Shopping in Istanbul
One of Istanbul's main attractions is its endless shopping opportunities. The city's legendary markets are packed to the hilt with souvenirs and are an experience in themselves.
Sultanahmet, Istanbul's prime tourist area, is awash with shops selling authentic antiques and handicrafts. These, however, are outnumbered by an even vaster number of establishments selling cheap imitations. More reliable antique dealers can be found along Turnacibasi Sokak, off Istiklal Caddesi. Brand names such as Gucci, Armani and Hugo Boss can be found in the Nisantasi district.
Grand Bazaar in Beyazit is one of Istanbul's greatest tourism attractions, even if you do not intend to buy anything. New and antique jewellery, inlaid woodwork furniture, textiles and embroidery, metalware and more can all be found beneath its covered alleyways. Like its more famous neighbour the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar in Eminonu is worth a special trip. It smells marvellous, and looks marvellous too, with stalls piled high with olives, dried fruits and nuts, herbs, and mounds of bright-coloured spices and gorgeous sweetmeats.
There are branches of large shopping malls in Istanbul's suburbs, such as Galleria, in Atakoy (between the city centre and Istanbul Ataturk International); Akmerkez, in Etiler; and Kankyon, in the Levent district.
Official opening hours for shopping in Istanbul are Monday to Saturday 0900-1800. In summer, many shops, especially those in tourist areas, remain open until around 2100.
Istanbul is famous for its handmade rugs and carpets, antique silver and jewellery, semi-precious stones, spices, sweets and - more recently - pirated DVDs and cheap copies of international-brand clothing, footwear and accessories.
Foreign visitors may be eligible for a refund of value added tax on purchases at some specially designated tourist shops. A special invoice is issued, which must be presented for a refund at your airport or port of departure.