London has been described as the shopping capital of the world, and with the vast range of retail experiences it offers – from upmarket boutiques to traditional markets – it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re looking for a quick fix, unique products or affordable mementos of your trip to the UK capital, London’s shops are ideal for travellers of all interests and budgets.
Shopping in London can be an enjoyable tourist experience in itself, even if you’re just window shopping. The city’s most famous shops in upscale Knightsbridge may be a little out of your price range, but that doesn’t have to stop you browsing the collections at Harrods and seeing how the other side lives. If you’re a fashion lover, you can also spend time marvelling at the latest products from top designers in areas such as Bond Street and Oxford Street.
This latter street in particular could be called the heart of London shopping, stretching for more than a kilometre along some of the most expensive real estate in Europe. Close to the fashionable West End, a trip down Oxford Street can be considered an essential detour if you’re heading to London’s theatre district.
London shopping isn’t just the domain of the rich and famous either, especially with so many markets offering the best bargains in the city. Some of London’s street markets have a reputation that goes well beyond the capital, and are conveniently scattered in all corners of the city, meaning you won’t have to venture too far from your London hotels – from trendy Camden Market in North London to Portobello Road in the south and Spitalfields Market in the east.
London’s markets sell everything you could conceive of, whether you’re after vintage clothing in Camden or healthy, home-made food in Borough Market, perfect for picnics. While some street markets operate throughout the week, the majority are guaranteed to be open on Saturdays, meaning you’ll have plenty to look forward to when visiting London on a weekend break.
You could get even more out of your shopping trip when timing your break to coincide with major retail events hitting the capital throughout the year, such as world-famous London Fashion Week. You can also embrace the city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere by seeking out more exotic shopping areas such as Chinatown, near Soho, which can be the perfect antidote if you’ve seen too many tourist shops selling London-themed souvenirs.