The Istanbul Shopping Maze
Such is Turkey’s pinnacle journey from old to modern and new, shopping is now an exciting delight as buyers get accustomed to the diversity of shopping venues and range of products for sale. From the traditional bazaars and street markets to the all-encompassing modern shopping malls boasting of the latest brand names, Istanbul is one of the highlighted regions in the country garnering fame and admiration for the intense shopping choices available.
Whether it is clothes, households good, souvenirs, or any of the other product ranges, an eager buyer is certain to find what they want in Istanbul, but more importantly at a good price. Sadly, as with any business area that undergoes major transformation, the shopping market also needs intense awareness by shoppers wishing to buy a particular product or item.
The fake Turkish carpet scam, as mentioned in our last article has caught many buyers unawares. Assuming they are buying a traditional Turkish carpet, they have arrived back in their home country to find out their treasured souvenir is a factory made, carpet from China. Likewise with souvenirs sold in masses at attractions and landmarks. The blue evil eye or the silk neck scarf originally started its life in a third-world factory shop manned by children.
Therefore while you are in Istanbul, by all means go wild and enjoy the vast range of goods on offer but don’t lose your head at the same time. Shop clever so you can get the exact item you want at the right price.
The Best Places to Shop in Istanbul
The Exotic Grand Bazaar
Naturally, the Ottoman Grand Bazaar is always listed in any informative travel guide as the number one place to shop. The intricate maze of 61 streets housing more than 3000 shops is intimidating yet impressive at the same time. Visit without a map or local guide and it is probable that you will get lost but this is all part of the fun. Called Kapalicarsi, or Buyuk Carsi in Turkish, it is also not a place to visit if you hate crowds since about 400,000 people pass through its gates every day.
So how do you shop clever in such a place? Well, shops are generally organized into groups depending on the products they sell. So, jewellery is all on one street, and likewise for clothes and souvenirs. Don’t forget to bargain on the price either. Shop-owners expect foreigners to do this, so the first price quoted will always be higher than its value. Otherwise just enjoy the adrenaline rushing experience in one of the world’s oldest markets.
4 Well-Known Shopping Malls
From old and traditional to modern shopping malls of which Istanbul can hold its crown up high. Western style shopping malls only appeared in Turkey during the late eighties but since then, the concept and shopping facilities rivals that of any mall seen in places like Germany, Britain or even the USA.
Generally open from 10am to 10pm, traditional Turkish customs of shopping do not apply here. Refreshments are only sold in restaurants and not offered by the shopkeepers. Neither is bargaining accepted since all products display a fixed price. Some of the most widely respected shopping malls in Istanbul include...
Metrocity: Situated in the Levant district, this mall has 175 shops and restaurants, and car parking for 1200 cars spread over 5 floors.
Galleria: This was Istanbul’s first shopping mall, inspired by the American concept. As well as shopping, it is a great family destination since it includes an ice-skating rink, cinema and bowling hall.
Forum Istanbul: Probably the most well-known among foreign visitors, 495,000 square meters of shops and likewise facilities makes this mall the largest in the country. Widely respected as a family friendly destination, they have taken the concept of shopping one step further by adding a sea life aquarium, Jurassic Park and LEGOLAND theme areas.
Istinye Park: Combing the themes of fun and sports with shopping, this mall that opened in 2007 is another family favourite. Having won awards such as the best shopping mall of the year, the gym is perfect for partners that prefer working out and the wide range of restaurants offering world cuisine, are the finishing line to a shopping journey.
3 Popular Shopping Districts
Bagdat Avenue: Away from the shopping malls, there are also certain districts that garner fame and admiration and Bagdat Avenue is one of them. Located on the Anatolian side, it is nine miles of upper-class shopping. Elegant boutiques in among cafes, restaurants and bars allow shoppers to break up their shopping marathon with refreshments.
Istiklal Avenue: The most photographed street in Turkey and labelled as part of the new city, shoppers weave their way in among western brand street names or delve into the back streets to find old antique shops and boutiques of days gone by. Shopping in this district is easily combined with site-seeing since historical sites like Flower Pasaj, Saint Anthony of Pauda church and the Galata Whirling Dervish lodge are located nearby.
Nisantasi: If money is irrelevant, head to the district of Nisantasi for high-class, sophistication with brand names such as Christian Dior and Prada. Unlike other shopping districts that sell fake goods, Nisantasi is about the real bona-fide version and it is where the upmarket members of Istanbul’s society scene gather. Combine a shopping trip in this district with visits to art and culture centres.