**Contributed by Holiday Lettings, A Trip Advisor Company.
Paris, New York, London and Dubai are some of the world’s most popular shopping destinations. But what if you fancy some serious retail therapy somewhere less famous and well-trodden? Holiday Lettings investigates to find some spots outside the usual tourist circuit where you can shop till you drop and take in some great local sights.
Ancient and modern wonders
Where: Alexandria, northern Egypt
Where and what to buy: The city is packed with street markets but head for the Attareen Antique Market for authentic Egyptian treasures and some unusual souvenirs. For fresh produce (some of it is still alive and kicking) Souq Ibrahimiyya is your destination. Explore the central side streets for clothes and shoes. And if you’re in need of a modern retail fix make for the City Centre Mall complete with Carrefour supermarket.
While you’re there: This historic spot has plenty to explore but don’t miss the Library, a feat of modern architecture, where ancient scrolls and maps rub shoulders with the very latest digital texts. Visit the Abu al-Abbas mosque and Roman amphitheater before taking a relaxing stroll (along with most of the city) on the long seafront promenade.
Abu al-Abbas mosque – Alexandria
How to get there: Few international airlines fly direct so your best bet is to fly to Cairo (flights start at £300 from London) and take the train or drive to Alexandria.
Where to stay: After a long day’s haggling at the market, relax at a seafront self-catering apartment like this one from £75 a night.
Batik and birds
Where: St Louis, northern Senegal, just south of Mauritania border.
Where and what to buy: Browse the daily market along the General de Gaulle Avenue with stalls selling just about anything including Senegalese handicrafts in wood, copper and batik. Pop into the side streets to explore the boutiques and tailors for more unusual clothing and accessories. Keur Fall on Quai Roume is a fair trade store.
While you’re there: St Louis, the first French settlement in Western Africa, is a classic colonial town with an interesting cathedral, mosque and bridge crossing the estuary. If you’re there in May don’t miss the Jazz Festival. Take a trip to the nearby Langue de Barbarie National Park, home to some of the best birdlife in the world.
St Louis Bridge – Photo by Manu25 (License) Wikimedia.org
How to get there: Direct flights to Senegal’s capital Dakar are available from Paris, Barcelona and Lisbon (from €200). St Louis is a 260km drive away by hire car or in a sept-place 7-person vehicle.
Where to stay: Stay at one of the colonial hotels in the city such as Siki Hotel (from about £30 a night)
Where: Lyon in the Rhone-Alpes, eastern France
Where and what to buy: Often described as the gastronomic capital of the world, Lyon is the shopping destination par excellence for foodies. Start your mouth-watering shop at Les Halles, a huge indoor market where you can buy and taste just about anything. Highlights are the seafood (including oysters), cheeses and chocolate. Continue your lip-smacking purchases at Quai Saint Anotine and around Croix Rousse. For non-edible buys, head for the side streets in the medieval centre where you’ll find designer boutiques and specialist shops.
While you’re there: Explore the medieval centre and the Notre Dame basilica with great views of the city. Later, visit the Cité International whose award-winning architecture design includes the contemporary art museum. Relax in the Tête d’Or park or on the banks of the Rhone where you can picnic from your shopping basket.
Tête d’Or park – Photo by Simlaurent (License) wikimedia.org
How to get there: Lyon is an easy train ride from Paris (tickets from €64) or you can fly to Lyon airport from many European destinations (London from £38) and Montreal.
Where to stay: Turn your gourmet purchases into a meal at this self-catering loft from £107 a night.
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
Where and what to buy: For some of the best in Scandinavian design, make a beeline for Sodermalm in the south of the city literally buzzing with designer boutiques, vintage shops and stores showcasing Swedish interior design and home products.. Around Sergels Torg you’ll find big name department stores such as NK, PUB and of course, H&M. If you’re there in the run-up to Christmas don’t miss the traditional market in Gamla Stan.
While you’re there: Visit the Royal Palace, one of the largest in Europe with 600 rooms and 5 museums, before admiring the Vasa, the world’s only 17th century ship. Take in some seriously modern art at the Moderna Museet and then have a dose of Dancing Queen nostalgia at Abba The Museum.
Vasa Museum – Stockholm
How to get there: Many international airlines have direct flights to Stockholm (London from £40).
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of designer shopping paradise here from £100 a night.
Where: Sopot in northern Poland on the Baltic Sea.
Where and what to buy: The highlight here is the Krzywy Domek shopping centre, classed as one of the world’s strangest buildings with its crooked façade, squashed walls and impossible curves. Shop in the stores for Eastern European designer gear and handmade jewelry, and then sip a large glass of local beer to view the building from a different perspective. Don’t leave without signing your name on the Wall of Fame.
Krzywy Domek – Photo by Topory (License) Wikimedia.org
While you’re there: Sopot’s a lovely beach and spa town so don’t miss the sands or a dip in the Baltic (locals claim the sea’s the warmest in the area here). Then take a stroll along Europe’s longest wooden pier (511 metres long) before exploring the Art Nouveau architecture in town.
How to get there: Low-cost flights from London take you to Gdansk (from £20) and then it’s a short train ride to Sopot.
Where to stay: Put your feet up at this city-centre pad (where all the lines are straight) from £40 a night.