Switzerland — Shopping and Leisure
There are some great souvenirs for visitors to pick up Switzerland, so not trip should be complete without moseying around the shops. The chocolate is of course the highlight, and visitors will find that local brands are very different than what's available outside the country. Cheese is also an incredibly delicious treat, but visitors from North America should note the strict import regulations on food items (some cheeses are allowed, but check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to be certain http://www.cbp.gov). Swiss watches also make good gifts, with the high quality Schweizer Heimatwerk shop a good place to check out. There are branches in Zurich and Basel, as well as at the airports in Geneva and Zurich.
Visitors should note that Sunday shopping hours are still in effect in Switzerland, so many shops will be closed. The exception is in tourist locations and major transportation hubs. Visitors should also note that they can save money by getting their VAT (sales tax) back upon exiting the country. Ask the saleskeeper about the process and regulations.
Zurich offers the best shopping in Switzerland. The most upscale stores can be found at the famous Bahnhofstrasse, where many international brands are huddled together. The younger crowd, however, prefers the trendy shops of the Niederdorf area.
Geneva is much smaller, but still offers excellent shopping prospects. Many of the stores have rich and famous clientele, and visitors will find many brand name shops in the city center, along Rue du Mont Blanc, Rue du Rhone and Rue de Marche. Cheaper stores can be enjoyed at the flea market on Plaine de Plainpalais.
Zermatt is not particularly known for its shopping, as most outlets cater to skiers and sell overpriced sporting goods. The main shopping drag is along the Bahnhofstrasse and home to brand-name shops, sports stores and a drugstore. Other places to peruse can be found on Kirchstrasse, which runs perpendicular to Bahnhofstrasse.