Shopping: from historic villages to modern malls
Whether you are looking to do some serious all-day shopping, or maybe browse small shops and craft stalls as part of a day out, the Thames Valley offers many great shopping destinations.
For visitors new to the Thames Valley, we have compiled a selection of places we think make for an interesting shopping experience. It has to be emphasised that this really is just a selection, and there are other great destinations as well!
Bicester is perhaps best known in shopping circles for the Bicester Village outlet shopping centre. Located just off the A41 to the south of the town, it has luxury fashion shops, homeware boutiques and discounted designer stores. Here you can enjoy outlet shopping with up to 60% discounts.
But the town's centre also has a wide range of local and national shops, together with cafés, pubs and restaurants, not to forget the traditional street market on Fridays.
There’s a great deal of relaxing shopping to be had along the town's cobbled streets. The four main roads of Bell Street, Duke Street, Hart Street and Market Place are where you’ll find all types of shopping, from the well known high-street chains to antique shops and more quirky, one-off boutiques.
Henley offers a number of art galleries and boutiques alongside the river as well as places to enjoy a relaxing drink after a hard day's shopping!
Maidenhead has a broad range of well known High Street names combined with a variety of independent and specialist stores. Step off the High Street and you'll find some hidden gems for that special something.
The Nicholsons Shopping Centre offers a selection of over 60 stores, from well-known names to small boutiques, all under one roof. Maidenhead also boasts a wide variety of regular and visiting markets, including continental, farmers' and arts markets offering shoppers a unique experience.
If you are considering a day out and at the same time do a bit of shopping in lively surroundings, then Marlow also is an excellent destination.
Apart from the usual high street suspects with respect to clothing, groceries, etc., you can find specialist shops and galleries on the hunt for something a bit different. And, of course, there is plenty of opportunity to stop for a bite to eat or a cup of Latte Macchiato, traditional English tea, or whatever else may take your fancy.
Oxford truly is a shopping heaven, with its diverse range of shops covering everything from specialist food stores and boutiques to family owned department stores (notably Boswells, Oxford's oldest, family-run independent department store).
Broad Street is known for books, art supplies and specialist clothing, whereas the emphasis in Little Clarendon Street is on household accessories and vintage clothing. The Westgate Centre offers a wide range of health foods, coffee shops and grocers. Or, for a different shopping trip why not visit Oxford's covered market which has a wondrous array of specialist shops from a saddle mender to shoe makers.
In Oxford you are sure to find something for every taste.If you prefer outdoor shopping, then the area around Oxford has weekly farmers' markets providing a chance to try and buy some of the excellent local produce.
Reading just has to be on the list of places combining excellent shopping in modern surroundings with plenty of opportunity to sit and relax. Visitors often travel some distance just to browse and shop in the Oracle, a large, modern mall right by the Kennet and Avon Canal where you will also find a cinema and many nice bars and restaurants.
On the other side of the Oracle lies a generous pedestrian zone with lots of facilities from banks to shops, some of which are tucked away in historic alley ways. In a nutshell, you can easily spend an entire day in Reading just shopping alone!
Even if you are not a keen shopper: if you visit Windsor, be sure to allow a little bit of extra time for exploring the old station. This large indoor area boasts a fabulous range of small stalls and specialist shops, many offering items you don't usually find easily. There's also plenty of opportunity to sit down and drink something or grab a bite to eat, all in the unique atmosphere of majestic arches.
The high street area, on the other hand, has all the household names to choose from. Here you can browse for clothes, books, accessories etc, in lively surroundings. Not far, across the bridge in Eton, you will find more shops as well as some galleries.