Look at these must-have holidays for shopaholics from the tantalising scent of spices from Delhi's market stalls to the world's greatest toy store in New York
As you wander through the winding kasbahs and souks of Morocco and Algeria, being accosted by local traders hawking their wares is part of the experience. But as a parent you pose a tricky customer – your powers of refusal honed by visits to the toyshop with a pleading child. And while a snaking-spouted teapot may not sit well with your home decor, it’s fun to see the gallimaufry of goods and pick a few souvenirs – mini brokers are sure to love haggling themselves a bargain.
Wherever you are in the world, there’s a market of a different flavour to be savoured, from India’s famous Chandni Chowk in Delhi with its wafting spices and rickshaws, to the sweetly-scented Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam where the flower stalls float in the Singel canal.
Come Christmas time and a flurry of traditional gift markets descend on European cities. Cologne in Germany offers four big markets – the best one for children is the Alter Markt in front of the Town Hall, where there’s a vintage roundabout, puppet theatre, Santa’s grotto and toy stands. In front of the cathedral is the largest selection of stalls selling mulled wine and Lebkuchen – iced gingerbread hearts.
In Copenhagen, Denmark, the Tivoli Gardens theme park hosts a fairytale market selling knitwear. There’s also a quirky village of mechanical pixies for children to gaze upon. Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, has an enchanting Christmas Market in the Old Town Square, which has a gigantic Christmas tree and a nativity scene in a large wooden stable.
To take in a host of Christmas markets in one go, cruise the Danube on the luxury ship the AmaLyra, which visits Budapest, Vienna, Regensburg and the world’s largest Christmas market in Nuremberg. AmaWaterways are offering free flights with bookings for Christmas cruises, departing from Nuremberg on November 29 and the return from Budapest on December 6. From £1,199 per person.
New York, meanwhile, offers young shoppers amazing experiences all year round. The jewel in the crown is FAO Schwartz, hailed as the best toy shop in the world and with almost an entire floor dedicated to Barbie. The Scholastic Store in SoHo is stocked high with books, puzzles and games, while The Plaza has an Eloise store, inspired by the six-year-old heroine of Kay Thompson’s Eloise books. As well as selling Eloise clothing, dolls and books, the store has dressing-up clothes, storytelling sessions, a beauty salon and a tea room. Book The Plaza’s Eloise suite on the 18th floor that’s decked out in pink and black with the name Eloise in neon lights above the bed. The suite has two rooms, one for the erstwhile Eloise and one for her parents. Prices start at £637 per night.
Look at our Travel section for lots of other fun holiday ideas.