Those who come to Istanbul for a few days’ visit are very impressed by the historical shopping places in the city such as the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. There are many things to buy as souvenirs in both the historical bazaars and modern shopping centers of Istanbul.
In Istanbul, traditional shopping and modern shopping are clearly separated from each other. Bargain old-style shopping is limited only to the Historic Peninsula and its old bazaars, the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.
In contrast, bargaining is not tolerated in the city’s modern shopping malls and prices are fixed. Although traditional shopping still exists in the city, locals mainly shop at modern shopping centers.
12 Things to Buy from Istanbul as Souvenirs
In this article, I will try to introduce things to buy for first timers in Istanbul. These traditional shopping objects are synonymous with the city’s centuries-old history.
In the first 11 titles of the article, we will be talking about things to buy at tourist attractions such as the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. In the last section, we will talk about clothing shopping, which attracts the attention of female tourists in particular.
There are many articles on shopping in Istanbul on this site. In these articles, you can find the shopping streets and shopping centers in each district of Istanbul.
1. Turkish Rugs
If you’re looking for an eye-catching feature for your living room, or you’re keen to treat a loved one to a special, unique gift, look no further than the incredible collection of handmade carpets and rugs.
Turkish rugs have long been associated with quality and durability, as well as aesthetic appeal, and they remain a popular choice for tourists looking to shop up a storm in Istanbul.
Rugs come in all sizes and colors, and many are adorned with the traditional Turkish Holbein pattern, which was developed by the Turks in Anatolia. If you would like to learn more about the history of the carpets, you may also check the title Where to Buy Turkish Rugs after reading this post.
When it comes to what to buy cheap in Istanbul, leather should be at the top of your shopping list. If you’re hoping to add to your collection of leather bags, purses, wallets, belts, and boots, you won’t struggle to find high-quality leather items at affordable prices.
When you’re browsing products at the Grand Bazaar, look out for genuine leather articles. You can often tell the difference between real leather and cheaper alternatives by the smell and the texture. Real leather has a porous texture, while artificial plastic products have a much tighter, more compact structure.
Istanbul caters for all tastes and budgets when it comes to jewelry. From opulent rings, necklaces, and bracelets adorned with precious stones and gems to quirky costume jewelry, there’s something for everyone. As you meander through the stalls of the Grand Bazaar, you’ll come across all kinds of colors and designs.
Many stands stock costume jewelry, which doesn’t have a great deal of monetary value, but there are sellers who stock fine jewelry too. If you’re on the lookout for a statement piece to take home, and you want a high-quality item, it’s worth taking your time and having a proper look around.
4. Iznik Tiles
As you stroll around the beautiful city of Istanbul, taking in the views, you’ll notice an abundance of colorful, patterned tiles. These distinctive, alluring tiles are known as Iznik tiles, and they date back to the Ottoman Empire era.
You’ll see replicas on sale at souvenir stalls for a small fee, but if you want a genuine, handmade article to take home, it’s best to visit galleries and workshops. Traditional, authentic, handmade Iznik tiles can sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
5. Evil Eye
If you’re taking a vacation in Istanbul, it won’t take long to stumble across street stalls and stores selling evil eyes. The evil eye, known as the Nazar Boncugu, is widely exhibited in shops and homes across Turkey, and it symbolizes good luck.
The eye, which is blue in color, is believed to protect against misfortune, and it is one of the most popular souvenirs sold in Istanbul. You can buy hanging pendants, jewelry, and magnets emblazoned with the evil eye, to name but a few options. If you’re looking for inexpensive traditional Turkish mementos, this is a great choice.
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.
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from the famous Grand Bazaar, you’ll find the vivid, aromatic wonderland that is the Spice Bazaar. Established in 1664, this bright and beautiful collection of stores and stands contains just about every spice imaginable.
There’s a staggering range of colors and hues to enchant the eyes and a dazzling array of fragrances to delight the nose and tantalize the taste buds. Even if you don’t plan to buy, it’s worth visiting the market to enjoy the colors and the scents and take in a truly unique sensory experience.
If you are a fan of cooking, or you love spices and aromas, you may be wondering what to buy in Istanbul Spice Market. The answer is anything you like. The range of spices on offer here is extraordinary, and you’ll probably come across spices you use all the time, as well as some flavors and aromas you’ve never heard of or experienced before.
Highlights to keep an eye out for include sumac, which is taken from the Rhus Coriaria bush, Pul Biber, which is a staple ingredient in Turkish cuisine and vibrant saffron.
11. Turkish Delight
If you’re visiting the Spice Bazaar and you fancy a treat, look out for authentic Turkish Delight, fresh fruit and traditional sugary, sticky baklava.
Istanbul is one of the most intriguing destinations for shoppers. Whether you’re searching for souvenirs, homewares, clothing, or artisan crafts or foods, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to narrowing down what to buy while in Istanbul.
The Grand Bazaar is a highlight you won’t want to miss, and a trip to the Spice Bazaar comes highly recommended, but there is also a plethora of malls and independent stores worth exploring. Pack light, and make sure you’ve got plenty of space in your suitcase for new acquisitions!
Clothes come first among the things to buy in Istanbul. However, since this is a very detailed subject, I have saved this title for the end of the article.
Turkey is a place where many world-famous brands produce. Because quality cotton is produced in Turkey and labor is relatively cheap compared to Western countries.
Istiklal Caddesi (near Taksim Square) and Bagdat Caddesi (on the Asian Side) are the leading places where you can shop for clothes in Istanbul. But in addition to these, there are many places.
The most ideal places to shop for cheap clothing are the historical passages on Istiklal Street and the local public markets in the side streets. On the other hand, if you are interested in fashion boutiques, you can go to Nisantasi.
Near Sultanahmet, cheap women’s and children’s clothing can be found in the streets surrounding the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. Especially Mahmutpasa Market, which lies between the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar, is ideal for shopping like the locals.
What to Buy in Istanbul Blog by Serhat Engul