Istanbul: Home to One of the World’s Best Shopping Festivals
Are you ready to shop till you drop in a fabulous location? From June 9 to 29, 2012 there’ll be no better place to be than Turkey, home to the Istanbul Shopping Fest. Start planning your trip now to avoid disappointment. Rumour has it, as the usual sun and culture-seeking crowd is joined by avid shoppers, hotels and flights fill up fast.
The goal of the festival is to combine the best of shopping and entertainment, giving locals and visitors the chance to enjoy promotions and other advantageous shopping opportunities during the non-sale season. Visitors flock to the city for the event, greatly benefiting the local tourism industry.
Istanbul Shopping Fest takes over not only shopping malls, but also the city’s streets with hubs of excitement based along Abdi Ipecki, Istiklal and Bagdat Streets.
If travelling with a non-shopper, they’ll be happy to hear it’s not all about indulgent consumerism. The festival also celebrates local culture with street festivals, shows, concerts and parties taking place over the course of the 40 days. Fashion shows will be hosted too, as well as a variety of competitions and games for kids.
Some shops plan to extend their opening hours until 2 am, while shopping centres have advertised 24 hour opening times in the past. Try not to pop in on your way back to your hotel after partying as you risk ending up with a few too many impulse buys… Though the good thing is foreign shoppers can enjoy tax-free shopping of up to 30 per cent of the price.
Don’t just stick to the Western-style shopping malls. Discover more of the wonderful city by exploring its traditional markets. Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market will both host a range of events. Even on “quiet” days, they’re well worth visiting to stock up on flavoursome local ingredients and souvenirs that are hard to come by elsewhere. Beware, haggling is the norm here, and you may be offered camels in return for your partner, friend or daughter! These are local customs that visitors should appreciate, not be afraid of.
Sights to See
While in Istanbul, there are some sights no visitor to the city should miss. Go on a cruise along the Bosphorus to take in the amazing views that span across the two continents Istanbul is built on.
Pay a visit to some of the city’s spectacular religious buildings like the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Topkapi Palace is the ancient home and harem of sultans, and is known as one of the most popular attractions in Turkey.
To escape from the blaring sun, go on an eerie tour to explore the Basilica Cistern, a marbled underground space designed to hold up to 80,000 cubic feet of water if the city were ever to suffer a drought or siege.
Istanbul is a large and international city used to hosting many travellers a year. Hotels are aplenty, but a few factors to look out for when making your decision are air conditioning and soundproofed windows that will shelter you from the echoing sounds of late night calls to prayer that take place at mosques throughout the city. A luxury hotel Istanbul is the Conrad with great amenities and views across the Bosphorus.