When someone talks about Istanbul, without a doubt he would start with the shopping culture of the city. Even though there are plenty of fancy and luxury streets and shopping centers nowadays, there are also unique shopping hubs that have been alive for a long while. Here is a list of 5 traditional bazaars you must visit while you are in Istanbul
Tip to note: There is one important thing you should never miss while visiting these bazaars – Bargaining.
1) Grand Bazaar
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When people talk about traditional shopping in Istanbul, Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) is the first place listed by anyone. It is located at the real center of Istanbul at the intersection of the Beyazıt-Mercan-Nuriosmaniye districts. Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars in the city and one of the biggest traditional bazaars all around the world. In the Grand Bazaar, there are plenty of bedazzling jewelry, traditional local items including food and souvenirs, and many more. With about 3,600 shops - as small as 3 to 4 square meters - the Grand Bazaar received 90 million visitors in 2015. With a multimillion-dollar makeover underway, this number is expected to increase tremendously - a good sign for you to head over there for the shopping spree of your life.
2) Spice Bazaar
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Spice Bazaar, more known as Mısır Çarşısı, is located in Eminönü which is also near the Grand Bazaar. This Bazaar stands behind the magnificent Yeni Mosque and Flower Bazaar. The word “Mısır” means both Egypt and corn in Turkish and it means to say that this Bazaar sells spices that come from Egypt, where the spices first originated. At the historic Mısır Çarşısı Bazaar, you will find many authentic local spices - such as paprika
, and nigella seeds
, Turkish Breakfast, nuts, and dried fruits that you should definitely bring some home as souvenirs for your friends and family.
3) Book Bazaar
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The Book Bazaar – also known as Sahaflar Çarşısı – is located at the heart of Istanbul, Beyazıt, near Istanbul University. It is said to be the place where the first book was printed in Turkey in 1729. In the courtyard, you can find a statue of Ibrahim Muteferrika
, who was the publisher of that book. At this historic Bazaar, you will be able to find some of the oldest books relating to Turkish-Islamic culture as well as educational and story books.
4) Galatasaray Fish Market
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Balık Pazarı (or the Galatasaray Fish Market) is another must-visit Bazaar, which is located at Galatasaray, near the district of Taksim Square and Istıklal Street. It is named the Balık Pazarı Bazaar due to the vast number of Balık (which means fish) shops in the area. The atmosphere of the bazaar is amazing - you can witness the true daily lives of the locals bargaining for their fresh produce. Contrary to its name, you can also find other varieties of shops – including traditional spices, fruits, cheese, and mouthwatering Turkish delight
. Be warned, you can expect the Bazaar to be crowded with both locals and tourists when you arrive.
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Are you looking for a particular something in Istanbul and can’t find it anywhere? Head over to Eminönü and you will definitely find what you are looking for! The main tourist spot in Istanbul, this bazaar is filled with shops of different categories – clothing, food, electronics, you name it. It is often visited by locals and tourists who are looking for an affordable shopping experience. When visitors head to the Bazaar, they would find themselves spending the whole day there. Trust us, you would need at least one entire day to explore all the shops in Eminönü! You are also able to take in the beautiful rich history with the various landmarks located in the area - one being the 459-year-old Suleymaniye Mosque which is the second largest mosque in the city.
When you travel to Istanbul, Turkey on your next trip, be sure to give these bazaars a visit!