“The Grand Bazaar was a highlight - could not have done this so well without Istanbul Tour Studio's knowledge and help going to all the best vendors and having a truly Turkish (insiders experience). Our guide not only made our stay so much more interesting and rewarding thanks to his knowledge and local secrets but also went beyond to assist with turkish bath and restaurant bookings (that were truly amazing), private car pick ups and drop offs and even sending parcels to my home in Australia! They were amazing!” Read more on Tripadvisor.
Istanbul Shopping Tour: Bazaaring
Due to its unique location, Istanbul has always been a gateway from east to west or vice versa, making it a very important commerce hub. Historically, Istanbul has always played a strategic role both for Silk and Spice trade routes. Eastern spices and silk products were stocked and shipped from Istanbul to Europe. The famous Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar were meeting points of western and eastern traders where they exchanged goods and products.
Shopping is fun when you know the right places. And Grand Bazaar is a paradise on earth in terms of shopping. There are over 4000 shops in and around the market. From antiques to silverware, silk products to calligraphy, hand-woven carpets to gold jewelry a huge variety of handicrafts are available at the bazaar. Let our expert guides lead you away from the tourist traps to see the real heart of this historic place.
Important Note: We would like to remind you that starting from August 21st to August 24th it's the Sacrifice Eid (Eid al-Adha) here in Turkey. During this time of the year, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar will be closed. However Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Underground Cistern and other museums will be open.
Highlights of Bazaaring in Istanbul Tour
In this itinerary you can find my favorite stores, hidden corners and eateries of both the Grand and Spice Bazaar.
- Grand Bazaar: With its 66 streets and over 4000 shops, the Grand Bazaar is the biggest covered market in the world. From high end jewelry to leather purses, hand-made Turkish carpets to copper work, Iznik tiles to calligraphy a wide selection of products are available in the bazaar. In most of the stores bargaining is customary although there are fix price shops as well. The bazaar is also a historical landmark of the city. It was built in 1461 by Conquerer Sultan Mehmet the 2nd. The massive market is considered as an architectural masterpiece as well.
- Zincirli Han: This is one of the many hans (inns) of the Grand Bazaar. Hans, in the past, were places for traveler merchants to sleep and do their business. Normally a han would be formed by a courtyard, fountain in the middle of the courtyard for washing or purification, a kitchen or coffee place and of course shops and workshops. Inns specialised in different crafts. Most hans in the bazaar were dedicated to a particular craft. Today some of the hans are still specialised in a specific craft such as silver, leather or textile. The place is very authentic and live. You can still find artists or smiths hands-on working, the little coffee shop at the corner serves teas and coffees to its neighbor shops.
- Cevahir Bedesteni: This Antique Old Bazaar is the oldest part of the Grand Bazaar. It is also called as Old Antique Bazaar. Cevahir Bedesteni dating back to 15th century still retains the original warehouse design of the bazaar. This section of the bazaar hosts nearly 120 shops. It has four different entrances which makes you feel like you are in a maze. From old watches to calligraphy artworks, religious rosaries to hand-made Iznik tiles almost all kinds of handicraft is available at this part of the bazaar. Although the most common product is silver, that’s why it is also known as the silver bazaar among the locals.
- Lunch Option 1- Nar Lokantasi: Entering through a very upscale jewellery store close by the Grand Bazaar, Nar Lokantasi is located in the roof-top of Armaggan building. Very beautiful restaurant space, service very attentive and sympathetic and of-course yummy food! I definitely suggest tenderly cooked lamb kebap.
- Lunch Option 2 - Aslan Restaurant: This is one of my favourite bargain eateries of the Grand Bazaar. Just few steps away from Nur-u Osmaniye entrance of the bazaar you can find this traditional family restaurant owned by Mr. Aslan. Great food and friendly staff. There is no menu in this place which is why you need to choose your meal from the glass window by the entrance. Everyday there are different types of Turkish food cooked in this cosy place. I do definitely recommend lamb döner kebap served with some rice and eggplant puree (if there is).
- Spice Bazaar: Built in 1664, it is one of the most colorful bazaars of the city. Historically, Istanbul has always been a gateway from Europe to Asia and vice versa. Therefore, Indian spices were shipped to Istanbul and from there distributed to several different areas of Europe. Today, the bazaar is still home for wide range of spices. Turkish delights, dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, saffron and caviar is also available as well as spices.
Who is this tour for?
- Shopaholics! Those that want to spend their money on quality handcrafted goods or those that want to just window shop, learning about Turkish culture along the way.
- Anyone that doesn’t want to get sucked into the tourist traps but wants to see the best that Istanbul has to offer.
- People interested in traditional arts and crafts.
- Anyone interested in the history and culture of Istanbul.
Why should I book with Istanbul Tour Studio?
- Our tour has been specially created by one of the Grand Bazaar’s living legends - the well-known and outspoken antiques dealer who knows the bazaar better than anyone.
- We make you feel at home! Our tours give you the feeling that you are walking around Istanbul with local friends.
- We have a team of knowledgeable personnel that are trustworthy, friendly and always on time.
- Don’t just take our word for it! Istanbul Tour Studio is rated ‘Excellent’ on Tripadvisor, read the reviews here.
How much is the private Bazaaring in Istanbul tour per person?
- Private Bazaaring in Istanbul tour prices start from $110 USD/person for two people. ($220 USD/total for two people).
- Our prices are quoted per person. We require minimum two participants to organise this private tour. Please contact us if you'd like to book a private tour for one person. The prices include English speaking professional guidance and personal shopper assistance in the bazaars of Istanbul. We offer dynamic pricing which means as the number of people on your private group increase, our per person prices decrease.
- This tour is $110 USD/person for two people; $100 USD/person for three people; $90 USD/person for four people; $80 USD/person for five people and so on. You will automatically get the dynamic pricing at the booking phase after choosing the total number of people.