Geneva Shopping and Districts
Shopping in Geneva is what you make it and there are plenty of gift ideas all around the city. Many tacky souvenirs are available all around the Old Town and the Bourg-de-Four, such as endless T-shirts, key rings and cow-pattern mugs, together with traditional Swiss watches, and also plenty of Switzerland's famous army knifes, and some retailers in Geneva will even be happy to engrave a name on the handle.
The best shopping is based around Geneva city centre and in particular, along the bustling Rue de la Confederation. This street is lined with endless shopping opportunities and is completely pedestrianised. Much of the merchandise for sale is a little pricey, but in general, the quality is good and worth the money. However, do be prepared to shop around for standard souvenirs, since prices can vary greatly store to store.
However, for the ultimate souvenir shopping in Geneva, visit the popular outdoor market at the Plaine de Plainpalais, which is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Further afield, the Balexert shopping mall is close to the airport and perfect for last-minute shopping, while the central six-floor Manor-La Placette department store is also a good bet for good-quality Swiss souvenirs and is located on the Rue de Cornavin, close to the train station.
When to Shop and Opening Hours
Most shops in Geneva are open Monday to Friday from 08:30 to around 19:00, although many may choose to close earlier. On Thursdays shops usually stay open later for the popular late-night shopping, closing at around 21:00, while on Saturday, the typical opening hours are between 09:00 and 18:00.
Don't save up your shopping until Sunday, since almost all of the shops are closed and you will be limited to just a handful of small, expensive gift stores in hotel receptions.
Where to Shop
Although the Rue de la Confederation is an excellent place to begin your shopping trip, nearby there are also many excellent streets and public squares all over central Geneva, such as the Rive Droite, Rue du Mont Blanc, the Place du Molard, the Rue du Marche and the Rue du Rhône. These areas are rather upmarket and expensive, and so are perfect for a spot of serious window shopping, although they are also home to a number of good supermarkets.
The Rue du Mont Blanc is especially popular with tourists in Geneva and this spacious boulevard contains many interesting shops specialising in traditional Swiss crafts and chocolate confectionary. Shopping in this part of Geneva also has the added advantage of some pleasant scenery, since it is next to the waterfront and the Quai du Mont Blanc. Take time out, rest your bags and stop at one of the many cafes, before continuing with your shopping. Do bear in mind that if you spend a large amount here you may be able to claim the VAT back within 30 days, although the goods must first be stamped by the Swiss customs.