Looking for a flea market? Zurich to Geneva, most towns and cities have a weekly produce market, great for picking up fruit and vegetables straight from the grower, freshly-baked bread and any number of local specialities from alpine cheese to meringues. But you'll also find beautiful flower stalls, trendy food markets where you can eat on site such as Zurich's Markthalle, and flea markets stuffed with antiques, bric-a-brac and vintage clothes. Whatever you're looking for, have a browse through our pick of Switzerland's best markets.
Since it first started in 1970 this twice-weekly Geneva institution has grown into a sprawling mass of stands that now make up one of Switzerland’s largest flea markets. It's well worth the short walk or tram ride from the centre to experience a more offbeat and multicultural atmosphere. On the tram side of the Plaine de Plainpalais find a car boot-style range of collectables: stands selling secondhand clothes, toys and jumble for next-to-nothing are interspersed with ethnic offerings including incense, candles, oils, clothes and jewellery. There's a real community vibe here as people pop down for a wander and a bit of banter with the longstanding stall owners. For vintage clothes and larger items of furniture head to the university side. A recent rummage here provided us with a vintage birdcage, a French dressing table and antique shot glasses. More upmarket designer items at higher prices are likely on a Saturday.
There’s never a bad time to hang out in Carouge, Geneva’s Italianate district created by a bunch of architects from Turin in the 18th century as an independent town. Its shuttered townhouses are attractive, it’s packed with great restaurants and nightlife and the area’s numerous independent shops and artisanal workshops mean the shopping is way more interesting than in the centre of town. On Wednesdays and Saturdays Carouge gets a further boost with the arrival of the market on the lovely Place du Marché. Take a big bag and fill it with fruit and veg, cheese, honey, fresh bread, flowers, wine and locally made treats.
On the last Sunday of every month the Lake Geneva area’s best and most picturesque flea market hits Nyon. Over a kilometre of stalls line the lake front and surrounding narrow winding streets. The price of exhibiting is low so there’s always a good range on offer, from second hand toys, clothes and trinkets to upmarket trendy metal furniture, vintage scarf collections and retro design stands. Everyone in the area goes down for a wander, a sausage and beer in the summer and some vin chaud and roast chestnuts in the winter. All the shops in the area are open – a rare thing on a Sunday in these parts. Prices vary largely with the weather and the bargains happen in the rain.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays Lausanne’s pedestrian streets take on a pleasing bustle with the arrival of the market. Multiple fruit and veg stalls set up shop on Rue de Bourg and the central Place de la Palud, or head up to Place de la Riponne for cheeses, charcuterie, bread and an ever-expanding flea market selling paperbacks, CDs, bric-a-brac and second-hand furniture. For a quick snack, look out for the empanada stall on Rue du Pont, or join the queue at the popular bread and cake stall in Riponne – their coconut macaroons are especially good.
The lakeside town of Vevey hosts a typical fresh produce market every Tuesday and Saturday on its vast Place du Marché (it’s nice to see the square being used as intended rather than the less picturesque car park that it usually is). However on selected Saturdays in July and August the action ramps up as the Vevey folk market sets up shop. Featuring traditional crafts, alphorn players and dancers, artisan produce and – best of all – copious wine tasting stalls set up by local winegrowers, a visit to the folk market is a real experience. Dress up in your finest cantonal costume, purchase a wine tasting glass (or get it for free if your birthday happens to fall on a market day) and join in the fun.
Held on Petersplatz every Saturday, Basel’s popular fleamarket is a great place to rummage for a few choice finds at a bargain price, including vintage handbags, old manual cameras, silverware and china plates, secondhand clothes and children’s toys. Prices are reasonable and the friendly stallholders are happy to answer questions and barter over a sale. You may even find yourself haggling with a schoolboy, as local children are allowed to sell their toys in the middle of the square.
If your aura is right and your karma is good then the market on Rosenhof is your place. Selling anything from Native American silver jewellery to Indian handicrafts and hand-woven scarves, this little square is a place to breathe in the incense and put your worries behind. Originally founded in 1973 by a group of hippies, the market still sticks to its roots and makes for a nice change on a Saturday out shopping.
Good things come to those who get up early, so rise at 6am on Tuesdays or Fridays and take a morning walk to Helvetiaplatz. Its market offers fresh fruit and veggies, cheese and local specialities - and of course the prettiest seasonal flowers in town. Old and young alike are seen strolling past the market stalls. Watch out for stalls selling seedlings for your urban garden in spring and summer.
Expect only quality goods at this upscale flea market. Stalls sell second hand designer fashion, antiques, collectibles, art and prints – and none of it comes for cheap. If you are looking for that special something you should get up early; the best items will be sold long before 9am.
Switzerland's largest all year round flea market takes place every Saturday and boasts a variety of goods and vendors. From used mobiles, to collector's items like early 20th century cameras, from pensioners selling delicate china and parents offering the skis their children have grown out of, to local fashionistas cleaning out their wardrobes, there is something for everyone. Arrive early, roam through the stalls for an hour and then get a yummy breakfast at nearby café Dini Mueter.