Istanbul Shopping

Istanbul has been a shopper's town for, well, centuries—the sprawling Grand Bazaar, open since 1461, could easily be called the world's oldest shopping mall—but this is not to say that the city is stuck in the past. Along with its colorful bazaars and outdoor markets, Istanbul also has a wide range of modern shopping options, from the enormous new malls that seem to be sprouting up everywhere

to small independent boutiques. Either way, it's almost impossible to leave Istanbul without buying something and some say you haven't truly experienced the city until you take a whirl through the Grand Bazaar or Spice Bazaar. Whether you're looking for trinkets and souvenirs, kilims and carpets, brass and silverware, jewelry, leather goods, old books, prints, and maps, or furnishings and clothes (Turkish textiles are among the best in the world), you can find them in this city. Shopping in Istanbul also provides a snapshot of the city's contrasts and contradictions: eastern Turkey migrants haggle with tourists and sell their wares on the streets while wealthy shoppers browse the designer goods found in plush, upscale Western-style department stores.

İstiklal Caddesi is a pedestrian-only boulevard with everything from global brands like Levi's and big-name Turkish companies like Mavi to small bookshops and old-school shoe stores—though, sadly, increasingly high rent prices mean there are fewer and fewer independent local stores located on İstiklal these days. Down the hill from İstiklal, Çukurcuma Caddesi is home to a miscellany of antique dealers carrying everything from small, Ottoman-era knickknacks to enormous antique marble tubs. Meanwhile, the character-filled Galata and Karaköy neighborhoods are becoming the places to find independent boutiques and intriguing shops selling clothing, jewelry, housewares, and objets d’art created by up-and-coming local designers.

The high-fashion district is the upscale Nişantaşı neighborhood, 1 km (½ mile) north of İstiklal Caddesi. This is where you'll find the boutiques of established Turkish fashion designers, such as Özlem Süer, Arzu Kaprol, and Atıl Kutoğlu, as well as the flagship stores of high-end international brands like Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton—though because of high import taxes and unfavorable exchange rates, these labels are usually considerably more expensive in Turkey than they are in the United States.

Istanbul is also a good place to buy jewelry, as Turkey has a long tradition of jewelry making, and many jewelers are skilled at working with both gold and silver. While local brands often tend to copy European designs in their collections, recently there has been a trend towards creating beautiful pieces with a local flavor, using traditional motifs or taking Ottoman-era charms and setting them in silver or gold. The jewelry sold in the Grand Bazaar and in high-end boutiques in Nişantaşı tends to be fairly classic and high quality; if you’re looking for something a bit more unusual or easier on the wallet, try the smaller-scale boutiques in Beyoğlu or Galata.

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The Bazaar Area and Environs 21

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Antiques/ Collectibles 7

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Istanbul Shopping

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  • Antiques/Collectibles

Styled more like a grand private mansion than a store, Alaturca has four floors that house a carefully selected—and very high-end—collection...


  • Antiques/Collectibles

A delightful shop located in a historic 19th-century arcade just off Tünel Square, Artrium has a range of antique items, including a...

Denizler Kitabevi

  • Books/Stationery

This shop has a selection of antiquarian books—primarily in English and French, focusing on Turkish history and nautical subjects—along...

Hacı Bekir

  • Food/Candy

Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir founded his sweets business back in 1777 and is considered the inventor of Turkish delight. Today, the Hacı...

Homer Kitabevi

  • Books/Stationery

One of Istanbul's best bookstores, Homer carries an impeccable selection of English-language books, especially ones dealing with the...

Levant Koleksiyon

  • Antiques/Collectibles

The maps, engravings, calligraphic works, and charming old postcards with photographs of Ottoman-era Istanbul sold here are quite affordable...


  • Clothing

Turkey's homegrown jean company, Mavi, has come a long way since its founding in 1991, with stores now in dozens of countries. The flagship...


  • Jewelry/Accessories

On a side street off İstiklal Caddesi, Mor displays the work of a brother and sister designer pair who make funky, bold jewelry that...


  • Books/Stationery

One of Turkey's premier book sellers for more than two decades, Pandora has a dedicated English-language branch (located just across...

Robinson Crusoe

  • Books/Stationery

A Beyoğlu institution, Robinson Crusoe is about as appealing as a bookstore can get, with two cozy levels lined floor to ceiling with...