Apart from the tourist attraction that this city is known for, the city of Istanbul absorbs a large number of tourists from different geographical regions, from Eastern Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and America’s continent in order to do shopping and roll around in its bazaars and markets. The importance of tourists who come for shopping in Istanbul is in the degree that thousands of tourist packages are established for just shopping in Istanbul.
Here in this article, I intend to introduce and briefly explain the shopping opportunities in Istanbul, its diversity, and the products, whether traditional or contemporary to you. I start with the different bazaars and malls and pave my way to the end. Please follow my writing to the end.
1. Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı): the History maze
The oldest market in Istanbul, built in 1460, and by the claim of many historians, even in the whole world, the Istanbul Grand Bazaar is knowns as a grand historical heritage in Istanbul and in a way, a place to travel in time, feel the tradition of trading in this ancient land and enjoy the variety of colors, scents, and languages here. This bazaar contains more than 3600 stores and 60 alleys, bringing the sense of being in a huge historical maze.
The grand bazaar hosts historical craftsmen, traders, and businesses been here for thousands of years and you may find a variety of goods, from hand-woven carpets, rugs, metallic handy crafts such as statuses, wine glasses, pots, dishes, and many more. You can explore the dried food, the handmade bags, the leather wears, leather shoes crafted as it has been centuries ago, textiles, jewelry, in gold and silver, and tiles.
This bazaar is way more than just a market, is the symbol of business in the region, it’s a museum of trades and art in its very meaning. Please consider bringing a fat wallet with you, because you want to spend lots of money here, as everything is staggeringly attractive for your eyes. The grand bazaar is open from 10 AM to 6 Pm, but special days such as victory day might affect the opening time.
Location: Beyazıt, Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul
2. Egyptian Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi): Egyptian merchant
Established in 1660, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar calls international tourists to explore a complex festival of tastes, scents, and colors. The bazaar is generally placed here for spice trading and herbs. Here can discover the tastes of the east to the west and find herbs that you haven’t seen in your entire life. The Egyptian Spice bazaar inherited its name due to the tax revenue received from Egypt.
The diversity of goods and spices here starts from Spices and chilies, dried vegetables and herbs, handy crafts, tiles, rugs or kilims, traditional Turkish and Egyptian sweets, jewelry, dried fruits, silver wares, textiles, and handbags all handy made, and souvenirs.
The bazaar is really nested to one another; however, you barely get lost same as being in the Grand Bazaar. The opening time is from 8 AM to 6 PM, but special days like the victory day might affect the timings.
Location: Rüstem Paşa, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul
3. Arasta Bazaar: enter with bargain
Located nearby to the Blue Mosque, there is an opened air traditional bazaar that attracts everyone seeking to haggle and bargain, to get a full experience of the techniques and somehow, be surprised with the discounts they can receive. The Arasta bazaar won this name because of being under the supervision of the blue mosque authority, and to be precise, the Arasta bazaar helps the maintenance of the blue mosque by the money gathered from the rent of the shops.
Here you can find plenty of different goods and crafts, from rugs to kilims, to handmade cups and pans, potteries, and Turkish own souvenirs. One of the specifications of this bazaar is the highest possibility of buying something cheaper than it’s labeled if you have the bargaining talent. The store’s owners know that and always give a price higher, but you can break it down by not being fine with the offered price. It sounds crazy, but this is like a fun game and in some way, a tradition here.
The Arasta bazaar’s opening time is from 9 AM to 7 Pm, but the specific days might affect the opening and closing times.
Location: Sultan Ahmet, Mimar Mehmet Ağa Cd. No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
4. Antique Books Market: literally literature
Nearby the Byanzit mosque, on the southeastern side of Istanbul university, the is a traditional bazaar with a big difference, and that difference is that this is a bazaar for the books and documents published from centuries ago to recent years. The Sahaflar ÇARŞISI Çınar Altı, or Antique Book market is a place for book lovers to explore the history of publication in a national heritage of Istanbul.
This place was majorly used for the supplying of requested books for the students who were studying in religious schools around there and for keeping important documents and artifacts such as miniature paintings, woven tabloids, and more. Currently, you can find novels, history books, statues, handmade frames, and other related artistic crafts here, at an expensive price.
Location: Beyazıt, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul
5. Kadıköy Market (Kadıköy Çarşısı): stew, pickle, Coffee
Located in the Anatolian side of Istanbul, accessible by the boat ferry to the Kadıköy harbor, there is a big food market where the taste of truly Turkish history is viable to everyone. From the dried sausages to the cheese hanging from the store’s roof, this place is the aroma from hundreds of years ago. The pickle jars, traditional Turkish cuisines served in a symbolic manner in the restaurants, the Turkish coffee beans, and fish just freshly harvested from the Marmara Sea.
The list goes on and on in this opened-air market, and it will never keep you away from being surprised. A sip of Turkish coffee, a bite from the Turkish baklava and sweets, and a small serving of sausage and cheese on a small plate is what can make your day. A history worth of hundred years since opening is waiting for you here. The opening time is from 9 AM to 8 PM, except for special days.
Location: Caferağa, Yasa Cd. No:46, 34714 Kadıköy/İstanbul
6. Woman Bazaar: ancient feminism
A small bazaar that was purposefully established in 1940 with the aim of providing a place for housewives in Istanbul to sell their home-made foods, crafts, and tools, which now is under the dominant control of men, is another historical location that is found in Fatih district, the old town of Istanbul.
Similar to other nations, Turkish women preserve their foods and fruits for the winter, making them dried and hung via a string passed through them. This is something you may find in different forms, from dried tomatoes to peach, cheeses, and sausages. However, the things to buy here are not limited to food, rather handmade textiles, handy craft tabloids, leather products, and many more goods are all available here. With less than a hundred stores, the woman’s bazaar is more like a big food market with plenty of restaurants and food stalls, as part of the Istanbul tradition, the food market.
Visiting this bazaar is highly suggested personally by me, especially in the afternoon when food is being served in a smooth breeze coming from the Marmara Sea. The opening time is from 9 AM to 8 PM but on special days, such as Christmas, it can extend to midnight also.
Location: Hobyar mah, Vakifhani sok, no 1, kat 2, kapi 10, 34112 Fatih
7. Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir: sweet flagship
Same as usual, all the historical markets, same as Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir sweet market in Fatih district. This is something to keep in mind when you are visiting Istanbul. This market, with a history back to 1770, is a hub for sweets and candy in this metropolitan, with the concentration of making cube-shaped Turkish sweets with a collection of different flavors from red roses, orchids, pomegranate, pistachio, and many more.
The Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir 1777 got approval from the Ottoman sultan as the official sweet maker for the sultan’s palace and was recognized with the sultan’s label. That is a high approval in the Ottoman empire, which proves that this confectionary knows what it was doing.
Location: Hamidiye Caddesi, Sirkeci/Fatih/Istanbul
8. Istiklal Street: shipping demonstration
The long street of Istiklal inherited the name after the declaration of independence of Turkey on October 29th, 1923. This street is the most important and popular one across Istanbul, or even the whole of Turkey because of the highest density of tourist attractions and gathering on all days of the year. The international and national Brands, the food stalls, the local and foreign restaurants, and Turkish sweets are just the peak of the iceberg of what you can find here.
Besides that, the music shops, the exchange markets, the liquor stores, and art galleries are found here for the tourists to have a good time exploring the beauty of shopping in any aspect. Surrounded by the historical buildings, architecture in Neo-Gothic, Renaissance Revival, and Neo-Classical styles gaze the view of every art admirer.
The street starts from Taksim square and ends at the Karabaş Mustafa Ağa Camii, a length of 1.4 kilometers. It covers all your needs, whether dancing, drinking, observation of the art or architecture, shopping for clothes and textiles or Turkish foods. This street will never let you down.
There is closing time here, 24/7 open for everyone to enjoy.
Location: Taksim square/Istiklal Cadessi/ Beyoglu
9. Shopping Malls in Istanbul: multi-purposeful day
Istanbul has owned more than 440 shopping malls, with different capacities and numbers of stores in them. Each one has its own particular amusements such as a chess room, children’s playground, and cinema salons. Here in this step, I am willing to introduce the most successful shopping malls that stands ahead of the others in term of volume, entertainment facilities, and other benefits for the shoppers and visitors.
Mall of Istanbul: for the People
As one of the biggest malls in Istanbul, the Mall of Istanbul stands in the Başakşehir neighborhood, in a most rapidly developing district, hosts a vast collection of luxury brands and designer shops, in a430 shopping stores. It also has offices for business and multi-purpose shops to rent. With owning the vastest indoor amusement park, the Mall of Istanbul serves more than just a shopping center.
There is a high pitch residency tower side by side of the mall, under the name of “Mall of Istanbul” with a great investment opportunity. It is accessible from the TEM highway and Metro from the Taksim. The opening time is from 10 AM to 10 PM.
Location: Süleyman Demirel Bulvarı Mahmutbey/Başakşehir-Istanbul
Cevahir: Turkish Big Ben
Located in Şişli, one of the modern districts in Istanbul, the Cevahir mall is a 6-story building owning 345 separate stores collecting international and Turkish brands in different goods, from clothes to home appliances and electronics. The shopping mall also gathered 12 cinema salons, 35 fast food centers, and a bowling court.
One of the staggering features of this mall is the clock installed on its top, which is known as the second biggest in the world.
Location: Büyükdere Cad. No: 22, 34400, Şişli
Forum Istanbul: Greekology
Known as the biggest shopping mall with an area covered of 495000 square meters, with 270 shopping stores, hundreds of different brands, entertainment centers such as Lego land and aquarium world, cinemas, and conference centers. This shopping mall probably is the is crowded mainly for the free concerts thrown for different occasions.
The design is inherited from the Greek architectural culture, with an artificial opened-air resemblance. Opening time is from 10 AM to 10 PM, and it’s accessible via public buses and Metro stations.
Location: Kocatepe Mahallesi, Paşa Caddesi, 34045, Bayrampaşa
Istinye Park: World brand center
As one of the most expensive shopping malls in Istanbul, Istinye Park is fantastic and the best choice for those who are strictly satisfied. The world-known brands such as Louis Vuitton in the clothes field, or Tiffany’s jewelry in ornaments crafts are found here. With 12 cinemas, an uncovered bazaar, an amusement park for kids in an area of more than 120000 square meters, and hosting the biggest 3D MAX movie hall in the Sarıyer district.
Location: İstinye Bayırı Cad. No: 73 Sarıyer-Istanbul
Zorlu Center: world of concerts
One of the most known shopping malls in Istanbul, with well-known brands selling their products here. This shopping mall, owning the residency, the hotel, and a post-modernism design, shines in Beşiktaş, a high-graded neighborhood in Istanbul. The Zorlu center has its own magazine, published monthly, and a huge concert salon with weekly events hosting international, American, or European singers and musicians.
The Zorlu center is accessible via public busses, and the Metro station. The entrance to the concert hall is from a tunnel leading from the Metro exit way.
Location: Levazım, Koru Sokağı No:2, 34340 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
Capitol: the mass of Asia
The best shopping mall on the Asian side of Istanbul, the Capitol located in the Uskudar grasps the concept of modernization to a different level. The area hosts mostly Turkish brands, fast food restaurants, the children’s kindergarten, cinema and theaters, and event centers.
It is open from 10 AM to 10 AM, available for everyone to have a new experience on the Anatolia side.
Location: Altunizade, Mahir İz Cd., 34662 Üsküdar/İstanbul
Emaar Square Mall: Arab Money
Another shopping mall in the heart of the Anatolian side of Istanbul, in the district of Uskudar, with a quality of interior design resembling the shopping malls in Dubai. The Emmar shopping mall, similar to others in Istanbul, gathered the most quality luxurious brands, the cinema and theaters, and children’s playgrounds all in a middle eastern environment. The easiest way to access the mall is from the Çamlıca Girişi highway, and highly suggest you take a taxi or come in your own car.
Location: Ünalan, Libadiye Cd. No:88, 34700 Üsküdar/İstanbul
The Final Words
All the shopping malls, bazaars, and markets explained and described in this article are just a small portion of the shipping potential in Istanbul. Here business and trade stand on due to the ancient tradition of the inhabitants and almost everywhere, you may find a shopping mall, a small or big bazaar, a street market, a village day market, or many other examples.
Perhaps, in order to get the most out of the Shopping experience in Istanbul, hiring a tour guide would be a better option, and can save a considerable amount of your time. In regard to exchanging your money, be advised that the best place to do so is the exchange centers in the markets themselves, which almost all the shopping malls or street markets such as Istiklal have many of these. Converting your currency to the Lira at the airport is not a good idea because of the very high exchange rate and commission taken there.