Shops and Bazaars

Shopping is another pleasure of any vacation or even business trip. In Turkey you are able to buy special handicrafts which vary from one region to another. Authentic bazaars, rug(carpet) and kilim workshops besides other traditional handicraft centers are offering pleasant shopping. The most well-known shopping center is Kapalicarsi, The Grand Covered Bazaar of Istanbul. The Spice Bazaar is also in the neighborhood.

World famous Turkish rugs and kilims are uncomparable in respect of quality and beauty. You will certainly have a great pleasure in selecting and buying different rugs woven with various styles in different parts of Turkey. Turkish leather and textile products reflecting the latest fashion are attracting the visitors of malls with reasonable prices. The origins of jewellery go back to the neolithic age in Anatolia. Several designs have been created combining the ancient styles with those of the future. Silver and gold jewellery with precious stones are most popular items of shopping in Turkey.

A number of art and antique galeries in the neighborhood of the Grand Bazaar. They sell rare pieces of Ottoman engravings, silverware, needlework, illuminations, ceramics & tiles, paintings and contemporary art. Visiting these kind of merchants is highly recommended.

Another valuable item for shopping is hand-painted ceramics and porcelain, which is originating from Iznik, Istanbul & Kutahya.

This traditional art presents many samples over hundreds of years to international collections. A number of souvenir shops offer a wide range of popular gift items at attractive rates, such as laces, kanavice (canvas embroidery) yemeni (colour print cotton scarves), copperware and gifts made of brass and marble.

There are several shops and fashion boutiques at different malls in several cities. Galleria Atakoy, Akmerkez, Capitol in Istanbul, Karum and Atakule in Ankara, Oasis in Bodrum are some of these shopping malls. In these malls you can easily find modern shopping items at very attractive rates besides well-known brands from fashion centers of the world.

Shopping is very easy since you can use all major credit cards, if you do not wish to pay cash. Many shopkeepers and other staff in retail shops speak English and they are attentive and willing to show and introduce their goods. Shopping in Turkey is a part of a great vacation.

Turkey is one of the world’s great shopping destinations. Located at a historic trade crossroads linking to the Silk Road, the country has been a shopper’s paradise for centuries, offering everything from hand-woven Turkish carpets and kilims to jewellery, antiques and Iznik ceramics, carved meerschaum and a growing number of designer brands including Mavi Jeans, Vakko and Beymen. You will also delight at the diversity of culinary shopping, including fresh fruit and vegetable markets in every city, sweet treats, nuts and spices, Turkish tea, coffee and alcoholic tipple.


Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and the country’s cultural and business capital, offers the greatest variety; from its atmospheric bazaars to more than 135 modern shopping malls dotted around the country. The legendary Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi), near the historic centre of Sultanhamet, which first opened its doors to traders in 1461, is a vast labyrinth of 61 covered streets encompassing 4,400 shops selling everything from jewellery and carpets to leather and antiques – intermingled with cafes, restaurants and beautiful ancient architecture. Although bargaining is still the norm, the Grand Bazaar today is a much calmer, less-crowded environment than yesteryear as many shoppers have migrated to the modern malls and high streets around Istanbul. On Wednesdays, you may like to visit the kilim auction at the Sandal Bedestan. The nearby Egyptian Spice Bazaar (Misir Çarsisi; closed Sunday) is another favourite with shoppers for its enticing array of exotic spices, jams, dried fruits, nuts, tea, coffee and of course, lokum, or Turkish Delight, in its multitude of flavours. For handicrafts, ceramics, calligraphy and miniatures, head to the nearby Istanbul Handicrafts Center, Istanbul el Sanatlari Çarsisi – or the book bazaar for rare and interesting finds.

Istanbul also has many vibrant outdoor markets, selling an assortment of fresh food and produce, clothes and antiques. There is a flea market every Sunday in Istanbul near the Grand Bazaar, as well as the Horhor Market in Aksaray on weekends, and daily in Cihangir. There is an art, crafts and jewellery fair in Ortakoy, by the water’s-edge on Sundays – and the city’s fresh food markets are also renowned, including its fish markets and colourful fruit and vegetable stalls.

For a more modern shopping experience, Istanbul doesn’t disappoint, with designer brands, edgy boutiques and upmarket malls moving in at a remarkable pace. New developments include the ultra-sleek Istinye Park, City’s Mall in Nisantasi, the futuristic Kanyon (shaped like a canyon) in the upmarket Levent district which houses Turkey’s first Harvey Nichols. Istanbul is also host to Europe’s second biggest mall, the Cevahir after London’s Westfield. Thanks to Turkey’s strong textile sector, when it comes to clothing there is something for every budget, style and taste. Those looking for world-wide brands and fashion labels will find them in Istanbul’s upmarket malls, while also discovering some of Turkey’s home-grown talent at Turkish designer stores and boutiques.

Istanbul is also packed with interesting quarters that are great for everything from designer labels to unusual, quirky pieces. Visit Istiklal Caddesi and Galata near Taksim, a bustling promenade of boutiques, clothes, record and book shops, as well as fantastic cafes and restaurants – and hidden gems in the many passage ways that lead off the main street. Northeast of Taksim is the trendy neighbourhood of Nisantasi, where you’ll find an array of elegant boutiques and upmarket cafes.

Other Cities

Outside of Istanbul, other cities with historic bazaar areas include Izmir, known for its leather garments; Bursa, whose silk textiles are famous; and Kayseri, traditionally known for its carpets. In addition, every major city in Turkey will usually have a modern shopping mall, offering a mix of global brands and domestic labels. In smaller towns, open-air street markets are common; these popular markets are filled with vendors selling fresh produce, household goods, and, in tourist areas, craft or souvenir items.

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops, and attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewellery and the like. The bazaar has been an important trading centre since 1461 and its labyrinthine vaults feature two bedestens (domed buildings), the first of which was constructed between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The bazaar was vastly enlarged in the 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and in 1894 underwent a major restoration following an earthquake.

 The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafés and restaurants. In the centre is the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, where the most valuable items and antiques were to be found in the past, and still are today, including furniture, copperware, amber prayer beads, inlaid weapons, icons, mother-of-pearl mirrors, water pipes, watches and clocks, candlesticks, old coins, and silver and gold jewellery set with coral and turquoise. A leisurely afternoon spent exploring the bazaar, sitting in one of the cafés and watching the crowds pass by, and bargaining for purchases is one of the best ways to recapture the romantic atmosphere of old Istanbul.


The Grand Bazaar has four main gates situated at the ends of its two major streets which intersect near the southwestern corner of the bazaar.

Opening Times:

Monday to Saturday  9:00 – 19:00. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.

Getting there:

Take a tram to Beyazit, Üniversite or Sirkeci.

The Grand Bazaar is around 15 minutes walk from the Aya Sofya/Blue Mosque area

Istanbul Shopping Festival

İstanbul Shopping Fest (İSF) is an annual festival that will enable İstanbul to become the shopping, culture and entertainment center of the world, realized under the auspices of Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Governorship of İstanbul, with the support of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM); and coordinated by Council of Shopping Centers (AYD), Trade Council of Shopping Centers & Retailers (AMPD) and United Brands Association (BMD).

İstanbul Shopping Fest will be hosting thousands of visitors from all around the world. Aside from the opening and closing events, there are many activities planned at shopping malls and stores, which will stay open till late hours. The festival’s glamorous spirit will take over shopping malls as well as the high streets of İstanbul; Abdi İpekçi, İstiklal and Bağdat Streets. The entertainment will continue for 40 days with street festivals, concerts, shows, games for kids, parties, contests and fashion shows. The opportunities are not limited to these as those in İstanbul during the festival have the chance to shop from the newest collections at discounted prices. On top of that, during long shopping nights, it will be possible to shop till 02.00am and enjoy İstanbul at its most fabulous self.

With surprise sweepstakes and contents via text messages to win gifts, the organization will make shopping more exciting than ever for both local and foreign shoppers. For tourists the excitement is doubled as they will have the privilege of tax-free shopping up to 30%, hence making İstanbul more and more appealing.

The aim is to attract 1,5 million tourists to İstanbul by the İstanbul Shopping Fest 2015 while contributing to the İstanbul’s 10-million- tourist-goal in 2015.

Don’t forget to follow the event schedule for special opportunities and entertaining activities.

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