Shoppers love Izmir as it has so many places to explore from traditional bazaars selling antiques and crafts, huge well-stocked shopping malls and streets with designer outlets as one of the country’s top exports is fashion clothing. If you are looking for fun gifts for family and friends there are numerous traders who walk the streets with all types of souvenirs on sale.
The most popular shopping street is Karsiyaka Carsi and the two largest malls are Forum Bornova and Park Bornova and apart from numerous shops they also have restaurants and family entertainment. The key to successful shopping in the markets and bazaars is to bargain boldly – and stallholders expect you to!
1. Admire all the leather and suede
Turkey is well known for its soft leather goods and there is a complete spectrum available in Izmir. In the markets, you will find numerous stalls selling purses, wallets, belts, and bags. There are many places to buy a colorful pair of soft comfortable sandals which is a great idea if you are sightseeing! You will also come across a number of specialist shops in the city where you can order a jacket, trousers or other items of clothing that will be perfectly made-to-measure for you in just a few days.
2. Get with the latest fashions
If you enjoy seeing all the latest fashions in the season’s new colors then head for the area known as Alsancak. It has been likened to Beverley Hills because it is a big bustling street full of designer outlets with all the top brand names – at a fraction of the price! If you find an item you really like, try it on as it is probably a ‘second’ so the size may not be accurate and check it thoroughly for badly stitched seams, crooked seams and fabric flaws – to avoid disappointment when you get home.
3. Choose a beautiful kilim
The locally made kilims are beautiful in deep colors with intricate designs, but you do have to buy from a reputable source as unfortunately many Chinese imports are now sold in Izmir and they are just not such a good investment. There are a number of well-known traders in Kizlaragas Han, which is the covered craft market. Kilims come in a variety of sizes and whilst you may be able to squeeze a small one in your suitcase, anything larger will have to be shipped to your home address.
4. Pamper yourself with a new towel or bathrobe
Turkey is well known for its beautifully soft towels and although there are stalls in several of the markets selling colorful towels of all sizes, for really top quality, the place to go is one of the hammams and there you will also be able to buy gorgeous towels, dressing gowns, and slippers.
5. Pick some wonderful spices
There are a number of specialist spice stalls in the various markets and it is great fun to choose a selection to take home. The spices have beautiful colors and are very fresh, they are sold by weight so they are nice and easy to pop in your suitcase. The most popular ones include pil biber (flaked red pepper), kekik (oregano), Zahter which is the local wild oregano which has a stronger taste, nane (dried mint), kimyon (cumin) and sumac the sweet and sour tasting berries that are great in salads and tomato dishes. Some stalls sell gift boxes containing a variety of different spices.
6. Buy some packets of hazelnuts
Turkey is the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts so not surprisingly, they are available everywhere in Izmir and taste really great! They are a fun and reasonably priced present to take home for work colleagues! Other ideas include dried figs, apricots, and dates which are all exported worldwide and taste really delicious.
7. And some boxes of delicious Lokum
There are several places in the city producing Lokum – Turkish Delight – and there is a tremendous variety of flavors to choose including the traditional rose flavor. Because Turkey produces so many excellent nuts, there are varieties with almonds and walnuts and a really tasty one containing mixed dried fruit.
8. Try some of the local cheese
Beyaz Peynir is the best known and most popular local cheese that is white in color and a little like Feta. This cheese can be made with cow’s, sheep or goat’s milk and is traditionally enjoyed at breakfast. If you find one of the specialty cheese stalls in the market, sample some of the other cheeses too, including Kasar Peyniri which is a tasty yellow cow milk cheese which can be sliced, grated and melted, whilst crumbly Tulum is made from goats milk and tastes good in salads. Dil Peyniri is a very distinctive cheese as it is stringy in texture. It is sold in small ‘bricks’ and is shredded with the fingers and best eaten on the same day of the purchase – it tastes quite like mozzarella.
9. Buy some Turkish coffee
If you have been enjoying cups of Turkish coffee whilst you have been in Izmir, it is a fun idea to buy a couple of packets of coffee to take home. The top brand is Mehmet Efendi but there are a number of small producers in the city who would like you to taste a cup of their coffee too! Many also sell sets of small Turkish coffee cups.
10. Invest in a piece of gold jewelry
There are some really attractive jewelry shops in the city run by craftsmen specializing in creating both traditional and modern pieces of gold and silver jewelry. The prices are certainly very good but it is well worth checking whether your chosen ring, bracelet or necklace is properly hallmarked. A couple of the craftsmen can take your own design and create a unique piece of jewelry for you.