For some of us, a trip just wouldn’t be complete without an epic shopping experience. So, from Amsterdam to Paris, we’ve rounded up Europe’s best department stores for you…
Europe offers travelers many highlights to explore – from landscapes and monuments to restaurants and museums. Be sure to visit one (or several) of these places on your next trip to Europe. Happy shopping!
- Harrods, London – Synonymous with luxury, this British department store spans five acres of space and offers 330 departments – that’s more than one million square feet of shopping bliss. Shoppers can find everything from shoes and clothing to home furnishings and pet supplies here. But perhaps the most well-known department is one that operates only once per year: the Christmas Shop. Offering not only products but displays to melt your heart, the Christmas Shop is an annual tradition in London that many families plan their holiday schedule around attending. Don’t miss a visit to Harrod’s on your trip to London! Click here for more info.
- Galeries Lafayette, Paris – If shopping in France is something of a cultural experience, then shopping at the Galeries Lafayette is a rite of passage. Technically now a chain of retail stores, the original store still operates on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris. With just a little planning ahead of time, visitors can be sure to catch one of the free weekly fashion shows held at the store. While there, plan on checking out the multitude of departments offering everything from clothing for men, women, and children to makeup, skin care, shoes, and handbags. The shop also has offerings for your home and, if you’re feeling up to it, a whole department dedicated to booking your next travel experience. Click here for more info.
- Las Arenas, Barcelona – Designed from the outside to mimic the appearance of the Roman Colosseum, this shopping mega center has modern flair written all over it. The “arenas” are themed areas housing different departments. Here you’ll find top brands for men, women, and children. In addition to the selection of clothing, shoes, and handbag designers, there are also departments for home and leisure, special services, and dining. While the food court caters to shoppers looking for a quick bite on-the-go, you’ll also find a number of sit down restaurants with more upscale menu options. Click here to learn more about shopping at Las Arenas.
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan – One of the world’s oldest shopping malls, the Galleria in Milan – named after the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II – is housed in a breathtaking four-story double arcade building. It was conceptualized in 1861 and brought to life from 1865 – 1867. Famed for its architecture as much as its stores, the Galleria offers a fun experience for both die-hard shoppers and curious travelers. Here you’ll find a selection of bookstores, luxury retailers, jewelry stores, and even art dealers. The mall also offers several dining options, including some of the oldest and most respected eateries in the city, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon – or an entire day. Click here for more info on visiting Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
- KaDeWe, Berlin – Here’s an interesting fact: this German shopping locale is actually owned by the Thai government. It is overwhelming in size, offering shoppers more than sixty thousand square meters of shops, making it the second largest shopping center in all of Europe after Harrods in London. Attracting close to 50,000 visitors per day, the store has been in operation since 1907 and showcases eight floors of merchandise. Stop by the ground floor to peruse a selection of beauty products, or perhaps treat yourself to a relaxing foot spa treatment after a long day of sightseeing (or shopping). And don’t forget to stop by the famed third floor, “The Loft,” where you’ll find Europe’s largest luxury footwear department. Click here for more info.
- Royal Galleries, Brussels – Simply elegant and beautiful from all angles, the Royal Galleries predate many of Europe’s finest shopping establishments and offer a pure feast for the eyes. The glazed storefronts offer three levels of shopping with twin facades and a street-like courtyard, all housed under a dramatic ceiling of glass and iron. Here you’ll find a wide selection of stores, from haute couture to everyday fashions. You’ll also get the feeling of being outdoors, which makes the Galleries an enjoyable escape from the elements on a rainy day. In operation since 1847, the massive complex also hosts a museum, extensive dining options, and a cinema. Click here to learn more.
- Magna Plaza, Amsterdam – How about a shopping trip at the Post Office? That’s exactly what Amsterdam’s Magna Plaza once served as, before being converted into a palace of high-end goods in 1992. Constructed from 1895 – 1899, the mall is now listed in the top 100 Dutch heritage sites. Inside the plaza, you’ll find a central hall framed by two levels of shops and an expansive sunroof. While many original staircases and architectural structures remain, the building has also been modernized for accessibility. Today, the mall hosts common mainstay stores as well as high-end designers and an array of dining and entertainment options. Click here for more info.
Know Before You Go
Before embarking upon your international shopping spree, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and contact your financial institutions; call your bank and credit card company to let them know where you’re going and when. This can help you avoid embarrassing credit declines due to suspected fraud while you’re abroad. And don’t forget that you can save some money by claiming a VAT refund at the end of your trip! Click here to learn more about VAT refunds in Europe.
Have you been to any of the places on our list? Where’s your favorite place to shop in Europe?