With a few exceptions, stores in the city center are open on Monday 9am to 7pm; on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:15am to 6:30pm; on Thursday 8:15am to 9pm; and on Saturday 9am to 5pm.

With 6km (4 miles) of arcades, stores of all types are sheltered in Bern. The main shopping streets are Spitalgasse, Kramgasse, Postgasse, Marktgasse, and Gerechtigkeitsgasse.

You can begin your shopping excursion at Globus, Spitalgasse 17 (tel. 031/313-40-40; www.globus.ch), a major department store comparable to Bloomingdale's, with departments for just about everything. Many people from the Bernese Oberland come into Bern just to shop at Globus. Also in the center of town, Loeb ag Bern, Spitalgasse 47 (tel. 031/320-71-11; www.loeb.ch), has a little bit of everything but is known chiefly for its high-quality fashions.

The best handicrafts, souvenirs, and gifts are found at Heimatwerk, Kramgasse 61 (tel. 031/311-30-00), located on a historic street near the Clock Tower. This outlet sells handicrafts from all over Switzerland, including textiles, woodcarvings, music boxes, and jewelry.

A collection of Art Nouveau pewter pieces is found at Galerie Trag-art, Gerechtigkeitsgasse 9 (tel. 031/311-64-49; www.tragart.ch).

For antiques, dolls, and toys, the best outlet is Puppenklinik, Gerechtigkeitsgasse 36 (tel. 031/312-07-71).

A good outlet for leather footwear is Bally, Kramgasse 55 (tel. 031/311-54-81), a branch of the famous Swiss shoe manufacturer that carries the complete line. Spitalgasse lies right off Bahnhofplatz. On the same street, Gygax Mode, Spitalgasse 4 (tel. 031/311-25-61; www.gygax-lederwaren.ch), is a leading name in leather goods. It sells locally produced items as well as some of the best from neighboring countries such as Italy.

For fashion, women gravitate to Ciolina Modehaus, Marktgasse 51 (tel. 031/328-64-64; www.ciolina.ch), where clothes have fine styles and high prices. A leading men's store is Zwald, Neuengasse 23 (tel. 031/311-22-33). Fashions here reflect a Continental flair.

Swiss chocolates (not always made in Switzerland these days) are sold at Beeler, Spitalgasse 29 (tel. 031/311-28-08; www.confiserie-beeler.ch), one of the city's leading chocolatiers, and Abegglen, Spitalgasse 36 (tel. 031/311-21-11).

Hats and handbags are the specialties at KB Accessories, Münstergasse 12 (tel. 031/312-01-15), as designed by funky fashion iconoclasts Brigitte Keller and Stephan Billeter. Look for the kind of unusual and hip millinery that, if you're brave enough to wear it proudly and with good posture, will evoke comparisons to Marlene Dietrich.

Many of the art objects at Galerie Granero/Erg du Ténéré, Nydeggasse 15 (tel. 031/311-71-41), derive from Africa's dusty sub-Sahara region, especially the arid and folklore-rich countries of Chad and Mali. The Swiss-born owners scour that region for silver jewelry crafted by members of the Tuareg tribes, some of which come adorned with mystical symbols that are believed to ward off evil and empower the wearer.

Chalk Lhasa, Münstergasse 51 (tel. 031/311-61-06), up to offbeat shopping. Switzerland's status as a neutral nation has encouraged the emigration to Bern of some of Tibet's spiritual leaders, with this shop acting as a focal point for them. You'll find meditative aids, exotic jewelry, carpets and weavings, clothing, incense, and books describing various aspects of Tibet's unique points of view about politics, philosophy, and religion.

Here's a random sampling of funky shops in funky Bern. Irmak und Wirz, GmbH, Kramgasse 10 (tel. 031/312-06-04; www.atelier-irmak.ch), specializes in tribal rugs from Iran, many of them woven high in the Iranian mountains according to age-old geometric designs of the Quashquai tribes. Trouvaillen am Münster, Münstergasse 16 (tel. 031/312-79-82), is dusty and overcrowded, containing an intriguing, sometimes bizarre collection of African and Swiss hunting trophies, antique lighting fixtures, bric-a-brac, and oddities that include an elephant embryo from the 1950s and a barely used motorcycle from the 1930s. This is counterculture Bern at its most genuinely eccentric. Visit Marcopolo, Münstergasse 47 (tel. 031/311-88-44), for artifacts from the developing world, all arranged in glittering arrays of jewelry and weavings from Africa, India, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. Everything here seems exotic and ironically positioned a bit like a cleaned-up version of a Middle Eastern bazaar.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.