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BLOG Shopping in Istanbul

11 February 2016 / Culture

Istanbul the shopping paradise

From the Arasta Bazaar and Bahariye Street to antique shops and modern malls, shopping in Istanbul easily empties your bank account. Whether browsing for luxury brands or one-off finds in independent boutiques, vast choices of shopping streets and places portray daily life in Istanbul, turkey’s largest and busiest city. Some shops sell beautiful delights, while others are souvenir shops catering to tourists who flock to Istanbul every year. Enjoy banter with shop owners, explore historical passages, browse outdoor markets, or enjoy modern shopping malls that promote this city for spending cash in abundance. Whether you want cheap clothing, colourful bazaars, or to explore architectural beauty, here is our pick of excellent places for shopping opportunities in Istanbul.

About Shopping in Istanbul

Istiklal Avenue Istanbul

Istiklal Street – Independence Avenue

Also called Istiklal Caddesi, this street holds historical significance for Turkey. Originally known as Grand Rue de Pera during the Ottoman years, Istiklal Street underwent a transformation after the formation of the new Turkish Republic in 1923 to become known as the heart of “New Istanbul.” Istiklal Caddesi showcases several architectural styles, ranging from Ottoman-era buildings to Art Nouveau and Neoclassical structures that promote shopping, boutiques, and international brands. Visitors explore labyrinthine side streets known as "pasaj", where hidden gems and antique shops abound, and the nostalgic tram adds charming touches. Beyond commercial allure, Istiklal Street hosts galleries, theatres, and cinemas and turns into vibrant nightlife scenes when the sun sets.

Passages leading off Istiklal Avenue

Istiklal Avenue is lined with hundreds of shops, but look closely to see long passages running off both sides of it. These passages are great for finding hidden shops with low profiles that sell one-off items.

Hazzopulo Passage: Hazzopulo Passage is a cobblestone street with three main structures connected by an arcade, and access is through a narrow corridor from İstiklal Avenue. The Hacopulo Building on the left has apartments with open corridors, and the floor is made of Podima Stone, collected from Yalıköy and used in Istanbul's gardens until the 1950s. There are roughly 40 shops, and many people head to Hazzopulo Passage to grab drinks and snacks in surrounding cafes.

Avrupa Passage: Avrupa Passage, known as the European Arcade, in İstanbul's Beyoğlu district, connects Meşrutiyet Caddesi and Sahne Sokak and is close to Galatasaray High School and Beyoğlu Fish Market. You might hear locals say Aynalı Pasaj in Turkish, which means Arcade with Mirrors. Several businesses focus on souvenirs, antiques, clothing, and jewellery stores that sell all sorts of items like postcards and carpets.

Aznavur Passage: This 19th-century passage, named after a Turkish architect, was restored in 1993. Aznavur Passage was the home of the Café du Commerce, but these days, souvenir shops are on both floors. If you go left, a staircase leads to the basement with a bar, comic book shops (only in Turkish), and clothing stores. There's also a billiard room and sports hall.

19th century Cicek Passage: Flower Passage, known as "Çiçek Pasajı" in Turkish, is a historic and charming passage in Beyoğlu. Also called Cité de Péra, Cicek Passage has a rich history, and the original building, constructed in 1876, aimed to emulate the famous passages of Paris. The passage, characterized by ornate ironwork, large windows, and a glass roof, filters natural light into the interior, adorned with charming restaurants.

The 17th Century Spice Bazaar

Step into Istanbul's vibrant culinary scene at the iconic Spice Bazaar, which has abundant colours, scents, and flavours. Nestled within the city's historic Eminonu district, the Spice Bazaar, or Mısır Çarşısı in Turkish, sells spices, herbs, teas, and culinary delights. Commissioned by the mother of Sultan Mehmed IV, the bazaar was built initially to generate income for the nearby New Mosque (Yeni Camii).

Over centuries, the bazaar evolved from a pivotal trading post for exotic eastern spices to a souvenir destination. As you approach the Spice Bazaar, distinctive Ottoman architecture captivates the eye, and intricate domes and arched galleries adorned with colourful tiles create mesmerizing backdrops for the bustling market. The market easily attracts tourists with unique souvenirs like handcrafted ceramics, traditional Turkish coffee sets, and intricately woven textiles.

Bagdat Street in Asian Istanbul

Asian Istanbul presents Bagdat Street to testify to its dynamic character. Bagdat Street encapsulates Istanbul's contemporary lifestyles while promoting well-known brands, and often called the "Champs-Élysées of Istanbul," has international designer boutiques, high-end fashion stores, and chic cafes.

Modern brands reflect Istanbul's cosmopolitan identity, and inviting aromas of freshly brewed coffee and delectable cuisines wafts from diverse restaurants and eateries, offering gastronomic journeys catering to every palate. Bagdat Street boasts a picturesque palm-lined promenade along the Sea of Marmara and comes alive at night when vibrant nightlife scenes take centre stage. Cultural events, music performances, and art exhibitions provide entertainment options for exploring Istanbul's cultural scene.

Luxury Shops on Abdi Ipekci Street

Abdi Ipekci Street, or Abdi İpekçi Caddesi in Turkish, named after renowned Turkish sports journalist Abdi Ipekci, is one of Istanbul's upscale and fashionable streets. The street, in the Nisantasi district, features famous brands, upscale residences, and a vibrant cultural scene. Lined with upscale boutiques, designer stores, and international fashion brands, Abdi Ipekci Street is preferred for high-quality fashion and luxury items. Coffee shops, restaurants, and eateries are where visitors enjoy culinary delights ranging from Turkish cuisine to international flavours. Nisantasi's cultural scene features theatres and cultural events contributing to vibrant atmospheres.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

The 15th Century Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar testifies to centuries of trade, culture, and craftsmanship and is excellent to barter for agreeable prices on the popular souvenirs of Turkish carpets. This iconic marketplace, Turkey's largest and oldest covered market, revolves around colours, scents, and sounds that captivate the senses and promote Istanbul's rich history. Commissioned by Mehmed the Conqueror, the construction was intended to stimulate economic activity.

The bazaar evolved into sprawling complexes covering 30,000 square meters, comprising more than 60 streets and alleys, and domed buildings, vaulted passageways, and intricately designed courtyards provide fascinating journeys through diverse offerings. The market boasts over 4,000 shops, showcasing an extensive array of goods. Traditional craftsmanship and modern trends coexist, from exquisite Turkish carpets, handcrafted ceramics, and intricate jewellery to spices, textiles, and leather goods.

Best Shopping Malls in Istanbul

Istanbul’s top shopping malls are commercial hubs and experiential destinations showcasing dynamic blends of tradition and modernity. From luxury boutiques selling Louis Vuitton to cheaper prices, entertainment options, and culinary delights, these malls cater to every taste and preference, making shopping in Istanbul an unforgettable experience.

Istinye Park: In European Istanbul, Istinye Park's contemporary architecture and luxury retail stores span vast areas and feature high-end international and Turkish brands. Istinye Park, an urban retreat with beautifully landscaped gardens, water features, and dining options, is where you can explore fashion, home decor, and technology while indulging in sophisticated ambiences.

Zorlu Center: Zorlu Center, a multifaceted complex, combines luxury shopping with entertainment and cultural experiences and features international and local designer stores, providing premium shopping. Beyond retail therapy, Zorlu Center houses performing arts centres, a five-star hotel, and culinary scenes for discerning palates.

Kanyon in Levent Business District: Kanyon, an architectural marvel, promotes Istanbul's modernity. This open-air shopping and lifestyle centre boasts distinctive designs with interconnected open spaces and glass facades and offers high-end fashion, electronics, and lifestyle brands. Trendy restaurants and cultural events complement outdoor areas.

Cevahir Mall: Cevahir Mall, in the Şişli district, holds the title of Istanbul's largest shopping mall. With over 300 stores, a vast food court, and entertainment facilities like a cinema and bowling alley, Cevahir Mall caters to all preferences. Selected brands, ranging from affordable to high-end, ensure shoppers of all budgets find something to suit their tastes.

Emaar Square Mall: Part of the Emaar Square development in Asian Istanbul, this luxury destination combines shopping with entertainment and leisure. Emaar mall houses international and Turkish brands, including high-end fashion and lifestyle stores, and visitors enjoy dining options, a cinema complex, and recreational areas, creating holistic experiences.

Mall of Istanbul: Sitting in Güneşli district, the Mall of Istanbul is an entertainment extravaganza. In addition to diverse retail offerings, the mall features a large indoor amusement park, an ice rink, and a cinema complex. With local and international brands, the Mall of Istanbul caters to families and individuals seeking retail therapy and recreational activities.

Akasya Shopping Mall: Akasya Shopping Mall, in Asian Istanbul, stands out for its innovative design and integration of green spaces. The mall offers fashion, technology, and lifestyle stores in welcoming environments, and Akasya Park, an adjacent green area, provides serene escapes.

Historical Bazaars in Istanbul

Istanbul is adorned with historical bazaars that have stood the test of time. These bustling marketplaces, each with unique charm, tell stories of trade, craftsmanship, and diverse influences that have shaped Istanbul's identity over centuries.

Arasta Bazaar: Tucked away behind the Blue Mosque and near the Hagia Sophia, the 17th-century Arasta Carsisi offers serene contrasts to bustling markets nearby. This historical bazaar sells handicrafts, textiles, and traditional Turkish souvenirs, and visitors stroll through charming alleys with small shops selling carpets, jewellery, and ceramics. Arasta Bazaar provides tranquil escapes and an opportunity to appreciate traditional Turkish craftsmanship away from crowds.

Mahmutpasha Bazaar: Mahmutpasha Bazaar captures the essence of local life. This historical market sells authentic Turkish goods, including textiles, accessories, and everyday items. Unlike the grandeur of the nearby Grand Bazaar, Mahmutpasha exudes more intimate and local ambiences, offering glimpses into the daily lives of Istanbul's residents.

Turkish Souvenirs

Kapalıçarşı: Beyond the Grand Bazaar, the district of Fatih hosts the Kapalıçarşı or Covered Market. While smaller in scale, Kapalıçarşı has historical significance and charm. Established during Ottoman times, this market features shops selling textiles, clothing, and everyday items. Kapalıçarşi market provides more traditional shopping and authentic slices of Istanbul's history.

Beyazıt Kapalıçarşı: Beyazıt Kapalıçarşı is not only a historical market but an academic hub. Established during the Byzantine years and expanded under Ottoman rule, this market earned fame for bookshops, offering unique fusions of commerce and education. Historic architecture and proximity to educational institutions make the market more distinctive for both scholars and shoppers.

The Famous Galata District

Galip Dede Caddesi earned fame for musical instruments and arts and is named after the famous Ottoman composer Galip Dede Efendi. Music stores, instrument shops, and venues celebrate Turkey's rich musical heritage. Enjoy the sounds of street performers and musicians. Otherwise, head to Serdar-ı Ekrem Street, in Galata, which connects bustling İstiklal Avenue to Galip Dede Street, and the central location displays charming and eclectic architecture. Facades of buildings along Serdar-ı Ekrem feature traditional Ottoman and European styles. As you stroll along, you'll encounter well-preserved structures.

Antiques on Çukurcuma Street

Çukurcuma Street in Beyoğlu boasts antique shops and galleries run by many enthusiasts, collectors, and those interested in antique items. Antique shops offer diverse items like furniture, jewellery, textiles, and art pieces in among bohemian and artistic ambiences. Often frequented by local artists, designers, and creative minds who contribute to unique character, galleries showcase works by established and emerging artists. This shopping street, dotted with trendy cafes, boutique stores, and concept shops, adds to the dynamic atmosphere, attracting those who appreciate contemporary design and traditional charm.

Çukurcuma Caddesi is an excellent to explore unique fashion finds, handcrafted items, and creative designs. One notable landmark on or near Çukurcuma Caddesi is Kuloğlu Hamamı, a historic 18th-century Turkish bath. This well-preserved hamam, an architectural gem, offers opportunities to experience traditional Turkish bathing rituals. Also, visit the Museum of Innocence by famous Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. However, if you visit Asian Istanbul, head to Tellalzade Street instead for antique shops.

Shopping at Galataport Mall

Galataport, in historic Karaköy, along the European Bosphorus Strait, is strategically positioned for cruise ships and visitors arriving in Istanbul. Galataport aims to be more than just a cruise port; instead, it is a dynamic cultural and commercial hub. Development plans included retail spaces, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues. Famous Turkish brand names here include Arzu Kaprol and Nusr-et.

Other Famous Shopping Places in Istanbul

Nispetiye Street: Nispetiye Street, in affluent Etiler in European Istanbul, is famous for upscale shops, boutiques, and restaurants, modern amenities, high-end residential complexes, and proximity to business districts. The street bustles with activity, especially during weekends and evenings, as people explore various shops and enjoy culinary offerings.

Nuruosmaniye Street: Nuruosmaniye Street, in Istanbul's Eminönü district, close to the historical peninsula, features Nuruosmaniye Mosque, an Ottoman imperial mosque completed in 1755. The mosque, an architectural highlight, attracts visitors for its stunning designs. Traditional Turkish shops, including those selling textiles, carpets, and various other goods, are where to experience the charm of Istanbul's historic markets. The street exudes history and culture, with Ottoman-era buildings, cobblestone streets, and traditional and modern elements.

Cilek Street in Asian Kadikoy: Forget about the spice market, vintage clothing and high-end boutiques because, in Asian Istanbul, everything happens on Cilek Street. This was the old Tuesday bazaar, but these days, an abundance of clothes, makeup, and shoe shops attract many local shoppers and tourists who flock to see the nearby famous bull monument.

More About Istanbul in Turkey

Fun Questions and Answers: Despite massive fame and admiration worldwide, Istanbul is still vastly misunderstood regarding its location. Many people arrive at our website having asked questions like where Istanbul is or about which continent it sits on. Istanbul, an Alpha World City with economic power and political influence both domestically and internationally, regains supreme. As Turkey's most prominent and wealthiest city, the 15 million substantial population makes Istanbul one of the world's largest cities.

Why Istanbul isn’t the Capital: Forget about shopping in Istanbul because some people are surprised to learn that Istanbul is NOT the capital of Turkey. Indeed, this wonderful country's capital ruling city is Ankara, which sits 450 kilometres away in Turkey's central Anatolian region. It is easy to understand the assumption, though. As Turkey's largest city and the face of the Turkish Republic, Istanbul receives much attention. From the historic Blue Mosque to Topkapi Place, Istanbul city centre is the top tourist destination in the Republic of Turkey.

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