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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and sweets.
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.