Whether you want to browse antiques or enter designer heaven, Europe has some of the most attractive, elegant and historic shopping streets in the world. From mixing our personal favourites with feedback from our travel network here is our choice for Europe’s most picturesque shopping streets, that offer much more than just plain retail therapy:
Prince’s Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
One of the most elegant and iconic shopping streets in world, Edinburgh’s Prince’s Street has been a popular shopping spot since the early 1800s. Amongst the fine, towering Georgian buildings you’ll find large department stores, small specialty stores, historic buildings (like the Balmoral Hotel) and just off the side of the street are the beautiful urban gardens where you can take a much needed break from your Christmas shopping. Just remember to wrap up warm – this is Scotland after all.
Nine Streets, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Located in the very attractive Jordaan district, this is a personal favourite of ours. Nine streets is made up of three-by-three-blocks of roads prettily interwoven with canals. You’ll find lots of independent shops selling everything from hand made jewellery to vintage chic and there’s also some very unusual stores you won’t find anywhere else – one barber shop even doubles as an art gallery. Make sure you stop for a coffee at one of the many canal-side cafes to take it all in for a bit.
The Champs-Elysées, Paris, France
One of the most expensive shopping street in the world is also one of the prettiest. Who hasn’t dreamed about waltzing hand-in-hand with a lover along its tree-lined streets towards the towering Arc de Triomphe at the west end? While obviously attractive it’s also an excellent shopping destination, although be aware the prices are not always in the average person’s reach. Think chic and exclusive with designer labels and boutiques from the top French fashion houses such as Yves St. Laurent, Chanel and Dior.
Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
There are many beautiful streets and corners of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) in Stockholm. Explore the meandering, cobbled streets in this 13th century part of the city to find a number of Stockholm’s tourist attractions as well as cute cafes, interesting independent shops and stores selling up-market designer goods. The picturesque surroundings along with the aroma of freshly baked berry pies, coffee and home-made pastries from the local bakeries and coffee shops (some of them several hundred years old) are a winning combination.
The Shambles, York, England
Recently voted as the most picturesque street in Britain, ‘The Shambles’ is a centre piece of historic York. Once this narrow cobbled street lined with timber framed buildings was where you’d come to buy meat – it was previously home to over 25 butchers shops. Today you can stroll along the street lined with eateries and small independent stores while admiring the 14th century architecture. Mentioned in the Domesday book (dating it to over 900 years old), it is believed to be Europe’s best preserved Medieval street.
Maria Theresien Street, Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck is a beautiful city located in mountainous Western Austria. The wide streets in the old part of Innsbruck are all attractive but Maria Theresien Street is the main shopping street. Among the buildings from the Middle Ages and the baroque style structures are both large and small shops including the Kaufhaus Tyrol. Look up and you’ll see the ornate roof tops framed by the Nordkette Mountains in the background.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Brussels, Belgium
This famously attractive covered shopping street was the first of it’s kind in Europe. The glass covered walkway is lined with listed monuments and buildings dating back to 1847 and when it first opened, it was a favourite haunt for artists and writers. It was the first glassed-in ‘shopping centre’ in Europe and today it’s still a grand place with high-end boutiques, antique furniture emporiums, luxury chocolate shops and a fine collection of independent restaurants and cafes.
Any narrow street in Venice, Italy
Venice is filled with beautiful, narrow shopping streets criss-crossed with canals and if you can avoid the stores selling tourist souvenirs, shopping in Venice can be a real pleasure. Head away from the main tourist areas to explore the smaller lanes further away from this city’s iconic landmarks. Here you’ll find unique specialty stores selling local products, handmade crafts, traditional foods and of course designer clothes, shoes and stunning boots.
Placa, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik’s main promenade is located in the heart of the city. Lined with shops and cafes this is the place for a spot of retail therapy in gorgeous, historic surroundings – the street came into being in the 12th century, was paved in 1468 and reconstructed after the earthquake of 1667. Placa is home to almost identical historic buildings housing attractive stores and eateries. Along the way you’ll see many of the city’s main monuments. This main street running through the Old Town from the Pile Gate to the Ploce Gate is paved with shiny stone which has a feel of an indoor floor.
Kramgasse, Bern, Switzerland
Bern is an immaculately preserved historic city in Switzerland which is also home to one of the prettiest shopping streets in Europe. To see this city at its finest head for The Kramgasse – or “Grocers Alley” – one of the principal streets in the Old City of Bern. Although it had humble beginnings and used to be known as Market Alley, today it’s a grand up-market shopping street. The street runs for 33 meters through the UNESCO old medieval town and is lined with beautiful baroque buildings. Make sure you also pay a visit to the house where Albert Einstein once lived.
Via Dei Condotti, Rome
To find some Dolce Vita head for Via Condotti – Rome’s version of New York’s 5th Avenue. This street is one of the richest streets in Italy and it’s also one of the most picturesque. Start at the famous Spanish steps and then head down the narrow, shaded, street to find luxury Italian and foreign boutiques such as Bulgari, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Brioni, Modigliani and Battistoni.
Anywhere in Riga Old Town
Shopping in Riga’s Old Town is always a pleasure. Known as the ‘Pearl of Europe’ the historic part of the city is filled with cobbled streets, beautiful buildings and a large concentration of craft, amber and eco-friendly independent stores. The main shopping spots in the Old Town are Valnu street and adjacent Basteja Pasaza has a large number of fashion shops and famous brands’ boutiques. Nearby the small streets of Tirgonu and Laipu are home to many art galleries and also antique and souvenir shops.
Getriedegasse, Salzburg, Austria
Getreidegasse is a busy – and very attractive – shopping street in the Old-Town section of Salzburg. The charm of the Getreidegasse, is not only generated by the high, narrow houses tightly nestled together, the enticing shops and the wrought iron guild signs, but also to the romantic passageways and courtyards. Also pay a visit to the house at No. 9 – the place where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and where he lived until the age of 17.
The Lanes, Brighton, England
Brighton’s famous ‘Lanes’ are a much loved collection of narrow shopping streets in the city’s historic quarter. It’s a fabulous maze of twisting alleyways which offer an extraordinary mix of antiques and jewellery shops nestling alongside specialist contemporary and designer boutique fashion. The North Lanes have more of a creative, edgy feel but stick to the South Lanes for more traditionally attractive shops.
Mittenwald, Bavaria, Germany
Mittenwald is where ‘Old Germany’ stills exists. Traditionally very Bavarian, the painted buildings are exceptionally pretty so take your time to stroll around while doing a spot of shopping at the same time. Head for the main street for interesting shopping including a chance to buy minerals, clothing, gems and linens, then stop to eat at one of the many outstanding restaurants for a bite to eat and probably a stein filled to the brim with German beer.
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