Istanbul is an extraordinary city, sprawling across two continents, with an incredibly rich history and culture. Istanbul offers unique and unforgettable shopping experiences such as the famous Grand Bazaar, The Egyptian Spice Market, and local farmers markets that sell beautiful vegetables, fruit, cheese, olives, meats, and fish that are unique to the Mediterranean.
A guided shopping tour is an excellent way to experience Istanbul, as well as to be able to acquire items such as a Turkish carpet, leather goods, handmade ceramics and silks and so much more. Our tour guides have personal relationships with the best, most trustworthy shop owners and will take you where you want to go, help you find what you are looking for, and make sure that you get the best deals and the highest quality items. This can be a half day, a full day, or just an hour- it’s up to you!
The following are some of the main places that your tour guide will take you, but it is ultimately up to where you want to go, as you get to customize your own shopping tour.
The Grand Bazaar
Constructed in 1455, this covered market has been the hub of trade for hundreds of years. Not only is it home to over 4000 shops, the architecture is breathtaking and well worth the visit. If you are looking for a unique and authentic piece of Turkish culture to take home with you, this is the place to go. Due to there being so many shops, it can be overwhelming, so it makes a huge difference to have a knowledgeable guide with you who will take you to the most trustworthy shop owners with the highest quality goods.
The following are some of the amazing items that can be found in the Grand Bazaar:
- Authentic, handmade Turkish carpets, pillow cases, and Turkish towels
- Local Turkish spices, delicious Turkish Delight, and dried fruits and nuts
- Organic soaps, oils, and teas, and Turkish coffee
- Beautiful handcrafted and hand painted ceramics, and traditional Turkish tea and coffee cups
- Leather goods such as purses, belts, shoes, and wallets
- Antiques, old books, maps, and prints
- Handwoven and dyed silk scarves, blouses, shawls and other items
- Jewelry and clothing
Local Farmers’ Markets (Pazar)
The pazar is where you will truly be able to get an authentic taste of Turkish culture. With the bustling stalls, the shouting sellers, and the vibrant colors of the fresh produce, the Pazar is a must for those wanting a true local experience, as well as some delicious food. You can walk through and sample different cheeses, olives, pickled vegetables, fruits, vegetables, cured meats and more. There are also many clothing stalls that sell knock-offs of just about every brand.
The Egyptian Spice Market (Mısır Çarşısı)
While the Grand Bazaar is home to many spice stalls, the Egyptian Spice Market is a large covered market that dates back to 1664 and is located at the southern end of the Galata Bridge. Inside you can find spices, dried fruits, cheeses, sausages, jams, nuts and seeds, lokum (Turkish Delight) and other edibles.
Turkish Carpet Shops
If you have never been to a Turkish carpet shop, it is a breathtaking and very true Turkish experience. You will get to sit and enjoy a hot cup of apple tea while the carpet sellers roll out a number of exquisite handmade carpets ranging from silk, to wool, to cotton, some even dating back hundreds of years. If you go alone, there may be a lot of pressure from the carpet sellers to buy one and it can feel a bit uncomfortable. The advantage of having a tour guide, is that they will take you to the shops where they know the owners and will make sure that there is no pressure to buy anything, but to simply enjoy the sights.
Antiques and Book Shops
Istanbul has a number of incredible antique shops that showcase furniture, copper and brass items, Turkish coffee cups, kilims, old maps, books, prints, and more. If you are looking for a very unique piece to display in your home, ask your tour guide to take you to one of their recommended antique shops.