In a country best known for watches and chocolate, this underrated city is a shopper’s paradise. From flea markets to high-end jewelry, there’s something for everyone in Basel.
Sitting on the Swiss border at its apex with Germany and France, this small city boasts a picturesque historic center scattered with museums and galleries. When it’s time for a break from sightseeing, Basel’s shopping scene is full of unexpected delights. With all the major designers and Swiss department stores represented, the city is also home to some hidden jewels. For the best of Basel’s shopping scene, veer off the main streets at Marktplatz and Freiestrasse and opt instead for Spalenberg or the Schneidergasse. Here are some of the best shops to look out for.
Best for a sweet tooth: Choco Loco
Switzerland is a contender for producing the world’s greatest chocolate, and Choco Loco offers some of the country’s finest. This small shop, located on trendy Spalenberg, has a wide selection of chocolate from around the world, including exotic spiced chocolates and drinking chocolate. With friendly, knowledgeable staff and the wafting aroma of cocoa, you’re likely to leave with more than you’d planned. Stop by for a wine and chocolate tasting event with partners SiebeDupfe Weine, who also sell their palate-pleasing wares in the petite Spalenberg shop.
Best for arts and crafts: Barfüsserplatz Market
Every Saturday this picturesque square transforms into a market for the region’s best craftsmen (and women) to gather and sell their wares. With thousands of unique handmade jewelry and clothing pieces on display – and even artisanal food items to keep you satiated – Barfüsserplatz Market is the perfect place to pick up unusual gifts, souvenirs or a treat for yourself. During the month of December, Basel’s famous Christmas market is also held here. The usual stalls are replaced by vendors selling glühwein, gingerbread and seasonal trinkets to the locals and visitors who flock to the square to soak up the Christmas spirit. Make sure to pick up a cup of glühwein to keep warm while you stroll back to our nearby Radisson Blu Hotel Basel.
Best for fashion: Set & Sekt
A concept store that combines cutting-edge fashion with music and art, this hip spot on Rümelinsplatz features sleek white walls with floating clothing rails to show off the latest designs by established labels and upcoming Swiss designers, all hand-picked by proprietor Corinne Grüter. The shop offers personal shopping service in case you’d rather relax in the coffee bar, where you can check out a sculpture designed by architect Andreas Bründler.
Best for watches: Zeitzentrale
As host of Baselworld, the world’s leading annual exhibition of high-end watches and jewelry, it’s hardly a surprise that the city is home to some excellent watch shops. Zeitzentrale on Rebgasse is one of the more unusual ones, specializing in sun dials and other pieces that rely on the sun to determine the time. For those on the hunt for a more conventional timepiece, most of the major Swiss watchmakers are represented among the store’s collection.