Shops in Spain range from side-street stalls and open-air flea markets, to designer boutiques selling the latest in couture fashions: the former require your most persuasive haggling powers, while the latter require a fist-full of traveler's cheques. In either case, shopping in Spain is always an adventure, and some of the best places to visit in Spain are the open-air markets and upper end shops in Barcelona and Madrid.
Shops in Madrid
Shopping in Spain reaches a bustling pitch on Sunday mornings when the Calle de Ribera de Curtidores closes to traffic and becomes the open-air flee market known as El Rastro. It is often said, with only slight exaggeration, "If it exists in the world, you will find it at El Rastro." One of the most diverse and crowded places for shopping in Spain, you can purchase everything from live chickens to pirated CDs of the latest Hollywood releases, from gypsy antiques to post cards. El Rastro is one of the best places to visit in Spain if you are looking to practice you Spanish
and your bargaining skills. Remember, though, keep your cameras close, and your wallets closer.
In addition to El Rastro, Madrid offers some of the best up-scale shopping in Spain. The eastern Salamanca district has the widest selection of designer fashion shops in Spain. Prada, Armani, and Louis Vuitton, as well as the popular Spanish designers like Sybilla, Amaya Arzuaga, and Victorio & Lucchino can all be found here.
Shops in Barcelona
Barcelona has several open-air flea markets offering a variety of jewelry, books, curious and hand made arts and crafts. Three of the most popular flea markets are the Mercat de las Encants in the Plaza de las Glories Catalanes, the Mercat de San Antoni, and the Mercat at Plaza Villa de Madrid. In general, these shops in Barcelona open around 8 am and close a few hours after sunset. Savvy travelers will remember that while shopping in Spain (especially in open air flea markets) it is important to carry only the cash you need, and keep it safely tucked away in a money belt until the exact price of an item has been decided on.
If you are looking to outfit yourself in traditional clothing for an upcoming fiesta try the Circuit del Born. One of the best shopping places to visit in Spain, the Circuit del Born, almost hidden away in the Ciutat Vella's Ribera district, is full of small artisan studio/shops, specialty silk boutiques, as well as some of the best designer shoe and clothing shops in Barcelona.
Shopping in Spain is an adventure for those with money, or those who are traveling on a shoestring; just remember to bargain for the best price, use as much Spanish as you know, and carry a big smile along with your wallet.