Such is Turkey’s pinnacle journey from old to modern and new, Istanbul shopping is now an exciting delight as buyers get accustomed to the diversity of venues and range of products for sale. From traditional bazaars and street markets to the all-encompassing modern malls boasting of latest brand names, Istanbul is a highlighted region in Turkey earning garnering fame and admiration for the intense choices available.
Whether it is clothes, households good, souvenirs, or any other product ranges, an eager buyer will find what they want in Istanbul, but more importantly at a good price. Sadly, as with any business area that undergoes major transformation, the market also needs intense awareness by shoppers wishing to buy a particular product or item.
The fake Turkish carpet fraud, 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 staffed by children.
Therefore, while you are in Istanbul, go wild and enjoy the vast range of goods on offer but do not lose your head at the same time. Shop clever so you can get the exact item you want at the right price.
Best Places for Istanbul Shopping Experiences
1: The Exotic Grand Bazaar
Naturally, the lively Ottoman Grand Bazaar is always in any informative travel guide as the number one place to shop, especially for souvenirs like Turkish coffee and Turkish delight. 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 you will certainly lose your way, but this is all part of the fun. Called Kapalicarsi, or Buyuk Carsi in Turkish, avoid it if you hate crowds because roughly 400,000 locals and tourists pass through its gates every day.
So, how do you shop clever for a bargain in such a place? Well, organised shops sit shops in groups depending on the products they sell. So, jewellery is all on one street, and likewise for clothes and souvenirs. Do not forget to haggle with the merchant 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 best shopping experience in Turkey’s oldest and largest market. Also within walking distance, the spice bazaar presents more souvenir shopping opportunities. (More about other markets in Istanbul.)
2: Well-Known Shopping Malls
From old and traditional to cosmopolitan malls of which Istanbul can hold its crown up high, as the best shopping spree. Western style malls only appeared in Turkey during the late eighties but since then, the store, food, and entertainment facilities rivals that of any mall seen in places like Germany, Britain or even the USA. Generally open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., traditional Turkish customs 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 most widely respected malls around Istanbul include Metrocity in the Levant neighbourhood. It has 175 shops and restaurants, and car parking for 1200 cars spread over 5 floors. Open since 2003, any shopper will find getting there easy because it has a direct connection to the subway station. Galleria was Istanbul’s first mall, inspired by the American concept. As well as shopping, this great family destination includes an ice-skating rink, cinema, and bowling hall. Forum Istanbul is probably the most well-known among foreign visitors. 495,000 square metres of shops and likewise facilities make this shopping-mall the largest in the country. Widely respected as a family friendly destination, they have taken the concept one step further by adding a sea life aquarium, Jurassic Park and LEGOLAND theme areas.
Lastly, Istinye Park combines fun and sports themes with shopping, and this mall that opened in 2007 is another family favourite. Having won awards such as the best 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 emptying your purse. Read about shopping malls in Istanbul.
3: Great Shopping Streets
Away from the malls, certain shopping areas garner fame and admiration and Bagdat Avenue is one. Located on the Anatolian side, nine miles of high fashion stores present loads of choice, but window shopping on a gentle stroll is just as much fun. Elegant boutiques in among cafes, restaurants and bars allow shoppers to break up their cash spending marathon with refreshments.
Istiklal Avenue in Beyoglu, the most photographed street in Turkey and labelled as the new city part, sees shoppers weaving their way in among western brand street names or delving into the back streets to find old antiques and boutiques of days gone by. Combine shopping on this street that leads up to the famous Taksim square monument, with sightseeing attractions like Flower Passage, Saint Anthony of Padua church and the Galata Whirling Dervish lodge.
Last on our list of shopping delights, if money is irrelevant, head to the trendy Nisantasi district for deluxe sophistication with brand names such as Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Prada. Unlike other districts that sell fake goods, Nisantasi is about real bona-fide versions and where upmarket members of Istanbul’s society scene gather. Combine a trip in this district with visits to art galleries and culture centres.
Also of Interest
Haggle Like a Turk: When navigating traditional Istanbul shopping areas for items like carpets, you need to haggle like a local. For first timers, this can be a daunting experience, however we give ten tips to start you off to becoming a pro.
Souvenirs to Buy: Many travellers to Turkey want to take back souvenirs as timeless memories of their experiences in Turkey and for presents. Here, we highlight the most popular, best, and widely available items that you can pack in your suitcase, regardless of where you travel.
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