Where To Find The Best Markets In Istanbul

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Where to find the best markets (and score the best deals) in Istanbul

What better way to explore the vibrant culture of Istanbul than with a visit to one of its many markets. You can expect a lively atmosphere and friendly locals — it’s a feast for the eyes, where you can marvel at traditional antiques and eat far too much Turkish delight. We've covered just a few of the city’s biggest and best, which will have you rushing to book your next trip.

Grand Bazaar

With over 5,000 shops, this remains the largest under cover market in Turkey. With endless passage ways, mosques, restaurants, seven fountains and even a police station, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve fallen into a self-contained city. As you would expect, you will find plenty in this treasure trove, including jewelry, textiles, meerschaum pipes and pottery, but you’ll need your wits about you to take on the 400,000 other shoppers all looking for a bargain. We would recommend visiting one of the many carpet sellers which showcase the finest hand woven, wool pile rugs.

Spice Bazaar

Constructed in 1660, this market was the last stop on the silk route for traders that had travelled from India and China. As the name would suggest, you’ll find stalls selling a vast selection of spices alongside herbs, nuts and preserved fruit — trying the giant dates and the Turkish Delight is an absolute must. Need a break from all that shopping? Don’t miss out on the famous coffee supplier, Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi for an authentic taste of Turkey.

Çarşamba

Nestled in the historical quarter of Istanbul, this vast market covers several main roads and countless smaller streets. A firm favorite, be prepared to find stalls over flowing with everything from fresh fruit to gizmos and gadgets to the latest designer clothing — a real cacophony, Çarşamba is ready to cater to your every whim. A great place to perfect your haggling skills and live like a local.

Yeşilköy

This Wednesday market — translated as ‘green village’ -– is a little more refined and doesn’t get quite as hectic as the other markets. Prices can be a little higher but this bazar is famed for its high quality products and relaxed feel. You can often find leading make up brands, like MAC discounted to half price. Remember to save some spending money for the fabulous (fake) silk scarves and Louis Vuitton handbags — you’ll end up wishing you’d brought an empty suitcase for all your new purchases.

Beşiktaş

This area of Istanbul is well known for its football team and passionate supporters. But it has plenty to offer non football fans. Especially on a Saturday, with 400 stalls setting up for this market. Beşiktaş is the place to go for fresh fruit and veg in Turkey. After spending some time wandering in this kaleidoscopic fair, you will never want to eat another frozen dinner again. But that’s not all, look out for an exciting offering of clothes, shoes and antique jewelry. If you dig around for long enough, you’re sure to fine a unique piece to add to your collection.

This city has plenty more to offer with over 200 markets taking place each week. If you’ve been to Istanbul and explored some of these great bazaars be sure to leave a comment and let us know — what was your favorite market(s) and why.

Images by Dennis Jarvis and Jorge Franganillo used under the Creative Commons License.

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