The best places to shop in Bern and Biel-Bienne
Bern's covered shopping arcades in the city centre allow for shopping in all weather. Most streets have shops at street level as well as in the cellars so it is good to look down for these boutiques, art galleries, wine dealers and theatres that can be easy to miss. The cellar shops were originally storage cellars and they date back to the Middle Ages.
Look for high street shops on Marktgasse. There is also a small Hermes shop on Theaterplatz, near the clock tower. Several more unique and local shops are located on Aarbergergasse (Kitchener, Fizzen, Yamatuti (DE)), Kramgasse, Rathausgasse and Brunngasse in Bern. Olmo is also a popular shop on Zeughausgasse and there is a lovely local flower shop called Ellenberger & Fuhrimann (DE) on Herrengasse.
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It is also very worth taking a look in Bern's Brokenstube or second hand shops to find bargains and hidden gems. A great Brokenstube to start with in Bern is HIOB International (DE) in the Breitenrain neighbourhood.
In Biel-Bienne the main shopping district and the historical old town are close to each other and there is a wide range of shops and boutiques. Start by checking out the shops in the newer part of town on Bahnhofstrasse and Nidaugasse and these will lead you into the old town.
Shopping for essentials
LOEB (DE) is a popular department store in Bern. There is also a Loeb food shop directly behind the department store that has a dedicated Asian food section. Since it is located close to the main train station it is also a popular meeting point in town. Globus, on Spitalgasse, is a popular high-end department store. It has a wonderful food hall in the basement and is a good place to look for food specialties that you miss from home.
Markets in Bern
There is an abundant outdoor market at Bundesplatz, Bärenplatz and Münstergasse on Tuesdays and Saturdays (daily in summer). Here you can by fresh produce, flowers, cheese, meat, olives and bread. There are also some stands selling hot food. On the other end of the market stalls sell clothing and gift items.
Markets in Biel-Bienne
There are markets (DE/FR) in the following streets or squares: Brunnenplatz, Rathausgässsli und Burgplatz. During January through March they occur on Tuesdays and Saturdays. From April to December they are open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Shop opening hours in the Bern & Biel-Bienne regions
Shops in Bern and Biel-Bienne are generally open Monday to Friday 09.00 to 19:00, Thursday and Friday until 21.00, and Saturday until 17:00. The Wankdorf Centre mall also remains open until 21:00 on Fridays.
As in the rest of Switzerland, most shops are closed on Sundays, except for those at the main train station and petrol stations. Many bakeries are open on Sundays, at least until 13.00 or 14.00. Shops outside the city centre may close for lunch between 12.00 and 13.30.
For flexible hours and to avoid crowds, try shopping online for groceries at LeShop or Coop@Home. Zalando (DE/FR), Laredoute (DE/FR) and Koala are a few good options for clothes and shoes. For gift ideas, try visiting the website Geschenk Idee (DE).
Useful shopping information for Switzerland
- Most shops are closed on Sundays in Switzerland. The only shops open on a Sunday are at train stations, airports, and at petrol stations in and around urban areas
- Many bakeries and cafes will open on Sundays, sometimes for limited hours
- In most occasions, grocery carry bags must be purchased at the store or brought from home
- Customers pack their own bags at the grocery store
- Shopping trolleys require a CHF 1-2 coin deposit
- Fruit and vegetables are available pre-packaged and priced or loose to be weighed. For non-priced items, place them on the scale, enter the item's corresponding code and print the price tag
- Sales are held twice annually in January and July
- Many shops offer loyalty programmes and regular discounts. For tips on living cost effectively in Bern, read the article Discounts and saving money in Bern
Photo: © Bern Tourismus