Shopping in Turkey is great, with open-air markets, covered Turkish bazaars and chic boutiques everywhere. Turkish carpets and ceramics are world famous but the list doesn’t by no means stops there!
The only drawback to wandering in a bazaar is the çığırtkanlar, the touts who shout at you as you approach or pass their shops, restaurants or other places of business. The first one is a curiosity, the second one local color, the third one annoying, and the 15th one insanity. They can be unsetting, not letting you even think as you walk along a street.
I never go into a shop from which someone has shouted at me.
Here’s how and where to shop in Turkey for:
Books & Maps
Evil Eye Beads
Maps & Books
If you do shop in Turkey, watch out for this VAT tax refund scam.
Want an adventure on your own? Follow my Istanbul Bazaars Walking Tour.
The color, grain and light passing through this pretty stone is why you like it. More…
Turkey produces a lot of wool and cotton, and manufactures a lot of clothing from it. Quality varies from poor to excellent. You’ll see many knock-offs (fake goods) bearing famous brands, names and logos. Should you buy them?
They’re attractive, decorative, useful and relatively inexpensive, but don’t use copper items for cooking or serving unless the surfaces that contact food are completely covered in bright, silver-colored tin. More…
Carpets and kilims were part of Turkish nomadic households a thousand years before the Turks settled in Anatolia and lived in houses instead of tents and yurts. Carpet shops are everywhere in Turkey, but their carpets may not have been made in Turkey (did someone say China?). More…
Turkey has been famous for excellent faience (colored tilework) since the 16th century, when the kilns of İznik turned out some of the most beautiful work ever made. The classic İznik pieces are now classified as antiquities and may not be exported, but the master potters of Kütahya are still making excellent plates, bowls, cups, tiles and other items in the traditional way. Turkish ceramics are sold all over Turkey for prices from a few US dollars to several hundred, depending on the item and its quality.
Turkish evil eye beads are a delightful handcrafted item with a tradition stretching back at least 5000 years. Wear them for good luck, and decorate your house and car to keep away the “bad spirits!” More…
Turkey is a good place to look for big, bold, old necklaces, brooches, clasps, belts and other items, as well as finer, more delicate modern work. Istanbul‘s Grand Bazaar is good, as is the Egyptian (Spice) Market, but shops and bazaars in other towns will have interesting selections as well. When buying silver or gold, be sure to look for the maker’s hallmark stamped into an inconspicuous part of the piece, certifying that it is genuine. Pewter and nickel-silver are sometimes passed off as sterling silver, though not by reputable dealers.
|Nargiles (water pipes) & cezves (Turkish coffee pots) in a shop window.|
A kilim is a woven mat. Unlike a carpet, it has no nap. The bold designs and earthy colors so valued in kilims are a Turkish hallmark. A few decades ago kilims were seen as inferior to carpets, and were much cheaper, but today the bold, forthright kilim designs and colors are valued, and priced appropriately. Shop around for what you like, and compare prices. More…
Turkey is the world’s foremost source of this soft white stone that’s carved into cool-smoking pipes and cigarette holders, and also used to make necklaces, earrings and brooches. More…
Bursa has been the center of Turkey’s silk trade for centuries. Silkworms are raised on mulberry leaves in nearby districts and brought to Bursa’s Koza Han (Silk Cocoon Caravanserai) each May to be auctioned. The fine silk thread is unwound and woven into scarves, shawls, blouses and other items which are sold in Bursa’s Covered Market and other shops and markets throughout Turkey.
Harbiye (Daphne), near Antakya at the far eastern end of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, is also a traditional silk-weaving center because of its position on the historic Silk Road, and the mulberry trees growing at the Roman resort of Daphne. More…
Items such as boxes, chess and backgammon boards, etc. make attractive and relatively inexpensive souvenirs. Look carefull to make sure you’re really buying inlaid wood. Surprisingly accurate decals are sometimes used to give the look of inlay without all that work of cutting and fitting.
—by Tom Brosnahan