The Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı in Turkish) is an overwhelming experience for many. Sellers hawk their wares at the top of the voice, everyone has their own technique to entice you in, the colors, lights, and sounds create an exotic and unique atmosphere. Although it can feel like a tourist trap at first, there are quality goods and real bargains to be found... if you know where to look. So here's our guide to shopping in Grand Bazaar:
Do Your Research
Have an idea of what you want to find and how much you want to pay for it. Some of the best items to look out for are: pestamel (handwoven hamam towels); carpets and kilims; antiques; traditional Ottoman or Islamic arts such as tiles, calligraphy and miniatures; other fabrics such as pashminas; and products made from central Asian textiles like ikat or suzani.
It's an accepted practice, and if you don't – you might find yourself paying way over the odds. However, if it is a store that has fixed prices displayed, there's no room for maneuver. Cash is preferred, but many stores accept cards (though not always American Express) and there are cash points around.
The Grand Bazaar Istanbul is made up of 66 streets and over 4000 shops, and there are different sections for items including gold, silver, leather and carpets. It's easy to get lost and often almost impossible to find what you're looking for, so go with a Grand Bazaar guide, or pick up a map of Grand Bazaar to make the most of it. Alternatively, for a truly unique experience, check out on of our specially curated Grand Bazaar tours: Grand Bazaar Jewellery Workshop or Bazaaring in Istanbul.
What can be said about the Grand Bazaar that hasn't been said before? As one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, Kapalı Çarşı, as it's known in Turkish, remains one of those crucial Istanbul experiences. Of course, not all of its more than 4000 shops are worthy of one's time, but getting lost in this shopping labyrinth, only to discover exactly what you're looking for, is pretty special nonetheless.
Some of the stand out shops include Punto Carpet (outside of Nuruosmaniye Gate), Dhoku, Recep Karaduman for kilims and carpets; Iznik Works for beautiful ceramic objects in the Iznik hand-painted style; Yazzma for traditional home textiles, ikat patterns; Cashmere House and Kaftan House for women's attires and Sevan Bıçakçı, Tina or Liebe for jewellery.
A little-known fact about is that the Grand Bazaar used to be organized into sections specializing in one craft, each of which had its own han (caravanserai) where traveling merchants could rest and do business. These hans still exist today, some still dedicated to one craft, and the Zincirli Han is one of its fines, set around a lovely floor and workshops on the second.
The Grand Bazaar Istanbul is made up of 66 streets and over 4000 shops
Where is Grand Bazaar?
The Grand Bazaar is located in the Old City, close to other attractions such as the Blue Mosque Istanbul, Spice Bazaar Istanbul, and Hagia Sophia Istanbul. The easiest way to get there is to take a tram to the Beyazit-Kapalıçarşı.
What are the Grand bazaar opening hours?
This unique Istanbul market is open Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 7pm. Grand Bazaar Sunday: closed.