Straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey is an interesting place with many contrasts. Istanbul is Turkey’s largest and most populous city with over 15 million people residing within the city limits. Once known as Byzantium and the Constantinople, Istanbul is located on Bosphorus Strait the literal geographic mark that separates the Eastern world from the West. Because of its important geographic location, Istanbul was an important place throughout history dating back to at least 660 BCE. Important cultural landmarks dot the area with places like the Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Topkapi Palace - an Ottoman-era palace. So if Istanbul is on the list for your next adventure don’t forget to pick up some Turkish essentials, here’s our list of what to buy in Istanbul.
From the ancient age, spices played an important role in the commerce and economics of a city and country. The spice trade made people rich and people traveled far and wide from Europe and Asia to get a hold of these rare and precious commodities. These days, getting spices is a lot easier but the concept of the spice trade has almost stayed as relevant. Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar is one of the most popular places to get spices and one of the most popular Bazaars in the city. Head there and stock up on some authentic Turkish spices.
Address: Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Website: Spice Bazaar
Turkish rugs and carpets are some of the most revered in the world. With a rich and old history surrounding the manufacturing of rugs and carpets, Istanbul even hosts its own carpet week every year, with a similar concept to “fashion week” people come to show the best and most elegantly designed rugs. Finding an amazing carpet in Istanbul may not be super difficult but getting a quality one that is sure to impress people back home might come at a bit of a price. Be sure to shop around and find one that is right for you.
Address: Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Nakilbent Sok. No:13, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul - Europe, Turkey
3. Turkish tea/coffee
Coffee was allegedly brought to Turkey in 1555 by two Syrian traders and then by the 17th century, it was an essential part of the Ottoman court. Turkish coffee is known around the world and it is made of the Arabica bean, finely grounded and served in a small pot with a long handle made of copper. Traditionally it is served with a foam and for those who like their coffee sweet, we’re sorry to say that sugar is never added after the coffee has been made and that if you want it sweet, you have to have sugar cubes added while it is being prepared. There are tons of places around Istanbul to get a traditional Turkish coffee and they are always affordable prices.
Address: Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, Olivia Geçidi 1/A, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Ceramics and traditional Turkish tiles have been a part of Turkish and Islamic history for thousands of years. Tons of things from people and simple art patterns to animals like birds, lions, sirens and sphinxes can be found in a myriad of designs and objects. Traditional Turkish ceramics can be found at most local bazaars and places where tourists are found and with so many different designs and options available, there will definitely be something you’ll like.
One Handmade Ceramics
Address: Etiler, F.S.M. Mahallesi,, Bilgi Sokak, No:23, 34470 Sarıyer/İstanbul, Turkey
Website: One Handmade Ceramics
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
If you’re someone who likes antique shopping then you’re in luck. In a city as old as Istanbul, there’s no shortage of little nick nacks that can cater to any one’s budget. From Ottoman era collectibles to the vintage finds of years gone by, there’s always something to buy. Istanbul has a ton of antique shops from big stores to little stalls found in a bazaar, to quaint little shops down narrow alleyways.
Address: Caferağa, Moda Cad. Tellalzade Sok. No:9 D:A, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
Website: Sah Galeri
Being on the border between Europe and Asia means that Istanbul has an influence of both customs and that can definitely be seen through Istanbul’s textile industry. If you’re someone who likes to make their own clothes or are someone who’s just an enthusiast then make sure you dedicate some time to looking through some of Istanbul’s most elegant and stylish textile designs.
Address: Binbirdirek Mh., Üçler Sk. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Website: Tulu Tekstil
Much like anywhere else in the world, getting some jewelry or accessories is a matter of where you go. There are, of course, jewelry stores and brand name jewelry outlets in Istanbul but if you’re looking to find a bargain or are looking for a place where you’ll find some handcrafted authentic pieces than you’ll have to do some searching. Hit up the local bazaars or if you’re around in October, there is also the international Jewelry Show where you’ll be sure to get amazing, one of a kind, finds.
Wholesale Custom Jewelry Manufacturer of Turkish Ottoman Jewels
Address: Alemdar Mh., Guran Han D:4, Bab-ı Ali Cd. No:34, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
8. Turkish Sweets
Turkish sweets are very delicious and unique candies. For people looking to bring some back home, there isthe option of getting some harder candies which will likely last longer, or the option of getting gummies. In fact, popular gummy producer, Haribo, has a store location in Istanbul. But for some traditional snacks on the go, you can’t go wrong with Baklava or Macunu, a soft sweet toffee paste served on a stick and available from many street vendors.
Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir
Address: İstiklal Cad. No:83/6 Taksim 34433 Istanbul Turkey
Website: Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir Candy Store
9. Turkish Towels
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Turkish towels, much like textiles and rugs, can be a really great thing to bring back from your trip to Istanbul. For a real treat, try to find some handmade and handwoven towels, but of course, those will come at a higher price. You can find entire stores dedicated to selling towels in Istanbul so make sure to shop around
Address: Arasta Çarşısı, Küçükayasofya Caddesi No:135, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Website: Jennifer’s Hammam
10. Olive oil soap
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Olive oil soap is something you can get that’s usually homemade and is really good for the skin! It also makes a great gift for people, that’s both authentically Turkish and practical to use. Bazaars will generally have a store where handmade soaps and bathing products can be found, and if you’re looking for something really cool for yourself definitely get some olive oil soap.
Olive oil soap
Address: Beyazıt Mh., 34126 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Website: Olive oil soap
Istanbul is a city where you will come back from with tons of things. From candies to handmade goods like towels, soaps and rugs, there is a limitless ton of options of things to get while you’re here. Just make sure you pack a big enough bag.
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