Europe is famous for its museums, culture and art, but another thing it is famous for is the ability to bring a piece of all of that home — through the magic of shopping!
Whether you’re looking for famous food markets, high-fashion clothing boutiques, or classic antique shops, Europe’s best shopping destinations have something for browsers and shopaholics alike. The places in this list are easily accessible by train, too.
Home to some of the world’s most famous fashion labels, Paris is one of the best shopping cities in Europe. While it doesn’t come cheap, you can still find a bargain at the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen. With more than 3,000 stalls, it’s thought to be the biggest flea market in the world.
If you are a shopper who delights in mall shopping then Galeries Lafayette is the place to start. Located centrally on Boulevard Haussmann and with easy access to several metro stations, this multi-levelled store has everything from a Paris style food court, international acclaimed supermarket (more like a giant size deli) and several levels of shopping to die for.
If you prefer to shop the boutiques then head up to Montmarte which is the funkier part of town — previously famous for its Moulin Rouge and artists.
The disorienting maze of streets winding around La Butte Montmartre is home to many a unique boutique — you just need to know where to look.
Milan is synonymous with fashion, you will find Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada, Valentino and Versace within the Quadrilatero d’Oro (that’s the area between Via Montenapoleone, Via Sant’Andrea, Via Monzani and Via della Spiga). Stroll through the arcades of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, founded in 1867 and set just metres from Milan’s Duomo.
To find all those Italian fashion labels at half the price that the tourist centre of Milan offers, visit Bergamo — 45 km from the main centre of Milan. It’s a lovely small city where the old wall is still in place.
London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities on earth and a haven for people who love to shop. It’s hard to think of something you can’t find in London, except for reliable sunshine.
The choices are endless — from the farmers markets at Notting Hill to the multicultural markets at Camden, the multiple high streets, the department stores and of course famous Harrods. Experiment with London’s edgy side at the Portobello Road and Spitalfields markets.
Shop like royalty at iconic department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges. Harrods is the biggest department store in Europe.
Barcelona is truly one of the most amazing shopping centres you could dream about. Immerse yourself in the flavours of Catalonia in the fascinating La Boqueria Market. Aside from more than 72 food stalls, the market is a great place to pick up bacalao (salted cod), fresh seafood and jamon (cured ham).
It’s easy to get around the main centres and every high street or top level fashion label that you can imagine is located here in beautiful large air conditioned shops.
Barcelona shopping offers around 35,000 shops. The city is also home to the famous 5 KM shopping line. The shopping line stretches from the top of the Ramblas, through Plaça de Catalunya along Passeig de Gràcia and up Avenue Diagonal.
Also, keep in mind that non-European union residents can shop tax free in Barcelona so keep your receipts and ask your House of Travel specialist about how to claim back your tax after you’ve shopped up a storm!
Istanbul is a city designed to dazzle shoppers, from antique shops and chic boutiques to shopping malls, but you do need to know where to look. First, there’s the Grand Bazaar, with spices piled high and glittering fabrics priced low. There is an explosion of artistic talent going on in the maze-like streets of Galata, just across from Sultanahmet (think fashion, art and interior decoration). Antiques cluster in the districts of Çukurcuma and Cihangir, and if you believe the merchants, you can even find your own magic flying carpet.
Shopping the Bazaar is a unique experience and one that you really should try and experience when in Turkey. Istanbul’s position on an ancient trade route between East and West means that its inhabitants are merchants — and shoppers — to their core.
From Ottoman antiques and fine carpets to jewellery and belly-dancing costumes, Istanbul offers a wealth of all things Oriental.
Window shopping is certainly a joy in Rome and in the case of leather wear (jackets, belts, handbags etc.) you can get great value for money.
Most shops in Rome close for the afternoon lunch time — so shop in the morning or late afternoon.
All roads may lead to Rome, but all shopaholics head to the flea market at Porta Portese in Trastevere. Loaded with antiques and oddities, it’s one of Europe’s most lively shopping grounds. Don’t forget the food. Stock up on strong cheese and salami, shipping it home if you need to.
There’s more to shopping in Amsterdam than tulips and special coffee shops. That said, the floating Flower Market is indeed worth a visit for its flamboyant displays of tulip bulbs — and of Christmas trees once winter comes around.
The former main post office building, Magna Plaza, in Amsterdam is a wonderful building. The impressive façade between the Dam Palace and the Nieuwe Kerk has been providing a trusted view for almost a century, first as the main post office and currently as a shopping centre with international allure. Architect Cornelis Hendrik Peters built it in neo-Gothic style, a mixture of Gothic and Romantic elements of which, for instance, the Parliament buildings in London are also an example. In 1992 this beautiful building was added to the list of the ten most valuable monuments of the city of Amsterdam.
Leidsestraat offers plenty of souvenir shops (clogs, anyone?) as well as boutiques, large fashion stores and canal views. Beyond the mainstream, you’ll find shops specialising in vinyl, comic books, holograms and adult toys — it is Amsterdam, after all.