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Shopping in Istanbul

Istanbul is a bustling hub offering endless shopping opportunities. The city's legendary maze-like markets are packed to the hilt with exotic souvenirs and antiques, while charming cobbled streets offer quirky and cool boutiques.

Key areas

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. For designer items, the upscale and elegant Nisatasi district is a prime spot, with brand such as Gucci, Armani and Hugo Boss in abundance. Here you can also stop off at the Beymen department store, Turkey's premier luxury retailer.

Markets

Grand Bazaar in Beyazit is one of Istanbul's greatest tourism attractions and well worth a visit even if you do not intend to buy anything. New and antique jewellery, inlaid woodwork furniture, textiles and embroidery, metal ware 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 superb and looks gorgeous too, with its stalls piled high with olives, dried fruits and nuts, herbs, and mounds of bright-coloured spices.

Shopping centres

There are divisions 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.

Opening hours

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.

Souvenirs

Istanbul is famous for its handmade rugs and carpets, antique silver and jewellery, semi-precious stones, spices and sweets.

Tax information

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.

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Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Understated luxury is the keynote here, and it's hard to believe that this century-old building was once an infamous prison. Each of the 65 rooms is classically designed with Turkish textiles and art adding eye catching details. The rooftop terrace and large, leafy courtyard are relaxing city retreats.

Grand Hotel de Londres (Buyuk Londra Hotel)

With a history dating back to the heydays of the Orient Express, this establishment has seen many writers (Hemingway being one of them), artists and actors step through its doors. Though the hotel has had many rounds of renovations over the years, the 1900s atmosphere is still very much palpable and underlined by the dark wooden interior and velvet drapes. It's also within walking distance to Taksim square, and near to many theatres and restaurants.

Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Right on the Bosphorus Strait's shoreline and partly housed in a former Ottoman palace, the Kempinski boasts some of the most opulent rooms in Istanbul. The waterfront pool terrace offers unparalleled Bosphorus views while the bar, restaurants and spa offer plenty of opportunity to swaddle yourself in luxury.

Side Hotel and Pension

In prime position, slap in the middle of Sultanahmet's historical quarter, this family-run hotel has long been a budget traveller institution. The simple rooms are spick-and-span and decently sized and the roof top terrace (where breakfast is served) has excellent views over the old city’s domes and minaret punctured skyline.

Sarı Konak

This family-run boutique hotel offers an old-world atmosphere trussed up with modern conveniences in an Ottoman-era mansion. The smallish rooms have polished wood floors and are classically styled while the rooftop cafe has views of both the Blue Mosque and the Sea of Marmara.

Ibrahim Pasha Hotel

Sleek design and ultra-friendly service make the Ibrahim Pasha stand out in the crowded Istanbul accommodation market. Little extras such as complimentary fruit in rooms and Molton Brown toiletries in bathrooms add a luxurious feel while staff go out of their way to help guests, creating a home-from-home vibe.