December has arrived and we’re now officially allowed to say that Christmas is just around the corner! We’ve been getting into the festive, feel-good spirit by picking out five of our favourite cities for Christmas shopping in the UK and Europe. From stollen and glühwein to ice skating and Christmas craft ales, the pick of our festive bunch all promise tasty local treats, seasonal cheer and, most importantly, plenty of opportunities for Christmas shopping. To save money for presents and fun, we’ve selected a range of affordable seasonal escapes and city breaks.

It’s not too late to plan a weekend shopping trip. There are 3 weekends left before the big day, so get booking!


Forget Dickens. For an elegant, Georgian Christmas, Bath is hard to beat. From 27 November to 14 December, the city centre is transformed by 170 chalets crammed full of yuletide gifts and culinary treats. For a warming glass of mulled cider, head to Kingston Parade in the shadow of Bath Abbey and a stone’s throw from the historic Roman Baths. Aside from the Christmas market in the centre, Bath has a range of well known stores, high street brands and designer boutiques to ensure that you won’t be left struggling for present inspiration.

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From Advent through to Hogmanay, the Scottish capital sparkles and its streets throng with eager shoppers. Head to Jenners, the iconic department store, to pick up bottles of fancy perfume or designer labels, the Royal Mile for a traditional plaid, and the winding lanes for something unique. After day of shopping, the city’s Christmas Market is the perfect place to enjoy a hot toddy.

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In York, as they say, streets are called gates, gates are called bars, and bars are called pubs. But if you’re going to explore York’s shops, be sure to head up to the walls for a view of the impressive Minster. Once associated with the meat trade The Shambles, one of the UK’s best preserved medieval streets now boasts a collection of artisanal shops selling handmade gifts and interesting places to eat.

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The French capital has some of the finest shops in Europe, dealing in every kind of luxury good. It also has Disneyland Paris, where every year Disney goes into Christmas overdrive with its ‘Enchanted Christmas’, where the whole family can sing along to Elsa and even build a snowman. Back in the city centre, be sure to stock up on gifts at the Alsacian Christmas Market, near Gare de l’Est and the Quai de Jemmapes, where you can enjoy a few evening drinks after a long day’s shopping.

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Berlin seems to have its reputation as Europe’s coolest capital pretty much wrapped up. But that’s not to say it can’t still do Christmas kitsch. The city comes alive every year as festive Christmas markets with stalls selling a tried-and-tested combination of craft gifts, Lebkuchen and Glögg. To get a real feel for modern Berlin – and some great shopping opportunities – head to the stalls in Alexanderplatz.

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Are you heading abroad for a spot of Christmas shopping or a festive city break? Or have you got all your shopping wrapped up already?

Images via Flickr: Stewart Black, byronv2, alh1, Mark McElroy, GothPhil, Paul Woolrich