Christmas shopping can be challenging, so why not do what you can to make the experience special? Give yourself the gift of a short shopping break in one of these eight cities. With their array of shops, festive markets and tons of yuletide spirit, these cities are sure to get you in the mood for the holiday season.
Prague, Czech Republic
The Gothic city of Prague has some of the most impressive Christmas markets in Europe. This time of year, Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square (yes, as in Good King Wenceslas) are strewn with festive wooden huts selling traditional handmade gifts. You can also sample spit-roasted ham, sausages and the famous Czech beers.
A Mecca for shopping any time of the year, London is an ideal spot to get in some serious Christmas gifting. The city has an array of bustling markets and fairs such as Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and Snowy Fingers Vintage Market, and it spares no expense on decorations – look for the “snow” falling in the middle of Oxford Street.
With more than 50 different Christmas markets on hand, it’s impossible not to find the perfect gift in Berlin. One of the most famous in Germany is at the Charlottenburg Palace, which is lit up with spectacular lights. While shopping, visitors can feast on glazed fruit and mulled wine.
The medieval city of Bruges is among Europe’s most scenic destinations, especially during the Christmas season. If its horse-drawn carriages and cobbled streets don’t fill you with the Christmas spirit, then the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival from Nov. 25 – Jan. 4 surely will. The city’s plethora of chocolate shops also provides perfect places to find stocking stuffers.
Boasting the largest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall is the retail capital of the Middle East, and it takes shopping very seriously. Visitors will find a huge selection of boutiques and some of the most decadent decorations on the planet. With an un-Christmassy average temperature of 75 F, the only thing you won’t see in Dubai is snow.
With its historic skyline as a backdrop for one of Europe’s largest open-air ice-skating rinks, Edinburgh is a city that looks like it was made for Christmas. Shoppers can head to Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe on the Royal Mile (and the other shops in the vicinity), or visit the city’s renowned German-style Christmas market.
New York, N.Y.
The famous window displays of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue department stores make window-shopping in New York City as fun as the real thing. The city’s annual holiday markets, including a huge annual installment at Union Square, are a must.
A 164-foot high Ferris wheel overlooks the picturesque city of Lille, including a frozen pond where children can ice skate. If that’s not festive enough then try the 80-stall Christmas market or one of the town’s many shops. Between London and Paris, it’s the perfect destination for a quick jaunt (and for authentic French goodies).
(Main image: © Kristoffer Hamilton/iStock/Thinkstock)
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guides cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas