Looking for unique Christmas gifts? These destinations are the places to shop…
Christmas shopping can be a right pain, so why not get ahead of the chaos? If you do your present-buying on your summer holiday, you’ll have the whole of winter to chill out. And, more importantly, shopping abroad gives you the chance to pick up some one-of-a-kind – and often cheaper – gifts. So, by this time next year, you’ll be completely sorted and can spend more time on the important things – eating pigs in blankets and drinking mulled wine. Oh, and spreading Christmas cheer, of course…
If you need to buy something for the ladies in your life, this is the place to go. From blingy bracelets to chunky earrings, handmade jewellery is Greece’s speciality. For a goddess-worthy gift, why not buy a traditional collar necklace, or a silver cuff engraved with ancient Greek lettering? Another option is a one-off pair of gladiator sandals. Do your best investigative work to find out your lady’s shoe size, and get a bespoke pair of sandals designed and made especially for them.
From soaps to scarves and spirits, Cape Verde has it all. For starters, browse the markets of Sal for locally-made stocking-fillers, like salt soaps and bath bombs. The salt itself is extracted from Pedra de Lume – a salt lake in the north of the island – and handmade into smellies that are packed with minerals. You’ll also find loads of patterned scarves and handbags in the markets, which are made on Cape Verde’s biggest island, Santiago.
For something completely different, give the gift of grogue. Made from sugarcane, this Cape Verdean spirit is the perfect present for rum-drinkers. But if you think it’s too fiery, buy a bottle of ponche instead. A mixture of grogue and honey, this sweet drink comes in all sorts of flavours, like passion fruit, mint and coffee.
If you’ve got any cooking keenos to buy for, put Cyprus at the top of your list. This Mediterranean fave is known for having top beaches and year-round sun, but Cyprus is also famous for its olive oil. Rows of olive trees cover the island’s hills, and their delicious produce is exported all around the world. In fact, olives are such a key part of Cypriot culture that the locals even celebrate National Olive Tree Day in October. Who knew?
Bargain-hunters will love the hippy markets of Ibiza. For the most choice, head to the famous Punta Arabi Hippy Market in Es Cana, which is open for business every Wednesday. These colourful stalls are brimming with bric-a-brac, from vintage clothes to antique trinkets. San Antonio’s also packed with hidden boutiques and quirky shops, where you can get your hands on hand-crafted pottery, dream-catchers and wind chimes.
We’ve all got that one person who’s impossible to please. But don’t worry – Dubai Mall is the answer to all your present-buying problems. It’s exactly how you’d imagine shopping in Dubai to be, but better. And so much bigger. In fact, with 1,200 stores and 160 eateries, it’s the largest shopping mall in the world. With the top names in fashion, gadgets and jewellery, this place has everything from Miss Selfridge to Microsoft to Michael Kors. So you’re sure to find something to satisfy even the fussiest family members.
When it comes to presents, Cuba is a proper crowd-pleaser – as long as the people you’re buying for aren’t teetotal, caffeine-free, non-smokers. The most authentic choice is, of course, a packet of chunky Cuban cigars, but there are a couple of other options, too. You can bring back a taste of Cuba with a bag of rich coffee, fresh from the plantations of Vinales. Or, buy a bottle of rum and teach your mates how to make a traditional Cuba Libre. Not a rum ‘n’ Coke in sight.
It’s not surprising that Europe’s tastiest country is also a great place to buy presents. Italian leather is up there with the best in the world, so the shops here are teeming with high-quality handbags, wallets and shoes. On the flip side, the markets have all sorts of things to brighten up your home, from terracotta pots to hand-painted spaghetti measurers. Needless to say, the wine’s pretty good, too…