Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year, and nothing gets me more excited than heading round the high street stores to seek out the perfect gifts for my nearest and dearest. There’s nowhere I wouldn’t go to see their faces light up on Christmas morning, and frankly it’s great fun to head on a short rail break as a personal treat and get all the shopping done whilst you’re there… two birds, one stone – who could say fairer than that?
Yes, it’s busy. But it’s always busy! And there’s no finer, more magical place to be on a pretty winter’s day than London. With a wealth of gorgeous sights and things to do, you could easily get distracted from the main mission of crossing off your shopping list. Don’t let the magnificent views of the London Eye or the spectacular shows of the West End delay you… or do, secretly, and give yourself a pre-Christmas present too!
Almost nowhere in the country compares with the likes of the world-renowned shopping on Oxford Street, but it’s not all that the capital can offer; whether you’re a fan of the divine boutiques of Mayfair, the quirky shops of Camden or famous London markets like Portobello Road and Spitalfields, the city has something to offer everyone. A rail break to London couldn’t be easier – base yourself at one of the immensely popular hotels near Kings Cross and Euston or stay in the belly of the beast at a handy hotel close by to Oxford Street.
For my money, there’s nowhere better for Christmas shopping outside London than Edinburgh. One of the big reasons for heading to the Scottish capital this winter is that, besides the incredible shopping on Princes Street, there’s so much to see and do to make your rail break extra-special. Be sure to add on tickets to see the impressive Edinburgh Castle and the ultra-swish Royal Yacht Britannia – both must-see attractions the whole year round.
If, however, your plan is just to shop, shop, shop, then Glasgow may well prove to be the better option. Home to the UK’s most expensive retail space outside London, Buchanan Street is the place to be for the big department stores that are superb for one-stop shopping. Be sure to slip onto Argyle Street to check out the fabulous stores there too, and revel in the bustling and vibrant atmosphere of Scotland’s second city.
Rail breaks to York are amongst the most popular there are – the pretty and historic city is, rather unsurprisingly, busy all year round with tourists keen to check out the Minster, the fascinating Jorvik Centre and the Shambles too. But York sparkles and gleams in the wintertime; the compact city centre bustles with shoppers from far and wide keen to visit the famed Fenwick’s department store and shop ‘til they drop on York’s high street. York’s Christmas market is also well worth a visit, and is one of the best in the region. For a pick me up, don’t miss out on the famous Betty’s Tea Rooms – don’t let the long queues deter you either, the scones are well worth the wait!
Not keen on the old-world charms of York? Leeds is the perfect alternative. The city’s Trinity Shopping Centre was recently named one of the best in the country, and with a tremendous German Christmas Market and all the high-end luxury stores of the city’s Victoria Quarter, Leeds has something for everybody.
Ginormous shopping malls full of designer stores are like palaces in the North-West of England. Manchester and Liverpool are the two stand-out destinations for luxury-tag shopping and, with just a weekend’s work getting round the Trafford Centre or the incredible Liverpool One, you can obliterate that shopping list in no time at all! A rail break to Manchester also gives you the perfect opportunity to visit the city’s well-established Christmas market too; running for over 15 years, and featuring 200+ traditional stalls, the fab market at Manchester’s Albert Hall is a short walk from both of the main stations and many of the city’s best hotels.
For an alternative to the North-West’s metropolises, consider a short rail break in the beautiful city of Chester. Old-world elegance abound, the city’s centre is full of beautiful timber buildings well worth seeing, and should you need a designer-label fix at bargain rates the Cheshire Oaks Outlet Village is widely-regarded as the region’s best.
Heading on a shopping break by rail this Christmas? Tell us about it in the comments section below, and get even more inspiration by taking a look at our Christmas break packages.