In Turkey, shopping is an exciting experience. Since the days of the Silk Road, merchants have flocked to Turkey to take advantage of its unique position where east meets west. You can treat yourself to designer shopping in elegant malls, uncover intricately made crafts, and take home souvenirs to remember your Turkish holiday. Read on to find out more about the thrill of retail therapy, Turkish style.
Where can I shop?
With markets in every town and stalls at every roadside, a little research will go a long way to making sure you find your shopper’s paradise. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the logical starting point, with everything from jewellery to exquisite leather goods and beautifully woven Kilims. Foodies will love the Spice Bazaar, with its dried fruit, tea, coffee, spices, and the best Turkish Delight you’ll ever taste.
Shopping in Turkey is great outside of Istanbul, too. Kermeralti near Izmir is one of the country’s oldest bazaars, dotted with artefacts and fountains, so you can get your history fix alongside your shopping spree. Kermeralti is famous for jewellery, and if you stop for a bite to eat in an ancient inn you can chat to the jewellery-makers over a cup of Turkish coffee. Spices and dried fruits are also popular purchases, as well as shoes, handmade glass amulets, and Izmir’s famous cinnamon hard candy.
If you’re staying near Antalya, a visit to Kaleiçi in the old town is a must for any shopper. Entering through Hadrian’s gate, the maze of streets offer such delights as handcrafted boxes, candlesticks and rugs. More familiar souvenirs are here too, so you’ll be able to get something to suit everybody.
What to buy
Try to support local craftspeople where you can. You may pay a little more than you do for a mass-produced product, but knowing you’re putting money directly into the local economy makes your souvenir all the more special. Items vary from region to region, but look out for lace, ebru marbling, copper, calligraphy, and embroidery, as well as leather goods, spices, and delicious sweets.
How to haggle
Haggling is part of the joy of shopping in Turkey so here are our top tips:
- Be sure of what your expect to pay
- Practise your poker face
- Ask the price, and wait for the answer. This will be higher than the shopkeeper actually expects.
- Make your offer: this should be about half of what you actually want to pay
- Don’t be afraid to walk away. The shopkeeper may follow, or if your offer was too low, he’ll let you go.
- Remember you’re not obliged until you’ve agreed your price, but only agree if you’re going to buy.
Finally, enjoy the experience; shopping is a pastime in Turkey, and haggling is all part of the fun.
Shopping in Turkey really does have something for everyone, so dive in and have fun in the most exciting bazaars, malls and markets in the world.