Research

The Best Shopping Destinations Around the World

The Best Cities For Shopping

Is there anything that compares to going shopping? Whether it’s for handbags, Gladrags, designer dresses or second-hand steals, there’s no denying that we all get a little something out of it.

However, there’s a reason we love rifling through the rails so much. A shopping spree can release dopamine and help us to shape our identity in the process. The feeling is universal too, with cities all over the world playing host to grand shopping malls and sprawling flea markets.

We at Wethrift are dedicated to helping customers save money as they shop. That’s why our research team have delved deep into the data on shopping destinations from around the globe, to produce a list of the world’s best shopping cities based on a ten-point criteria. 

We will reveal the best shopping destinations from around the world, as well as in Europe, plus the best shopping cities in the UK too. If that was not enough, we have also uncovered the best places in the world to go thrifting and the most snapped shopping malls on Instagram, too. 

So, are you ready to shop ‘til you drop, but don’t know where to start? Keep reading to discover where you can find the best shopping experiences known to mankind.

Best Cities For Shopping in the UK

Best Shopping Cities In The UK

Our data has revealed that Edinburgh is officially the UK’s best shopping destination outside of London, with a total score of 74.5 out of 100. The #shopping hashtag has been used 20,862 times in the city by users on Instagram, the second-highest number of that hashtag anywhere in the UK. Edinburgh also boasts the cheapest public transport in the UK, with average costs down to £1.80.

Trailing closely behind in second place is Bristol, which received a total score of 74.2 out of 100. Bristol is home to more designer stores than any other UK shopping destination (309), plus there are 259 car parks located in the city, meaning parking for shoppers that drive is no issue.

Third place went to York, which received a total score of 71.1 out of 100. Our data discovered that York is the safest shopping destination in the UK, with a safety index score of 74.74. York is also blessed with a relatively low cost of public transport (£2.00) as well as plenty of furniture shops in the city – 55, to be exact.

The rest of the top five is made up of Brighton in fourth place (69.8) and Leeds in fifth place (65.0). Brighton boasts more charity shops than any other UK shopping destination outside of London, with 90 charity shops located in the South Coast city. Meanwhile, our data only found 7 charity shops in Leeds. However, the Yorkshire city offers plenty more places to park your car, with a total of 209 car parks, whereas Brighton only has 141.

Revealed: The Best Shopping Cities in Europe

Best Shopping Cities In Europe


With data already establishing Edinburgh as the best place to shop in the UK, where can you head to in Europe for the ultimate shopping experience?

Our data revealed that Madrid in Spain is officially the shopping capital of Europe, with a total score of 76.5 out of 100. Madrid receives less rainfall than any other European shopping city, with an average of just 415mm per year – the perfect conditions for a sunny shopping spree. There are also 250 designer stores within the Spanish capital city.

Following closely behind in second place was Prague in the Czech Republic, with a total score of 75.1 out of 100. Prague is one of the safest shopping cities in Europe, with a safety index score of 75.89 – higher than any other location in this study’s top 15. The Czech capital city also boasts more designer stores than any other European shopping destination – 287, to be exact.

Third place is clinched by London, with a total score of 74.2. The English capital city boasts far more #shopping hashtags on Instagram than any other European shopping destination, with the hashtag being used 199,638 times on the social media platform. However, London does have one of the priciest public transport systems in Europe, with an average cost of at least £2.70 for a single journey – the equivalent to €3.20.

There’s even more reason for European shoppers to head to the Iberian Peninsula, with Barcelona, Spain placing fourth with a total score of 64.7. If it’s furniture you’re looking for, then the Catalonian city is an especially fabulous place to shop, with our data finding 179 furniture shops in Barcelona – more than any other European city looked at in this study.

Paris, France claimed the fifth spot with a total score of 66.2. The French capital is famous for its high street shopping culture, with millions of tourists flocking there each year to enjoy the likes of the Champs Elysee and the Galeries Lafayette. However, an alarmingly low safety index score of 44.89 means that Paris is resigned to fifth place.

If cheap public transport is a must for your shopping trip then Istanbul, Turkey is the destination for you, with an average public transport cost of 5.58 Turkish Lira – the equivalent to €0.34. These low transport costs helped Istanbul rank as the sixth-best shopping destination in Europe.

The Best Shopping Destinations in the World

Best Shopping Destinations In The World

The top three shopping destinations in the world are all located in Europe, with Madrid, Spain clinching the top spot with a total score of 76.5, Prague, Czech Republic following in second (75.1) and London in third (74.2). 

In fact, Europe accounts for two-thirds of the top 15 best shopping destinations in the world, with three of the remaining five based in Asia, plus two more shopping destinations in North America. There were no entrants from Africa, Oceania South America in the top 15.

Outside of Europe, the world’s best shopping destination is Tokyo, Japan which just about ties with London for third place, with a total score of 74.2 out of 100. Tokyo treats its shoppers to more designer stores than anywhere else in the world, with 441, to be exact. On top of that, Tokyo is also home to the most antique shops, with 45 located in the Japanese capital.

Singapore follows closely behind, being ranked the fifth-best shopping destination in the world, with a total score of 65.8 out of 100. Surprisingly, Singapore sees more annual rainfall than any other shopping destination in the world, with 2366mm of rain falling over the city and its 132 shopping centres each year.

North America’s two entrants, New York City in seventh (64.2) and Los Angeles in twelfth (58.8) may be disappointed not to rank higher, despite being elite shopping destinations and their enormous populations. In spite of its low ranking, New York City is home to more shopping centres than any other city in the world, with 1135 shopping centres found in the Big Apple.

The World’s Best Cities For Thrifting

World's Best Cities For Thrifting

Thrifting is a popular style of shopping that people all over the world enjoy. It involves purchasing second-hand clothing at places like charity shops or flea markets, often at a much cheaper price. The practice is arguably the most sustainable way to explore fashion.

Our data has revealed that the best city in the world for thrifting is London, UK, with 74 thrift shops and a further 75 flea markets found in the English capital. This allows the big smoke to come out on top with a fabulous thrifting category score of 19.2 out of 20.

The next best city in the world for thrifting is Paris, France which received a thrifting category score of 16.7 out of 20. Paris has slightly fewer flea markets (28) and thrift shops (54) than its London rivals across the channel, but that does not stop the French capital from being a fantastic place to thrift in its own right.

The third best city for thrifting in the world is Prague, Czech Republic, which earns a thrifting category score of 14.2. The Czech capital has by far the most thrift shops of anywhere in the world with an eye-watering 218, but sadly the city is held back by its general lack of flea markets – their 13 is relatively small compared to other thrifting nations.

Also tying for third place in the thrifting category was Madrid, Spain – the Spanish capital also received a score of 14.2 for its services to thrifting. There are 47 thrift shops in Madrid, as well as 18 flea markets.

Most Instagrammed Shopping Malls 

Most Instagrammable Mall Europe

Our data revealed that the most Instagrammed shopping mall in Europe (outside of London) is the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France. The shopping centre has received an incredible 402,590 location hashtags on Instagram. This upmarket department store is the biggest of its kind in all of Europe, so it’s no wonder that social media enthusiasts are keen to share when they have paid it a visit.

The next most Instagrammed shopping mall in Europe is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy. This mega shopping mall has been hashtagged 388,478 times on Instagram. Located right in the heart of Milan, the unofficial fashion capital of Europe, this shopping gallery is the oldest of its kind in Italy and is considered a national landmark.

The third and fourth most Instagrammed shopping malls in Europe are both located in the UK, with the third spot going to the Trafford Centre in Manchester – with a total of 136,417 Instagram hashtags – and the fourth spot being claimed by London’s Bicester Village, which has received 120,171 Instagram hashtags.

The final spot in the top five is clinched by La Roca Village in Barcelona, which has been hashtagged 54,122 times on Instagram. This popular shopping centre offers visitors a luxury shopping experience, with over 160 designer brands to choose from inside. 

Methodology:

The Best Shopping Destinations in the UK

Taking a seed list of the biggest cities in the UK, we have uncovered which destinations are the best for shopping based on ten-point criteria: 

  • Number of Shopping Centres on Trip Advisor
  • Number of Flea Markets on Trip Advisor 
  • Annual Rainfall in millimetres from Climate Data 
  • Number of #shopping posts on Instagram 
  • Number of Carparks listed on Your Parking Space
  • Cost of Public Transport on Numbeo 
  • Safety Index Score on Numbeo 
  • Number of Designer stores on Google Maps 
  • Number of Charity / Thrift Shops on Yelp 
  • Number of Furniture Shops on Yelp

*London was removed from this list to give more differentiation of results. Each city was given a total score out of 100. 

Revealed: The Best Shopping Cities in Europe

Taking a seed list of cities in Europe we have uncovered the best ones for shopping based on the following ten-point criteria: 

  • Number of Shopping Centres on Trip Advisor
  • Number of Flea Markets on Trip Advisor 
  • Annual Rainfall in millimetres from Climate Data 
  • Number of #shopping posts on Instagram 
  • Cost of Public Transport on Numbeo 
  • Safety Index Score on Numbeo 
  • Number of Designer stores on Google Maps
  • Number of Antique Stores on Trip Advisor  
  • Number of Charity / Thrift Shops on Yelp 
  • Number of Furniture Shops on Yelp

*Number of car parks was swapped out with the number of antique stores due to lack of data available worldwide. Each location was given a total score out of 100. 

The Best Shopping Destinations in the World

Taking a seed list of the most visited cities around the world we have uncovered the best ones for shopping based on the following ten-point criteria: 

  • Number of Shopping Centres on Trip Advisor
  • Number of Flea Markets on Trip Advisor 
  • Annual Rainfall in millimetres from Climate Data 
  • Number of #shopping posts on Instagram 
  • Cost of Public Transport on Numbeo 
  • Safety Index Score on Numbeo 
  • Number of Designer stores on Google Maps
  • Number of Antique Stores on Trip Advisor  
  • Number of Charity / Thrift Shops on Yelp 
  • Number of Furniture Shops on Yelp

*Number of car parks was swapped out with the number of antique stores due to lack of data available worldwide. Each location was given a total score out of 100. 

The World’s Best Cities For Thrifting

To determine the best cities in the world for thrifting we took a seed list of the most visited cities in the world and revealed which ones were the best for thrifting based on the number of Charity shops on Yelp and the number of Flea Markets on Trip Advisor 

Each destination was given a total score out of 20. 

The Most Instagrammable Shopping Malls in Europe

To find the most Instagrammable shopping malls in Europe we found a seed list of the best shopping malls in Europe and revealed how many Instagram hashtags each destination had on Instagram. 

*London was removed from this list to give more differentiation of results.