbourg. Some French trains stop in the main part of the station, others in an annex called "Bâle SNCF".
Basel airport, officially called "Euroairport Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg" (abbreviation: BSL or MLH), is unique in the world. The Swiss paid it, but it is completely on French soil, only connected to Basel by a long road, which is separated from the rest of French territory.
The airport has two exits. One leads to Switzerland, with Swiss passport control and customs, and one to France, with French "flics" and customs. This system works well, it was copied from the system used at the Basel railway stations. In Basel, you can find French, German and Swiss customs officers in the two main railway stations doing their job together for a century now. This symptomatic for this city. It has been international and open minded long before the European Community was even thought of.
After going through Swiss customs you will enter the arrival hall. You will find the SBB (Swiss Federal Railway) desk 20 yards to your right. There you can buy rail tickets, as well as the Swiss Pass multiticket. Go straight out the exit and look to your right and you will see the bus stop.
Bus No. 50 runs every 7½ minutes to the main station (Bahnhof SBB / Swiss railway station). From here you can get a tram or bus to anywhere in Basel, or a train to anywhere in else Switzerland. If you stay in Basel and show your hotel voucher to the driver, the short trip is free. Otherwise you need to buy a ticket From the ticket machine (SFr 4,- December 2011). The bus driver does not sell tickets.
There are 2 trains per hour from Zürich airport to Basel SBB station.
If you come by car. Don't hurt yourself by driving through the inner part of the city. Rather look for a parking outside and use the excellent tram system. The Basel tram network and schedule won't let you down. It will be the easiest way to get around in this city.