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Top 10 Cities in Europe for all Your Shopping Needs in 2014

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Top 10 Cities in Europe for all Your Shopping Needs in 2014

story by: Jo Wedlock

With Europe being a shopper’s dream – start planning your trip now to include a few indulgent retail therapy stops! Fabulous not just for the fashion, but also for spending sunny Saturdays in the farmers markets, or taking all the family to the stalls by the beach – Paris, Milan, Istanbul and Stockholm are a few of the many indulgent options on offer.

London – England
No European shopping trip is complete without shopping in London.  The choices are endless – from the farmers markets at Notting Hill to the multi-cultural markets at Camden, the multiple high streets, the department stores and of course famous Harrods.  London is a mecca for any time of shop lover,  it’s so spectacular here, that it deserves a top 10 places to shop in its own right – so when you are next there make sure these 10 shopping destinations are on your visit list:

  • Farmers Markets at Notting Hill
  • Harrods department store
  • Camden Lock
  • Portobello Road Market and Golborne Road Market (everything from clothes, music, food and much, much more)
  • Borough Market
  • Selfridges & Co
  • Oxford Street High Shops
  • Covent Garden Markets
  • Fortnum and Mason
  • Marks and Spencers – infamous but a ‘must visit’ for all your essentials or just to wander the food section!
Glasgow – Scotland
If you haven’t been to Glasgow before, or haven’t been back in the last 10 years, you could be forgiven for thinking of Glasgow as a bit rough, or a bit old fashioned and, well, Scottish.  In recent years however Glasgow has come of age and is now recognised within Europe and the UK as one of the most cosmopolitan, commercial and lively hubs – with an amazing array of shops.  Make sure you get to the Buchanan Galleries for all your fashion essentials and you’ll get a chance to buy all those labels and runway pieces.  Of course no trip to Glasgow would be complete without a visit to the West End – it’s the funkier, hip part of town and if you come on the weekends you’ll get the farmers markets and lots of organic produce.  While in the west end, make sure you get down to Ashton Lane for the best restaurants in the city.  Finally, shop the high streets of Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street.

Paris – France
There’s truly something for everyone in this most beautiful of cities.  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 Montmartre 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.  Avoid the tacky souvenir shops around Place du Tertre and Sacré Coeur unless you want to get ripped-off for gaudy berets, I Heart Paris T-shirts and reproductions of classic Parisian scenery (made in China). Head instead to Rue des Abbesses which teems with cafés and boutiques. Aside from the usual Parisian staples (Comptoir des Cotonniers, Kookaï, Petit Bateau), you can find simple, elegant chic at Ba&sh, American Retro and Allison (number 38). There’s always something to fall in love with in the window of Vicxite.A. Their casual boots, fringed shoes, oversize handbags and simple, elegant dresses are the stuff bobo (bourgeois bohème) dreams are made of. Try also Lexinston at number 7 for girly pieces and accessories by Ethnochic.

Milan and Bergamo (45km from Milan centre) – Italy
Milan  - the name itself conjures up images of Italian fashion week, shoes and basically all women’s dreams!  It’s true that Milan is a mecca for every fashion label you can think of and is worth a visit.  However, the true secret lies in the heart of Bergamo – just 45km from the main centre and home for the low cost airline (easyjet will take you right into Bergamo).  Here you will find all those Italian fashion labels at half the price that the tourist centre of Milan offers.  It’s a lovely small city where the old wall is still in place.  Old Bergamo is up the hill where you can wind through cobbled streets, eat in old Tratorias and get a taste of what Milan was like before it became so famous!

Barcelona – Spain
Barcelona is truly one of the most amazing shopping centres you could dream about.  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 5km  shopping linewhich stretches from the top of the Ramblas, through Plaça de Catalunya along Passeig de Gràcia and up Avenue Diagonal. Much of the shopping line is pedestriansed making it a pleasant experience to wander from shop to shop without worrying about traffic.

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!

Rome – Italy
Just as you’d expect with any city in Italy, shopping is amazing in Rome, but expensive, so don’t expect to find a lot of bargains.  Window shopping is certainly a joy 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 – shop in the morning or late afternoon as most of the city shuts down between 1 and 3.30. 

The area around Piazza di Spagna is where you’ll find little boutiques for clothing, jewellery and shoes, make sure you check out what is on offer – think Prada, Valentino, Gucci etc.  Rome is also a great place to shop for Antiques and several famous shops are located around Via Margutta and Via del Corso.  It’s not a huge city so grab a guide book, spend some time looking around and sample the shopping wares.

Florence – Italy
Outside of Paris, Florence has some of the best mid level shopping in Europe.  Base yourself somewhere around the Santa Maria Novella square and you can walk or catch public transport to mostly anywhere.

If you're looking for haute couture fashions, such as Gucci, Pucci, or Ferragamo (the latter two design houses being native to Florence), head to the area around the streets of Via Tornabuoni, Via della Vigna Nuova, and Via dei Calzaiuoli. These streets in the Santa Maria Novella district are teeming with the latest fashions from the biggest Italian and international designers.

For clothing, housewares, and other items affordable to mere mortals, check out the shops around the streets of Piazza della Repubblica, such as on Via Calimala. Here you'll find name brands like Zara and department stores like Rinascente

One of the shopping specialties in Florence is the outdoor flea markets.  The most famous are the markets in and around the Mercato Centrale in the San Lorenzo district.  Here you’ll find wonderful food stalls where you can buy cheeses, meats, olives, breads and much more.  You’ll also find this is a great place to pick up leather goods and other items.

Across the Arno, the Piazza Santo Spirito is a great place to go for vintage clothing and accessories - you’ll get some wonderful authentic pieces here.

Stockholm – Sweden
The City area of Stockholm is where the big department stores are. The great news is that everything is under one (actually three) roofs so if it’s a bad weather day or you are a bit lazy, it’s paradise. 

Head to Drottninggatan, which is packed full of small specialist shops, big stores like H&M and Zara, Swedish fashion brand stores and just about every type of retailer imaginable. Look out for Designtorget at Sergels Torg; it sells mostly household design/functional objects created by up and coming Nordic designers that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

Istanbul – Turkey
Istanbul is a shopper’s paradise, from antique shops and chic boutiques to shopping malls…but you do need to know where to look.

Shopping the Bazaar is a unique experience and one that you really should try and experience.  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.

But there’s more: the chic boutiques, vintage and “concept” stores of modern Istanbul give London and Paris a run for their money in terms of inventiveness and edge; and there are plenty of designer malls and streets to keep the label-hungry sated. But as ever, in this sprawling, car-choked metropolis, you need to know where to go.

Linens, bedspreads, pillow covers, quilts and eiderdowns are as plentiful in the bazaar as sand in the desert: the danger is that you will lug them home to find they’re the wrong size. The good news is that in a lot of places you can choose your material then specify the measurements for your cushion covers/duffel bags/dressing gowns/table runners. The owners then instruct his man upstairs on the sewing machine to whip it up for you in two hours.

If arts and crafts are more to your liking then the place for Oriental art and antiques is Sofa with three floors of seals, silverware, miniatures, embroidery, jewellery, sculptures, ceramics, statues, icons, clocks, engravings, and more. It’s been there since 1976 and is at the hub of the Istanbul art establishment.

The other must-have shopping item in Istanbul is shoes as their cobblers have a burgeoning reputation. Check out the winding streets of Cukurcuma. Here, Zeynep Turuthan makes and sells jewel-hued cowboy boots, snakeskin Mary Janes, gold ankle boots, leopard-print brogues and more. The shelves of the shop are lined with leather in every colour of the rainbow and the smell of glue hangs in the air.

Manchester – England
As Kiwis, we love a bargain and typically are more ‘high street’ shoppers than big label people. Whether you’re after a bargain or want to flex your plastic to its limit on this season’s ‘must have’, Manchester in England offers a great shopping experience and many flights from New Zealand land in Manchester as an alternative to London.

Afflecks famous shopping emporium houses a unique variety of shops within a rabbit warren.  This complex involves four floors of fashion, accessories, homeware, vintage, memorabilia, tarot, tattoos, piercing studios, alternative fashion and cafés. If you’re looking for something different – you will find it at Afflecks which refers to itself as “the thorn in the side of High Street”

If it’s a designer label at bargain basement prices you’re after then discount outlet shopping is the way to go.   The discount outlet centre in Manchester has over 80 shops, selling excess stock at up to 70% off RRP. Within the main building there is the world first Red Cinema, Esporta Health Club, a 400-seat food court with nine food outlets, coffee shops and plaza restaurants.

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