The best places to shop in Basel
Basel shares borders with France and Germany and is part of the tri-national agglomeration. Thus, its shops are located in various locations, including the city centre, both sides of the Rhine (also spelled Rhein) River, in the suburbs and over the borders into France and Germany.
The left bank of the Rhine River, called Grossbasel old town, offers more mainstream shopping such as the major department store Globus. Kleinbasel old town on the right bank offers a smaller, more individual shopping experience.
Basel's shopping mile starts at Claraplatz in Kleinbasel. Cross the bridge to Marktplatz before following Freie Strasse and ending at Bankverein. For designer brands, take a detour to Spalenberg. Alongside well-known brands, there are numerous smaller, specialised shops and boutiques.
If you prefer to avoid the city centre, visit St.Jakob Park (DE) next to the football stadium, or the Stuecki Centre (DE). Pratteln (DE) has larger stores such as Ikea (DE/FR/IT), Möbel Pfister (DE/FR/IT) and interio (DE/FR).
Shopping across the border in France and Germany
Shopping in France and Germany is very popular amongst Basel residents, who regularly shop over the borders for better prices at general stores and weekly markets. However, it is important to take note of the customs regulations and limitations on bringing goods into Switzerland. The tax-free limit is CHF 300 per person but there are some special regulations concerning certain goods carried across the border.
Cost saving tip: The VAT (Value-added tax) on items purchased outside of Switzerland can often be reclaimed. Information leaflets are available at customs offices at border crossings. Note: L and G permit holding residents cannot claim VAT.
Shopping for essentials
Markets in Basel
Basel has several thriving markets. The daily market at Marktplatz is one of the most notable, selling fresh produce and local specialties. Petersplatz has a flea market on Saturdays. Barfüsserplatz also has a flea market every second and fourth Wednesday and a new-goods market every Thursday. Find information about several other markets on Kanton Basel-Stadt.
Shop opening hours in Basel
Shop opening hours in Basel are generally from 08.00-18.30 Monday to Friday and 07.30-17.00 on Saturday. Central shops stay open until 20.00 on Thursday and Friday and until 18.00 on Saturday. Most shops are closed on Sunday except for the railway station shops and the Coop Pronto (DE/FR) on Barfüsserplatz. Smaller shops and those outside of the city centre may also close over lunch.
In Germany shops are open on weekdays from 08.00–18.30 and on Saturday from 08.00–14.00, with some larger shops staying open until 20.00. In France, shop opening hours are Monday to Friday 09.00–19:00 and Saturday 09.00–18.00. Very few shops open on Sunday.
Check Öffnungs Zeiten (DE) to find stores open on Sundays in each canton.
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 Geschenk Idee (DE) and sort through their wide collection based on the person you are shopping for.
Useful information on shopping in 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.
- 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 Basel, read the article Discounts and saving money in Basel.
- Many shops accept both CHF and Euros but change for Euros will be given in Swiss Francs.
Photo: swiss-image/Andreas Zimmermann