The best places to go shopping in Istanbul are well-varied and spread evenly throughout the city. It has more than a hundred malls and a plethora of boutiques tucked away down side streets and alleyways. Even so, it’s the history and ambience of its famous markets which makes the place so special.

    Haggle over carpets and kilims or breathe in the scent of loose teas, spices, and Turkish delight in the great bazaars. You can also negotiate the price of the fruit piled high in its vibrant street markets. Read on to learn more about these and other top shopping spots in Istanbul.


    Grand Bazaar

    Istanbul’s atmospheric market

    The Grand Bazaar is an indoor market in which over 3,000 stalls and shops line around 60 streets. It dates from the mid-15th century and still contains several ancient hans or photogenic courtyards which once functioned as inns.

    As one of Istanbul’s most famous attractions, the Grand Bazaar receives around a quarter of a million shoppers every day. The range of items on sale is equally impressive. Among the goods found here are jewellery, carpets, kilims, lanterns, textiles and other homewares. Half the fun is getting lost in its labyrinthine streets, though there are plenty of local guides who will lead you around if you’d rather not worry about how to find your way out.

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    Location: Beyazıt, Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/Istanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)212 519 12 48


    The Egyptian Bazaar

    A colourful 17th-century covered market

    The Egyptian Bazaar, also known as the Spice Bazaar, is a great place to go for a sensory tour of sights and smells. Stroll through its doors and the pungent aromas of cinnamon, cumin, sumac, and chilli launch an assault on your nostrils, leaving you in no doubt where you are.

    The market sells more than just spice, however. Heaps of pistachio nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, figs, and dried apricots sit alongside piles of hibiscus, pomegranate and orange tea. You’ll also find sweets such as Turkish delight, and jars of jam and honey. Its 85 traders are happy for you to try before you buy.

    Location: Rüstem Paşa, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/Istanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 7.30 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)212 442 78 67


    Bağdat Caddesi

    Istanbul’s major shopping street that attracts well-known brands

    Bağdat Caddesi is sometimes simply referred to as The Avenue and is one of the most important thoroughfares in Istanbul. Many big-name retailers are keen to capitalise on the prestige associated with this address.

    As a result, along this tree-lined boulevard, you’ll spot international brands such as Zara, Marks & Spencer, H&M and recent arrival Apple. Alongside are some of the biggest names in Turkish retail. Check out Vakko, a fashion house occupying a historic mansion, and Mabel Çikolata, a renowned chocolatier.

    Location: Istanbul, Türkiye


    Kadıköy Produce Market

    A busy market in a lively neighbourhood

    Kadıköy’s Produce Market is a daily street market that’s also a riot of colour. Located in the Asian part of the city, this waterfront neighbourhood makes the most of its position on the Sea of Marmara with a chaotic fish market. The area is well known for its fresh produce. You can stroll aimlessly or book a culinary walking tour.

    Stallholders line the streets selling nuts, olives, fresh and dried fruit, herbs and vegetables. It’s also a good place to pick up soaps and sponges. Close by, on Tellalzade Street, you’ll find a cluster of dealers hoping to offload mismatched crockery, vintage radios and record players, telescopes and antique furniture.

    Location: Caferağa, Muvakkıthane Cd. No:18, 34710 Kadıköy/Istanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 8.30 am to 5 pm


    Istinye Park

    A high-end mall in the Istinye neighbourhood

    Istinye Park is one of over a hundred shopping malls in Istanbul where you’ll find 290 stores and 85,250 square metres of retail space. This size makes it one of the largest in the city. Cartier, Gucci, Fendi, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Chanel are represented, as well as a host of other top international brands.

    The mall’s centrepiece is the Grand Rotunda. Light and spacious, it sprawls over 4 levels. In contrast, the Bazaar has been styled to reflect traditional Turkish architecture. There’s an IMAX cinema and numerous family-friendly restaurants. Animated water fountains use light and music to create a talking point.

    Location: Pınar, Katar Cd No:73, 34460 Sarıyer/Istanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily 10 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)212 345 55 55


    photo by BSRF (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Çukurcuma Antiques District

    Shop for vintage gems in this hub for antiques

    Çukurcuma Antiques District attracts Istanbul’s serious shoppers searching for antiques. This is a treasure trove of all things old: intricately carved pieces of furniture, dusty books, vintage clothing, tapestries and paintings, retro homewares and wooden birdcages.

    Most visitors come with an open mind as the joy of antiques-hunting is to stumble upon something you didn’t know you were looking for. The jumble of stuff in the area’s sprawling flea market and its musty stores makes this the ideal location to do just that.

    Location: Çukurcuma, Firuzağa, 34425 Beyoğlu/Istanbul, Türkiye


    Sahaflar Carsisi Old Book Bazaar

    Leaf through new and second-hand books

    Sahaflar Carsisi is Istanbul’s second-hand book market. Step through a stone archway and you’ll find a cluster of bookstores around a courtyard. Though now housed in a modern structure, the function of this part of the city as a literary hub can be traced back to Byzantine times.

    When Türkiye was under Ottoman rule, this was where books, manuscripts and papers would have been published. Today, it’s a fascinating place to browse. Check out the bust of Ibrahim Muteferrika, an 18th-century diplomat and publisher, which graces the centre of the courtyard. 

    Location: Beyazıt, Sahaflar Bedesteni Sk. No:4, 34126 Fatih/Istanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily 9 am to 7.30 pm



    Specialist carpet sellers with a great deal of experience

    Punto is a carpet shop that has been owned and managed by the same family in Istanbul for 5 generations. It carries a wide selection of authentic carpets and rugs, both new and antique. These include pure silk Hereke rugs woven on looms at the prestigious Ozipek and Cinar workshops.

    Shoppers will enjoy some of that fabled Turkish hospitality as they learn about the history of carpet-making in the country. Staff members patiently demonstrate the techniques used in the manufacture of carpets and explain how to differentiate between carpets of differing quality.

    Location: Mollafenari, Gazi Sinan Paşa Sk. No:17, 34120 VezirHan/Fatih/Fatih/Istanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)212 511 08 53


    Istiklal Caddesi

    Busy Beyoğlu street with an eclectic mix of stores

    Istiklal Caddesi is a largely pedestrianised street in Istanbul, save for the vintage tram that rattles its way from Tünel Square uphill to Taksim Square. The street contains a mixture of global brands and independent boutiques, cementing its enduring popularity among visitors and locals.

    Keep an eye out for its arcades. Prettiest of all is Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Passage), once full of flower sellers but now packed with eateries. In fact, the many cafes in this part of the city will be a great welcome when you need to set down your bags for a breather.

    Location: Istanbul, Türkiye


    Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir

    Historic Istanbul confectionery and source of Turkish delight

    Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir is one of Istanbul’s oldest sweet shops, opened in 1777. Many sources claim this is where lokum, commonly known as Turkish delight, was invented. Although no hard and fast proof exists, it seems likely that the technique of blending starch and sugar was perfected here.

    Regardless, many different varieties of this popular confectionery are sold here, including rose, pistachio, hazelnut, mint and lemon. You’ll also find halva (a sweet made from tahini and sugar), sugared almonds, hard candies and chocolates.    

    Location: Katip Mustafa Çelebi, İstiklal Cd. No:83, 34433 Beyoğlu/Istanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 8 am to 9 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)212 244 28 04


    photo by rg-fotos (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Julia Hammond | Contributing Writer

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