Grand Bazaar Istanbul: Best Shops & Things to Buy (2021 UPD)

Crowd at brick arch of nurosmaniye entrance to istanbul grand bazaar flavours of old city tour

Istanbul is one of the fascinating cities in the world. It has a rich history and culture that can be seen throughout its many neighborhoods, but there’s no better place to experience this than inside Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. You really can’t say you visited Istanbul if you haven’t been welcomed by the merchants at the Grand Bazaar.

Built in 1461 to stimulate the economy, this covered market has captivated the imagination of the world, especially writers of the romantic epoch such as Edmondo de Amicis and Théophile Gautier. An English writer commented in 1870 that a tour around the inner Bedesten could ruin a few Rothschild families. Despite this, theft occurred extremely rarely, even when the merchants would leave their shops unlocked.

Continuously restored, each step is an opportunity for photographers, and shopaholics may be delighted to know that the world’s oldest shopping mall is so massive that they can’t conquer it in a day. Fortunately, it’s open 6 days a week between 08:30 and 19:00, so you have plenty of time to explore the 64 streets that house over 4,000 shops, 26,000 employees and welcome between 250,000-400,000 visitors per year. Just a word of warning, part of the charm is to literally get lost in the maze-like streets of this world-famous attraction. 

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However, if you’re short on time, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to buy at the Grand Bazaar – and the best and authentic shops to get them in – for your convenience:

  • Carpets and kilims
  • Ceramics
  • Jewellery 
  • Antiques
  • Leather clothes
  • Textiles, towels, and fashion accessories
  • Restaurants

Note: All shops in the Grand Bazaar open from Monday to Saturday 09:00 – 19:00. It is closed on Sundays.

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Carpets and Kilims

Turkey’s famous carpets have captivated European fascination even before the Victorians. The weaving technique dates to at least the 4th or 5th century, and these precious, authentic rugs aren’t just pretty; each pattern is a symbol. If you’re not an expert in buying rare carpets, just choose the one you love the most. After all, this magic carpet ride will spice up your home, not the sellers. If you want to avoid pushy sellers, there are 4 lovely (and trustworthy) carpet shops in Grand Bazaar that should be visited. 

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Best shops to buy carpets and kilims at Grand Bazaar:

1. Şişko Osman

A cute name (chubby Osman) but a serious approach to helping you decode each carpet. So knowledgeable they are that they’ve even shown their carpets at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Order online and collect or shop in-store – whichever suits you best. 

Address: Taya Hatun Mah., Acı Çeşme Sok. Kapalı Çarşı Zincirli Han D:15

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2. Şengör Halıları 

Founded in 1918, the current (sixth) generation will happily pull out rug after rug to help you find the perfect piece for your home. They may also teach you different ways to use your newly found treasure. 

Address: Beyazıt, Takkeciler Sk. 65/75/83

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3. Dhoku

Featured in countless magazines such as the New York Times, the third generation has been in this game for 45 years. They sell their carpets as per fixed (and listed) prices on square foot, which can make each rug more reasonably priced than if they sold on dyes, age, etc.

Address: Beyazıt, Takkeciler Sk. 51-53

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4. Recep Karaduman Kilim 

Drink a cup of Turkish coffee or apple tea and listen to the stories behind each product. No need to worry; you’re in safe hands. These friendly merchants are honest, which may be why one of them gave a lecture at Tedtalk. 

Address: Beyazıt, Takkeciler Sk. No:54

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Ceramics

Whether you’re looking for the kind of plates that’ll wow your guests at your next dinner party or if you’re in the restaurant business, you may be surprised to know that Turkey has a long, rich history in ceramics.

Typically, Iznik and Kütahya are the cities that are celebrated for their adroitness, yet their wares are available right here at the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul.

If you’re looking for tiles to add a splash of color indoors or a brilliant jug to serve juice or a decanter to fully balance out that bottle of wine’s flavor, we’ve got three shops that in which you can shop without worrying about the fragility of your purchase. 

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Best shops to buy ceramics at Grand Bazaar:

1. Iznik-Art

If you’ve explored any museum, mosque, or a palace in Istanbul, such as the Topkapı Palace, and wished you could hold the Ottoman ceramics in your hand, you’re in luck. Ismail Yiğit recreates such brilliant pieces. It may be why he has been invited to participate in exhibitions from around the world since the 1990s, such as the ‘Focus on Turkey’ exhibition at the British Museum. They have a contemporary line too, if the Ottoman-style items are not to your taste. They have a website where you can make an appointment or reserve a work of art. 

Address: Beyazıt, Orta Kazaslar Cad. No:64

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2. Iznik Works Ceramics

Founded in 2010 by the 5th generation of traders, this shop adheres to the traditional techniques of Turkish ceramics dating back to the 8th century.

They have the typical fair as well as limited editions. You won’t find anything like their design anywhere else, so whatever you snag will certainly be a conversational piece. If their shop in the Grand Bazaar is too far, you can order online or make an appointment for a video conference. 

It should be mentioned that their customer service is excellent. Even though they wrap everything up securely, if you notice any issues at home, contact them, and they’ll help you out. 

Address: Beyazıt, Takkeciler Sk. 41-43

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3. Nick’s Calligraphy

Nick is an adorable entertainer to the kids, a brilliant host to the adults, and a kind soul. An extraordinarily talented artist, this friendly, mustachioed gentleman creates unique art that you won’t find anywhere else.

Since 1968, he has been creating breath-taking designs on leaves, yes, that’s right: plant leaves. This is a sensitive, delicate process that takes months which may be why he doesn’t negotiate, and it wouldn’t be fair to stiff such an artist anyway. 

Further, his inspiration comes from the Abrahamic religions, and his vision is to share love, tolerance, and peace. 

Address: Beyazıt, Şerif Ağa Sk. D:24

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Jewellery 

Since the TV series Magnificent Century and Hürrem Sultan, there seems to be an increased interest in Turkish Jewellery.

Turkey has its own precious and semi-precious stones, such as the blue chalcedony, adaptable zultanite, adamite, and purple jade.

If you wish to feel like an Ottoman princess, the following reputable stores will help you purchase something that will ignite a life-long love. 

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Best shops to buy jewelry at Grand Bazaar:

1. Sevan Bıçakçı

Sevan Bıçakçı got his start in the industry at a tender 12 years of age. A highly imaginative artist, each of his pieces is a fairy-tale come alive. He hires the best craftsman and ensures that each piece is perfect… even if that putting in small touches that are invisible to the naked eye.

His nature collection is exquisite, and his calligraphy collection has that heirloom feel to it. His Hagia Sofia collection, however, the stuff made from dreams. He captures moments, monuments, palaces, mosques, sultans, women in the harem, and even mythological legends. Each piece would inspire confidence when one is draped in them, for each piece is fit for a monarch. 

Visit Sevan Bıçakçı’s website here.

Address: Mollafenari, Gazi Sinan Paşa Sk. No:12

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2. Kafkas Jewelry 

Established in 1950, expert craftsmanship and attention-to-detail have been handed down from generation to generation. Perhaps this is why they’ve exhibited their lines around the world, from Hong Kong to Las Vegas. They do have a variety of ranges from jewelry to be gifted at weddings, diamonds, specially crafted designs, and polychromatic stones, but you can also have something custom-made. They’ve been featured in magazines, and even fashionista Paris Hilton seems to love their design. 

Address: Kalpakçılarbaşı Cad. No: 4-6

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3. Güner Liman 

A hidden gem, you can find Ottoman-style treasures to take home. His works are generally made of brass, and Güner Liman is a well-known craftsman of brass jewelry in Turkey.

Address: Beyazıt, Çadırcılar Cad, Lütfullah Sk. No:24



Leather clothes

Despite Italian leather making international waves, Turkey is also a powerhouse when it comes to leather. In 2020, the mere increase in exports netted over $1.095 billion. If you’re inspired by Marlon Brando’s Johnny Strabler, Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden, Tom Cruise in Top Gun, or perhaps Mel Gibson in Mad Max, Koç Leather is the only shop you need to visit. 

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Best shop to buy leather clothes at Grand Bazaar:

1. Koç Deri

After spending his youth learning all about leather in Vienna, Mr. Koç founded this family-run luxury fashion house in 1968. He innovated fashion by exploring different styles and colors of leather. Each item is handcrafted as Mr. Koç is less concerned about mass production and high profits but rather cares more for quality. These products are made to last due to the sustainable long-term business approach that this place joint takes.

Although international connoisseurs favor this shop already, those that are new to the life of leather will find the staff here particularly helpful. They have a life-long commitment to each item, so they will happily give you hints and tips on storage and cleaning. The leather jackets come in a dust cover to protect them from the elements, and this shop will happily help clean and remove stains from purchases years ago rather than risk them being destroyed at the dry cleaners.

They’re so confident in their quality that unused items that haven’t been customized are returnable in 14 days. 

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Textiles, towels, and fashion accessories 

Towels, t-shirts, jeans, dresses, bathroom textile, cashmere, or scarves, whatever fabric you are looking for, you can find it in Grand Bazaar Istanbul.

Of all the Turkish textiles, one of the most notorious is the symbol of the hamam: the colorful peshtemal towels. Originally made from 100% cotton, these colorful towels were popular for being an easy-to-carry way of maintaining privacy in Turkish baths. They were later adored for being highly absorbent and quick drying. All of which is an outstanding feature of Turkish cotton. The cotton in this part of the world has long fibers, which are quite narrow, enabling more threads per square inch. This means that Turkish fabrics are highly absorbent. Further, unlike Egyptian cotton, Turkish cotton becomes thicker after being used or washed, making it so much fluffier. 

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Best shops to buy textiles, towels, and fashion accessories at Grand Bazaar:

1. Abdulla 

The mystical decoration in this shop, which was founded in the late 90s, really makes you feel like you’re in another world. 

The famous peshtemals and fluffy towels snuggle amongst hamam and natural products. Whether you want to buy soaps to hang in your house or to nestle it amongst your laundry to give it a fresh smell, these soaps are made in the traditional method with village spices.

Address: Mollafenari, Ali Baba Türbe Sk. No:15

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2. Ottoamano 

Through the Kapalıçarşı Kılıççılar Kapısı (Swordsman’s Bazaar Gate), which is highly stylized to look like the doors to an Ottoman palace, this spot has been selling hand-made cashmere since 1986. Whether you want something a little subdued or a vibrant pattern, pop in. 

Address: Beyazıt, Sandal Bedesteni Sk, No:36

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3. Sivaslı Istanbul Yazmacısı

The unique selection of traditional Turkish scarves here will have you feeling like you’ve lost yourself in a daydream of colors. While their stock concentrates on scarves, you’ll find whatever Turkish fabric you might want, from upholstery to clothing. 

Address: Beyazıt, Yağlıkcılar Sok. No:57

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4. Muhlis Günbattı

Vintage textiles are sold here like the suzani – which is a large, hand-embroidered textile that’ll hand brilliantly on your walls. Originally used as a protective wrap for belongings, amongst various other uses, these were gifted to the groom by the bride on their wedding day as a celebration of the binging of both families. 

If you know someone about to be married, why not wish them luck, health, long life, and fertility with a cotton or silk suzani? They do have other textiles, such as traditional outfits, Ottoman dowry pieces, kaftans, and needlework scarves.

Address: Beyazıt, Perdahçılar Sk. No:48

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5. Derviş 

Another hamam-themed shop with an owner who doesn’t pressure you into buying the handcrafted items.

With a delicately carved image, the soaps are free from chemicals, making them a gentle option for washing your face. The handwoven wool or cotton scarves, the pretty handkerchief, the colorful, snuggly towels – everything you want is here. If you’re going to try bathing like a local, you can grab a comb and a hand-printed peshtemal.

Address: Yağlıkçılar Caddesi İç Cebeci Han No:15

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Antiques

Istanbul has a rich history which is why history fans shouldn’t miss out on the unlimited number of antique shops in this brilliant city. Due to this city’s rich and cultural history, every antiquarian will find something to satisfy themselves. Not to mention that a diverse selection of antiques from the east to the west have always found their way in this city. 

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Best shops to buy antiques at Grand Bazaar:

1. Minyatür Nautical Antiques

It seems to be a rite of passage for tourists to take a picture with the introverted shopkeeper just before they step inside the shop. That may be because the amount of history in this tiny shop will have you overwhelmed: you’ll find clocks that belong to the Beauty and the Beast era, musical instruments with a tale to tell, old cameras for the cinephile, telescopes to unleash your inner Columbus and a couple of objects you’ll find difficult to name except to say that they give off an adventurous Jules Verne vibe. This is a golden treasure cave, and you don’t even need to cry out “open sesame.”

Address: Beyazıt, Cevahir Bedesten No:240

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Restaurants in Grand Bazaar

After a full day of touring, you can feel your stomach rumbling. If you want something to both satiate your stomach and create a festival upon your tastebuds, we have 4 of the loveliest restaurants in the local area. If you’re lost, ask any of the shopkeepers to guide you because everyone knows the following:

1. Havuzlu Restaurant

With a beautiful fountain outside, the sound of the dripping water accompanying your meal creates a sublime atmosphere here.

Apart from traditional Turkish foods, there are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options, such as the scrumptious peas and potatoes gliding in a tomatoey sauce.

But the star of the show is probably the mantı (ravioli/dumplings). They are coated in a snow-white yogurt, a drizzle of the tempting red sauce, and a sprinkle of tangy sumac. It makes our stomachs rumble just to reminisce.

Everything, including the creamy mash potato and buttery rice, finish quickly, so try to get there as soon as your stomach tells you to rest. Further, the service is quite fast, so you’re safe here if you’re the hangry type. 

Address: Beyazıt, Gani Çelebi Sk. Kapalıçarşı No:3

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2. Şeyhmuz Kebap Salonu

In the words of Louis Jordan: let the good times roll in this humble yet scrumptious kebab spot. The bread is remarkable for its softness that its texture just feels like home. The colorful salads are a healthy side, as are the grilled veggies that come with each dish. Whatever dish you go for, the lahmacun or the eggplant kebab, you’ll be giving your tastebuds the adventure of their lives.

Address: Mollafenari, Atik Alipaşa Medresesi Sokak 4/A

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3. Nusr-Et Steakhouse Sandal Bedesteni

One of the many homes of the notorious Salt Bae, this spot has a comfy cabin-in-the-woods vibe. They have numerous colorful and fragrant salads: the Mediterranean reminds us of the famous Greek salad with its olives and feta. The avocado is creamy, and the Tulum cheese one is perfect for cheese fiends, but the spoon salad is a sweet, crunchy, flavourful mess. 

If you’re not a steak person, the cheesy heart-shaped meatballs will sit cozily in your stomach. Plus, the sushi and grilled shrimps are great starters. What infatuated us were the countless, intriguing mocktails like the Fire of Ottoman, the virgin mojito, or the Rassbasil. Just beware of the Nusr-et special mocktail with the fresh pineapple juice, passion fruit sauce, watermelon syrup, and cream – which is so lovely that you’ll want to propose to it…er… we mean you’ll be passionate about it.  

Address: Beyazıt, Çarşıkapı Nur-u Osmaniye Sk. Sandal Bedesteni Çarşısı

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4. Bahar Restaurant

They only serve lunch with clean, healthy ingredients, but this reasonably priced, artisan restaurant sells out quickly. It’s hard to find, but all the shopkeepers know the legendary spot, so do not hesitate to ask for help.

If you end up eating your lunch at Bahar Restaurant, do not miss the walnut-dried fig dessert. 

Address: Beyazıt Mah., Nuri Osmaniye Cad. Yağcı Han D:4

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Final words:

The Grand Bazaar is one of the most fun and popular tourist destinations in Istanbul. However, there are so many shops located in the bazaar that it can be hard to know which ones are worth your time and money.

We’ve gone ahead and done all the research for you, compiling a list of the top things to buy in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar as well as a guide to some of the best shops and some general guidelines on how best to navigate this sprawling marketplace with ease.

If you are looking for unique activities in Istanbul, join us on one of our food tours, where we’ll take you off-the-beaten-path and show you hidden gems while exploring what makes Turkish culture and Turkish foods so rich.


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