Maxine Sheppard from vtravelled.com, Virgin Atlantic’s social travel site, picks a selection of the planet’s best shopping haunts for you to browse.
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For a quick UK-based retail break, there can’t be too many destinations outside London offering the spirited experience found in Brighton. This sunny south coast resort manages to pull off high-end and low-brow in equal measure. Though you’ll easily be able to seek out all the well-known chains, the local, independent stores steal the show.
Just south-east of the train station, the colourful cluster of streets known as North Laine is home to a diverse mix of coffee shops, cafes, pubs, street traders and stores. Find everything from eco-clothing, Fairtrade gifts and second-hand records to vegetarian shoes, bonsai trees and vintage homeware.
Closer to the sea, the intricate maze-like alleyways of The Lanes were once the soul of the old fishing town. Nowadays, they’re packed with dozens of art galleries, skincare emporiums, artisan chocolatiers, jewellery stores, designer boutiques and Italian gelato parlours.
If this still isn’t enough to empty your pockets, then venture east into Kemp Town, the heart of Brighton’s gay community. Here, enjoy a fabulous flea market, friendly local delis, more great coffee and a lively village atmosphere.
Copenhagen is a design-lover’s dream, and while much of it is beyond the reach of those without a trust fund, the window-shopping alone is worth the trip. And there are bargains to be found if you know where to look.
For serious house-envy, head to the famous multi-storey interiors store Illums Bolighus on Strøget – the longest pedestrianised street in Europe. Here, a staggering array of Scandinavian design icons can be found, from carved wooden ornaments, bowls and glassware to sofas, lamps and tables.
Still on Strøget, creative kids will love the flagship LEGO store, where a huge range of models and all the latest products are on display. This includes hard-to-find sets and exclusive items that aren’t available elsewhere.
For antiques, including Royal Copenhagen china and Arne Jacobsen chairs, head to Bredgade or Læderstræde in the city centre. Or Ravnsborggade in the trendy Nørrebro neighbourhood, where less exclusive (and less expensive) antiques sit shoulder to shoulder with fashionable one-off boutiques and dive bars.
Still not found a bargain? Copenhagen has a fantastic selection of second-hand markets in the summer months. This includes Frederiksberg Flea Market, open every Saturday right behind the Frederiksberg City Hall. Remisen, a friendly indoor market is also open on selected weekends in the well-to-do district of Østerbro.
Paris elevates window shopping to an art form. Jam-packed with upscale fashion houses, beauty parlours, elegant boutiques and speciality shops, it offers countless chances to splurge. Even if you leave the city of light empty handed, you’ll still take away a totally new understanding of style.
For a literary, though increasingly cosmopolitan atmosphere, head to St-Germain-des-Près, the heart and soul of the Rive Gauche, or Left Bank. The quintessential Parisian neighbourhood, its streets are full to bursting with charming antique dens, dusty book stores, opulent florists, patisseries, art dealers, bistros and pavement cafes.
On the Right Bank, the deluxe Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré and Avenue Montaigne are dedicated to the world’s major global fashion houses. While these streets may not exude the same grandeur as the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, this is where you’ll find the improbably fancy shop fronts of Dior, Givenchy, Hermès and Chanel.
Up on the hill in village-like Montmartre, you can gaze out at the city’s best view from the Sacré Coeur. Avoid the throngs of trinket sellers and portrait painters in Place du Terte. Instead, head into the disorienting tangle of streets in the Quartier des Abbesses, where chic shoe shops, boho boutiques and chilled-out cafes sit side by side.
New York City is one of the world’s ultimate shopping destinations, where your options are limited only by your budget. If department stores are on your list, then Bloomingdales and Macy’s are two of the finest. If you’re fashion-focused, the big-name boutiques on Fifth Avenue will have you wishing you’d packed more comfortable shoes. And if it’s a serious bargain you’re after, it’s a doddle to arrange a day trip to one of the nearby outlet malls.
But don’t miss out on other parts of the city. New York has some of the most absorbing neighbourhoods anywhere on earth, full of fascinating locals and unparalleled prospects for speciality shopping.
Wander the Lower East Side, where racks of discount lingerie, men’s suits and luggage are slowly being brushed aside by hip and increasingly upmarket stores. Find retro home décor, offbeat gifts, uber-trendy fashions and weird souvenirs.
Over in the West Village, a food revolution has taken hold with amazing locally-owned delis, bakeries, gourmet cheese counters and the odd Italian-style pastry shop among guitar shops, record stores and book dealers.
And don’t forget to head across the water into Brooklyn for some of the most interesting shopping in the city. This is particularly true of the neighbourhoods of Park Slope, Fort Greene, Williamsburg and tiny DUMBO – or Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass! Here, the cobblestoned streets buzz with spacious temples to high-end fashion, galleries in old warehouses and health-conscious cafes.
For a weird and wonderful shopping break, nowhere compares. Tokyo is a colourful, crowded and crazy clash of noise and neon. It has a jumble of districts with their own specialities and character. Many shopping areas are also home to some of the city’s major tourist attractions, so you’ll be able to throw in a little sightseeing too.
Head straight to Akihabara or ‘Electric Town’ for branded electronics and cameras, with dozens of smaller discount stores tucked away down side streets. This is also where you’ll find a huge array of anime and manga toys, figurines and costumes.
Radiating out from Shinjuku train station, the busiest in the world, Shinjuku itself is one of the city’s largest shopping, business and entertainments districts. It's home to a number of enormous department stores, including the 15-floor Takashimaya. Here, the gargantuan basement food hall is an eye-popping emporium of gourmet fare. Trying to decide which counter to eat at is a near-impossible task, so take full advantage of the various tastings and samples on offer throughout the day.
The busy area around Shibuya station is at the heart of the young fashion scene, and a must-visit location for anyone with an interest in Japanese trends and youth culture, with a number of cutting-edge clothing stores and designer boutiques. It’s also one of the best destinations for people-watching, with some truly outrageous streetwear on display.
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