Some travel the globe in search of historic locales, to eat and drink the local cuisine, or to kick back on a beautiful beach. Others are motivated by shopping for stylish goods.
Whether you’re looking for the most exclusive designer duds, bargain opportunities, vintage retailers or market stalls, these are some of the best cities in the world to visit for a shopping spree.
Many of fashion’s most famous design houses are Italian: Gucci, Prada and Versace. These luxury brands all have flagship stores in Milan, the legendary fashion capital of Italy. As the Italian hub for the fashion industry, the street style in Milan is forever glamorous.
One of the most expensive shopping experiences is the world-renowned Quadrilatero d’Oro, meaning golden neighborhood. The area is full of jewelers and fashion boutiques and is considered one of the most important fashion districts on Earth. Swipe your black card and take home the latest and greatest it-bag. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is Italy’s oldest active mall and another great place for cool fashion finds.
Italy is also known for high-quality leather goods and cashmere. Purchase directly from local purveyors in Milan to get the best price on luxury items that would cost a small fortune at home. Zani Del Fra’ makes personalized fine leather bags in an array of lush colors.
But it’s not all high-end, break-the-bank shopping; bargain hunters love Milan for its array of second-hand shops that sell the elites’ outcasts at a fraction of the original ticket price. The sale racks at Il Salvagente, which means the lifesaver, always have treasures waiting to be found. Milan’s longest-established outlet has three floors of discounted goods conveniently organized by size and color.
Dubai is on the map as one of the world’s top shopping destinations. The quantity of upscale shops in Dubai is staggering — there are more than 100 malls in the city. The destination has become synonymous with shopping and earned the city the nickname of “Do Buy.”
Emerging local brands such as Bouguessa, Mochi and Amato have set up shops in the Dubai Design District, hoping to lure locals and tourists.
In the city’s traditional souks or bazaars, you can find spices, carpets, scarves and more.
And, of course, there’s no discussing Dubai without talking about the world-famous Dubai Mall, a bucket-list destination for many shoppers. The world’s second-largest mall in total square footage, with more than 1,000 retailers, you’ll need a map to navigate it. Keep an eye out for the dinosaur, waterfall, dancing fountains, Olympic-sized ice rink, aquarium, indoor souk and numerous malls within the mall, such as the French Galeries Lafayette and the first Bloomingdale’s outside the United States.
The best part? Anything you purchase from the Dubai Mall will be delivered to your hotel. If you prefer to hit the slopes between credit card swipes, then you’ll want to head over to the Mall of the Emirates, which has the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.
Paris can make you want to ditch your entire wardrobe and start fresh with outfits that embody the irresistible French girl mystique. Fashionistas would do well to start with the Parisian department stores — premier shopping destinations for that next splurge.
The historic Le Bon Marché dates to the 1850s and is considered one of the first modern department stores. Another impressive one is Printemps Haussmann, which houses the world’s largest beauty department. It’s a great excuse to buy a new lipstick.
Foreign tourists especially seem drawn to the city’s seven-story art nouveau Galeries Lafayette.
For a modern Parisian shopping experience, browse the goods at Merci. The beloved concept shop has museum-like vibes with a whimsical curated collection of coveted designer goods, a secondhand bookshop, florist and café.
Of course, the spendier Paris shoppers will always be drawn to the high-end boutiques on the Champs-Élysées. If money is no issue, you can even visit a private atelier and have something custom-made.
Budget-conscious travelers ought to check out the French city’s legendary flea markets, where designer goods can be found at bargain prices. While you can haggle with the vendors, it isn’t encouraged.
Seoul is high on the shopping-motivated travel bucket list for beauty aficionados and affordable modern clothing styles.
It’s easier than ever to shop in the city, and you don’t have to worry about having cash on hand, as the Bank of Korea is moving toward being cashless by 2020.
Luxury shoppers will find all their favorite high-end brands and department stores in the city and even at Incheon Airport, which is home to the debut Louis Vuitton airport duty-free store. Local boutiques sell the latest trends — the goods are cheap and chic, but don’t expect quality manufacturing. This is fast fashion at its finest.
London is synonymous with world-class shopping but depending on the exchange rate, London prices are known to cause sticker shock. Nearly every international brand is in the city, from big-name retailers and contemporary brands to fast-fashion chains. Oxford Street is the busiest shopping street in Europe. Budget shoppers will rejoice at the offerings at designer consignment shops, finding steals to take home.
Department store Liberty is a shopping center dedicated to all sorts of things covered in dainty flowers.
The shopping destination has a picturesque Tudor-style exterior and is stocked with contemporary clothing, in-house designer stationery, unique kitchen accessories and more. Other iconic department stores include Harrods and Selfridges. It’s a rite of passage for men to obtain a bespoke suit from Savile Row.
The neighborhoods of Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Mayfair offer high-end retailers. London’s known for its markets of specialized goods: shop for the latest fashion trends at Dover Street Market, antiques on Portobello Road and an assortment of hip goods and international trinkets in Camden Market.
The shopping scene in Singapore is a combination of high-end retailers, affordable local and international fast-fashion brands and a steady calendar of sales for holidays year-round. The major city boasts the ultimate shopping experience as it’s bursting with elegant malls; shopping centers full of shops carrying modern attire with tasteful Asian touches; and traditional night markets that sell everything from cheap clothes to Peranakan-style ceramics.
The Singapore shopping scene includes heritage brands with time-honored Asian tailoring and flourishing local emerging designers. Head to Orchard Road for international flagship stores from some of the world’s biggest luxury brands including Hermès, Cartier, Omega, as well as TANGS, one of Singapore’s oldest department stores.
For a unique shopping experience, visit the 24-hour open-air markets of Little India, where everything from spices to gold jewelry is on sale.
Also unique is vintage store shopping (one man’s trash, another man’s treasure), best realized in the hip neighborhood of Tiong Bahru. Look for vintage records, home furnishings, dresses and other gently used odds and ends.
Not to worry if you end up spending most of your time in the delicious city eating your way through the hawker markets: There’s always the duty-free shopping at Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport. If you’re looking to snag a deal as you exit the country, you won’t want to miss this shopping mecca, home to global brands, souvenirs and the world’s largest indoor waterfall.
Serious shoppers know New York is one of the world’s preeminent shopping meccas. While New Yorkers may be known for their all-black attire, the city’s shops have endless interpretations of fashionable goods. There’s something for every kind of shopper in the Big Apple at pop-up shops from online retailers, famed department stores, designer boutiques and off-price upscale bargains at Century 21 and Empire Outlets to restock the closet.
If you’re after unique goods from bygone eras, head out on a curated vintage shopping spree to the Rare Vintage showroom or Brooklyn Flea market. For more affordable gently used designer goods, find out which brands are having sample sales during your shopaholic trip to NYC.
Hudson Yards is a seven-story retail space with more than 100 high-end shops from around the globe and New York’s debut Neiman Marcus department store.
For an opulent shopping experience, Madison Avenue is a premier luxury fashion district with European and American designers’ flagship shops. The Shops at Columbus Circle is a retail destination with a wide variety of vendors ranging from high-end to mainstream.