From Finland to Denmark, and even Sweden, our very own favourite meatball manufacturer, here’s a handy little guide on VAT taxes and refund rates around Europe to help make your Christmas shopping a whole lot easier on your travels.
As most of us know, Europe is known to have a really high value-added tax (VAT), with some places charging as high as 25%. Since it is a tax on consumption, the amount is generally added to the store’s price instead of being added to the cash register. For tourists, this means good news as you often get your money back after you’ve returned home since travellers are entitled to a VAT refund on most purchases. Look no further if you’re looking for a guide on tax-free shopping spots in Europe!
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Image credits: In Your Pocket
Coming up top in the list is Croatia, a beautiful country located just next to the world’s fashion capital. Charging a standard VAT rate of 25%, it’s the best destination for shoppers when it comes to offering the highest savings for tourists — with refunds as high as 17.12%!
If you’re someone who loves buying big brands on a budget, head to the Arena Centar in Zagreb for the best sales. Unleash your inner shopaholic and get your hands on the various household and name brands the mall holds. There’s even an indoor basketball court and cinema for those who aren’t as interested in shopping!
Opening Hours: Daily, 9 AM – 9 PM
Address: UI. Vice Vukova 6, 10020, Zagreb, Croatia
A Shopaholic’s Guide To VAT Taxes And Refund Rates Around Europe: Find out more on Arena Centar
Image credits: Budapest Attraction
Up next we have Hungary, a landlocked country in central Europe best known for its spa towns and hot springs. If you’re thinking of planning a relaxing getaway, Hungary offers the second-best VAT refund rate of 16.8% despite its high tax rate of 27%.
As the top pedestrian shopping street, Vaci Street features an abundance of restaurants, cafes, and retail stores. The shopping area stretches over 1km, starting from central Budapest in the historic Vörösmarty Square before reaching its end at Central Market Hall. There is no shortage of stores in this area, with some great retail experiences including Zara, Adidas, Flying Tiger and Copenhagen!
Just a quick disclaimer: If you’re ever thinking of shopping in Hungary, do note that it has one of the highest minimum spending requirements in Europe — with purchases of at least 141 Euros qualifying for refunds.
Address: Váci utca, Budapest, Hungary
A Shopaholic’s Guide To VAT Taxes And Refund Rates Around Europe: Click here to check out more on Vaci Street
Image credits: Wikipedia
Third on the list, we have Sweden — a gorgeous country filled with abundant forests and lakes. Like Croatia, Sweden charges the standard VAT rate of 25% on its products. And when it comes to saving, tourists can receive up to 15.22% in refunds. Additionally, it has one of the lowest spending requirements — with purchases as low as 18 Euros being eligible for refunds. Now that’s not a bad price to pay when it comes to hauling home your dream pieces from Ikea!
When it comes to shopping, Stockholm is no stranger to the world of fashion and food. For those who wish to shop on a budget, head to the main shopping street Drottniggatan! Filled with restaurants, bars, and cafes, the street was named to honour Swedish Queen, Christina. The street starts from Old Town and goes all the way to Observatory Park. And in its middle, it holds the shopping mall giant, Åhléns City and T Centralen station.
When it comes to brands, you can find all kinds of major Swedish and internationally established boutiques, such as H&M, Zara, Monki and more! The best part about this street is that it’s located near several famous hotels, making it a tourist haven for finding brands on a budget.
Address: Åhléns City, Klarabergsgatan 50, 111 21 Stockholm, Sweden
A Shopaholic’s Guide To VAT Taxes And Refund Rates Around Europe: Find out more on Drottniggatan
Image credits: TravelSlovenia.org
While Slovenia might not ever cross your mind when it comes to European destinations, the country offers a pretty good tax refund rate of 15.05% while charging a lower VAT tax of 22%. While it’s known for its scenic views, the small southeastern Europe country is also regarded as ‘The Ideal Place For Living’.
With marketplaces capturing the attention of many, you’re bound to be spoiled for choice in the Balkans. A paradise for shopaholics, locals flock to the Central Market in Ljubljana to enjoy themselves to the fullest.
Covering the open-air market in the Vodnikov trg and Pogacarnex trg squares, the Central Market offers the best of Slovenian products and catering establishments. During the summer evenings, the market is transformed into a local festival. And what’s a festival without food and drinks? If you’re into Christmas shopping and festival vibes, the Central Market is definitely a place you should have on your list of Slovenian spots to visit.
Opening Hours: Weekdays, 7 AM – 4 PM. Saturdays, 7 AM – 2 PM.
Address: Adamič-Lundrovo nabrežje 6, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
A Shopaholic’s Guide To VAT Taxes And Refund Rates Around Europe: Find out more about the Central Market
Image credits: Wikipedia
Making global headlines as the ‘Happiest Country In The World’, we definitely have to include Finland in this list of the best places in Europe for tax-free shopping. Charging a little less than the standard VAT rate, Finland’s tax stands at 24% and tourists can receive refunds of up to 14.83%.
As far as Finnish cities go, Helsinki is a clear top choice for its range of goods and shops. Favoured for its convenience, you don’t have to venture outside of the city centre for an endless selection of malls, markets, and luxury stores. For that matter, Kamppi Shopping Centre is the best place to quench a shopaholic’s thirst. Featuring several large grocery stores, beauty salons, and even a bowling alley, Kamppi’s wide range of shops and various fashion brands will satisfy just about anyone.
The best part about this mall is that it’s extremely convenient to visit. With a tunnel connecting it to the neighbouring Forum shopping centre, tourists can visit this destination no matter the weather. On top of that, the basement houses a metro station as well as the Helsinki central bus station for easier travel. The Tennispalatsi Leisure centre is right next to the mall as well, allowing visitors to enjoy the arts at the Finnkino cinema and the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM).
Address: Urho Kekkosen katu 1, 000100 Helsinki Finland
A Shopaholic’s Guide To VAT Taxes And Refund Rates Around Europe: Find out more on Kamppi Shopping Centre
Image credits: Visit Copenhagen
Located in northern Europe, Denmark is a haven for architecture and design buffs. With the country charging the usual VAT rate of 25%, Denmark offers surprisingly good savings of up to 14.65%. From boutiques to Danish stores to big designer labels, you will find everything in the capital Copenhagen.
Running from the heart of the city to City Hall Square, Strøget is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets which houses young and budding fashion labels. For exclusive designer brands, head towards the Kongens Nytorv and if you walk even further, you will find Torvehallerne, a new indoor market segment.
Address: Strøget, København, Denmark
A Shopaholic’s Guide To VAT Taxes And Refund Rates Around Europe: Find out more on Strøget
7. Republic of Ireland
Image credits: Hammerson
It won’t be a trip to Europe without visiting Ireland, especially Dublin! With a relatively low VAT rate of 23%, the country offers tourists savings of up to 14.22% on luxury purchases. Excellent news for those who can’t seem to stop splashing cash in the Irish capital.
A story-filled city, Dublin is decorated with famous pubs and hosts a trend-setting restaurant scene. The best shopping in the city doubles up as a sightseeing adventure through the neighbourhoods, all saturated with indie boutiques and high-end brands.
Dundrum Town Centre is a dream shopping spot as people travel from all around the country for the best prices and bargains in one of the most affluent suburbs. Known as a mall with everything, Dundrum houses many elegant small boutiques, trendy large chains, a cinema, as well as indoor and outdoor restaurants. It also holds many retail brands such as Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, H&M, and Massimo Dutti. So don’t miss out on the goods!
Address: Sandyford Rd, Dundrum, Dublin 16, Ireland
A Shopaholic’s Guide To VAT Taxes And Refund Rates Around Europe: Find out more on Dundrum Town Centre
Image credits: In Your Pocket
Last but not least, we have Poland — a flourishing and high-powered country situated in central Europe between Germany and the former Russian states of Belarus and Ukraine. Similar to the Republic of Ireland, Poland offers a tax rate of 23% and refunds of up to 14.05%.
And of course, no trip to Poland is complete without visiting Annopol Factory in Warsaw. An industrial area that has been renovated into a business area with retail parks, Annopol is a modern outlet centre favourable for bargain hunters. Featuring all kinds of products from fashion to home appliances, you can always find a good discount of up to 70% on some of Poland’s famous products!
Address: Annopol Factory Warsaw, Annopol 2
A Shopaholic’s Guide To VAT Taxes And Refund Rates Around Europe: Find out more on Annopol Factory
Save More On Your Shopping Sprees In Europe!
And there you have it! With eight new spots in Europe to splurge your little heart out, you’re ready to save and make the most of those VAT taxes and refund rates! And in the event that you finally bite the bullet and book that trip out, don’t forget to use your YouTrip Card to lock in our ever-reliable wholesale exchange rates on your pre-trip purchases!
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