One of the most beautiful cities in the world, Istanbul is very much considered to be a cultural bridge between East and West, or more literally, Europe and Asia. With a history stretching back thousands of years, it is one of the most culturally rich cities in the world. Istanbul is well-known for its many mosques and bustling markets. Indeed, it is one of the world’s most unique and interesting shopping cities by some distance.
Main Shopping Areas
One of Istanbul’s premier shopping destinations, Serdar-i Ekram is mainly known for its designer stores, luxury hotels and fine dining. These make it highly popular amongst tourists. However, there is also an off-beat side to the street, evident in its aesthetically pleasing appearance and quirky, local stores. There are few better places in the world to get your hands on local Turkish designers than here.
One of the most famous and popular high streets in the city, Istiklal Avenue receives over 3 million visitors a year and is a major tourism hotspot in Istanbul. The street is known for its distinct architecture dating back to various points from the Ottoman Empire’s extensive history. These include examples of Neo-Classical, Gothic and Art Deco architecture. One of the most beautiful if sometimes overcrowded places in the city, it is a great place for shopping as home to a wealth of local boutiques as well as restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Abdi Ipekci Caddesi
In the heart of Istanbul’s affluent Sisli district is Abdi Ipekci Caddesi, one of the city’s premier shopping destinations. Having undergone extensive regeneration in recent years, the area has become fertile ground for a number of the city’s most exclusive stores. It is often described as Istanbul’s equivalent to New York City’s Madison Avenue or London’s Bond Street. A number of the country’s top designers have stores here.
One of the city’s more up-and-coming and quirky shopping areas, Cukurcuma is a welcome alternative to the more luxurious ones. Located in Istanbul’s more liberal area, the area is filled to the brim with a wealth of interesting and distinct stores. It is also home to a thriving nightlife, which attracts a significant amount of the city’s young people. It is not only trend-setting new businesses here however but is also home to more traditional vendors.
Main Shopping Markets
One of Istanbul’s most iconic and long-lasting cultural institutions. One of the most-visited tourism attractions in the world, it is estimated to draw up to 400,000 visitors per day and 91 million visitors per year. A covered market inside Istanbul’s Walled City, the Grand Bazaar’s extensive history is synonymous with that of the city itself. Its roots are traced back to the mid-15th Century, where it was set up following the Ottoman annexation of Constanttinopple for the purpose of generating economic stimulation within the city. In the centuries since it has thrived into a vital cultural and economic institution. It is crammed with local vendors selling a diverse range of goods ranging from local produce to carpets. An unmissable experience for visitors to the city.
Another iconic bazaar within the city, Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar is highly popular amongst locals and tourists. Dating back to the 17th Century, the Spice Bazaar is a covered market specialising, as its name indicates, in spice trade. With over 85 separate vendors, the bazaar is known for it visually-striking colours and bustling atmosphere. One of the definitive cultural destinations in the city.
One of Istanbul’s finest food markets (of which there are many!), Inebolu is only open on Sundays and is well-worth seeking out. Located off the beaten path in th e Kasimpasa district, Inebolu specialises in Anatolian cuisine and attracts traders far from the capital. One of the finest places to sample some of the country’s finest produce and local cuisine. A decidedly less touristy alternative to the city’s main markets.
Tree of Life Ceramics Gift Shop
Few cities are as great for local craftsmanship than Istanbul. The Tree of Life Ceramics Gift Shop is one of several stores in the city specialising in ceramics and it is well-worth seeking out. The store is known for its painstaking attention to detail and high quality products. The store’s staff are highly knowledgeable on the subject. There is a level of authenticity and quality here that most vendors lack.
Istanbul’s finest and most popular chocolate shop, the Cikolata Dukkani has proven highly popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Known for its incredibly high quality products, the owner is a lifelong aficionado of chocolate and a well-trained craftsman. One of the best places for dessert in the city-no easy feat.
It goes without saying that Istanbul, and by extension Turkey, is well-known for its top-tier carpets and rugs. However, the sheer quantity of vendors specialising in this is so overwhelming that is difficult to ascertain where the best place to go is. There is no shortage of options, but one place which stands out is Dhoku, located in the city’s iconic Grand Bazaar. Set up in 1989, Dhoku is one of the city’s leading vendors of rugs. A priority destination within the Grand Bazaar.
One of the city’s finest ceramists, Iznik Works, as its name suggests specialises in Iznik potttery, a specific school of pottery from Anatolia. One of the country’s historic ceramics centres from the 15th century up until the 18th Century, the style remains one of the most unique and beautiful in Turkey. There are few better places in Istanbul to buy works of this iconic pottery style than here.