We were just as surprised as you are when we heard that a recent poll by YouGov found that according to public opinion, Britain is the best European shopping destination, beating both Italy and France by more than 10 percent. We were initially puzzled that any place could provide retail therapy like the Champs-Élysées in Paris, but we’ve dug a bit deeper and discovered what Britain really has to offer. From elegant and posh designers to a wide selection of vintage and antique finds, these five British cities boast some of the best shops and markets in Europe. No matter what your taste, there’s bound to be a place that’ll make you want to take out a few more British pounds.
1. London, England
Famous for being grand and glamorous, Harrods is the quintessential London shopping landmark, but there are plenty of other streets and districts to visit for a retail fix in England’s capitol. Oxford Street is the best spot to hit in the West End, as it offers more than 300 shops, from designer outlets to department stores. For more urban fashions, artsy items, and unique finds, Covent Garden is your place, while Portobello Market in West London is the perfect street market for antiques.
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
On Edinburgh’s Princes Street, do two things at once: shop and sightsee. The street is lined with elegant stores, each with beautiful stone architecture, and look right down the road for an incredible view of the oldest building in the city, Edinburgh Castle. Just a few minutes away from Princes Street is West End, ideal for boutiques and cute shops, as well as a great selection of restaurants and traditional Scottish pubs (you know, for when you’re tired of shopping).
3. Bath, England
With six distinct shopping districts, it’s hard not to find one you like. For chic designer stores, Milsom Quarter is perfect (plus it was named Britain’s Best Fashion Street by Google Street View in 2010). Just a short walk from Milsom Quarter is Upper Town, which is the best for cute boutiques, galleries, and antiques. If you’re looking to hit up where the locals go, Green Park Station Market in Western Area is where you’ll find great prices on food, antiques, and leather shops.
4. Manchester, England
If you’re looking for sophisticated, high-end designers and shops, King Street is your spot in this Northern England city, with brands like Ted Baker, Mulberry, and Hermès. For more creative, quirky shopping, head to the Northern Quarter, where you’ll find dozens of independent boutiques and vintage shops, record stores, and eateries. And don’t miss Afflecks (formerly Affleck Palace), Manchester’s famous four-floor indoor market, known for its alternative, urban clothing, records, and gifts.
5. Birmingham, England
The most unexpected of shopping destinations on this list, Birmingham is home to one of Britain’s largest shopping centers, Bullring, which has every clothing, cosmetic, shoe, and gift store you could imagine. The city’s Jewellery Quarter district is also spectacular, with skilled craftsmen known for creating, you guessed it, beautiful jewelry.
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