Istanbul is considered the unofficial capital of European shopping. The famous city “shopping center” is the Laleli district, which consists entirely of shops with a variety of goods, mainly textiles and leather. Prices there are more than moderate. See JIBIN123 for Turkey customs regulations and visa requirements.
The covered market “Grand Bazaar” is a kind of “city within a city”, spread over 50 streets and including 4,400 shops, 40 trading yards, workshops and coffee houses. The Grand Bazaar is the best place to buy souvenirs, antiques and gold.
The Egyptian Bazaar specializes in spices, coffee, sweets and flowers, while the Sakhaflar Carshysy Book Bazaar is a small market for used and antique books, where you can find everything from Marxist classics to Turkish translations of the Koran.
Going for big purchases at Kapali Carci is not worth it, the prices are extremely high. However, the building itself and the atmosphere of the market will take you back to the time of the Ottomans for a while.
The most popular souvenirs from Istanbul are Turkish delight, Turkish tea, carpets, antiques, jewelry and leather goods. Turkish delight is the most famous delicacy in Turkey – it is better to buy by weight, and not in pre-packed boxes: it is more expensive, but more reliable. This way you can try the product beforehand and avoid being scammed.
Standard Turkish Turkish Delight – with lemon and rose water flavor, but pistachio sweets are also very good.
The best Turkish delight is in the shops on Istiklal Caddesi Street and at the Spice Market.
Carpets can also be a good purchase in Istanbul. Prices in local shops are designed for tourists, so feel free to bargain with sellers. It is best to buy carpets and kilims in the shops of Sultanahmet. It is worth looking into jewelry shops for jewelry with chalcedony. But you should be careful when buying antiques: local laws prohibit the export of items that are more than 100 years old from Turkey. To find out the age of a product, you can take it to the museum for examination. In many stores, museum certificates are immediately provided to customers, confirming that products from the assortment can be freely exported from the country.
In addition to traditional markets and bazaars, Istanbul has many modern shopping centers, where the world’s leading brands are widely represented, and their products are much cheaper than in other metropolitan areas.
Lovers of first-class shopping should visit one of the oldest shopping centers in Istanbul “Atrium”. Noteworthy is the nautical-themed Tepe Nautilus in Kadikoy, the first themed shopping mall in Turkey. The Deposite Outlet Center pleases customers with favorable discounts, and the 6-storey Profilo with a variety of entertainment: cinema halls, theaters, sports and entertainment centers.
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What to try
In Istanbul, you will find a whole menu of unique dishes that are simply unforgivable not to taste. You need to start the meal with snacks: rice in grape leaves, stuffed tomatoes and all kinds of salads with olive oil. Traditional first courses are thick soup “chobra” with a base of local kvass and cold “jajik” of fresh cucumbers with yogurt. Vegetarians will certainly like the stewed vegetables “guvech”, as well as Turkish pilaf, which is prepared here not only from rice, but also from bulgur – coarsely ground wheat.
Istanbul seafood deserves special attention: they are always fresh here, because the city is surrounded by seas. Restaurants serve shrimp, squid, lobster, swordfish, mussels and sea bass, and street cafes serve delicious balyk-ekmek fish sandwiches. The most common meat dish is, of course, kebab, but don’t forget to try meat balls “kefte” from minced lamb with egg and onion.
Surrounded by the seas, Istanbul always has the freshest seafood.
For dessert, treat yourself to puff pastry stuffed with pistachios, traditional Turkish delight and “dondurma” – local ice cream with orchid root extract.
It is best to drink all this splendor with the famous Turkish coffee or tea. As for alcohol, we recommend trying aniseed raki, which is considered the main national alcoholic drink.
Cafes and Restaurants in Istanbul
The best restaurants in the center (near the Sirkeci station) are located in large hotels. Most of them specialize in Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. The prices here are quite moderate, and the quality of service is high.
Food is more expensive in Sultanahmet, but with a variety of local cafes and restaurants, there is sure to be an option for tourists with any budget. For example, on Divanyolu Street there are numerous establishments specializing in the preparation of Turkish cutlets “kefte” and shish kebab – fried meat on a spit. On the Akbiyik pedestrian street there are restaurants of local, European, Moroccan and many other national cuisines. Some of them even hold master classes in cooking traditional dishes.
There are many decent cafes and restaurants in the Beyoglu area. Several of them are located in the courtyard of the Flower Passage not far from Galatasaray Square. And on Nevizade Sokak there is a whole string of traditional Turkish taverns “meykhane” with a relaxed friendly atmosphere.
If you want to try the local street food, head to the Eminenu embankment and the vicinity of the Galata Bridge. The best local treats are the freshest mussels, oysters and the famous “balyk-ekmek” fish sandwiches for only 5-7 TRY apiece.