From the world-famous Grand Bazaar to the lively street markets around Ortakoy, Taksim, and Besiktas, the markets of Istanbul offer a vibrant introduction to local life. There are some 200 markets held on both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul—here are some of the most popular.
One of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) first opened its doors in 1461, and remains one of the city’s most visited attractions. Located at the heart of Sultanahmet, it’s home to more than 3,000 shops specializing in leather goods, gold jewelry, silverware, antiques, copperware, and carpets, among innumerable other goods. This is one of the best markets to purchase handicrafts and souvenirs, but you’ll need to haggle to get a good price. Opt for a private or small-group walking tour for an insider’s look at the market.
Egyptian Spice Market
A short walk from the Grand Bazaar, the spice bazaar is a feast for the senses, with brightly colored spices and dried fruits piled high, and Turkish delight (lokum) in every flavor imaginable. Be sure to bring your camera. For an in-depth tour of the spice market, opt for a street food tour or take a combo tour that includes a visit with other area highlights.
Many visitors crossing the Bosphorus to Istanbul’s Asian side head straight to Kadikoy, and the bustling neighborhood is best known for its traditional market. A smaller fresh produce market is held daily, but the main market takes place on Tuesday and Friday, when visitors can soak up the atmosphere and tuck into typical Turkish street food like tasty gozleme (stuffed flatbread).
One of the biggest Istanbul markets and a local favorite, the Carsamba Pazari (Wednesday market) in Fatih has thousands of stalls and vendors. A short walk from Fatih Mosque, the gigantic flea markets sprawl through the streets, selling everything from clothes and accessories, to electronics and household goods, as well as fruits, vegetables, and meats. Head here to bag a bargain and to get a more local experience.