Istanbul boasts thousands years of cosmopolite history. This multicultural heritage from the Byzantine and Ottoman era finds its reflection even while shopping in Istanbul. Most of the shopping places in Istanbul date back centuries. While most of the shopping streets in Istanbul were shaped in the 19th century, there are also historical bazaars from earlier times.
Formerly, I wrote a post regarding the best shopping centers and I listed the modern shopping malls in Istanbul. In this post, we will focus on the historical bazaars and shopping streets in Istanbul.
Best Shopping Places and Streets in Istanbul 2020
Most of the tourists visiting Istanbul shop in Sultanahmet and Taksim. Of course, Sultanahmet is famous for its historical bazaars and Taksim for its shopping streets. But apart from these two districts in Istanbul, there are many good places to go for shopping.
In this article, which I designed as Istanbul Shopping Guide, I focused especially on Istiklal Street, one of the best shopping streets in Istanbul. I thought you would enjoy your activity more if you know the historical background of the places to go for shopping in Istanbul.
As a tourist guide in Istanbul for 15 years, I know what the tourists who visit the city are looking for. I used my experience in this field while promoting the best shopping places in Istanbul. Although it may seem a bit long and complicated at first glance, you will discover the hidden gems of the city.
1. Istiklal Street (Beyoglu)
Istiklal Street is one of the best shopping streets in Istanbul not only now but since the Ottoman period. With a rapid development, Beyoglu (aka Taksim) reached a point where it could compete with other European cities in the 19th century, the last years of the Ottoman Empire.
Consulates, banks and hotels that were opened in the area put Beyoglu under the spotlight and the richest non-Muslims in the city competed among each other to create fancy buildings in the neighborhood.
Although we may neglect to appreciate the architectural beauty of the buildings on Istiklal Street while window shopping the colorful shops, these buildings still remind us of the nostalgic life in Beyoglu.
In a similar fashion, passages on Istiklal Street were built in the second half of the 19th century too. After Sultan Abdulmecid moved to Dolmabahce Palace as his residence, the dynamism of Beyoglu began to surpass the Old City.
It would be fair to say that Beyoglu, which used to be known as “Grand Rue de Pera” among the Istanbulites, is becoming more and more popular thanks to its neighborhoods such as Galata, Cihangir, and Karakoy.
Istiklal Street (Beyoglu) is definitely one of the best shopping places in Istanbul. For this reason, I will introduce the historical passages you can visit in Istiklal Street in the following 9 subtitles. If you want to get off the tourist route and shop like Istanbulites, you should discover these hidden treasures.
a. Atlas Passage
Atlas Passage was built by Agop Koceoglu in 1870. Koceoglu was a prominent figure of the Armenian community in Istanbul and he was even a personal friend of the Sultan.
With its high ceilings, frescoes, and golden leaf, the building stands out as one of the most beautiful buildings of its age. The building was used as PTT (Post Office Department) Head Office for the time being and it houses Atlas Cinema (Movie Theater), clothing shops, and souvenir shops today. Here, you can find authentic clothes, bags, and retro sunglasses.
b. Halep Passage
Halep Passage was built by a businessman named Haciyar Hacar in 1884. The building is in “Eclectic” style that brings a bunch of different architectural elements together and it boasts majestic reliefs at the same time.
If you look carefully enough, you will see a medal on the front side of the building. The walls of a fortress in the middle of this medal represents Halep (Aleppo) Fortress. As you can imagine, Mr. Hacar was from Aleppo and he included a symbol from his country on this building.
The base floor of the passage houses various shops such as silver, ornament, book, oil painting, frame and poster shops. Moreover, you can take a break and enjoy a nice meal on the same floor at Munhasir Restaurant. Additionally, the lower floor of Halep Passage serves as Beyoglu Movie Theater today.
c. Hazzopulo Passage
Hazzopulo Passage was built by a businessman of Greek origin named Kiryaki Hazzopulo in 1871 and it attracts attention with its front yard in the middle of the building. Hazzopulo Passage is a place with a lively atmosphere where you can see people having drinks and chatting at any time of the day.
Highly valuable merchants of the non-Muslim community in the Ottoman Empire had businesses in this passage. One of the well-known figure, world-famous photographer Ara Guler’s father, ran a pharmacy shop in this passage too.
In the past, all the hat orders for the marriages to be held at churches in Beyoglu were ordered to be made here and this shop named “Sapkaci Katia” sells nostalgic women hats today.
There are 40 shops in Hazzopulo Passage where you can find perfumes, bags, ornaments, bookshops, and many more. The most important feature of the passage is that it connects Istiklal Street to Mesrutiyet Street.
d. Aznavur Passage
This passage was built by Aznavur family in 1893 and it reflects the Italian architecture style. Famous novelists of the late Ottoman period used to spend a lot of time in this passage that housed the best cafes and restaurants of its time.
Aznavur Passage is a 9 story building where you can find ornaments, hat, toy, and bag shops. Furthermore, there are nice places to spend time such as cafes and a billiards hall in this passage. Aznavur Passage is located right across Galatasaray High School.
e. Avrupa Passage
Avrupa Passage is a place that even most people who have been to Istiklal Street several times don’t know. As the entrance of the passage is through the Fish Market in Beyoglu instead of the main street, only people who know the place beforehand visit it.
The big Beyoglu fire in 1870 caused a big change in the neighborhood. Avrupa Passage began to be built in the reconstruction phase of the neighborhood and it was completed in 1874.
The passage was built in the Renaissance style by an Austrian architect named Domenico Pulgher. The building is 56 meters tall and it houses 22 shops.
While you are in the passage, you can and should enjoy some amazing sculptures at the entrance of the shops. Moreover, the passage connects Beyoglu Fish Market to Mesrutiyet Street.
f. Cicek Passage
In fact, Cicek Passage (Cicek Pasaji) is the first place when it comes to the passages in Beyoglu. However, Cicek Pasaji is a place full of various fish restaurants and meyhanes. And if you plan to do shopping in Beyoglu, you may want to take a meal break in the nostalgic atmosphere of Cicek Pasaji.
g. Beyoglu Fish Market
Beyoglu Fish Market, on the other hand, is next to the passage and it reflects the nostalgic characteristics of the neighborhood perfectly. While you are in the Fish Market, I strongly suggest you visit Uc Yildiz Sekerleme (Turkish delight shop). You will definitely find yourself in a very nostalgic Turkish movie atmosphere.
h. Beyoglu Is Merkezi
Beyoglu Is Merkezi (Beyoglu Business Center) feels like getting bigger when you walk in it. You will surely feel like you are in a labyrinth in Beyoglu Is Merkezi where export leftovers are sold in more than 200 shops. Therefore, you can find all sorts of things here, be it clothes, underwear, accessories, bag or shoes.
If you want to shop for cheap clothes, Beyoglu Is Merkezi is one of the best shopping places in Istanbul in this regard. Beyoglu Business Center is located about a 10-minute walk from Taksim Square.
i. Terkoz Cikmazi
Terkoz Cikmazi is on the right side of the way to Tunnel and it always feels like a local bazaar. You can find anything you need in these open-air street shops, be it underwear, jeans, and everything else. You can find really cheap t-shirts and dresses on the stands of these shops too.
The actual name of Terkoz Cikmazi is D’andria Passage (built in 1882) but it was named after the street it’s located on. Alternatively, it is also called “Terkos Passage” by some.
Galata has some of the best shopping streets in Istanbul. The Galata Tower is at the junction of the shopping streets in Galata neighborhood.
a. Galip Dede Street
Galip Dede Street starts from Tunnel Square, where Istiklal Street ends, and takes you to Galata Tower. You can find various musical instrument shops on this street. These shops are around Galata Mevlevi House (Whirling Dervishes Museum) and they are popular among many professional and amateur musicians.
Thanks to the impact of tourism in recent years, some souvenir shops have also popped up on the street. These shops sell colorful gifts and they offer more quality alternatives compared to the classical touristic souvenirs you may see in the Old City. If you want to shop for souvenirs in Istanbul, you will like this street.
b. Serdar-i Ekrem Street
Serdar-i Ekrem Street stretches from Galata Tower to Cihangir direction and it houses shops that sell some specially designed products. These places present goods that are used in daily life in creative ways and they will definitely attract the attention of shopping fans. Moreover, some of the best cafes in Istanbul can also be found on this street.
c. Buyuk Hendek Street
The tradition of bringing the shops selling the same type of products on the same spot began in the Ottoman era and it’s still kept alive in today’s Turkey.
Therefore, you can come across places like Hirdavatcilar Carsisi (Hardware Market) or Mefrusatcilar Carsisi (Furniture Market) in the historical neighborhoods of Istanbul. And Buyuk Hendek Street is packed with shops that sell lighting products in the same way.
Cukurcuma is a special neighborhood of Beyoglu. This neighborhood also houses the Museum of Innocence created by Nobel prize winner novelist Orhan Pamuk as a companion to his novel “The Museum of Innocence”.
In fact, this neighborhood is famous for its antique shops and it’s such a fun activity to visit the antique shops lined up on Cukurcuma Street and do shopping.
Cukurcuma and Cihangir are two of the best neighborhoods to take a walk in Istanbul. Moreover, you can end your day on Cezayir Street to rest and enjoy your day even more.
Today, we want to photograph every moment of our trip, including shopping. If you want to take beautiful photos for Instagram, Cukurcuma is one of the most picturesque shopping places in Istanbul.
Karakoy is a cosmopolite neighborhood that served as the city dock in the Byzantine and Ottoman era. We formerly mentioned it in the Karakoy post that Karakoy used to be the place where valuable goods from the Silk Road were collected on both sides, Eminonu and Karakoy, of the Golden Horn and exported to Europe by the Italian trade colonies.
This port neighborhood was always active in any period of Istanbul’s history and it blossomed completely in the 19th Century Ottoman era. Back then, Karakoy turned into a spot where all domestic and foreign businessmen of the city made investments. Therefore, you can also come across beautiful buildings in Karakoy such as Minerva Han.
In today’s Karakoy, the shops that sell outdoor products are the most popular ones. There are some good quality shops with many options to choose from. One of these shops, Atlas Outdoor, which is also one of my personal favorites for winter clothes, is in Karakoy too.
Moreover, you can visit Hirdavatcilar Carsisi where you can find various kinds of equipment. It’s on Tersane Street that stretches to the Golden Horn direction from Karakoy. On the other hand, Kemeralti Street from Karakoy to Kabatas direction is the spot where you can find diving equipment shops that are lined up one after another.
Apart from luxury shops, you can find specially designed product boutiques in Nisantasi. The most popular streets in Nisantasi are Abdi Ipekci Street and Mim Kemal Oke Street.
If you are looking for an evening gown, you can visit boutique shops on the backstreets of Nisantasi and find the trendy dress that you need.
And Abdi Ipekci Street that stretches from Macka to Nisantasi boasts more than 50 luxury shops and it really feels like an open-air shopping center.
Nisantasi has the best shopping streets in Istanbul for those who want to visit fashion boutiques. If you want to shop from the women’s clothing collections of famous Turkish brands, you can find the latest creations here.
Eminonu is considered to be the heart of Istanbul Old City. Vehicles coming from Istanbul’s Asian Side and Taksim pass through Eminonu. The answer to the question of where the locals go for shopping in Istanbul will be Eminonu.
The shopping places we have mentioned so far were located in Modern Istanbul. Eminonu and a few titles that follow (including Sirkeci and Sultanahmet) will cover the shopping areas in the Old City of Istanbul.
a. Spice Bazaar
Silky fabrics and spices from India used to be brought to Egypt via caravans for long years and they would be sent to Istanbul by ships. Then, these valuable trade products would be exported to Europe via Venetians and Genoese. And some of these important trade products would be sold to the public at Spice Bazaar.
Spice Bazaar stands next to New Mosque, in the heart of Eminonu and it is still a center of attraction among both domestic and foreign visitors and you can’t even walk around the bazaar on weekends due to its huge popularity.
b. Uzuncarsi Street
Uzuncarsi Street has always been one of the shopping areas in the Istanbul Old City since the Ottoman era and it’s the street that stretches from the Eminonu coast to Grand Bazaar. You can find various business centers, shops, restaurants and cafes on this street.
If you wish to experience the nostalgic feeling of the Old City, I recommend you to visit this street. Moreover, you can buy a lot of shopping items for cheaper prices than some other shopping areas of Istanbul.
c. Mahmutpasa Bazaar
The bazaar that starts from Grand Bazaar’s Mahmutpasa Gate and taking you to Eminonu’s backstreets is a steep road. This is the first place that comes to mind when people want to do shopping for engagement, wedding or circumcision events.
Mahmutpasa Bazaar is a unique place where you can buy kids’ clothes, adults shirts or even underwear at really cheap prices.
Although Mahmutpasa is one of the cheapest shopping streets in Istanbul, you may need to be careful about the quality of the goods you will buy.
Sirkeci neighborhood is a paradise for cheap shopping in Istanbul. Sirkeci, which has been a shopping area since the Ottoman period, will also give you a historical experience.
Dogubank is located in the heart of Sirkeci and it has always been a popular spot for people who want to buy cheap mobile phones and technological devices.
You can buy spot products at this place. You can also trade your old phones and buy new ones. Therefore, Dogubank offers a good alternative to do tech shopping in Istanbul.
Tourists visiting Istanbul need cheap gadgets for their phones and cameras. Dogubank is among the best shopping places in Istanbul for such small needs.
b. Hayyam Passage
As we all know, photography products are really expensive. Products of big giants like Sony, Canon, and Nikon are sold at really high prices at techno shops today. And Hayyam Passage is the first place to look for cheaper camera and camera lens options in Istanbul.
Many photography product shops are lined up one after another in this passage and, therefore, you can examine and compare the prices of the products you would like to buy at this passage.
Sultanahmet is one of the best places for shopping in Istanbul. Although prices are expensive in some of Sultanahmet’s tourist streets, there are also ways to shop cheaply. You can find most of the things you would like to buy about Turkish culture here.
a. Arasta Bazaar
It was a tradition in the Ottoman era to build a bazaar next to a new mosque. Therefore, the resources to keep the mosque functioning, administrative and maintenance costs were met via the rents collected from these shops. In the same fashion, Spice Bazaar was built next to New Mosque in Eminonu. That’s the reason why these two buildings were constructed in the same year.
And Arasta Bazaar next to Blue Mosque was built to serve the same purpose in the 17th century. As the bazaar adjacent to Great Palace Mosaic Museum today, it attracts the attention of, especially foreign visitors. Souvenirs sold in this bazaar will surely attract your attention if you want to buy something that will remind you of Istanbul.
Moreover, there are some famous shops in the bazaar, so much so that some of them have been mentioned in world-famous travel magazines like Jennifer’s Hamam.
b. Nuruosmaniye Street
Nuruosmaniye Street connects Sultanahmet to Grand Bazaar and it’s packed with tourists, especially in spring months. There are various office blocks, business centers, and coffee shops on this street. Additionally, you can find some luxury carpet and jewelry shops on Nuruosmaniye Street.
Nuruosmaniye Street is one of the best areas to shop in Istanbul Old City. However, it should be noted that the shops here are a bit expensive. Even if you’re not shopping here, it’s fun to sit in one of the street-side cafes and people watch.
c. Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar is the collection of numerous separate shops that have come together in hundreds of years. There are many sections of the bazaar and it’s composed of 67 streets and more than 3000 shops.
Therefore, it’s inevitable to get lost at Grand Bazaar if that’s your first time but getting lost in a huge bazaar as Grand Bazaar is what makes shopping much more fun.
Naturally, there are many entrances and exits of the bazaar. Nuruosmaniye Gate (Gate Number 1) and the Beyazit Gate (Gate Number 7) are two of the most popular entrances of Grand Bazaar.
The street that lies between these two gates is called Kalpakcilarbasi Street and it’s regarded as the main street of Grand Bazaar. Therefore, in order to find your way in the bazaar, you are recommended to remember the direction of this street.
The Grand Bazaar is the most well-known spot among the best shopping places in Istanbul. It is known all over the world as the best place to go for shopping in Istanbul. Although this is partially true, I can say that the Grand Bazaar occupies a small place in Istanbul’s shopping potential.
Buying Turkish Carpets and Kilims
If you are thinking of buying Turkish carpets in the Grand Bazaar or its surroundings, I recommend you to read the article where to buy Turkish carpets in Istanbul.
Balat and Fener have been a highly popular neighborhoods in Istanbul recently. The best part of visiting these neighborhoods is that you can enjoy restaurants, cafes, local culture, and shopping in the same area.
After you start your day with a nice breakfast at a café nearby Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, you can take a walk on Vodina Street that connects Fener and Balat and visit some amazing retro shops in the area.
When you enter the streets of Balat, you will see some shops holding auctions on both sides of the road. In these shops, you can buy antique goods at ridiculously low prices. And that’s why you can also see people pouring out of such shops due to high demand.
The most attractive thing about Kadikoy for foreign visitors is the atmosphere of Fish Market. Foreign travel writers who visit Istanbul recommend visiting Fish Market as it thoroughly represents and preserves Istanbul’s neighborhood culture and traditional shopping style.
Indeed, Kadikoy dock and Fish Market are the reflections of hundreds of years of history. And some cool details that you may not realize on the European side due to the crowd and chaotic style, can be seen in Kadikoy’s Fish Market more clearly.
For example, traditional dessert shops such as Tatlici Erol, Baylan and Ali Muhiddin Hacibekir make the bazaar colorful. Moreover, various second-hand book and clothes shops and souvenir shops on the way to Moda may attract your attention too.
Kadikoy is definitely one of the best shopping places on the Asian Side of Istanbul. You can find everything about shopping in Istanbul in the Kadikoy Fish Market and the streets surrounding it.
a. Tellalzade Street
Horhor Antique Mall and Cukurcuma are the first places when it comes to antique shops on the European side of Istanbul. And Tellalzade Street, which is between Kadikoy and Moda, is the one of the best shopping streets where you can find antique products on the Asian side of Istanbul.
If you are interested in antique goods, the shops lined up on both side of the street will surely offer you interesting stuff.
b. Cilek Street (Old Tuesday Bazaar)
Cilek Street used to host Old Tuesday Bazaar in Kadikoy but it houses only shops nowadays and it’s among the most popular shopping places in Kadikoy.
Cicek Street is right across Altiyol (Bull monument and nearby), which swarms with people on weekdays, and you will see a hat seller at the entrance of the street that has been there since forever.
On this street, you can find trendy dresses at boutique shops that are lined up across each other. Moreover, you can also find makeup products and shoe shops too.
If you are wondering where the locals shop in Istanbul, you can find the answer to your question here. Cilek Street is especially ideal for cheap clothes shopping in istanbul.
c. Bahariye Street
Bahariye Street is one of the best places to take a walk in Kadikoy. This street stretches from Kadikoy’s famous Bull monument to Moda and a nostalgic tram passes through the street like the one on Istiklal Street. And there are some other nostalgic elements on the street such as Sureyya Opera.
Bahariye Street is among the best shopping streets in Istanbul to buy cheap clothes similar to the designs of famous brands. However, you can find these clothes not on the street but in the passages surrounding the street.
Opera Onur Carsisi (Opera Onur Bazaar) is one of those passages selling cheap clothing on Bahariye Street. If you need a nightgown or daily sportswear, you can find similar stylish products like expensive brands.
I should note that Opera Onur Bazaar is a place where I have been shopping as a local for many years. This small shopping mall is the best place to shop in the Asian Side of Istanbul for cheap clothing.
d. Bagdat Street
Bagdat Street was among the best shopping streets in Istanbul until a few years ago. However, it fell victim to the urban transformation in the area and, therefore, some shops had to be closed. Although it has lost its former charm, Bagdat Street is still the best place to shop on the Asian Side of Istanbul.
As popular as Istiklal Street is on the European side, Bagdat Street is a popular shopping place on the Asian side of Istanbul. Its 7km length makes Bagdat Street the longest shopping street in Istanbul with its luxury brands’ shops.
Bagdat Street starts from Bostanci and continues to the center of Kadikoy. Especially, Saskinbakkal, Caddebostan, Goztepe, and Selamicesme areas offer nice shops, cafes, and parks. You can find many shops designed for luxury brand shopping in Istanbul along Bagdat Street.
Best Shopping Places and Streets in Istanbul by Serhat Engul