You will immediately find that shopping in Turkey is alluring for a wide range of very authentic, exclusive and beautiful things. Ever since the days of the ancient trade routes, Turkey has been a shopper’s paradise. Visitors are deeply impressed by many interesting items to buy ranging from carpets to paintings to clothes.
Most shopping is done at local “markets” which are simply grocery shops. These shops usually sell basic food as well as standard household cleaning materials, cigarettes, newspapers, phone cards, etc. However, prices are often higher than in the supermarkets, especially in touristic areas.
Supermarkets & Hypermarkets
The experience of shopping in a Turkish supermarket will be familiar, with prices clearly displayed on the shelves and machines to check the prices of any items that have been overlooked. At the checkout you will be presented with an itemized receipt and will be able to pay with cash, credit card or debit card. Increasingly, the supermarkets have large out-of-town and shopping-mall stores as well as smaller city-center branches.
Street (Bazzar) Markets
The best place to shop for fruit and vegetables remain the street markets which take place almost everywhere in Turkey on a weekly basis. As well as fruit and vegetables, most street markets sell a range of fresh cheeses, eggs, some meat, dry biscuits, cleaning materials, some clothes and some fabrics. Depending on where you are, you may also be able to buy local specialties at the market.
Istanbul has several excellent English-language bookshops as well as one or two selling books in French and German. Ankara and Izmir also have a handful of English language bookshops, as do most of the major coastal resorts. You can always order books over the internet. Deliveries are quite good to even rural Turkey. You may come together with friends to place an order and reduce postage costs.
Turkey has a growing number of town-centre and out-of-town shopping malls which resemble the giant malls to be found all over the Western world, including the same brand-name stores inside them and the vast car parks outside. These are great places to shop for clothes, furniture and household goods under one roof. Some also contain branches of the larger supermarkets. Most also have a bookshop with some foreign books as well as large food halls. Often, they even offer wireless internet services. Most have banks and cash machines as well as cinemas.
Clothing can cost depending on what you are up to. Elsewhere in Istanbul, you can find some fashionable clothing shops along Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu. If you want to shop for the upmarket brand names, you should head straight for Tesvikiye, Nisantasi or Bagdat Caddesi in Suadiye.
All over Turkey you will also be able to pick up cheap imitations of famous brand names; start looking in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
Turkey has an important home-grown textile industry. Much of what is made is exported. There are many stores selling excellent home-manufactured clothes. There are also foreign brand stores available across the country. Prices might be slightly higher.
Istanbul is a factory outlet heaven. You can find many of them by looking them up on the internet or by exploring the back streets of Merter, Istanbul. There are also an increasing number of outlet shops on the outskirts of the larger cities that sell big-name labels at discount prices.
Domestic and international students are offered discounts by public transportation, restaurants, cinemas, museums, bookstores, shops and many others. You should always check the availability and take the advantage of offers on travel, shopping, museums, restaurants and more.
If you are a student abroad, but can’t visit Turkey on a student visa, before coming to Turkey, you may apply for one of the International Student Cards that offer international student identification cards, youth ID cards, or faculty/teacher ID cards in order to benefit from student discounts in Turkey. To qualify for the international student card, you must be a student of at least 12 years of age. There is no upper age limit to qualify for the student card. Youth cardholders must be under the age of 26. International Student Cards are internationally recognized identification cards that will save you money on your travels abroad.