Unless you plan on spending your Christmas Eve frantically trying to buy every last one of your gifts in a one stop shop, we imagine that by now you have already begun your Christmas shopping.
If you would like to combine that shopping with a little travelling for yourself, here are some of the best places for you to visit.
1. London, England
Of course we might be biased, but Oxford Street decorations are alone worth a visit to the capital themselves. And between Oxford Street and Regent Street, you are likely to be able to get everything you need in a relatively easy shop. Window displays in Selfridges, floor upon floor of toys to play with in Hamleys, chestnuts sold by street vendors on every corner: how could you possibly resist?
2. Lincoln, England
While we are in England doing our Christmas shopping it is definitely worth taking a train up from London to visit this tiny city and experience the beautiful Christmas market there in the Old Town Square. From real life nativity scenes with actual donkeys, sheep and goats, to market delicacies to sample like spit-roasted hams and trdelnik, a traditional hot sugar coated pastry, why would you not want to give Lincoln a go?
3. Rovaniemi, Finland
When you think of Christmas why would you not consider Santa Claus’ hometown as one of the best places to both visit and do your Christmas shopping? As well as all the normal Christmas gifts you might want to purchase, in Rovaniemi you will also find more hand crafted gifts in Santa’s Village than you can carry, and even for the meat-adventurers amongst us some reindeer products for you to sample. Not, we hasten to add, the ones pulling Santa’s sleigh: presents will still be delivered!
4. Riga, Latvia
It is true that we have a little soft spot in our hearts for Riga. This beautiful city will offer the most stunning architecture, a town hall square filled with every Christmas trimming you can think of for both adults and children alike, and real life cat houses populated by felines from the local animal shelters (who, in this season of goodwill, often find themselves a new home!). If quality homemade gifts are what you are after then the Christmas markets of Riga will offer you socks and mittens, wooden candlesticks and traditional Latvian honey.
5. Budapest, Hungary
Another place that is in our hearts and we hope to put in yours, the Christmas markets here in Hungary’s capital are second to none. All the hand crafts you can imagine, beautiful light displays, open food places and so many stalls to peruse - with a cup of mulled wine in your hand - what more could you ask for? And if you crave for a little more commercial shopping then you are spoilt for choice for shopping centres or can peruse Vaci Utca or Deak Ferenc Utca for all your brand-named needs.
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6. Paris, France
There are so many places to choose from in Paris to visit for your Christmas shopping that you could find yourself a little overwhelmed. Here are a couple of suggestions for you: Champs Elysees for its extensive Christmas market all along the avenues, and Galeries Lafayette - one of the most famous shopping centres in Western Europe. If you can’t find what you are looking for in this ten-storey complex then we really don’t know what it is that you need!
7. New York, USA
Bloomingdales, Sak’s 5th Avenue and Macy’s are some of the biggest draws to America’s capital. There is Christmas music playing on every street corner, more street decorations than you’ll have time to look at, and so much festive spirit that if you don’t come away smiling (and with your hands full of gifts) we have a feeling you’re doing your Christmas spiriting wrong!
8. Woodstock, Vermont, USA
And whilst we are talking about great places for Christmas shopping in America, why not pay a visit to Vermont? The pre-Christmas festival of Wassail Weekend, which began in the nineteenth century, includes horse parades and wagon and sleigh rides for all. There is also the Christmas celebration to be had at Billings Farm & Museum, and we haven’t even talked about the snow-glistened streets, the window displays - and the wealth of shops and stalls to purchase your gifts from.
9. Nuremberg, Germany
Are we saving the best for last? We don’t know, but Nuremberg is often considered the Christmas market to visit. More than two million visitors come here every year, drawn by the unbelievably beautiful festive displays, the never-ending selection of street foods to sample including everything from mulled wine and gingerbread to sausages and sweet-roasted almonds - and of course stall upon stall of quality handmade original gifts you genuinely won’t find anywhere else.
There we are then. We hope we have inspired you with ideas for your Christmas shopping or at the very least tweaked your travel taste buds!