Shopping in Istanbul, Souvenirs, Typical and Cheap Gifts

What to buy in Istanbul? What are the typical products, the best souvenirs and where to get them for a good price? In this guide for shopping in Istanbul we tell you all the best bazaars of the city and present you 17 best souvenirs and gifts to buy in Istanbul.

Historically, the ancient region of Anatolia has always aroused great commercial interest in the old Europe due to its strategic position between two continents, being a hinge of union with the world of Orient. Since its time as the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Turkey has attracted many travellers for its goods of excellent quality and variety. If you are going to travel to this exotic country, we’ll give you some shopping ideas that can guide you when making your purchases in Istanbul.

Guide to Bazaars in Istanbul

Compras en Estambul
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Although there are numerous shops of all kinds in the city, the main places to shop are bazaars. We present you 5 of them – you can’t miss especially the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Spice Bazaar!

(1) The Grand Bazaar is the world’s oldest and biggest covered market. It has more than 3,600 stores on more than 64 streets! It’s absolutely worth visiting for its mysterious and exotic atmosphere and the beauty of the products and the skilful way they are displayed. It has a few centuries of tradition and it’s rich in variety – you can find there more-less everything. Read the section below for the 17 best souvenirs and gifts to buy in Istanbul.

Address: Kapali Çarşı, Beyazıt Mh., 34126 Fatih, Istanbul

(2) The Egyptian Spice Bazaar is also ancient and visually attractive, and it sells mostly food items – a wide variety of spices, coffee and tea, Turkish delights, baklava and other sweets, dried fruit and natural remedies.

Address: Mısır Çarşısı, Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih, Istanbul

(3) Arasta Bazaar is an old street bazaar adjacent to the walls of the Sultanahmet Camii – the Blue Mosque. It is smaller than the previously mentioned ones, but that makes it less crowded and more peaceful, allowing you to do your shopping – or just look around – in a relaxed pace.

Address: Sultanahmet Mh., Kabasakal Cad Arasta Çarşısı, 34122 Fatih, Istanbul

(4) Çadırcılar Caddesi is a street between Beyazıt Square and the Grand Bazaar, full of stalls of clothes of all kinds. It’s one of Istabul’s best places to find cheap clothes, especially made of cotton or wool.

Address: Çadırcılar Cd., Beyazıt Mh., 34126 Fatih, Istanbul

(5) Sahaflar Bazaar is the antique and second hand book and paper bazaar with impressively rich variety of books. This market, one of the oldest of Istanbul, dating back to Byzantine times, is a must-see for all the bookworms!

Address: Sahaflar Çarşısı, Beyazıt Mahallesi Çadırcılar Caddesi, No.16-18-19-22-23, Beyazıt, 34126 Fatih, Istanbul

Showcase at the Grand Bazaar

You may feel overwhelmed by the richness and infinite variety of the items on sell in the vast labyrinths of the Turkish bazaar. Taking into account the prices, the choice and the pleasant manner of the merchants, you are in shopping heaven! Remember to always bargain the prices – it’s a part of Turkish trade culture and they won’t feel offended – they will treat you more seriously if you play their game! In most cases you’ll manage to get the goods at much lower price than the initial one.

And now let’s see what are the best souvenirs and gifts to buy in Istanbul.

17 best souvenirs and gifts to buy in Istanbul

1. Turkish Coffee Set & Excellent Coffee

Ornamental Turkish coffee set
Ornamental Turkish coffee set

Turkish coffee sets seem to come straight from a fairytale. Some are incredibly ornamental, made of copper, brass or other metal, sometimes with silver or gold decorations, others are made of beautifully painted ceramics with gilded brim.

The coffee culture in Turkey is very rich, so you will find a lot of varieties of coffee sets – and excellent types of coffee, too.

Best place to buy them: The Grand Bazaar; Turkish coffee also in Spices Bazaar

2. Turkish Tea Glasses & Exotic Tea

Turkish tea glasses
Turkish tea glasses

Everywhere you go in Turkey, you will be served tea from fine sets of small tulip-shaped glasses, often with delicate ornaments. They make an exotic, refined and elegant gift with an Oriental note.

There is also a great variety of high quality tea at very convenient prices, so add some packets to those glasses! The typical Turkish tea – çay – is a strong black tea, and some other popular flavours include natural apple, pomegranate, orange blossom, linden blossom, sage and rosehip tea.

Best place to buy them: The Grand Bazaar; Turkish coffee also in Spices Bazaar

3. Mosaic Lamps

Typical Turkish mosaic lamps
Typical Turkish mosaic lamps

How about taking home a piece of Turkey that will recreate its mysterious and magical atmosphere at your home? Beautifully and skilfully decorated glass and brass lamps come in all the colours and shapes, they are unique and they have a lot of character. It’s certainly one of the most exotic souvenirs or gifts you can take home with you.

Best place to buy them: Definitely the Grand Bazaar, the choice is incredible

4. Leather Bags, Jackets, Belts

Handbags in Istanbul
Handbags in Istanbul

In Istanbul you can find real bargains when it comes to leather products. Whether you look for a trendy leather jacket, or a stylish leather handbag, or maybe some accessories like a belt or wallet – the choice is overwhelming. Bags come in all colours and sizes, and you can find quite unique patterns. The prices are great – remember to negotiate!

Best place to buy them: Çadırcılar Caddesi, Arasta Bazaar

5. Exotic Handmade Shoes

Exotic handmade shoes at a street bazaar in Istanbul

Extremely vivid colours, golden patterns and a fairytale-like shape make many Turkish shoes the footwear you may not wear on most occasions, but they are so cheap they will make lovely slippers for home, or a great gift for kids, especially for some fairytale costumes. There is also a fantastic range of more “serious” and truly beautiful shoes like leather sandals and ballerinas in very convenient prices.

Best place to buy them: Çadırcılar Caddesi, Arasta Bazaar

6. Turkish Delight and Halva

Turkish Delight and dried fruit at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

Lokum – Turkish Delight is a colourful delicate soft candy make of starch and sugar, with nuts, dried fruit and different flavours. The classics include pistachio, ginger, mint, rose and fig flavours, but you can find much more. You can buy them loose or packaged, cut into cubes or in a “sausage” form. They are all delicious. Another classic is halva, a dense, sticky confection made of nuts and sesame paste or other nut butters with a variety of flavours.

Turkish Delight and halva are the most classic and simple to find gifts from Turkey, and usually everybody likes them, so if you have a limited budget or really hate shopping, or you don’t have much time – they are always a good idea.

Best place to buy them: The Spice Bazaar or just anywhere

7. Gold and Jewellery

Jewellery at the Old Bazaar in Istanbul

A very important trade in Istanbul is jewellery. Turkey is one of the largest exporters of gold. Turkish jewellery in gold, silver and precious stones is of great quality and beauty, so if you have a soft spot for these beautiful accessories or you want to buy something really precious for your loved one, the many jewellery stalls of Istanbul bazaars are an essential stop.

Best place to buy them: The Old Bazaar (inside the Grand Bazaar)

8. Iznik Ceramics

Traditional Iznik ceramics at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Ceramics with traditional, characteristic patterns like the Iznik tiles in the splendid monuments of Istanbul, such as Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, are a refined gift. You can buy plates, bowls or other kitchenware.

Best place to buy them: The Grand Bazaar

9. Nargile – Water Pipes

Nargile – water pipes at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Nargile, Turkish smoking pipes, are made of a decorated glass base with ornamental metal upper part. They are used in cafés for social gatherings. You should also buy some special flavoured nargile tobacco to use with them – it comes in a wide range of aromas, anything from rose and peach, to caramel and cardamom.

Best place to buy them: The Grand Bazaar, Arasta Bazaar

10. Backgammon & Chess

Chess and backgammon boards at the Grand Bazaar

This classic game has been popular in Turkey since the 16th century. In Istanbul you will have a huge choice of beautifully carved, handmade backgammon and chess boards. The best ones are usually made of walnut wood, often with pearl inlay. A handmade backgammon or chess board makes an elegant and refined gift.

Best place to buy them: The Grand Bazaar

11. Scarves

Scarves at Arasta Bazaar in Istanbul

The range of colours and patterns of scarves and shawls in Istanbul is amazing! You will buy them here in much better prices than back home. They differ in quality, the best ones are made entirely of silk, other of silk and cotton or polyester.

Best place to buy them: Çadırcılar Caddesi, Arasta Bazaar

12. Nazar Boncuk – Evil Eye Amulet

Evil Eye charms
Evil Eye charms

A cheap, but characteristic souvenir or gift – especially because Turks give them to the loved ones, too. Common for the culture of both Turkey and Greece, the “Evil Eye” amulets fight the bad luck. You will see them everywhere around: in every Turkish house, shop or office. These glass beads in beautiful deep indigo blue colour come in every size and shape, typically as a big oval flat pendant, or as chains of small beads, or keyrings, or magnets, or earrings, or anything else – they all work like a charm to bring you luck!

Best place to buy them: Everywhere, best in bazaars.

13. Handmade Olive Oil Soap & Black Soap

Handmade eco olive oil soap
Handmade eco olive oil soap

Something for enthusiasts of natural and eco-friendly cosmetics. You may choose among handmade olive oil soaps coloured with flower and herb extracts, or exfoliating Turkish Bath black soap in a form of a dense brownish paste, which makes skin velvety soft.

Best place to buy them: The Spice Bazaar and cosmetic shops.

14. Copper Pots

Copper pot ‘cezve’ for Turkish coffee

The traditional Turkish coffee is made in copper pots called ‘cezve’. In Istanbul you will find a great selection of copper kitchenware in general, but especially copper and brass pots and cups.

Best buy them in: The Grand Bazaar

15. Perfume

Natural rose perfume at the Grand Bazaar

Perhaps one of the products that attract the least attention, but that we recommend, are the perfumes. The Turkish perfumes are very exotic, giving off a very seductive smell, in addition, they are made with oil, with which their substance is much more concentrated and with just a few drops you will be perfumed for the whole day.

Best buy them in: The Grand Bazaar

16. Kilim – Carpets and Pillow Cushions

Kilim – Turkish carpets

Of course, speaking of shopping in Istanbul we have to mention the star article, one of the most bought and sought after items in bazaars, Turkish rugs – kilim. Their international fame is great, and they are a magnificent decorative element – and very useful, too. Although the price is high, in Istanbul you will find them much cheaper and of better quality than in the Western countries. Obviously it’s not something you can easily take with you, but no worries – the sellers arrange for their safe shipping in your country.

Best buy them in: The Grand Bazaar

17. Spices

Fascinating oriental spices at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

Even if in the era of globalization you can buy anything anywhere, it’s still absolutely worth it to buy some extremely intense, freshly ground Oriental spices in one of the picturesque stalls in Istanbul’s bazaars. They are displayed in a highly aesthetic way, and their colours and scents will make your senses vibrate.

Best buy them in: Obviously at The Egyptian Spice Bazaar! You can find there even the rarest spices.

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You will be tempted to buy such an amount of things, that you’d better bring a half empty suitcase to Turkey. Otherwise, you may want to buy and check in one more suitcase full of your precious souvenirs from Istanbul, they are worth it!

Author

Małgorzata Kmita

Chief Editor & Writer of euroviajar.com, a serial expat - I've lived in 7 countries, I speak 7 languages, and I travelled to 39 countries so far. I have a deep interest in understanding the culture and lifestyle of various countries and regions. I'm always looking for the authentic local habits, tastes and surprises that give a certain place its character.

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