As one of the world's largest markets (the hint's in the name), Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is always a beehive of activity, with an endless amount of eye-catching gifts and trinkets sold in its every corner. A labyrinth of age-old shops and market stalls, getting lost here is a given, but all part of its charm. To prevent you from wandering aimlessly stall to stall, here are some ideas for the best things to buy at the Grand Bazaar.
table of contents
8 Things to Buy at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
Turkish Coffee Pots
Photo by kagemusa/Shutterstock
If you've never tried Turkish coffee before, then you're in for a treat. Dark, strong and deliciously sweet, the coffee here is something special. Apart from buying Turkish coffee to bring back home, these Turkish coffee pots are the key to making this particular version of the world's favorite beverage. Even if you don't have time to make a pot yourself in the morning, they look impressive as an ornament.
While there are hundreds of shops selling similar pots all over the city (you'll find them at the airport too), there's something about bartering over a beautiful handmade Turkish coffee pot in the atmospheric Grand Bazaar.
Photo by evgenii mitroshin/Shutterstock
First being built in 1455, the Grand Bazaar has been a long standing centerpiece of the city's old city. It's befitting then that antiques form a popular purchase for those visiting the markets here. Many pieces of antiques here date back to the times of the powerful Ottoman empire, with others coming from all corners of the world. You'll be sure to find some interesting pieces to bring back from the Grand Bazaar.
Finding a trustworthy antique seller is paramount, head to Şalabi Antiques for a large range of trinkets and objects, Eski Fine Arts and Antiques is also highly regarded.
Photo by Greentellect Studio/Shutterstock
Vibrant colors and eye-catching patterns, Turkish carpets are beautifully made and a stunning centerpiece to any room with a charm you just won't find at any ordinary home depot store.
Be aware, some of the carpet sellers in the Grand Bazaar can be so persuasive even those with carpet-full homes may end up figuring out how to fit your newly bought rug in your luggage after visiting. It's best to decide on a budget and stick to it before visiting, along with making a shopping list beforehand.
All Kinds of Jewelry
Photo by shipfactory/Shutterstock
The classic component to almost any traditional market, it's not surprising that you'll find stall after stall selling glittering jewelry around the Grand Bazaar.
As with any market like this, watch out for fake jewelry. If you know for sure you're going to be looking for some pretty items here, look up a more reputable store to head to when in doubt. Boybeyi Jewellery is an old store with a loyal following in the Grand Bazaar that've been doing business there since 1881 and pleasing customers with unbeatable service.
Photo by Cristina.A/Shutterstock
Although overseas Turkish coffee might be more famous, it's tea that plays an important role in Turkish society. In fact the country has the largest per person consumption of tea in the world. Traditionally, the type of tea consumed is black tea, made straight served with sugar to add if needed, which is how most Turks still enjoy their tea today. However you'll also find other flavored teas sold at the markets here too such as the delicious apple tea which makes for an interesting gift to bring back for other people.
Apricots and Dried Fruit
Photo by muharremz/Shutterstock
Turkey is the largest producer of apricots in the world, around 82% of the world's total, most of which is grown in the region of Malatya. If you have a taste for this delicious dried fruit, Turkey is the place to buy. While apricots are the most famous product you'll find here, the shops in the Grand Bazaar sell all kinds of colorful dried fruits. If apricot isn't your thing, consider buying some of their other product on offer.
When buying your apricots, keep in mind, a bright yellow or orange color means that the apricots have been treated with sulphur dioxide to increase shelf life and color retention. Organic, untreated apricots will have a darker color and rougher texture, but are really just as delicious, if not more, than treated apricots.
Photo by KatherineKo/Shutterstock
Traditional Turkish designs are strikingly beautiful, often used bold colors and patterns that are stunningly attractive to the eyes. Often handmade by potters who have been perfecting their trade for most of their life, these unique items are some of the most beautiful in the world. If you're looking for a special gift for someone or for a centerpiece to your room, this style of pottery is highly worth purchasing.
Photo by Gerain0812/Shutterstock
While you might not really associate food with the impressive, sprawling glitzy marketplace of the Grand Bazaar, like many places in Istanbul, there's some delicious food to find here too. Catering for the locals that have been selling and buying here for years, the local Turks are hard to please and quality is actually quite high despite it being a hotspot for tourists. Head to Aslan for some delicious homemade and cheap Turkish food, or Aynen Dürüm for a quick street food snack. Havuzlu is another classic Turkish restaurant that offers some delicious dishes in the Grand Bazaar.
Tips for Visiting the Grand Bazaar
The varying of prices between shops will usually depend on what you're buying. Items such as jewelry or hand-made purses can often see a huge mark up at first. If the price seems ridiculously expensive, you can usually barter to a much lower price, sometimes ten times as low. Some shops will list fairly low prices already and don't really expect much bartering. If in doubt, just think about how much you'd personally want to buy something for and aim for that price.
Note that the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays and Turkish public holidays, during which most shops won't be open.