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The most special time of year, Christmas is a great excuse to go shopping for our loved ones (and maybe a bit for ourselves). Skip the local department stores and instead combine it with a trip to the other side of the world, where you can bring back unique souvenirs and explore somewhere new at the same time. If you want to add a bit of sparkle to your December, visit one of these top holiday shopping destinations across the world.
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A shopping oasis, New York City caters to every type of traveler, from Fifth Avenue and its high-end brands and designers to pop-up holiday shops dotted around Bryant Park and Union Square, which also offer a dose of Christmas fun with hot chocolate, treats and an ice-skating rink. Admire festive department store displays and visit Macy’s on 34th Street, then browse discount retailers or pick up kid-friendly toys at FAO Schwartz, American Girl on Fifth Avenue or the LEGO store at Rockefeller Center.
Holiday shopping in London isn’t all about Harrods, although it could be. After you’ve browsed this world-renowned shopping center, walk the cobbled streets of Covent Garden to admire the city’s biggest Christmas tree and decorations. Head to West End into upmarket Mayfair and St. James’s for high-end fashion and jewelry, go window shopping along Bond Street or get it all done at once in the shops lining Oxford Street. Looking for last-minute gifts? Head to Westfield London or visit one of the Christmas markets.
You can combine a trip around the world with Christmas shopping in Hong Kong, as this fascinating destination boasts luxury malls and unique markets. Head to Times Square to explore 10 floors of luxury brands, Langham Place for exclusive-to-Asia shops or Jade Market to pick up gorgeous jade knick-knacks. Admire the East meets West Christmas displays at Landmark Mall, then visit the IFC Towers complex for electronics or Temple Street for bargain shopping.
A romantic European city with loads of charm, Vienna’s opulent buildings decorated with sparkling lights and festive activities make it a top Christmas destination in the world. You’ll find pedestrian-friendly zones lined with shops selling luxurious goods, works of art and antiques, while its Christmas markets such as Schönbrunn and Belvedere sell a range of festive specialities. You can’t miss the annual Christkindlmarkt on Rathausplatz, where you can enjoy mulled wine and local pastries while browsing for handmade ornaments, toys and candles. Art lovers looking for a unique piece can head to Kunstsupermarkt.
Milan is one of the most fashionable cities in the world, home to luxury fashion houses such as Prada, Valentino, Armani and Versace. Luring in fashionistas from across the globe throughout the year, Christmas is even more special when more markets and bazaars open up for shoppers to browse for local and luxury goods. A highlight is the Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Christmas market, where you’ll find over 400 stalls selling gifts around Castello Sforzesco. Afterward, you can admire the city’s beautiful architecture adorned in Christmas lights, including the iconic Milan Cathedral.
Sure, you can find luxury goods from the likes of Chanel and Louis Vuitton around the famed Champs-Elysees, but the city also opens up an array of charming Christmas markets with artisan goodies like hand-made knits, toys and gourmet treats. Head to Galeries Lafayette to admire its over-the-top Christmas decorations, then browse the trendy boutiques and concept stores that sell anything from electronics and beauty products to fashion accessories. Pick up fragrances at Serge Lutens or Shakespeare and Company for books, then indulge in chocolate for you and your loved ones at one of the city’s famed chocolatiers.
Known for its style and design, Sweden’s capital is a great place to pick up some unique gifts. Browse the Old Town at Stortorget Square to browse the little red stalls selling Swedish Christmas sweets, handicrafts and decorative arts with high-quality craftsmanship. If you prefer the traditional department store offerings, head to Ahlens City, NK and PUB, while south of the city center is the trendy Sodermalm district full of designer boutiques selling fashion, homewares and interior decorations.
You might be surprised to hear that Japanese love Christmas, and with its array of quirky souvenirs and technology, it’s a wonderful place to visit for shopping enthusiasts. Head to Skytree for their Christmas market to find the area lit up in festive Christmas colors and stalls selling German ornaments and decorations, while the Roppongi Hills Christmas Market is also German-themed and sells wine, sausage and pastries. Find unique Japanese gifts at the big department stores in Ginza, like Mitsukoshi, Wako and Matsuya or visit the ultra-trendy Shibuya, while those visiting just to see the lights should put Tokyo Station, Harajuku’s Omotesando Street and Roppongi on their itinerary.
Edinburgh is home to Princes Street, one of the best-known high streets in the United Kingdom, lined with fashion and department stores perfect for holiday shopping. Cockburn Street is another favorite with its boutiques, while Georges Street offers plenty of regional fare for when you need to refuel. Make sure to visit Edinburgh’s Christmas with its towering Big Wheel and 200-foot Star Flyer, while those with kids can browse Santa Land with an Elves Workshop and market full of toys and take a spin on the ice skating rink at St. Andrew’s Square.
You’ll find plenty of opportunities to shop throughout the year in Madrid, where you can find anything from fashion-forward brands to homemade crafts at local markets. Christmas is a magical time of year to be in this charming Spanish city, where you can wander the dozens of stalls in the historic Plaza Mayor Christmas Market or visit the special Mercado de Diseño pop-up market with handcrafted goods. Pick up sweets like crumbly cookies and chewy turron at Feria Dulces de Navidad, then head to Madrid’s bustling Gran Vía street for vintage treasures at the Mercadillo del Gato.