With a reputation for being one of the world's oldest and most noteworthy trading centres, it is hardly surprising that shopping flourishes in Damascus. Shopaholics visiting Damascus will be pleasantly surprised by the sheer abundance and variety of goods on sale. Since stores are not dependent on the patronage of foreign clientele, you'll find that you're allowed to browse and window shop in peace, till you're ready to take out your purse.
Damascus is one of the better shopping spots in the Middle East as prices are much lower than most other tourist spots.
Damascus offers some of the best shopping in the whole of the Middle East, and our Damascus Shopping Guide below gives you hints and tips on where to shop and what to buy. The bazaars (souks) and markets are an exciting and fantastic experience, but be prepared for crowds and hustle and bustle. However, you can find refuge and a place to relax and recharge in one of the traditional Damascus restaurants. See our Syria Shopping Guide for general information on what to buy on your Syria holiday.
Damascus is famed for its bazaars, which are basically long alleys lined with small stalls, stores and cafés. The longest covered market in the world, the Grand Bazaar, is found here. Around the souks are numerous khans, business hubs where the traders are found.
The older parts of the city abound with souks and several religious and racial enclaves like the Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Jewish Quarter and the famous Umayyad Mosque.
The Souk Al-Hamadiye, reputedly one of the biggest and most colourful souks of the Arab world, is a visual and sensual treat. Located to the south of the citadel in the Muslim quarter, it is a great place to begin your shopping spree in Damascus. It stretches for nearly 500 metres from the east to the west, ending at a stone arch before the Umayyad Mosque.
Considered as much a cultural phenomenon as a shopping area, the sheer size and choices confronting you in this souk could prove to be an overwhelming experience. Apart from the usual souvenirs and curios that tourists generally pick up, this souk is renowned for its handicraft items and general household goods. Even if you do not find the time to visit other souks, make sure that you visit the Souk Al-Hamadiye.
To the south and west of the Umayyad mosque, you're likely to find plenty of stores dealing with clothes, perfumes, jewellery, spices and even household items. The souks around this region specialise in specific goods like gold, spices, brocade, embroidery, glass and copper.
There are also other famous souks that are worth a visit. At the Tekkiye Suleymaniye complex opposite the Four Seasons hotel and just behind the National Museum, you'll find the handicraft souk. The Tailor's Souk or Souk Khayyatin, the Seed Bazaar or Souk al-Bzouriyya, the Spice and Coffee Souk or the Souk al-Attarine are other places to look out for in the Old City. Other famous souks here are the Souk al-Bzourieh, the Souk Madhat Pasha and the Souk al-Harir.
In the eastern part of the Old City, next to the Bab Touma and the Bab Sharqi, you can shop for some great handicrafts. You could even visit the workshops of the artisans.
The Jewish and Christian quarters in the old city specialise in shops selling jewellery, art, handicrafts and antiques.