Where to Shop in Istanbul
From the Grand Bazaar to the spice market and neighbourhoods full of intriguing boutiques, Turkey’s largest city has much to offer the serious shopper.
Istanbul has been a favourite shopping ground for the haut monde ever since the Byzantine era. Then it was known as Constantinople and was a major stop on the Silk Road. Nowadays, the city that straddles two continents is still attracting those on the hunt for one-of-a-kind finds, from intricate flat-woven kilims to colourful hanging lanterns, fragrant spices, precious metal baubles, cutting-edge fashions, modern ceramics and chic leather goods. In other words, it’s an inveterate shopper’s Turkish delight. Most visitors kick off their retail expedition at the Grand Bazaar - and rightly so. The covered complex and surrounding outdoor space accommodate more than 4,000 shops and stalls selling, well, everything. It’s one of the world’s oldest and largest bazaars - the original shopping mall - and navigating its nearly five dozen streets is not as difficult as you might think.
Oh, you’ll get lost - after all, the Bazaar is plenty bizarre, and the serpentine lanes, tiny alleyways and hidden courtyards confuse even locals. But it’s actually well organised, with shops clustered according to type.
Across the Golden Horn from Eminönü is where the shopping gets really fun. If you are in the mood for a bohemian shopping spree Karaköy is filled with concept stores and cool boutiques. The neighbourhood of Galata’s hilly cobblestone streets radiating from the Galata Tower hold shops and ateliers of some of Istanbul’s best up-and-coming designers. Just northeast of Galata are the very walkable neighbourhoods of Çukurcuma and Cihangir, the best places to go for antiques. Right on the Bosphorus, the Beşiktaş villages of Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme and Bebek are local favourites for their hip, casual boutiques. Nearby is another insider’s haunt - Akaretler Row, a series of restored Neoclassical townhouses built in the late 19th century, which now are home to dozens of stylish shops. North of it all, you’ll find Nişantaşi, considered the Beverly Hills of Istanbul. If you have time for only one neighbourhood, ply its gilded streets.
- Abdulla Natural Products - Ali Baba Türbe Sokak; No. 25; 90 212/526 30 70-71
Everything sold at this breezy shop is 100 percent natural, from the hand-woven, vegetable-dyed towels, sheets and throws to olive oil soaps and loofah mitts and gloves - the perfect accessories for your home hammam.
- Epoque Sandal Bedesten Sokak No. 38; 90 212/527 78 65
This tiny boutique overflows with antique silver goblets, ornate vases and ceramic ware. Epoque also has a very rich collection of vintage and antique jewellery - just be sure to ask, as many of the pieces aren’t on display.
- Iznik Classic Bedesten Şerif Ağa Sokak; No. 18-21; 90 212/520 25 68
One of the city’s best sources for contemporary Turkish ceramics. Named after the vaunted Iznik style of ceramics, the shop offers tiles, plates, bowls and vases that often reproduce 16th-century shapes and motifs. Iznik also carries modern pieces.
- Muhlis Günbattı - Perdahçılar Sok. No:48; 90 212/511 6562
Muhlis Günbattı is a highly recommended shop where you can find the finest collection of Central Asian textiles and Turkish rugs. While all of the Anatolian tribal rugs are handmade, mostare semi-antique and antique.
- Arzu Kaprol - Abdi İpekçi Cad. Atiye Sokak No. 9; 90 212/225 01 29
This is where the city’s upper-crust ladies buy their flowing couture creations made from Turkish silks, their structural little black dresses, their lavish party gowns and their super-chic cocktail dresses. The boutique itself is worth a visit for its Iznik-inspired floor tiles, exposed brick walls and archways.
- Beymen Home - Abdi Ipekçi Caddesi No. 23/1; 90 212/373 48 00
With its cosmopolitan cadre of designers, Beymen is Istanbul’s answer to Barneys New York. But its home store stays local with the collection of furniture, tabletop items, rugs and linens by some of the country’s best designers. Head here if you have a hankering for graphic, evil-eye-adorned ceramic vases, Turkish ikat-style pillows, impossibly delicate hand-woven linens and modern Ottoman-style settees.
- Raen Spa & Natural Care - Vişnezade Mahallesi Dibekçi Sokak Şener Apartmanı No. 2/B; 90 212/241 41 14
Your bathroom may not be a hammam, but you can bring a little flavour of the Turkish bath home with you, thanks to the soaps, creams, scrubs and the like from this modern apothecary shop. Most of the ingredients are sourced in Turkey. Can’t find a face cream that smells and works just right? The shop keeps will happily whip you up a custom creation.
- Yastik by Rifat Özbek - Şakayık Sokak No. 13/1; 90 212/240 87 31
Cushions unlimited! Yastik, whose name is Turkish for “cushion,” carries more than 100 different limited-edition designs, from ikat and Anatolian floral prints to antique velvet that’s perfect for a modern-day harem.
Çukurcuma and Cihangir
- A La Turca - Faikpaşa No. 4; 90 212/245 29 33
Unlike many kitschy antiques shops in the area (wacky sultan portraits, anyone?), A La Turca carries exquisite, well-preserved antiques, kilims, Ottoman textiles and hammered copper pieces. The four-storey townhouse feels like a cluttered yet cosy home.
Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme and Bebek
- Meşhur Bebek Badem Ezmesi - Cevdet Paşa Caddesi No. 53/C; 90 212/263 59 84
Opened in 1904, this confectionery is famous for badem ezmesi, Turkey’s slightly less sweet answer to marzipan. (The shop’s name translates to Famous Bebek Almond Paste.) You’ll find a number of other Turkish sweets here, including excellent lokum and the boiled hard candy called akide şekeri.
- Midnight Express - Küçük Bebek Caddesi No. 7/A; 90 212/263 21 11
Owned by fashion designer Banu Bora and architect Tayfun Mumcu, this well-edited boutique offers a quick introduction to some of Turkey’s hottest designers, with cheeky dresses and silk pants by Zeynep Erdoğan, Kismet by Milka’s rose gold rings in the shape of Fatima’s hand, and Mehry Mu’s leather bags inspired by Turkish ikats. Both Bora and Mumcu design pieces for the shop. Bora deals in comfy, chic clothing, while Mumcu purveys furniture and accessories.
- Assouline - Cevdet Paşa Cad. 25/A, Beşiktaş; 90 212/287 5534
The book boutique Assoline is a niche for bibliophiles that offers luxury books on fashion, art, architecture, photography, design and travel, and unique library objects and accessories. This bookstore also invites you to transform your library with a large selection of curated vintage collection tomes and its extensive gift and accessories line, including leather book totes, limited-edition travel trunks, bookends and book stands, objets d’art and collectibles, stationery, and its exclusive line of scented library candles.
- Lokum Istanbul - Arnavutköy Cad. Kristal Apt. No:15 D:1; 90 212/257 0500
Lokum Istanbul is a brand that aims to bring back historical delicacies and habits from Ottoman and Turkish cultures that do not get the attention they deserve today. Main products are Turkish delights, akide candies, cologne water, candles, books and personal stationary.
- Sahi - Kılıç Ali Paşa Mescit Sokak No.2; 90 212/244 63 63
Sahi is a shop and also a cafe located in Karaköy that sells the best of local artisanal goods as well as re-interpreted traditional crafts by contemporary designers. Located alongside Mimar Sinan's Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque Sahi provides you the best of Turkish designers and aims to re-brand cultural products.
- Autoban Gallery Akaretler - Sinanpaşa Mahallesi, Süleyman Seba Caddesi No. 16-20; 90 212/236 92 46
This concept store is the best of the galleries and design shops in this townhouse row. The group is behind some of Istanbul’s most stylish projects, and the gallery sells its full range of midcentury-modern-meets-Scandinavia-meets-Turkey furniture.
- Doors by Ümit Ünal - Ensiz Sokak No. 1B; 90 212/245 78 86
Ümit Ünal has a way with drapery. His slouchy clothing (all in natural fabrics) exudes casual comfort while still being impeccably stylish and sophisticated. The shop/atelier is housed in a heritage building with rough-cut wooden floors and Ünal’s sketches on the walls.
- Simay Bülbül - Bereketzade Sokak Kuledibi, Kuleçıkmazı No. 17; 90 212/292 78 99
Putting a contemporary spin on traditional leatherwork is the idée fixe here, as seen in the designer’s edgy collection of leather dresses, jackets and accessories. The shop also stocks a range of jersey knit and silk pieces.
- 290 SQM - Serdar-ı Ekrem Sok. Şahin Apt. No: 27/A; 90 212/ 249 0121
This is a new type of store in Istanbul with its small garden upstairs, a rooftop terrace and a program of arthouse film screenings. The shop offers brands that are rarely distributed in Turkey. The shop is one of the most diverse concept stores, originally based in Amsterdam.
- Atelier 55 - Serdar-ı Ekrem Sok. Eraskerci Çıkmazı No: 55; 90 212/ 245 3255
Atelier 55 is one of the first fashion boutiques that opened in neighbourhood and it carries a balanced selection of Turkish and international designers. This glamorous boutique offers variety of items such as clothing, shoes, jewellery, accessories and cushions in a stylish location. Everything in store including the furniture and the paintings are for sale.
- Beymen - Levazım Mah., Barbaros Bulv. Zorlu Center No:1
Beymen is a top destination for luxury retail and offers a selection of top international brands for both men and women. From Celine to Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga and Lanvin, Beymen is a must for Istanbul fashionistas.
- VAKKO - Zorlu Center Koru Sokak No:AV Z011 – AVZ012; 90 212/708 33 33
Vakko is a well estanbished Turkish brand that was founded in 1934. Vakko mostly provides its services to its clients on clothing. Vakko, one of the oldest and luxurious fashion brands in Turkey, is a must to visit.
- Haremlique - Zorlu Center Koru Sokak No:2/194; 90 212/236 38 43
Haremlique is the hippest home shopping boutique in Istanbul. 100 percent of its products are fabricated with Egyptian cotton. Haremlique is inspired by the modern city of Istanbul while it contains elegant and timeless hints of Ottoman design.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus