Istanbul has been a shopper's town for, well, centuries—the sprawling Grand Bazaar, open since 1461, could easily be called the world's oldest shopping mall—but this is not to say that the city is stuck in the past. Along with its colorful bazaars and outdoor markets, Istanbul also has a wide range of modern shopping options, from the enormous new malls that seem to be sprouting up everywhere to small independent boutiques. Either way, it's almost impossible to leave Istanbul without buying something and some say you haven't truly experienced the city until you take a whirl through the Grand Bazaar or Spice Bazaar. Whether you're looking for trinkets and souvenirs, kilims and carpets, brass and silverware, jewelry, leather goods, old books, prints, and maps, or furnishings and clothes (Turkish textiles are among the best in the world), you can find them in this city. Shopping in Istanbul also provides a snapshot of the city's contrasts and contradictions: migrants from rural Turkey haggle with tourists and sell their wares on the streets while wealthy shoppers browse the designer goods found in plush, upscale Western-style department stores.

İstiklal Caddesi is a pedestrian-only boulevard with everything from global brands like Levi's and big-name Turkish companies like Mavi to small bookshops and old-school shoe stores—though, sadly, increasingly high rent prices mean there are fewer and fewer independent local stores located on İstiklal these days. Down the hill from İstiklal, Çukurcuma Caddesi is home to a miscellany of antiques dealers carrying everything from small, Ottoman-era knickknacks to enormous antique marble tubs. Meanwhile, the character-filled Galata and Karaköy neighborhoods are becoming the places to find independent boutiques and intriguing shops selling clothing, jewelry, housewares, and objets d’art created by up-and-coming local designers.

The high-fashion district is the upscale Nişantaşı neighborhood, 1 km (½ mile) north of İstiklal Caddesi. This is where you'll find the boutiques of established Turkish fashion designers, such as Özlem Süer, Arzu Kaprol, and Atıl Kutoğlu, as well as the flagship stores of high-end international brands like Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton—though because of high import taxes and unfavorable exchange rates, these labels are usually considerably more expensive in Turkey than they are in the United States.

Istanbul is also a good place to buy jewelry, as Turkey has a long tradition of jewelry making, and many jewelers are skilled at working with both gold and silver. While local brands often tend to copy European designs in their collections, recently there has been a trend towards creating beautiful pieces with a local flavor, using traditional motifs or taking Ottoman-era charms and setting them in silver or gold. The jewelry sold in the Grand Bazaar and in high-end boutiques in Nişantaşı tends to be fairly classic and high quality; if you’re looking for something a bit more unusual or easier on the wallet, try the smaller-scale boutiques in Beyoğlu or Galata.

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  • 1. Alaturca

    Beyoglu | Antiques & Collectibles

    Styled more like a grand private mansion than a store, Alaturca has four floors that house a carefully selected—and very high-end—collection...Read More

  • 2. Armaggan

    The Bazaar Quarter and Environs | Crafts

    In a seven-story emporium with the cachet of a small boutique, the high-end design brand Armaggan offers limited-edition collections of housewares...Read More

  • 3. Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı

    Sultanahmet | Spas

    This hammam, which reopened in 2011 following a several-year, $10-million restoration after decades of disuse, is the sleekest and most luxurious...Read More

  • 4. Gönül Paksoy

    Nisantasi | Clothing

    Longtime designer Gönül Paksoy is known for her elegant and stunning women's clothing that reinterprets Ottoman and tribal designs. Her museumlike...Read More

  • 5. Sofa

    The Bazaar Quarter and Environs | Antiques & Collectibles

    One of Istanbul's most highly regarded antiques stores, Sofa is located on pedestrian-only Nuruosmaniye Caddesi. Two levels are filled with...Read More

  • 6. Tulu

    Sultanahmet | Crafts

    Istanbul-based American textile collector and designer Elizabeth Hewitt carries her own designs at Tulu, along with a fascinating collection...Read More

  • 7. Vakko

    Nisantasi | Department Store

    One of Turkey's oldest and most elegant fashion houses, Vakko carries its own lines as well as clothing, shoes, and accessories from high-end...Read More

  • 8. 3rd Culture

    Beyoglu | Household Items/Furniture

    Globe-trotting pair Zeynep and Emre Rende have devoted their design and photography talents to creating home accessories, gifts, furniture,...Read More

  • 9. Abdulla

    The Bazaar Quarter and Environs | Crafts

    This delightful boutique sells high-quality towels, tablecloths, throw rugs, and other traditional Turkish home textiles with a simple, modern...Read More

  • 10. Adnan & Hasan

    The Bazaar Quarter and Environs | Household Items/Furniture

    One of Istanbul's most reputable carpet dealers, Adnan & Hasan espouses a "hassle-free shopping" policy and is favored by the diplomatic...Read More

  • 11. Aida Pekin

    Galata | Jewelry & Watches

    At her tiny Galata boutique, designer Bihter Ayda Pekin sells unique collections of whimsical jewelry under her label Aida Pekin . Many of...Read More

  • 12. Amorf

    Beyoglu | Household Items/Furniture

    Rustic cutting boards, bowls, mortar-and-pestles, and other kitchen accessories handmade from olive and walnut wood are among the traveler-friendly...Read More

  • 13. Arasta Bazaar

    Sultanahmet | Market

    Just behind the Blue Mosque, the Arasta Bazaar is a walkway lined with shops selling items similar to those you'll find at the Grand Bazaar...Read More

  • 14. Artrium

    Beyoglu | Antiques & Collectibles

    Artrium has a range of antique items, including a fascinating collection of old prints and paintings, as well as some interesting ceramics,...Read More

  • 15. Arzu Kaprol

    Galata | Clothing

    One of Turkey's most successful fashion designers both domestically and internationally, Arzu Kaprol has a handful of boutiques in Istanbul...Read More

  • 16. Bagus

    The Bazaar Quarter and Environs | Jewelry & Watches

    In the Grand Bazaar's Cevahir Bedesteni, Bagus sells the proprietor's own reasonably priced collection of handmade jewelry made with silver...Read More

  • 17. Beymen

    Nisantasi | Department Store

    Istanbul's version of Bloomingdale's, Beymen has suited doormen and sells expensive, up-to-date fashions from well-known international brands...Read More

  • 18. Cağaloğlu Hamamı

    Sultanahmet | Spas

    Housed in a magnificent building dating to 1741, the Cağaloğlu Hamamı has long been considered one of the best in Istanbul. Florence Nightingale...Read More

  • 19. Çemberlitaş Hamamı

    Sultanahmet | Spas

    Built in 1584, Çemberlitaş Hamamı is famous for its beautiful architectural design and has long been a favorite hammam with visitors, as it...Read More

  • 20. Cocoon

    Sultanahmet | Crafts

    Proprietor Şeref Özen has one of the best collections in Istanbul of antique and vintage tribal carpets, flatweaves, and textiles—primarily...Read More

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