In Tunisia, pecial purchases include copper and brassware (engraved trays, ashtrays and other utensils), articles sculpted in olive wood, leather goods (wallets, purses, handbags), clothing (kaftans, jelabas), perfume oils, vibrantly painted pottery and ceramics, silver and enamelled jewellery and sheeshas (water pipes). Rugs and carpets are a good buy. The two major types are woven (non-pile) and knotted (pile). Look out for traditional Berber pieces, called alloucha. The quality of all carpets is strictly controlled by the National Handicrafts Office, and a label attached to the carpet shows its quality seal and grading.
The medinas of Tunisia’s larger towns, such as Tunis, Sousse and Sfax, are great places to buy Tunisian crafts, with an amazing range, but you will have to haggle. If you prefer not to enter the fray, there are Société de Commercialization des Produits de l’Artisinat workshops and stores throughout the country where visitors can buy items at fixed prices.
Shopping hours are generally Monday to Friday 7:30 am-1 pm and 5 pm-8 pm, Saturday 8 am-12 noon (summer); Monday to Friday 9 am-12:30 pm and 2:30 pm-6 pm, Saturday 8 am-12 noon (winter).
Tunis is the place to look for local arts and crafts, fresh traditional Tunisian food and countless other novelties. Because the majority of shopping in Tunis is done in outdoor markets and shops, the vendors are all locals, selling their own crafts, art and food. As is common for most vendors, prices are usually nearly double their worth and every price is negotiable.
Just outside the city is a collection of artisan shops known simply as souks. Among these shops and carts, you can find absolutely everything such as local art, hand-woven carpets, woodwork, woven goods, pottery and ceramics, leather work, brass, copper and tin creations, kitchen articles, jewellery and so on. Open seven days a week, you can find the best of Mediterranean gifts for you and your family at this diverse outdoor market.
Established in the 19th century, the Central Market, on Rue Charles de Gaulle, is the place locals go to buy tasty cheeses, fresh bread, local olives and pickles, fruits and vegetables as well as handmade baskets which are great as gifts.
The Tunis City Mall is the largest shopping mall in Tunis. Opened in 2005, Tunis City is located on the outskirts of Tunis, just after the Ennahli National Park. Housing over 80 brand-name outlets, eight fast-food locations with a food court, and two restaurants, Tunis City is the place to go for a typical shopping trip.