Golden jewellery, leather clothes and blue beads to keep the evil spirits away at Kapali Çarşı; boxes of Turkish delight, tea and raisins from spice market Mısır Çarşısı: for many of the millions of tourists who visit Istanbul each year, shopping in the city means just the good old Ottoman markets. Who could blame them?
The city on the Bosporus used to be a capital of great empires for 16 centuries and now it is an inexhaustible source of delights. Even those who go there often, discover at a certain moment that with each visit they repeat the well-known and much loved pleasures of the the previous trips: walks along İstiklal Caddesi; a dinner at the top of The Galata Tower or at the flamboyantly busy Çiçek Pasajı. And suddenly the time comes to discover something new: to rummage in the little antiques shops in Beyoğlu; to see the Byzantine mosaics in the Kariye Museum; to go deep down in the underground crypts of The Basilica Cistern.
However, if you plan to go to Istanbul between 18 March and 26 April, shopping is a must on your What-to-do list. In the course of 40 days and 40 nights the city will live in the whirlwind of the Istanbul's Shopping Fest.
The festival itself gives you enough reasons to start for Istanbul.
More than 90 malls in Taksim, Nişantaşı, Şişli, Bakırköy, Fatih, Bahariye and Bağdat Avenue will present local and foreign trademarks. Foreigners will shop duty-free, the special discounts for new products will be 30%. Every purchase over a certain sum of money will give you a right to a gift and everyday there will be a raffle, the big prize of which is a car. The malls will be open till 11 p.m. and each Saturday two malls will welcome clients till 2 a.m. For customers who will go shopping after 10 p.m. there will extra advantages.
Do not worry that Istanbul's Shopping Fest will eat up your time and you will miss the chance to buy blue beads at Kapali Çarşı and Turkish delight at Mısır Çarşısı. Both markets will take part in the festival.
More on Istanbul's Shopping Fest at www.istanbulshoppingfest.org.