London, Milan, Berlin, A Coruña, Paris, Barcelona and Stockholm are our favourite cities for shopping tourism. Essential destinations for shopaholics!
Whether you’re one of those who only shops in the sales for items you already had your eye on, or someone who can’t resist a bit of retail therapy any time of year, why not make the most of the sales season to get away to one of these amazing cities and enjoy all that they have to offer, as well as amazing bargains to suit every pocket?
Here’s a tip: if you don’t know how you’re going to fit all your shopping in your suitcase, don’t worry: book an extra bag for the flight back!
1. London, the land of the outlandish
London is known for being a city where you can wear whatever you want and no one will bat an eyelid. If you decide to go shopping in the capital of the UK, you can start off with the basics: from Oxford Street (if you’re travelling with the kids you have to stop by a massive toy shop, Hamleys, and even if you haven’t got kids with you, you should visit it anyway!) to Regent Street and Carnaby, to shop at large stores that we can no longer find anywhere else (Top Shop – we miss you!).
Not to be missed is also Covent Garden, especially if you’re thinking about bringing home some gifts. And if you love and can afford luxury brands, the best place to go is Mayfair. Are street markets more your thing? London has these too. From Portobello to Brick Lane, Camden Town or the creative Spitalfields, where there are second-hand and home décor shops, as well as delicious London-style street food. If you don’t want to leave London without purchasing a genuine locally-designed garment, Shoreditch is the place to go.
2. Milan, Italian style at its best
There are few (or no) places as stylish as Milan. Wherever you go in this Italian city, everyone seems glamorous and sophisticated. If you want some of this elegance to rub off on you, you’d better go to the Quadrilateral of Fashion, right next to the Duomo, bordered by four streets: Montenapoleone, Alessandro Manzoni, Spiga and Sant'Andrea. If you find that Versace or Armani are a bit over your budget, not to worry: go to Porta Ticinese or Vittorio Emanuele II, where you’ll find all kinds of more affordable shops.
A shopping trip in Milan must include the Brian & Barry shopping centre: twelve storeys full of clothes and accessories by avant-garde designers. Like most Italian cities, Milan also has many designer outlets scattered all over the city, offering amazing bargains. If you love outlets and you never get tired of walking round shops, don’t miss Serravalle Outlet, an hour from the city. It’s the largest designer outlet in Europe and offers the world’s best brands (from Nike to Dolce & Gabbana) at very low prices.
3. Berlin, city of cool
Coming to Berlin means being cool and dressing in comfortable, urbanite clothes that the locals love. People from Berlin are experts at mixing and matching low-cost sports clothing with designer brands and statement accessories, creating light and comfy outfits that are perfect for hopping onto a bike and cycling round the city at any time.
A good place to start is by exploring the boutiques at Friedrichstraße, or mooching about the street markets in and around Potsdamer Platz. If you’re looking for more exclusive but affordable designer brands, visit Prenzlauer Berg and Schönhauser Allee; however, we advise you to leave a few hours in your schedule (a whole morning, rather) to explore Kurfürstendamm, a popular 3-km shopping boulevard that has a massive shopping centre, as well as an interesting gourmet area: KaDeWe.
4. A Coruña, influenced by Arteixo
A Coruña is probably one of the cities in Spain where people have the best fashion sense, even though style is something that is hard to measure. There are several reasons for this. First, A Coruña is a city where people live well and love being out on the streets enjoying and celebrating the various festivals that take place throughout the year. Another reason is that close to this city we find the town of Arteixo, where the Inditex empire hails from, influencing the whole area.
The Marineda City shopping centre is a good place to start as there are many major fashion brands. Then, in and around Plaza de Lugo you can find the most exclusive brands and prices to suit every pocket. Calle Real is another shopping hotspot in A Coruña, a city where you can still find charming corners that remind us of the old Soho of A Coruña, a term that was invented more than a decade ago, of which unfortunately not much remains nowadays. On the small and cosy Calle Alcalde Canuto Barea you’ll find a good number of designer shops.
5. Paris, chic and sophisticated
In Berlin and Stockholm, fashion is more urbanite and comfy, but in cities like Paris and Milan we still find that chic, refined style that stands out. A shopping trip in Paris must include the designer boutiques on the Champs-Élysées, of course, even if you have to do a bit of window shopping because you can’t really afford anything!
If you love shopping centres, you’d better make sure you have a few hours left to explore Galeries Lafayette (if you like what you see in summer, imagine what it looks like at Christmas!), Forum des Halles or Printemps, which sells luxury items. If you’re looking for curious souvenir and antiques, be sure to go to Montmartre, and if you want hipster fashion with a sophisticated touch by local and international designers, the best idea is to explore the Marais area and also enjoy the art galleries and interesting cultural events.
6. Barcelona, Mediterranean soul
Barcelona has a longstanding fashion tradition (the textile industry has been a driving force for the economy in Catalonia for years), and there are several shopping areas where you can enjoy the variety on offer.
Want affordable local designers? Gràcia and El Born are two neighbourhoods where you’ll find beautiful shops. Want a more classic shopping street lined with major brands? Go to Portal de l’Àngel, Portaferrissa and, for more exclusive brands, Passeig de Gràcia. Barcelona also boasts large shopping centres such as L’Illa Diagonal, La Maquinista and Diagonal Mar, as well as interesting narrow streets in the historic quarter with small shops more suited to those who love design, art and less conventional fashion: Elisabets, Doctor Dou and Avinyó, to name but a few.
7. Stockholm, the Swedish theory of everything
The first thing you realise when you set foot in Stockholm is that you don’t need to go looking for fashion districts or local clothes, design and furniture shops: the entire city is full of small shops where you can find the distinctive, comfy and cool Swedish style, with loose-fitting clothes, high-quality fabrics and styles that we don’t usually find in major brand shops.
Östermalm is where we find all the glamorous shops, and there are all kinds of other shops on streets like Birger Jarlsgatan, Nybrogatan, Biblioteksgatan, Östermalmstorg and Stureplan. Kommendörsgatan has antiques and crafts, and Södermalm, on the southern island, is like a city within the city where you’ll find exclusive designer shop and vintage fashion. And don’t miss the so-called SoFo, which is short for South of Folkungagatan, where there are also many clothes, design, accessories and crafts shops.
Ready to go shopping?