Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Shopping Essentials

Where: Istanbul, Turkey
What’s in store: A mass of stalls selling everything from rugs to silver & gold
Best Buy: Evil Eye, nargile pipe, herbal medicine.
Remember to: Brush up on your bartering techniques

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar has over 4,000 shops containing all kinds of everything, in particular silver and gold, ceramics, glassware, leather, metal wares and Turkish carpets. If you’re an obvious tourist you’ll soon get hi-jinxed by a smooth talking host who’ll offer to show you around the city, and who’s father probably owns the best deal carpet store in town!

One eccentric item to buy is an Evil Eye. Everyone in Istanbul has an one, it is believed you need it to prevent bad things from happening to you. At the bazaar, chill out smoking a Nargile pipe. These relax you without the harmful effects of cigarettes. They can be flavoured with apple and even cappuccino!

Egyptian Spice Bazaar

Next to the Yeni Mosque, the Spice Bazaar, or Misir Carsisi, is a mystical eastern fantasy. For centuries, the Turkish have been coming to the Spice Bazaars instead of the doctors for centuries old remedies, and even for modern day illnesses. Herbal remedies can often alleviate symptoms for diseases like cancer and remedies for infertility, weight loss.

The Spice Bazaar spills into the Grand Bazaar and it is a centre for bustle and activity. It’s a giant covered market with all the same items stalls placed together. The architecture is a simple Ottoman design of arched eyvans, each accompanied by a shop. The jars of spices and drugs originally would by displayed in the front Eyvan of the shop. The spice section of the market is filled with barrels of colourful spices and a potpourri of different smells.


If you’re going to the Grand Bazaar you have got to learn how to barter if you’re going to chase that elusive bargain, remember that the local will set their first price outrageously high and will expect you to bargain them down, it’s their idea of fun meets good business.

Bartering Tips:

– Love the process
– Get to know the person first and have mint tea
– Never show much interest in what you want
– Never ask the price
– Eventually say “haven’t you got something special in the back room”. The traders always do and you can get a good price.
– If you go too low, your trader will never sell to you no matter how high you go afterwards.

More Information

Egyptian Spice Bazaar
Take a trip through the spice bazaar in words and pictures.

Grande Bazaar
One travellers typical trip to the Bazaar in Istanbul