Shopping in Geneva
You'll likely do as much window shopping as buying in Geneva, as the city centre encompasses both wildly exclusive designer boutiques and high street staples. Watches are its hallmark and you could spend days browsing Swiss brands from Swatch to Patek Philippe to Raymond Weil. Under this glittering veneer there are alternative gifts to be rooted out in the city's independent stores and markets.
Geneva's exclusive shops centre around the chic Rue du Rhône, Rue de la Confédération, Rue du Marché and Rue de la Croix-d'Or. Watch and jewellery shops line these streets quite literally with gold. Head to the Old Town and the St-Gervais and Pâquis districts for a stroll around the antiques quarter and art galleries, or Carouge for independent clothes shops, local artists and artisan food stores.
Geneva has many outdoor markets. The flower market on the Place du Molard and the clothes and book market on the Place de la Madeleine (during spring and summer) are open daily. Flea markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Plaine de Plainpalais (0630-1715 in winter; 0630-1815 in summer). On Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings, the same spot is used for a colourful fruit and vegetable market (Tue and Fri 0630-1415, Sun 0830-1815). On Thursday, regional handicrafts are sold at the Place de la Fusterie (0800-2000).
The main department stores in Geneva are Bongénie, Rue du Marché 34, Manor, Rue Cornavin 6, and Globus, Rue du Rhône 48, whose buzzing food hall is a great place to have lunch alongside Geneva's professional jet-set.
General opening hours for shops in Geneva are Monday to Friday 0900-1900 (Thursday until 2100) and Saturday 0900-1800.
Geneva's clichés exist for a reason, and it's worth indulging them – the chocolate, in particular, is difficult to beat. Spend time salivating over the shelves of Chocolats Rohr on Place du Molard or Martel, Rue de la Croix-d'Or, particularly around Easter when the window displays are real masterpieces. Head to Victorinox on Rue du Marché to pick up a classic Swiss penknife and look out for the intricate silhouettes of pastoral scenes that adorn glassware and fondue sets in the tourist shops.
VAT in Geneva is charged at a rate of 7.7% and can be reclaimed if total purchases in a shop amount to more than CHF 300, as long as the purchaser is resident outside Switzerland and the goods are exported within 30 days.