P&O Ferries’ guide to the best European destinations for Christmas shopping

Sponsored Editorial

Have you managed to stay super organised and complete all your Christmas shopping in advance, or are you embracing the thrill of last-minute gift hunting?

No judgment here! Regardless of where you find yourself on your festive to-do list, there’s one thing that will make the retail experience extra special – embarking on a magical winter getaway.


While we wholeheartedly endorse the idea of buying local and supporting independent businesses in the UK, our European neighbours in France, Belgium and the Netherlands host phenomenal Christmas celebrations. Imagine stunning festive window displays, traditional markets and a myriad of delightful encounters in between. It's a golden opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the holiday spirit and secure those perfect presents for your loved ones.

This December, you can travel in luxury with P&O Ferries – a journey complete with the all-inclusive Club Lounge, dedicated Pet Lounge and many fantastic facilities. While on board, explore the World Duty Free store, where you can score incredible deals and savings of up to 50% off high street prices, making it the perfect opportunity to fill your Christmas stockings with premium treats.


Take advantage of promotions, including a short break from £99; a 10% discount on your trip if you travel with a motorhome or caravan by December 14th 2023; and a complimentary bottle of wine, collectable from the Calais Wine Superstore, with a day trip starting at just £39.

Feeling inspired for a winter getaway? Here are the top picks from the P&O team for escapes over the Channel – all within four hours of Calais.



What better destination to immerse yourself in the festive spirit than the enchanting landscapes of France? Whether you prefer the dazzling lights of bustling cities or the picturesque charm of rural areas, the options for exploration are plentiful.

Calais beckons with its magical ambience, and the city’s proximity to the ferry port makes it an accessible destination for those looking to enjoy a delightful Christmas shopping spree without venturing too far. The shops go above and beyond, showcasing countless decorations and illuminations that add an extra layer of charm.

Slightly further afield, there are locations for every preference. Amiens, just a 1.5-2 hour drive from Calais, boasts captivating sights, including its striking cathedral and the rich traditions of Picardy. Meanwhile, Reims presents the ideal weekend retreat – a 3-hour journey from Calais. It features stunning illuminations, vibrant events, diverse shopping options, and plenty of treats for food enthusiasts.

Venturing into the French countryside unveils hidden gems such as Béthune, Boulogne sur Mer and Arras, each offering thrilling shopping, culinary delights and cultural discoveries for a truly immersive holiday.



Belgium is a haven for Christmas shopping, seamlessly blending historic charm with a festive atmosphere. Its central location within Europe makes it easily accessible for travellers looking to holiday this December and pick up the perfect gifts for loved ones.

Ostend, situated along the picturesque Belgian coast, offers a unique shopping experience against the backdrop of the North Sea. The city's Christmas markets come alive with twinkling lights and an array of stalls, showcasing Belgian chocolates, artisanal crafts, and delightful seasonal treats.


Adolf Buylstraat, a pretty street that boasts a combination of well-known chain stores and independent boutiques, will be animated by an illuminated tunnel, with presents packed in a special Ostend Christmas gift wrap.

Inland, Leuven captivates with its medieval architecture and lively ambience. Visit the Christmas market in the historic Old Market Square and explore a range of stalls offering local crafts, gourmet delights and original gifts. There are some lovely Christmas decorations on offer too!

Further south, Louvain-La-Neuve, with its modern yet charming atmosphere, adds a contemporary touch to the Belgian Christmas shopping adventure. The city's holiday markets feature a fusion of traditional and modern offerings, from unique handcrafted goods to cutting-edge gadgets.


The Netherlands

Have you considered embarking on a winter journey to the Netherlands? This fascinating European country offers a tapestry of enchanting experiences, and during the holiday season, towns and cities come alive with festive sparkle, with Dutch hospitality adding an extra touch of warmth.

In Amstelveen, the Winter Village nestled next to the Stadshart shopping mall entices tourists and locals alike with its variety of stalls offering unique gifts, handmade crafts and seasonal delights.

As dusk falls, Amsterdam transforms into a mesmerising canvas with the Amsterdam Light Festival. This extraordinary event bathes the city's iconic canals in a magical glow, showcasing masterpieces by world-renowned artists. It's an invitation to not just shop, but to wander through illuminated waterways, creating a captivating fusion of art and commerce.

For an immersive Christmas market experience, head to Dordrecht, home to the largest Christmas market of its kind in the Netherlands. The market boasts an extensive array of high-quality, handmade articles, providing a treasure trove for shoppers seeking distinctive and thoughtful gifts.

To find out more about travelling with P&O Ferries and to book your crossing this winter, visit www.poferries.com.


Terms and conditions

Short break offer from £99

Free wine with a day trip from £39

Offer applies only to a day trip on standard tickets from Dover to Calais made by 19th December, for travel up to 21st December 2023. Promotion excludes foot passengers, bicycles and vehicles designed for commercial use (including vans). Promotion code valid against new bookings only and can only be redeemed at time of booking. Promo code cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers or discount. Bookings are subject to restricted space, sailings and dates. P&O Ferries reserves the right to amend or withdraw all elements of the promotion without prior notice. Subject to Promotional Conditions and P&O Ferries’ Terms of Business, both available online at poferries.com.

10% off caravans and motorhomes

Offer is valid for single and standard returns made by December 13th for travel up to December 14th 2023. Bookings are subject to restricted space, sailings and dates. Excludes cars (without a caravan), high cars, motorcycles, motorcycle combinations, minibuses, vans, trailers, foot passengers and bicycles, as well as short breaks, 2 days and day trips. Subject to limited availability and may be withdrawn at any time. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. P&O Ferries reserves the right to amend or withdraw all elements of the promotion without prior notice. Subject to Promotional Conditions and P&O Ferries’ Terms of Business, both available online at www.poferries.com.

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