When you want some downtime on your Sydney escape, hit the shops. There are many fantastic places where you're sure to snatch up some great gifts for your friends and family back home as well as a few treats for yourself.

Queen Victoria Building

This Romanesque building is not only grand and beautiful, it is home to many wonderful shops. Known amongst the locals as QVB, it has an interesting history – it replaced the Sydney markets here in 1898 and was designed by George McRae. 

It was a testament to the monarch and was constructed while the city was in the middle of a recession. The project provided an outlet for craftsmen, stonemasons, plasterers and stained window artists who couldn't find work elsewhere.

In 1959 the building was going to be demolished but instead was restored. The arches, pillars, tiled floors and more were brought back to their former glory, so the buildings continues to be a stunning culmination of efforts of artists and tradesmen. 

Along with the number of retail shops there are cafes and bars, the Aboriginal Art Galleries, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Antique Print Room. Be sure to check out Haigh's Chocolates, The Latin Store and Eat Buddha Chinese Restaurant.

QVB is very easy to get to. If you're travelling with a hired car, parking is accessible from York Street – you'll get valet parking, a car wash and 'Park Assist'.

The Rocks Markets

This is the place to go for completely unique items that make for special gifts and can great touches to your outfit.

Many of the stalls are home to some fabulous finds. There are fashion items, accessories, items for your home and beauty products. You'll also find arts and crafts, jewellery and photography. Emerging designers have their talents on display, and you can often talk to the creator themselves at the stall.

Seek out 4 Leaf Clover to find a range of handcrafted, gorgeously chic and rustic homewares, all with a modern Australian aesthetic. Alex Stone Jewellery has been made my hand and designed by Alex Stone himself. His portfolio of sterling silver pieces is 500 strong and is now sold throughout the city and in London.

The market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-5pm, at Jack Mundey Place. There are many secure parking stations nearby, including Wilson Parking on Quay West, Clocktower and 155 George Street. Right next to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, this is a superb place to start an exploration of the city nearby.

The Star

Are you in love with luxurious brands? Head on over to The Star. This shopping centre is right near Darling Harbour on the Sydney Harbour foreshore. It's here you'll find a variety of luxury brands, such as Chanel, G-Star and Gucci.

After your day of shopping, be sure to enjoy the rest of this stunning complex. Known as Sydney's premier entertainment destination, there are award-winning restaurants, bars and cafes. Momofuku Seiobo is known around the globe for having innovative food and service – the tasting menu is a great way to try a range of their dishes, made with the finest Australian ingredients.

If you're looking for a place where you can feel refreshed and rejuvenated, why not check out the onsite spa? There are a range of treatments on offer here, with the best therapies from Asia and Europe.

You'll find The Star at 80 Pyrmont Street. The underground carpark will keep your vehicle safe for six hours. If you're arriving between 11am-5pm during the week, you'll pay $15, and $20 from Friday-Sunday or if you're visiting on a public holiday.