10 of the best shopping destinations in Europe

Shopping is one of those activities that we love to enjoy during a weekend with friends or a family vacation. A plane ticket and you're off to a major European city in no time for long hours of window shopping in the main avenues and shopping centres. Unless you prefer to take the more intimate streets and alleys to discover the local crafts and small shops that make the charm of these byways. Europe has some unmissable window shopping spots. So, whether it's the start of the new school year or simply because the paycheck has just come in and you want to treat yourself, here are 10 of the best destinations in Europe to splurge on your credit card.

1- Madrid, Spain

Madrid has everything: street markets, big chains, shopping malls and vintage shops. You can start by going to La Gran Vía, which is not only architecturally beautiful, but also full of world-famous stores. This long avenue is the starting point for Fuencarral Street, where you can also find a multitude of brands, clothes, cosmetics and shoes in various styles. Another must-see is the Malasaña district. In a labyrinth of alleys with a hipster atmosphere, you will find vintage shops, art galleries, specialized bookstores and independent designers. Finally, if you have time, don't miss Las Rozas Village, one of the most famous outlets in Spain, where you can find prestigious brands at reduced prices!

2- Florence, Italy

We all know Florence for its beautiful heritage and museums, but the capital of Tuscany is also a great place to shop. It's simple, there's something for everyone. For those looking for the top Italian and international luxury brands, head to Via de Tornabuoni, which connects Ponte Santa Trinita to Piazza degli Antinori. For low-priced finds, however, places like the San Lorenzo market are preferable. Leather, wood, marbled paper, Florence is also a small paradise to buy an object from local crafts. Go to Via dei Serragli and its charming shops. And then, how could you not pass by the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Italy? Home only to jewellery and gold shops, it is the perfect place to leave with a necklace, a bracelet, a ring, in a unique style

3- Athens, Greece

Visiting Athens to see its acropolis is a must in Europe. But the city also has nothing to envy to cities like Paris, Milan and London when it comes to shopping. Around Syntagma Square, Ermou, Panepistimiou and Stadiou streets are full of ready-to-wear stores, with most of the well-known brands, but also specialised shops. At the foot of Lycabetta Hill, on the other hand, a higher budget is required, as the streets of the Kolonáki district have some beautiful luxury shops. All this effort is worth a visit to the central market on Athinas Street, where fish, meat and spices await gourmets and lovers of good fresh local produce. Finally, there is nothing like a stroll through the Pláka district to take home a typical Greek product or a copper or ceramic object.

4- Vienna, Austria

The Austrian capital is a small temple for shopaholics, with the presence of the Mariahilfer Strasse. In this 4 km long street, the part that starts at the Westbahnhof and joins the museum district is the perfect place to take out your wallet. World-famous brands for small and large budgets, classic and modern, this is the place to go for a wardrobe makeover from A to Z and accessories. In a trendy spirit, the Burggasse district is another place to go to stroll through small boutiques and trendy concept stores. There are also some charming bistros for breaks. Music is also a major part of Vienna' s culture. There are many shops in the5th and 7th districts of the city for those who love classical music, but also more contemporary music.

5- Lyon, France

The capital of the Gauls is one of the best cities in France for shopping. On sunny days, open-air shopping can take place on the inevitable Rue de la République as well as in the Presqu'île district and its many shopping streets. Most of the major brands can be found there, and the offer corresponds to all budgets. In the heart of the Croix Rousse, Lyon's bohemian district, designer boutiques, art galleries and concept stores await the strollers. Lyon also has two major shopping centres. Westfield La Part Dieu is quite simply one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. And Confluence is distinguished by its bold architecture. In both places, there are many shops in various styles, but also restaurants and cinemas to vary the pleasures.

6- Glasgow, Scotland

In the UK, London is not the only major shopping destination. In Scotland, Glasgow also has endless options. Buchanan Street is home to major retail chains, including prestigious boutiques. It is also home to the large Buchanan Galleries shopping centre. The West End, which always delights visitors with its bohemian spirit, its little river and its parks, is another must-see place to find an original bag, vintage clothes or even a record. And then there is the Merchant City, which not only seduces with its elegant architecture, museums and restaurants, but is also home to thrift shops, big name stores and other luxury boutiques.

7- Porto, Portugal

We often tend to talk more about Lisbon as an important shopping destination in Portugal, but Porto also offers interesting possibilities. In addition to the pleasure of strolling through a city with remarkable architecture, you can reach the Rua Santa Catarina, the most important shopping area of the city. There are many shops and it is also a great place to take a break and enjoy a sweet treat between two shopping sessions. There is also the large Porto Grand Plaza shopping centre with its 75 shops featuring ready-to-wear, cosmetics, shoes, accessories and books. The Bolhao market is a must for buying good local products. But if you want to drink Port wine, don't hesitate to cross the Douro River and visit the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia

8- Antwerp, Belgium

In Belgium, Antwerp is a must-see city to wander from shop to shop. You can start by going to the Meir, the busiest shopping street. Here, beautiful rococo buildings house the major European retail chains. In the historic centre, you can also stroll along the pedestrianised Hoogstraat, full of all kinds of shops, typical bistros and restaurants. And for those who are more into vintage and second-hand shops, head for the Kloosterstraat. Antwerp is also the diamond capital of the world. So to find the jewel of your dreams, you should not miss the Antwerp diamond district, in the area of the station.

9- Munich, Germany

Fancy a weekend away in one of Germany's most dynamic cities for shopping? Then you should consider a stopover in Munich. The Bavarian capital has a very pleasant central pedestrian zone to stroll from one shop to another: Neuhauserstraße and Kaufingerstraße. Fashion shops, European brands, perfumeries, there is plenty to please you. If you want to find clothes from the big luxury brands, Maximilianstraße and Theatinerstraße are the best places to go, with shops in elegant 19th century buildings. Those who want to avoid the big chains and prefer handicrafts and alternative items will find something to satisfy their desires in the Gärtnerplatz district, which is also a shoe paradise. Schwabing, a young and trendy district, is also home to beautiful fashion boutiques and extravagant jewellery shops

10- Rotterdam, Netherlands

The second city of the Netherlands is also a little paradise for shopping. It's easy to get around, either on foot or by bike. To start with, head for Van Oldenbarneveltstraat, the main shopping street. This is where you'll find top-of-the-range French, Swedish and Danish brands, as well as a few Dutch designers that you'll want to discover. For more affordable brands, Lijnbaan and Koopgoot are the two streets that are connected and that reveal some of the most famous brands in Europe. The Oude Binnenweg and Nieuwe Binnenweg streets, the Meent and Nieuwemarkt squares are also full of shop windows for clothes, make-up and home decoration. And shopping can sometimes be a gourmet affair. In Rotterdam, the Markthal Rotterdam is a covered market with modern architecture and full of fresh, seasonal produce.

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