Shopping in Istanbul

11.10.2021
Shopping in Istanbul
© karakartal / Shutterstock

Istanbul is one of the most attractive cities in the world for shopping. This ancient megalopolis, located on two continents, is famous not only for its rich history and sights but also for its modern shopping centers, stores, stalls, ancient bazaars, and entire neighborhoods, where you can buy absolutely everything. Trade here is part of the national tradition and mentality, and the large selection of quality Turkish goods always attracts many customers.

What to buy in Istanbul

You can buy a variety of products in the largest metropolis that has become its symbol or are a national tradition.

  • Clothing and shoes from Turkish and European manufacturers. Turkish clothing is known for its excellent quality, modern models, and affordable prices. Models of popular European brands are represented in a wide range — both from new collections and from past seasons (at lower prices).
  • Textiles are one of the favorite souvenirs tourists bring from Istanbul. Linens, towels, bedspreads, and bathrobes of excellent quality and in a huge range can be bought in all the shopping centers and markets of the city.
  • Carpets are the pride of Turks. The real masterpieces are handmade and woven by the double-knot method, so they are very thick. Beware of the Chinese fakes when you buy them.
  • Glassware is another item that is sold everywhere in Istanbul and is in demand among tourists. Turkey has been famous for its production since the XVI century, and this tradition has been preserved until today.
  • Jewelry attracts by its low price and a wide variety. It is worth knowing that the democratic price of gold is due to low carat. It includes a significant amount of silver and copper alloys.
  • You can buy antiques in Istanbul in many places, but the most famous among them is the Aksaray store. Interesting things can easily be found at flea markets. However, you should know that it is forbidden to take out items of historical value (which is more than 100 years old).
  • Leather goods are well made, pleasantly priced, and fashionable design. You can buy them almost in all the malls and bazaars.
  • Turkish sweets, alcohol, and other products — tourists necessarily bring all of them from Istanbul as a souvenir.
Grand Bazaar
Mosaic Ottoman lamps from Grand Bazaar © Berke / Shutterstock

Best shopping malls in Istanbul

Shopping in Istanbul is most comfortable in large shopping malls. They contain stores of the most popular European and Turkish brands. There are also entertainment areas and places to relax, restaurants, and food courts.

Istanbul shopping center main entrance
Mail of Istanbul © Qudama Seger / Shutterstock

Cevahir

The largest shopping center in Istanbul and Europe is located in the European part of the city, in the Şişli district. It occupies a six-story building with more than 350 stores and boutiques representing popular global brands, including Turkish ones. You can buy everything from lingerie, clothing, and home textiles to furniture and household appliances here. In addition to shopping, you can come here to have fun. Cevahir has amusement rides, arcade games, bowling, 11 cinemas, many cafes, restaurants, and a huge food court.

Forum Istanbul

One of Istanbul's largest shopping malls is located on the Asian side of the city, in the Bayrampaşa district. Its enormous area houses more than 300 stores, restaurants, cafes, food courts, cinemas, bowling alleys, helicopter flight simulators, entertainment centers, a sandcastle, playgrounds, and the city's most famous aquarium Sea Life, which is home to more than 15,000 sea creatures. Many favorite mass-market brands, well known to customers and offering pleasant prices, are represented in this shopping center.

Exterior of the shopping and entertainment center
Forum Istanbul © ColorMaker / Shutterstock

Marmara Forum

Modern shopping mall Marmara Forum is located in the Zeytinburnu district and is one of the favorites of locals. Here you can buy everything — clothes and shoes, products for children and home, home appliances, accessories, and more. It is worth paying attention to Turkish brands, as their products are much cheaper and of good quality. However, people come here not only for shopping but also to have a good time. Many cafes and restaurants have their own terraces, offering magnificent views of the Marmara Sea and the city. And in the evening, the building is beautifully illuminated, and it resembles a ship.

Istanbul shopping center
Marmara Forum © upload.wikimedia.org

Canyon Mall

This shopping center got its name because of its unusual canyon-like shape. In 2006, it won the Commercial Built category at the Dubai Shopping Mall Expo, and it is an architectural landmark of Istanbul. It is located in the heart of the business district of Levent and has direct access to the metro station of the same name. Its area (37.5 thousand square meters) has stores, gyms, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, offices, and residential spaces. In addition to well-known mass-market brands, there are those that were first introduced in Istanbul — Wagamama, Douglas, Bally, Fresh Line Homemade Cosmetic. The Canyon is also known for its largest bookstore in the metropolis.

Istanbul shopping center
Canyon Mall © turkeco.com

Zorlu Center

Another large shopping center is located on the European side, in the prestigious Besiktas district. It is called the most expensive project in Istanbul. You can get inside directly from the Gayrettepe metro station without having to go outside. Its vast area houses more than 200 luxury and local brand stores, many restaurants, cafes, a food court, a multiplex cinema, a leisure park with an artificial lake, and more than 200 types of plants (including about 70 varieties of trees), a performing arts center, a hotel, and playgrounds.

Multifunctional complex in Besiktas district
Zorlu Center © tolgaildun / Shutterstock

Aqua Florya

A small shopping and entertainment mall is located near the former Ataturk International Airport in the Florya district. It is located right on the water's edge, on the shore of the Sea of Marmara. In addition to 145 stores and boutiques of elite global brands, it has cinemas, an open-air amphitheater, a passageway, exhibition and event spaces, restaurants and cafes on outdoor terraces, landscaped and promenade areas. And its main attraction is the Istanbul Akvaryum, one of the largest aquariums in the world. It has a large underwater tunnel and 64 pools housing 15 thousand marine animals of 1,500 species.

Interior of a shopping and entertainment center in Floria
Aqua Florya © DKhaled ElAdawy / Shutterstock

Akmerkez

One of Istanbul's very first shopping malls is located in the Besiktas district. Akmerkez consists of two twin office towers, a 24-story residential building, and a shopping mall. The latter occupies three floors where luxury brands and mass-market stores, beauty salons, banking institutions, cafes, restaurants, food courts, and cinemas are located. Exhibitions of art galleries and museums are held here, and artists are invited to perform. As darkness falls, people gather near the towers of the mall to watch laser shows on the facade of the buildings.

Shopping center in Besiktas district
Akmerkez © mk-illumination.com

İstinye Park

It is a favorite shopping mall of celebrities, politicians, and wealthy businessmen in the Sarıyer district. You can see many prestigious cars in its underground parking lot — from rare Rolls-Royce and Mercedes to modern racing Bugatti and Ferrari. New collections of clothes and shoes of famous brands, which take part in Paris, Milan, and New York fashion shows, are the first to arrive in İstinye Park. Here, as in other shopping centers, there is a multiplex cinema, playgrounds, entertainment areas, a gym, and, in addition, haute cuisine restaurants. The improvised street, where each brand has its building, is a constant attraction for visitors.

Shopping mall in Sariyer area
İstinye Park © i1.wp.com

Historia Shopping Center

The Historia Shopping and Entertainment Center is conveniently located in the historic Fatih district, close to the Aksaray subway station and the T1 (Haseki) streetcar stop. Its many stores feature popular European brands to a large extent, but there are also well-known Turkish brands as well. In addition to shopping, visitors can relax in cinemas, cafes, and restaurants, have fun in specially designated areas, attend fashion shows, concerts, and other events.

Shopping and entertainment center in Fatih area
Historia Shopping Center © kelesogluholding.com

Demiroren Istiklal Shopping Center

It is located on Istanbul's most famous pedestrian street, Istiklal Avenue. The center seems small from the outside, but its secret is that several floors inside the building go deep into the ground. There are more than 40 stores for children and adults, both European and Turkish brands. In addition, there is a cinema, an art gallery, cafes, restaurants, and entertainment areas.

Istiklal Avenue or Istiklal Street
Demiroren Istiklal Shopping Center © saiko3p / Shutterstock

Mall of Istanbul

The huge shopping center is located in the Başakşehir district, next to the Kocatepe metro station of the M1B line. It houses more than 350 stores of European and Turkish brands. There is a food court, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, a bowling alley, free Wi-Fi, and everything else that other similar establishments have. But its main attraction is the huge entertainment complex for children.

Shopping center in Basaksehir area
Mall of Istanbul © cf.bstatic.com

Vadistanbul Shopping Center

The beautiful and modern Vadistanbul shopping mall is located in the Ayazağa district, surrounded on three sides by the Belgrade Forest. It is a three-story building with 250 stores, a food court with a roof terrace overlooking the forest of the Sendere Valley, a 5-star hotel, and an office space. There is a monorail inside the building that connects it to the Seyrantepe metro station of the M2 line. People come here to do leisurely shopping, enjoy a stroll in the park, and relax by the fountain.

Atrium of a huge Istanbul mall
Vadistanbul Shopping Center © investinsaat.com

Akasya

One of Istanbul's largest shopping malls is located in the Usküdar district, and it occupies a huge area on five floors. Shopping lovers will find the latest collections of elite European and Turkish brands here. As in other big shopping malls, there are recreation areas, food courts, restaurants, cafes, multiplex cinemas, and a lot of entertainment. There are playgrounds for kids, and KidZania is a fun place to visit for children of preschool and primary school age.

Shopping center in Uskudar district
Akasya © travellersroute.com

EMAAR Square Mall

Another luxury mall is in the Uskudar district. It is just as good as its competitors, and it offers visitors an incredible selection of goods in different price categories. On the lower floors, which go underground, there are stores and boutiques with democratic prices, and the elite ones are located above. Shoppers will be happy with both the variety and the cost of goods. Families with children are happy to come here to shop, as there is a wonderful entertainment area for kids. It includes a playground, an aquarium, and the services of an entertainer. In addition, the mall has an excellent food court and a restaurant on the terrace overlooking the fountain, multi-screen cinemas, and other entertainment.

Shopping center in Uskudar district
EMAAR Square Mall © media.fashionnetwork.com

Famous Istanbul bazaars

Bazaars are the most ancient shopping places in Istanbul. There are some of the largest in the city, which have preserved their authenticity to this day. It's a must to bargain here, so you can halve the cost of shopping and enjoy the process itself.

Grand Bazaar

One of the largest covered markets in the world is located in the Sultanahmet district, close to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. It occupies an area of more than 30 thousand square meters with 66 streets and more than four thousand stores. This colorful bazaar is a popular tourist location but not the best place for shopping, as the prices are considerably inflated. You come here to feel the atmosphere of the old city, bargain a bit, and maybe buy some small things.
The walls of the Grand Bazaar sell handmade pillows, bags and carpets
Grand Bazaar © Tekkol / Shutterstock

Egyptian bazaar

The second-largest bazaar in the city is located in the Eminönü district, next to the New Mosque and the shore of the Golden Horn Bay. It is also known as the Spice Market. In addition to fragrant spices, you can also buy here real oriental sweets, herbs, teas, dried fruits, souvenirs, natural cosmetics, leather goods, dishes, textiles, and carpets. You should visit the famous Pandeli restaurant with a view of the Bosphorus on the second floor of the bazaar while shopping there.
Egyptian Bazaar or Misir Carsisi
Egyptian bazaar © ColorMaker / Shutterstock

Arasta Bazaar

One of Istanbul's oldest markets is located in the Sultanahmet district, next to the Blue Mosque and the Mosaic Museum. Arasta Bazaar is part of the peristyle of the great imperial palace in Constantinople, accidentally discovered in the 1930s. It consists of just one street with more than 70 stores. It sells souvenirs, antiques, jewelry, handicrafts, oriental sweets, spices, and its main specialty — handmade carpets. The most popular are those produced in Bünyan and Hereke.
Multicolored carpets are sold at the Arasta bazaar
Arasta Bazaar © Victor Jiang / Shutterstock

Laleli

Laleli Old Bazaar is located in the shopping district of the same name in the center of the Old City, next to the Grand Bazaar Market, Laleli and Bayazit Mosques. It is well known among businessmen who come to Istanbul for Turkish textiles, knitwear, and leather goods. Many sellers are confident in foreign languages, including Russian, because, in the 1990s, traders from the post-Soviet states made purchases there. You can still buy good quality locally produced items here in bulk, retail, and at low prices.
Tea is sold at the spice market in Istanbul
Laleli © Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock

Sahaflar

This is the main book market in Istanbul. It is located in the old part of the city, between the Beyazit Mosque and the gate of the Grand Bazaar. Its history dates back to the Middle Ages when it was used to sell publications of several printing houses simultaneously and buy textbooks for the students of madrasahs. Nowadays, you can find both antiques and new books at a lower price than in specialized stores.
Book Bazaar in an old courtyard between Beyazit Mosque and the Grand Bazaar
Sahaflar © YoncaEvren / Shutterstock

Horhor flea market

The famous Horhor flea market is located in the Fatih district, near the Aksaray streetcar stop. It is a unique place where antique lovers can buy unique items that have their own history. They include furnishings, crockery, accessories, jewelry, and many other items dating back to the Ottoman period of 1850-1930, the age of Napoleon III, and even various Russian antiques.
Small bazaar with different things at a good price
Horhor © imagIN.gr photography / Shutterstock

Ferikey

This market is known mainly for the organic products that can be bought here every Saturday. But it also sells other goods: fresh vegetables, herbs, fruit on Mondays and Thursdays, and antiques on Sundays.
Fresh pomegranates and oranges in the bazaar
Ferikey © Ruslan Kalnitsky / Shutterstock

Kadikoy

The popular Kadıköy Bazaar is located on the shores of the Sea of Marmara, in the district of the same name on the Asian side of Istanbul. It is always crowded, and prices here are lower than in the markets in the European part and the historic center of the city. This bazaar is open only two days a week, Tuesday and Friday. Locals come here for fresh fish, meat, groceries, fruit, sweets, pastries, dried fruits, all kinds of nuts, and other delicacies. The clothes and shoes it sells are not of the best quality; there are also bags, textiles, underwear, and souvenirs.
Old bazaar on Kadikoy street
Kadikoy © Ipek Morel / Shutterstock

Istanbul outlets

The largest stores in Istanbul are located in different parts of the city. You can buy goods with a good discount provided on previous collections. Many travelers specifically choose this time to visit the metropolis, when there are sales and stores make seasonal discounts.

Olivium Outlet Center

Istanbul's first outlet is located in its European part, in the Zeytinburnu district. This huge four-story complex houses more than 140 stores of popular brands. You can buy clothes and shoes, household appliances, cosmetics, textiles, and more in them. In addition to numerous stores and boutiques, Olivium has restaurants and cafes, a food court, recreational areas, multi-screen cinemas, a Kiddyland playground, bowling, a climbing wall, and an amateur rock-climbing wall.
Outlet in Zeytinburnu area
Olivium Outlet Center © imtilak.net

Optimum Outlet

This outlet is located on the Asian side of the city, in the Kadıköy district. It has an impressive area of more than 160 stores, most of which sell goods from past seasons. You can also find new collections here. Visitors invariably mention a good food court, an ice rink, and the Playland for children. In addition, it has many stores for children and the opportunity to rent a stroller for the baby while shopping.
Outlet in Kadikoy district
Optimum Outlet © FatihYavuz / Shutterstock

Airport Outlet Center

The large outlet is located near the former Ataturk Airport. There are more than 100 stores with famous brands in different price categories. There is also an ice skating rink, cinemas, restaurants, cafes, an amphitheater, and entertainment areas for children.

Istanbul's shopping districts and streets

You can go shopping in Istanbul not only in the shopping malls and markets offered above. There are whole streets and districts where you can have an unforgettable shopping experience, immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the Old City, and stroll through the historic sites.

  • Istiklal Caddesi is one of the most popular pedestrian streets. It is always crowded with tourists and strolling locals. There are cafes, restaurants, pastry shops, stores, and the Demiroren Istiklal Shopping Center, which offers a large selection of goods from European and Turkish manufacturers.
  • Bağdat Caddesi Street is on the Asian side of the city and is known for its fashion boutiques. You can find such brands as Zara, Nine West, Mango, LTB, Mavi, Yargici, Tommy Hilfiger, Escada, among them. It is pleasant not only to go shopping here but also to take a walk under the shade of tall trees and have a coffee in one of the cozy cafes.
  • Nişantaşı is an area where they sell branded goods from European manufacturers. The buyers include celebrities, politicians, and big businessmen. The most popular street is Abdi İpekçi Caddesi, where the atmosphere of Milan's haute couture is all over the place.
  • Märter is famous for high-quality clothes from Turkish manufacturers. And its trademark is denim and evening gowns, for which visitors come here inevitably. The advantage of Märter is lower prices than in other areas, but the disadvantage is the poor knowledge of foreign languages by shop assistants.
  • Zeytinburnu is an industrial area, where there are many factories and stores attached to them. Here you can inexpensively update your closet for the fall and winter seasons. You should come here to buy leather and fur products, bags, and accessories. When shopping in Zeytinburnu, there is no point in trying to find the lowest prices in the stores; they are almost the same everywhere. Those who like tailoring can contact the producers directly and have the item done in about three days.
  • Laleli is the favorite district for the Russian-speaking visitors of Istanbul. The majority of signs are in Russian, and the traders know it well. Laleli has a large bazaar of the same name and many stores. They sell wholesale and retail clothing, lingerie, accessories, tableware, as well as fur and leather goods.
  • Osmanbey is known for its huge selection of textiles and clothing from popular international brands and Turkish manufacturers. It also sells shoes, toys, electronic goods, souvenirs, and much more.
Street market at night
Shopping area on Istanbul street © Lukas Bischoff Photograph / Shutterstock

Children's stores in Istanbul

There is no problem with buying children's products in Istanbul. Every shopping center, bazaar, and large stores has departments of well-known brands that offer a wide range of products for children of different ages. The most popular are LC Waikiki, Soobe, E-bebek.
Children with paper bags while running through the mall
Children's stores in Istanbul © James Kirkikis / Shutterstock

LC Waikiki

The Turkish brand Waikiki is popular at home and abroad. Its stores can be found in almost every shopping center, as well as in the Sultanahmet district, near the Grand Bazaar, next to the Beyazit streetcar stop of the T1 route.

The LC Waikiki assortment features fashionable and inexpensive clothes not only for children of different ages but also for adults.

Soobe

You can buy everything you need for children from birth to 12 years old at Soobe stores. They offer a wide range of products: clothes, shoes, accessories, textiles, baby food, toys, sports equipment, stationery, food, utensils, clothes for pregnant and nursing women, breast care products, and gadgets for nursing babies.

E-bebek

This brand offers a wide range of products for babies from well-known manufacturers. Here you can buy everything you need for babies and toddlers — food, diapers, strollers, cribs, clothes, educational toys, textiles, bath products, skincare products, and more.

The largest chain stores E-bebek can be found in both the European and Asian parts of the city.

Sales and seasonal discounts

Sales in Istanbul occur twice a year — from July to September and from mid-January to March. At the beginning of the season, there is a price reduction of about 30%, and by the end of the season, it reaches 70%. It is worth noting that the least marketable goods remain by the end of the sale, and not all stores offer large discounts. In addition, some brands arrange sales on their own schedule. You can get the discounted prices at almost any time of the year in Istanbul.
Shop window with clearance
Sales and seasonal discounts © Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock

İstanbul Shopping Fest

Istanbul hosts a large-scale shopping festival every year in late spring or early summer, which lasts for more than a month. During this period, participating stores offer special discounts of up to 70% and are open around the clock. In addition, many of the city's historical sites close two hours later than usual, there are concerts, fashion shows, theatrical performances, contests, and lotteries, and Turkish Airlines introduces a special fare with free luggage up to 50 kg on some international routes.
Girls shopping
İstanbul Shopping Fest © EZ-Stock Studio / Shutterstock

Tax Free

When purchasing goods, tourists can count on a VAT refund on several items:

  • standard rate (minimum check amount must be 118 TRY) for accessories, electronics, watches, sunglasses, cosmetics, porcelain/ceramics, and household goods;
  • additional rate of 8% (minimum check amount must be 108 TRY) for textiles and clothing, leather goods, carpets, shoes, handbags, optics, books, and food.

It is necessary to ask the cashier for a Global Blue Tax-Free form when making purchases. When leaving the country, it must be presented at the customs control point at the airport, along with receipts and goods in an intact package and with tags. The officer will stamp the form. After this procedure, you must go to the point with the blue star logo, where you can receive your VAT refund in cash or on a bank card.

Girls shopping
Tax Free © NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock

Turkish clothing and footwear brands

Clothing and shoes of Turkish brands have long been popular due to low prices and good quality. When shopping in Istanbul, pay attention to the manufacturers whose products are sold everywhere and offer their customers models that meet the latest fashion trends.
Girl trying on clothes
Turkish clothing and footwear brands © NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock

Mass market

  • LC Waikiki has a wide range and low prices, and their stores offer clothing for the whole family, accessories, textiles, and jewelry;
  • Koton is similar to the previous brand and offers clothing and shoes for men, women, and children, including denim and sportswear;
  • Mudo produces furniture and home accessories in addition to clothes for adults in casual, classic, and sports styles;
  • Yargici will appeal to connoisseurs of laconic style and minimalism, as well as clothing made of natural fabrics;
  • DeFacto is the main competitor of Waikiki, which also offers clothes for the whole family and for all occasions;
  • adL offers a wide range of clothes from classics to designer novelties, and there are long lines at the ticket office during the sales of the brand;
  • Collezione focuses on youth style and adheres to the simplicity of cut.
Showcase LC Waikiki
LC Waikiki © idsb.tmgrup.com.tr

Middle market

  • Vakko is a well-known luxury clothing brand made of natural fabrics (wool, silk, linen), in addition, it produces shoes and accessories;
  • Network offers its customers, in addition to textiles, outerwear, leather goods, and accessories for adults;
  • Gizia produces high-quality women's clothing made of natural fabrics, including outerwear;
  • Ipekyol is a popular brand of women's clothing, with a range of most elegant, casual, and classic styles;
  • Twist is a demanded brand of young women's clothing and footwear for every day and for special occasions.
Ipekyol brand showcase
Ipekyol © avatars.mds.yandex.net

Denim clothes

  • Mavi belongs to the medium price range, distinguished by the high quality of goods. It produces accessories and clothes for men, women, and children;
  • Colin's is a well-known brand, which produces jackets, sweaters, shirts, T-shirts, other denim, as well as accessories in addition to jeans;
  • LTB is a democratic brand that produces not only jeans clothing but also textiles and accessories.

Shoes

  • Desa has a wide range of high-quality leather shoes, outerwear, belts, and bags;
  • Flo is a manufacturer of budget shoes for the whole family;
  • Kemal Tanca is a brand largely focused on the domestic market. It offers its customers high-quality leather goods.
Racks with Turkish shoe brands
Turkish shoes © ctcshoppingcenter.me