Europe’s Best Shopping Ports

If you think shopping in ports means overcrowded markets with kitschy merchandise, you may be surprised to discover some of the best shopping meccas lie in these European cities. From authentic hand made leather goods to the latest designer handbags, here’s your go-to guide to Europe’s best shopping ports.

River Cruises:

Milan, Italy

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One of the most recognized fashion meccas in the world undoubtedly has the latest designer trends. Milan also boasts the oldest shopping mall in the world, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Here, high-end couture shops reign; Versace, Chanel, Louis Vuitton. Quadrilatero d’Oro or the “golden rectangle” is the pulse of the fashion-centric city, exploding with just about every designer you can imagine. Don’t miss Piazza del Duomo, the 10 floors retail wonderland featuring everything from home goods to clothing.

Best For: Fashionistas with unlimited budgets

Shopping Streets: Via Montenapoleone, Corso Buenos Aires

Geneva, Switzerland

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Watch enthusiasts take heed. Geneva is the city known for luxury timepieces. Gleaming with renowned Swiss watches, you will want to head to Rue du Rhone and Rue de la Confédération. Be sure to stop by the famous flower clock in the Jardin Anglais, a true symbol of Geneva. Brimming with charm, the city flourishes with magnificent markets. An epicures haven, Les Halles de Rives, is known as one of the most famous food markets in Europe.  If your looking for designer boutiques and department stores, explore the block around Place du Molard.

Best For: Watch enthusiasts and high-end fashion

Shopping Streets: Rue du Rhône, Rue du Mont-Blanc

Porto, Portugal

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The best part about shopping in Portugal lies within the boutique shops passed from generation to generation. If you prefer unique stores rather than big-name retailers, you will love Porto. Our favorites include; for reasonable and unique finds from local craftsman, La Vida Portuguesa for everything from hand-printed stationery to ceramics, and the Feeting Room for authentic Portugues brands.

Best For: Local handmade goods and charming boutiques

Shopping Streets: Rua Santa Catarina, Rua Formosa

Ocean Cruises:

Nice, France

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Overflowing with glamour, if you can pull yourself away from Nice’s sun-drenched beaches, you’ll find a high octane shopping experience with over 7000 stores awaiting. The streets of the French Riviera offer something for everyone, from local boutiques to the best names in fashion. Gourmands will revel in Alziari, a family run business which has been growing olives since the mid-1800s and selling the delightful results in a charming boutique. gLOVEme is a must for handcrafted leather items at amazing prices. And of course, there’s Chanel, Hermes, Bémon Gérald and any other haute couture brand on your radar.

Best For: A variety of local goods and couture brands

Shopping Streets: Carré d’Or, Rue Paradis, Cours Saleya, Avenue Jean Medecin 

Civitavecchia, Italy

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Steps away from the port lies a world of shopping pleasures. Via Garibaldi will likely be the first street you stumble upon. A great place to grab a bite and begin your shopping extravaganza. Civitavecchia’s main shopping area is not far beyond Via Garibaldi. Corso Centocelle’s pedestrian-filled streets feature many of the towns best shops. For a wide range of designer stores at great prices, head to Castel Romano. While, Civitavecchia is about 50 miles away from Rome, if you have the time and transportation, be sure to venture to Via del Corso and Via Dei Condotti.

Best For: Quaint markets in a seaside town

Shopping Streets: Via Garibaldi, Corso Centocelle

Whether you fancy designer duds or handcrafted goods, Europe boast some of the best shopping around. The next time you sail into one of these European ports, get your dose of retail therapy. You never know what you may find!

Cruise Shopping 101

From designer duds to specialty shops, cruise ships boast a spectacular shopping scene: and they have a captive audience, you! We’re giving you a first-hand look into cruise shopping, so the next time you set sail you can easily navigate the world of retail; alleviating merchandise mayhem!

What types of shops are onboard?

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The better question may be: what shops are not onboard a cruise ship? Most major cruise lines offer just about anything and everything you may need (or want). Boutique shops, kids clothing, luxury jewelry, souvenirs, fragrance, games, even artwork are available to satisfy your retail wishes. Shops vary among cruise lines, but most ships encompass a large variety of luxury retailers including, Chanel, Michael Kors, TAG, Gucci, Furla and more. 

Bonus! These items are duty-free!

What is duty-free?

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Bottom line? Better prices. Not to be confused with tax-free, duty-free means that the usual taxes imposed on imported items (cigarettes, alcohol, perfume, fine jewelry) are exempt from the payment of individual local taxes(or duties). Meaning, if you are buying items internationally, you are essentially paying taxes twice; once in the country where the items are purchased and again when you bring your merchandise back to the U.S. When you shop duty-free, you are exempt from taxes (VAT) on the items bought internationally. Remember, shops are only open when the ship is in international waters, 50 miles after leaving port. Shops close when the ship is in port.

Is there a limit to how much I can bring back?

Yes. You can bring up to $800 worth of duty-free goods back to the U.S. without paying additional fees. The $800 allotment is per person. So if you’re traveling with kids, they also can bring back $800 worth of merchandise.

How do I know if I am getting a good deal?

By knowing the average retail price of the items you are interested in before you set sail, you will immediately be able to discern if your duty-free items are a good deal. A helpful travel website; Duty-Free Addict, compares duty-free prices online. 

Watch for sales listed in the daily cruise newsletter and “trunk sales” as well — these flash sales offer great prices, especially on gemstones and fine jewelry. The best part about shopping onboard a cruise ship is the price you see is the price you pay. There are no additional taxes added on. 

What duty-free items should I buy?

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Now is the time to buy those rare gemstones or that fancy watch you’ve been eying. Fragrance, cosmetics, designer handbags, alcohol, and cigarettes are the most purchased duty-free items.

Cruise companies profile passengers. Most likely, the stores on board already fit your personality. Couple this with great prices and duty-free merchandise and savvy shoppers can typically score some great deals.

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