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Regardless of which language you speak, you'll find lots of options for nightlife, whether you're looking for a sophisticated cocktail lounge or a funky alternative club. A worthwhile cluster of them are in the Stadtcasino, Steinberg 14 (tel. 061/226-36-00; www.casinobasel.ch), a venue that contains a stage (Musik Halle) for live musical acts, plus at least three other bars and restaurants. On site, look for the American-inspired Papa Joe's (tel. 061/225-93-94; www.papajoes.ch), a restaurant containing vague references to Hemingway and a commodious bar area. A few steps away, at Steinenberg 7, directly opposite the whimsical fountain designed by mega-artist Jean Tinguely, is the Campari Bar (tel. 061/272-83-83), a youthful site for drinking, gossiping, or whatever.

The appealing and discreetly prosperous City Bar is in the previously recommended Hilton Basel, Aeschengraben 31 (tel. 061/275-66-00). Its decor evokes a prestigious men's club in London; you'll get the distinct feeling that everything from billion-dollar bank transfers to romantic assignations has been discreetly and stylishly conducted here. Several notches upscale, with older and more prestigious antecedents, is the Euler Bar, in the Hotel Euler, Centralbahnplatz 14 (tel. 061/275-80-00). Popular with the international business community, it contains a lavishly coffered ceiling, a live pianist, lots of leather upholstery, a noise level that rarely rises above a murmur, and stiff drinks. More raucous and earthy is the popular bar in the oldest hotel in Europe, the Drei Könige, Blumenrain 8 (tel. 061/260-50-50), which is smaller and more bohemian than the previously recommended bars.

The city's most entrenched bastion of electronic music, avant-garde jazz, and rock 'n' roll is the Café Atlantis, Klosterberg 13 (tel. 061/228-96-96; www.atlan-tis.ch). Favored by rock-star hopefuls and college students, it contains a labyrinth of bars and balconies, and views of the medieval cathedral from the second-floor windows. On Friday and Saturday nights, it becomes a disco. During the week it has occasional live music. Admission is free. The quintessential smoke-filled cafe is Zum Roten Engel, Andreasplatz 15 (tel. 061/261-20-08), filled mainly with students and other young people.

You're always likely to strike up an interesting conversation when you drop in at any of Basel's gay bars, which tend to get going relatively late at night, around 11pm. Try Elle et Lui, Rebgasse 39 (tel. 061/692-54-79).

On a more cultural note, the Basel Stadttheater, Theaterstrasse 7 (tel. 061/295-11-33; www.theater-basel.ch), presents an array of opera, operetta, dance concerts, and plays in German. The box office is open Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm and 3:30 to 6:45pm, Saturday 10am to 6:45pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.