Christmas shopping is always a good excuse for a getaway. You can even justify the cost of the trip, by the savings you make! From London to New York, Berlin to Barcelona, check out five of the best cities for Christmas shopping breaks and get planning!
With sterling so low against the euro there has never been a better time to hit Oxford Street! Over 2km in length, all the top high street stores are here, including Primark’s flagship store. Oxford Street is also home to John Lewis (famous for it’s amazing Christmas adds) and Selfridges, both of which are worth going for their window displays alone. I also think it is nice to shop in places that we don’t have here in Ireland, at least there will be some unique gifts under the tree! London is definitely one of the best cities for Christmas shopping and with great flight options from all Irish airports, you can fly over on Saturday morning, come home Sunday night and still have two full days shopping!
Covent Garden is a must for quirky souvenirs and trendy boutiques and Bond Street is the best for designer shopping. If the weather is against you, don’t worry, you can always pop into Westfield Shopping Centre. One of Europe’s largest shopping malls, this has 250 shops and 70 places to dine! Of course no visit to London would be complete without a trip to Harrods in Knightsbridge.
Unlike some of Europe’s big shopping cities, Rome isn’t full of department stores. One of the great things I love are the boutiques. The Via del Corso has most of the familiar high street stores, but don’t neglect the side streets! You will find lots of Italian shoe shops, jewellery and clothing, at very reasonable prices and with different stock to what you will find at home.
Make sure you visit the Via Condotti too, you will see all the top designers here including Prada, Fendi, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. If you are not in a position to purchase, don’t worry, it is worth going to window shop. Many shops still close at lunchtime from 1pm-3pm, so it’s the perfect city to enjoy some nice Italian food over a leisurely lunch. Save the sight seeing for night time when Rome’s remarkable buildings are illuminated for the Christmas season.
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Without a doubt, New York is one of the world’s best cities for Christmas shopping. Watching the tree at Rockefeller centre illuminated with the ice skating rink in front, it is magical. I love wandering through Central Park in winter time and ogling at the window displays in Macys and Bloomingdales.
Plan to spend at least a half day in Macys, check out the bargains in Chinatown and visit the designer shops on Fifth Avenue. Early risers will enjoy Century 21 (opens from 7.30am) and the 24 hour Apple store. If you have time, take the trip to the outlets at Woodbury Common or Jersey Gardens. Check out my top 25 things to do in New York here.
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Contrary to what you might think, Barcelona is a great choice for Christmas shopping, it is home to over 35,000 shops! The pedestrianised Las Ramblas is one of the world’s most iconic streets. Witnessing the street artists perform and stopping for some tapas along the way, is all part of the Barcelona shopping experience.
Spanish brands like Zara, Desigual and Custo have flagship stores around Passeig de Gracia and Diagonal Mar, and prices are about 20% lower than in Ireland. If you are looking for some trendy boutiques, head for the Gothic quarter, and you will find some cool tapas bars here to stop for lunch too.
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A Christmas market break seems like the perfect way to see some of Europe’s top cities, while enjoying the festivities. There are so many cities to choose from, Budapest, Prague, Krakow or Vienna are amongst the favourites. However, Berlin has 50 different markets – staggering isn’t it? Enjoy some mulled wine and carol singers, as you shop the market stalls for hand made trinkets.
Of course Berlin now rivals Paris and Rome in the shopping stakes, so make sure you check out Kurfurstendamm, Berlin’s longest boulevard, which is lined with high street stores and designer shops. With one of Europe’s largest selection of Christmas markets as well as top high street and designer shops, Berlin is one of Europe’s best cities for Christmas shopping. For more tips and tricks on visiting Berlin, check out my city guide to Berlin here.
Like Christmas market breaks? See Europe’s top 10 Christmas markets here.
Like City breaks? See my best city break destinations here