The Best Airports for Shopping
Emma Langley, 27.11.18
Alternative Travel Tips
Airports can often be mundane places, a simple waiting place, dull in comparison to the excitement of the travels you’re about to embark upon. There’s nothing worse than turning up at an airport to find there's only a tiny shop selling soggy sandwiches, bottles of water and magazines. Choose instead to travel to an airport where you can spend hours browsing and shopping ‘till you drop, with our ultimate guide to the 10 best airports for shopping.
1. London Heathrow (LHR)
London has five main airports, with Heathrow being the busiest. This airport is famed for its amazing shopping scene, including a great duty free area with well known designer brands selling a range of products from clothing, accessories, makeup, jewellery and watches. Be careful when shopping in duty-free as you'll need to know your allowances for your destination. Read more about duty-free allowances here. Before travelling, make sure you check which terminal you’ll be flying from, and research the current shops available so that you can plan ahead and make the most of you time to get the best bargains.
Heathrow is host to many luxury brands including Hugo Boss, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Swarovski and Kurt Geiger. Heathrow also has some British classics such as Harrods, Glorious Britain, a Harry Potter gift shop and Hamleys where you can get souvenirs of your time in London. Heathrow also has a complimentary personal shopping service which can be booked in advance to help you with your shopping. The airport also participates in many deals and events, so if you are travelling during the Christmas period, why not do some christmas shopping for your loved ones or bag yourself a festive bargain.
Take me to London Heathrow
London Heathrow is the hub airport for British Airways, which flies to LHR from destinations around the world including Europe, South America, North America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia. Other airlines which fly to Heathrow Airport include Air Canada, American Airlines and Eurowings.
Photo Credit: Maria Giulia Tolotti
2. Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
As Paris is known as the fashion capital of the world, it’s no wonder Paris’ main airport is great for luxury shopping. Terminal 2E has the widest selection of brands with French fashion houses such as Cartier, Dior, Chloé, Hermès, Chanel and Lancel. There's also the opportunity to shop for cosmetic products, alcohol, food and accessories in the Duty Free section or grab a bite to eat in the many restaurants or bistros available. For information on how much alcohol you can take on your flights as well as the duty-free allowances for alcoholic drinks, please visit our page on flying with wine and alcohol.
Take me to Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Fly to Charles de Gaulle airport with it’s hub airline Air France, which flies to destinations such as Athens, Bangkok, Bogotá, Casablanca, Delhi, Los Angeles, Mauritius, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Tokyo and Washington. Alternatively, fly there with airlines such as easyJet, Vueling, XL Airways France, ASL Airlines France, and Turkish Airlines.
Photo Credit: Citizen59
3. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
Flying to Hong Kong airport will ensure that you’ll not be bored, even if you have a long layover. Hong Kong has shops and restaurants open 24 hours a day, meaning that no matter what time it is, you’ll be able to shop until your heart’s content. Here, you can get Hong Kong-inspired souvenirs, including local delicacies like wife cakes and Asian street-food staple egg rolls , or visit the Hong Kong Design Gallery to view all the unique displays created by local artists and designers.
Additionally, Hong Kong airport has a huge number of high-street and designer brands, with just under 50 shops in Terminal 1 to suit everyone. From electrical shops such as Sound & Vision, DG Lifestyle and Bose to Jewellery and watch brands including Cartier, Pandora and OMEGA, and of course key fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Bottega Veneta, Zara, Kate Spade amongst many other shops! There is also a Disney store for the young ones, so there’s truly a wide variety of shops on offer, but cosmetics win for best savings.
Once you’re all shopped out, why not enjoy a relaxing pamper session at Hong Kong Airport’s very own spa, or sit down and enjoy one of the latest blockbuster films or even have a well-deserved nap in the Premium Lounge’s ‘resting area’!
Take me to Hong Kong Airport
If you can’t wait to get to Hong Kong Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, then you can fly there with airlines that have a hub base there, including Hong Kong Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon who fly to many destinations across China, Asia and the rest of the world. Additionally, you can also fly to Hong Kong Airport with airlines such as China Airlines, United Airlines and XiamenAir.
Photo Credit: Haley 1029
4. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
Singapore Changi Airport is well known for its great duty-free shopping discounts across a wide range of products, from alcohol to make up and cameras, you’ll be sure to find something to treat yourself or a gift for a loved one. If you don't fancy walking round numerous shops at the airport, trying to get the best deals, why not use the online pre-order service called iShopChangi, where customers can browse and order items online and collect at the airport!
Be sure to look out for some deals in Shilla Duty Free, where there are many cosmetics and makeup brands offering huge discounts and savings. How about opting for some traditional Asian and Singaporean souvenirs and products, such as Tiger Balm products, a Singapore Vista (iconic chic scarf), Durian Kaya (a local tradition of coconut egg jam) or some Kueh Lapis (rice flour layered pudding).
Why not relax after by enjoying one of the many fantastical gardens within the Changi Airport, including the Cactus Garden, Butterfly Garden or Water Lily Garden. If that doesn’t sound like your thing to relax after shopping, how about taking a ride down the world's largest airport slide?
Take me to Singapore Changi Airport
Scoot, SilkAir, Singapore Airlines and Jetstar Asia Airways all have Changi Airport as their home base. These airlines fly to and from this airport from destinations all over the world including Asia, Oceania, North America, Europe and Africa.
5. Dubai International Airport (DXB)
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is well-known for its designer shopping scene, with the main international airport offering no less. Duty-free prices means that cigarettes and alcohol are cheap in the airport, but be sure to know the rules and restrictions for the number of products you are allowed to bring into the country you are travelling to. For example, many Middle Eastern countries don’t allow you to bring alcohol into the country, and cigarettes are often a lot cheaper in Dubai Airport than they are in the USA.
As the City of Gold, Dubai Airport sells gold bars alongside spectacular jewellery from BVLGARI, Swarovski and Pandora and also luxury pens from brands such as Montblanc and Cross. You can often find duty free perfumes, which is the most popular item sold in this airport in 2017, from global brands such as Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier and Versace. There’s also a strong electronics scene at Dubai International Airport, with laptops, cameras, camcorders and mobile phones all available, but be sure to read our guide to flying with a laptop and other electronics. With all this and more on offer, you’ll be sure to find the right purchases from the world’s biggest airport retailer of 2017.
Take me to Dubai International Airport
To get to Dubai Airport with one of its hub airlines, fly with the low cost carrier flydubai, or fly in luxury with Emirates. Both these airlines fly to destinations across the globe. Alternatively, enter into the flight search on the homepage DXB as your destination and your closest airport to see the best fare on getting to Dubai International Airport.
Photo Credit: Patrik Nemes
6. Hamad International Airport, Qatar (DOH)
Doha Hamad Airport in Qatar is another Middle Eastern airport great for airport shopping. There is over 70 luxury stores on offer at this airport offering the finest quality products, from designer handbags and sunglasses, watches, jewellery and clothing, there are a diverse range of shops to entertain you during your time at the airport.
All the shops in Duty Free are open 24 hours of the day, seven days a week. Once you have finished browsing, treat your senses at the Godiva stand, or the Marmalade Market, or enjoy traditional Arabian cuisine at one of the 30 cafes or restaurants.
Take me to Hamad International Airport
Fly to Hamad International Airport with Qatar Airways, who’s hub airport is Hamad Doha. Qatar Airways flies to destinations including London, Tokyo, Atlanta, Chicago, Goa, Kigali amongst many others. Other airlines which fly to this airport include JetAirways, IndiGo and Air India Express.
Photo Credit: Mohamod Fasil
7. Istanbul Airport (IST)
In April 2019, Istanbul Airport’s huge new airport was opened, replacing Istanbul Atatürk Airport for commercial scheduled passenger flights. In its current state at phase 1 of the project, the airport has the capacity to deal with 90 million passengers a year, although this will go up to 150 million passengers once completely finished in 2027. The airport itself has a total area of 15.5 million square foot, with a shopping area of 592 thousand square feet, earning it the title of the world’s largest airport.
With such a large area, there’s no wonder that this airport is home to so many shops. From world-famous brands such as Celine, Emporio Armani, Ferragamo and Loro Piana, to Turkish favourites such as Kemal Tanca, Vakko, Brandy’s and Cacharel, the shopping area caters to all categories of luxury, fashion and lifestyle.
Take me to Istanbul Airport
The expansion at this airport is all due to the continued growth of Turkish Airlines, who has a hub here. Onur Air and AtlasGlobal also have hubs at this impressive airport, meaning there are connections to Istanbul Airport from all over the world.
Photo Credit: İGA İstanbul Airport via Instagram
8. Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
At Vancouver International Airport, you can be sure to get some great quality Canadian products. Whether you’re looking for some authentic maple syrup, local wines, smoked salmon products or even some Canadian branded clothing, you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for. To take a bit of this Canadian essence home with you, be sure to head to The Great Canadian Book Company, Thinking Canada, Mountain Style Shop or Discover BC.
If you’re looking for more high-end designer apparel, explore the selection in Duty Free including brands such as BVLGARI, Omega, Gucci or Salvatore Ferragamo. If electricals and travel goods are more your scene, you’ll have plenty of stuff to explore in iStore and Tech on the Go.
Take me to Vancouver International Airport
Photo Credit: yvrairport via Instagram
9. Denver International Airport (DEN)
Denver International Airport is famed for its large solar power farm and for being environmentally conscious, and many of its shops reflect this. From many outdoors gear and clothing shops such as No Boundaries, to Swiss skincare companies such as Hormeta who’s products are inspired by the natural environment, it’s clear that the products and brands represented at this airport are chosen to reflect the eco-friendly nature of the airport. Why not buy a gift for a loved one back home from Bearfruit, a local family company who specialises in jewellery, or perhaps some local goods from Greetings From Colorado or Way out West, or even some freshly-cut flowers!
Denver Airport is truly a different airport experience, with a lot of it’s shops reflecting this unmistakable sense of place. If you’re inspired by this green-conscious airport, why not read more about what other airports are doing to be more eco-friendly, such as New York JFK.
Take me to Denver International Airport
10. Sydney Airport (SYD)
Sydney Airport’s International Terminal, T1, has a bustling scene with a great selection of amenities. Besides the shopping, Sydney’s T1 offers restaurants, airport lounges, a prayer room and an information desk. The shopping offers tax-free shopping, meaning you can get your hands on some great bargains from brands such as Estee Lauder, Hennessy, SK-II and Penfolds. Sydney Airport offer a similar service to Changi airport, where you can order goods online before travelling and collect it at the airport.
Additionally, if you want to purchase an item at the start of your journey, the airport will hold it for you so that you can collect it when arriving on the return journey, saving you transporting it twice.
Take me to Sydney Airport
Australian airlines that fly to Sydney Airport are Qantas and Virgin Australia, who both have hubs at Sydney Airport. Other airlines who operate services to this airport include China Eastern Airlines and Air New Zealand.
Photo Credit: Wpcpey
11. O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)
O.R. Tambo Airport is an international airport based in South Africa. They offer many international brands at cheap discounted prices, but also a variety of shops where you can purchase some authentic African Souvenirs, including Out of Africa, Indaba Lifestyle and African Eco. People travelling to this airport can also enjoy some great travel exclusives and discounts in the Duty Free Mall, with prices reported being 40% cheaper than outside the airport.
Take me to O.R. Tambo International Airport
This airport is the hub for many African airlines, including Airlink, FlySafair, South African Airways, Mango and Kulula. These airlines fly to their hub at O.R. Tambo Airport from destinations all around the world, including domestic and regional locations but also transatlantic flights to destinations in America including New York JFK and Washington-Dulles.
Photo Credit: o.r_tambo_airport via Instagram
Top Tips for Airport Shopping
To ensure you plan plan wisely and get the best bargains at the airport, follow our top tips for airport shopping:
Ensure you know your airline’s baggage limit
Some airlines have limits on how much duty free you can carry onto their plane, so there’s no point filling your basket full only to find out you can only have one duty free bag.
Know the rules of the country travelling to
Some countries do not permit you to transport certain goods into their country. For example many countries in the Middle East will not allow alcohol, and others may only permit a certain number of cigarettes into the country.
Do your research before you travel
This is so you know what is a good deal when you get to the airport, so are not fooled by the huge discount signs. Make a list of all the items you want to look and purchase so you don't risk forgetting and losing out.
Pre-order to the airport if possible
If travelling to airports which provide a service like this, like Shanghai Cingha Airport, it may save you the stress of running around getting everything you need.
Arrive at the airport with plenty of time
Make sure you get to the airport within enough time to be able to check in and pass through security and plenty of time to explore the shops that that airport has to offer. Why not save some time at the airport by obtaining a mobile boarding pass at home?
Updated: May 2019