6 Shopping Weekends

Some destinations demand the purchasing of an iconic souvenir

Timely Souvenir

The cuckoo clock is a Black Forest souvenir to last a lifetime and in the charming cuckoo capital of Triberg, Hubert Herr is run by a fifth-generation artisan, creator of the world’s smallest cuckoo clock. Similarly expert craftsmanship is on show at Oliver Zinapold’s workshop, and also at Anton Schneider Söhne in nearby Schonach. More modern are the designs at Kult AG in Gaggenau: neon bright and featuring motifs such as skulls and crossbones. Round off your weekend with a slice of Black Forest gateau made by Triberg confectioner Claus Schäfer using the original 1915 recipe.

Nordic Design

From outstanding buildings like the rock, glass and copper Temppeliaukio Church to the clean lines of a ’50s Modernist chair in one of Helsinki’s many coffee shops, good design is everywhere in the Finnish capital. Begin with a visit to designer Alvar Aalto’s self-built former home. Aalto was a founder of the design company Artek, so head next to its flagship store for classic examples of his designs, including the L-leg stools. Nearby you’ll find Iittala for glass and tableware and Marimekko for clothing and homewares made from botanically-inspired fabrics.

Russian Dolls

Visitors to Russia’s imperious second city won’t have to look long before clapping eyes on their first matryoshka. These nesting dolls are found in vast quantities in St Petersburg, armies of painted baboushkas lining the shelves of every souvenir shop. Our pick is opulent Belugadeluxe, where you can browse under glittering chandeliers – here a matroyshka painted by a student artist costs as little as £3.50. For vintage finds, flea market Udelnaya Fair (8am-5pm, Sat & Sun) offers a bewildering selection of pre-revolutionary antiques and Soviet ephemera.

Faroese Jumpers


Gaining cult status after detective Sarah Lund wore one in the hit Danish TV series The Killing, the Faroese fisherman’s jumper has put the remote Faroe Islands on the fashion map. Although cheap copies now abound, you can get hold of a superior version from knitwear company Guðrun &Guðrun. Selling clothes hand-made from local wool, their flagship store is in Tórshavn, the low-key capital, with its turf-topped old town houses. Human inhabitants are outnumbered by the sheep that mostly have the rugged, billiard-green islands to themselves – ideal hiking territory for those with warm jumpers.

Buy Beer In Belgium

Just as pretty as Bruges, Ghent is a perfect place to stock up on Belgium’s most famous export, with no beer goggles needed to fall for its medieval charms. Its cobbled streets and winding canals seem made for pub crawls, but booking onto tour company Vizit’s Culinary Beer Walk should give your booze – quest some focus, with tastings in many a cosy drinking den around the town. Local stand­outs include Brouwerij Gruut, where master brewer Annick De Splenter – a rare woman in this industry – creates excellent, herb-infused beers. Be sure to find time for a visit to De Dulle Griet, a beautiful ‘brown café’ with one of the city’s biggest selections of beer.

French Bubbly

The king of drinks is also the drink of kings: the city of Reims, in the province of Champagne, was historically where French sovereigns were crowned. With its magnificent Gothic cathedral and pedestrian boulevards, Reims retains an air of royal favour and is home to 10 champagne houses that offer visits, tastings and, naturally, purchases. Mumm (pronounced ‘Moom’) runs engaging tours of its musty cellars, while Tattinger has a run-down on how exactly the drink is made. Reims also has a worthy food scene-try the eminently reasonable set menus at the Michelin-starred Le Millénaire.

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