Grand Bazaar is the most popular shopping place in Istanbul. Istanbul actually has the largest shopping malls in Europe. However, shopping in the Grand Bazaar, a 500-year-old historical building, is a different experience.
In this article, you will find many tips about the Grand Bazaar. If you wish, let’s start with how to get to the Grand Bazaar. Because the bazaar has dozens of entrances and it is important from which door you enter the building to find direction.
How to Go to Grand Bazaar?
You can follow two ways to go from Sultanahmet to the Grand Bazaar. The first of these is to pass through Nuruosmaniye Street, which is a street parallel to the tramway. This street is a pleasant walking path full of stylish shops and cafes.
You will see mainly carpet and jewelery shops on Nuruosmaniye Street. There are also some Turkish delight and souvenir shops. This street is attractive enough to make you shop before you even go to the Grand Bazaar.
At the end of Nuruosmaniye Street is the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, which was built in the 18th century. When you pass through the courtyard of this beautiful mosque, you enter Grand Bazaar through gate number 1.
The second way is to follow the tramway (Divanyolu Street) and walk until Beyazit Square. When you arrive in Beyazit Tram Station, you can enter the Grand Bazaar through gate number 7. The Bayezid Mosque from the 15th century is also here.
As the Grand Bazaar consists of 67 streets and 3000 shops, it can be difficult to find directions for first timers. Since Kalpakcilarbasi Street between Gate 1 and Gate 7 is the main street, it makes it easier to find directions.
If you want to examine the Grand Bazaar map above in detail, you can access the full resolution version from this link. You can find many useful maps like this in the article named Istanbul tourist maps.
Grand Bazaar Shopping Tips
As a local tour guide, I will try to give you useful shopping tips about the Grand Bazaar in this article. In the lines below, you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Grand Bazaar.
1. Should I Make a Bargain in Grand Bazaar?
Definitely yes! Otherwise you will get the product you want to buy at the highest possible price. There is a traditional way of shopping in the Grand Bazaar and bargaining is customary.
While you are walking through the labyrinth-like streets, it is inevitable to come across enthusiastic vendors trying to sell you something and the only way to buy their products in an affordable way is to bargain with them.
By bargaining in the Grand Bazaar, you can buy a single product at a discount of around 10% to 20%. On the other hand, if you buy the same product in large quantities, the discount rate will increase.
2. Do Local People Shop in Grand Bazaar?
The answer to this question is partially yes. Because Istanbul has a lot of modern shopping malls which can satisfy all the needs thanks to the national and international brands inside them.
Then what do local people buy in Grand Bazaar? The answer is: gold. Local folks see Grand Bazaar as a huge jeweler and Bazaar is the heart of gold market. Gold prices are commonly priced on gram basis and you can buy it there.
One can also find various golden necklaces, bracelets, rings made by the most experienced craftsmen. The price for milled gold depends on the quality of workmanship.
During the Ottoman Empire, the Grand Bazaar was a place where locals could find the most variety of products. However, there are many options for shopping in Istanbul today, so the Grand Bazaar is considered a touristic and expensive place.
Things to Buy from Grand Bazaar
There are many things related to oriental culture among the things to buy in the Grand Bazaar. Silk carpets and Iznik tiles that used to adorn Ottoman palaces are at the top of the list. On the other hand, you can find souvenirs for every budget.
Jewelry is one of the major things that can be bought in the Grand Bazaar. There are dozens of jewelery shops on Kalpakcilarbasi Caddesi, which is the main street I described at the beginning of the article.
While I am working as a private tour guide in Istanbul, one of the most asked questions to me was whether the jewels here were real. Of course, many replicas are sold in the Grand Bazaar. But jewelry is not one of them.
There are jewelry shops that make boutique designs in the Grand Bazaar and they are all very good at their jobs. Istanbulites also come to the Grand Bazaar to buy gold or jewellery. For this reason, you can be sure that it is real when purchasing jewelry.
2. Turkish Carpets
Turkish carpets have been sold in the Grand Bazaar for centuries. For this reason, there are many families that have been in carpet business for several generations. You can find handmade Turkish carpets in these shops.
However, buying a Turkish rug is a difficult task even for locals. Before buying, you can visit places such as the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and the Istanbul Carpet Museum to learn about the history of Turkish carpets.
Of course, most of the carpet shops in Istanbul give you a presentation about Turkish carpets. However, I still recommend that you learn about the types of carpets in advance. It is enough to have enough knowledge to distinguish between “Classical Carpets” and “Nomadic Carpets”.
If you need help on this subject, you can find it in the article named where to buy Turkish carpets in Istanbul. From this content, you can have general information about carpet shopping in Istanbul.
3. Iznik Tiles
Iznik Tiles represented the pinnacle of Ottoman pottery. Especially in the 16th century, which was the peak of the empire, Turkish tiles also experienced their golden period.
The best examples of Iznik tiles can be seen in places such as the Blue Mosque, Rustem Pasha Mosque and Sokullu Mehmed Pasha Mosque built during this period.
Also, while visiting Topkapi Palace, you can see excellent tiles in the sections like Imperial Council and Harem Rooms. You can also find these tiles, which include blue, green and red tones, in the bazaar.
Scarves are among the top clothing items that women can buy in Istanbul. You can find dozens of shops selling scarves and shawls in the bazaar. While some of these shawls are made in Turkey, others are imported from countries such as Pakistan and India.
Since Turkish women also love scarves, thousands of different scarves can be found here. There are so many shops selling scarves in the Grand Bazaar that you cannot visit all of them even if you wander all day.
Kaftans had a very significant place in Ottoman history. The caftans, which were the clothes of the sultans, had an important place in the classical period Ottoman art. The caftans would have embroideries and even precious stones.
Today, the centuries-old caftans worn by the sultans are exhibited in the clothing section of the Topkapi Palace. If you like this style of clothing, you can find great kaftans in the market. You can also have a suitable caftan made for yourself in some tailor shops in the bazaar.
Handbags has a large share in the Grand Bazaar. You can see many shops selling colorful women’s handbags. While some of them are domestic designs, most of them are imported.
You can find replicas of many famous handbag brands in the bazaar. In general, the reflections of the bag fashion of that year can be seen in the bazaar. Exact replicas of the designs of the most famous brands can be purchased.
Watches are the best shopping item for men that can be found in the Grand Bazaar. While scarves, shawls and handbags for women adorn every place, few things appeal to men in the bazaar. Among them, watches that imitate the models of famous brands stand out.
Jewelry, Turkish carpets and gold sold in the bazaar are generally original. However, it should be noted that most of the bags and watches are replicas. For this reason, it is necessary to be careful when purchasing these products.
8. Turkish Delight
Turkish delight comes first among the things to buy in Istanbul. While you are wandering the streets of the city, you will be interested in the colorful shops selling Turkish delight everywhere.
In my opinion, the best place to buy Turkish delight is Spice Bazaar. Because Spice Bazaar is more specialized in food. However, many beautiful shops have opened in the Grand Bazaar in recent years.
In addition to these two bazaars, there are centuries-old Turkish delight shops in old districts such as Eminonu, Beyoglu and Kadikoy (Asian Side). For more information on this, you can also check out this article.
Istanbul Grand Bazaar Opening Hours 2022
Grand Bazaar opening hours are between 09:00 in the morning and 19:00 in the evening. From 18:30 onwards, the lights in the bazaar start to turn off and the shops close one by one. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is closed to visitors on Sundays.
The Grand Bazaar is not open on Sundays and is closed on religious holidays. If your visit to Istanbul coincides with times such as Ramadan Feast (Eid al-Fitr) or Sacrifice Feast (Eid al-Adha), you may not be able to visit the Grand Bazaar.
Things to Do around Grand Bazaar
There are many things to do around the Grand Bazaar. These include visiting the centuries-old local public markets, scrubbing in the Turkish bath and tasting delicious street food.
1. Mahmutpasa Bazaar
Mahmutpasa Bazaar is a place where Istanbulites go to shop for cheap clothing. This is actually a slope connecting Beyazit and Eminonu and stretches between Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.
Mahmutpasa Bazaar (locally known as Mahmutpasa Yokusu) is a place where young girls go for dowry shopping. As this is a very old tradition in Istanbul, you can see many young girls shopping here with their mother.
It is possible to shop for men’s, women’s and children’s clothing at very affordable prices in Mahmutpasa Bazaar. Since Turkey is a textile country, the quality of the clothes you will find here is good even though it is cheap.
For those visiting Istanbul for the first time, finding the way in Mahmutpasa Bazaar can be a bit difficult. On the map at the beginning of the article, you can roughly see how to go from Grand Bazaar to Spice Bazaar.
2. Cemberlitas Hammam
Cemberlitas Hammam is within walking distance of Gate 1 of the bazaar on the Nuruosmaniye Mosque side. This hammam is located right next to Cemberlitas Tram Station.
Cemberlitas Hammam is among the best Turkish baths in Istanbul. Here you can relax and have a pleasant time after shopping in the bazaar. Scrubbing in the Turkish bath will make you feel refreshed.
3. Donerci Sahin Usta
When you think of street food in Istanbul, doner kebab, kofte and kokorec come to mind first. The best doner kebab places in Istanbul are usually located in the old districts.
You can find great street food in Beyazit, where the bazaar is located, and Eminonu by the sea, and Beyoglu (near Taksim Square) on the opposite side of the Golden Horn.
In conclusion, the Grand Bazaar is one of the must-see places in Istanbul. However, visiting the bazaar can be overwhelming after a long day of visiting historical monuments.
It may take a long time to visit the bazaar, which has 67 streets and more than 3000 shops. For this reason, if you make your itinerary accordingly, you can get the most out of your visit to the bazaar.
The Grand Bazaar can be interesting even for people who don’t like shopping. In fact, you can even go to the bazaar just to take pictures or examine the architectural features of the bazaar.
Written by Serhat Engul