What to Buy
Many people come to Istanbul just to shop. The Kapali Carsisi, or Covered Market, is the logical place to start as the area and variety is immense. Still the commercial centre of the old city, the bazaar is the original shopping "mall" with a vast selection of carpets, souvenirs, clothes, shoes, jewellery, and handicrafts made from ceramics, copper and brass. Many shops have recently sprung up around Aksaray selling leather, suede and fur coats, catering mainly for Russian and Eastern European buyers. The Misir Carsisi is good for picking up spices, locum, flavoured teas, and small souvenirs.
Sultanahmet has become another shopping mecca in the old city mainly because it has the highest concentration of tourist attractions. The Istanbul Sanatlari Carsisi (Bazaar of Istanbul Arts) in the 18th century Mehmet Efendi Medresesi, and the nearby 16th-century Caferaga Medrese, built by Sinan, offer you the chance to see craftsmen at work and to purchase their wares. In the Arasta (old bazaar) of the Sultanahmet Mosque, a thriving shopping arcade selling carpets, jewellery and local arts makes both shopping and sightseeing very convenient. There are many carpet shops in this area, and the chances are that sooner or later you will be approached by one of many dealers and invited to visit their shop.
The sophisticated shops in the Taksim and Nisantasi districts contrast with the chaos of the bazaars. Istiklal Caddesi and Cumhuriyet Caddesi have shops selling elegant fashionwear made from Turkey's high quality textiles. Exquisite jewellery, as well as finely designed handbags and shoes can also be found. Nisantasi is the main area for clothes by top Turkish designers.
For an even more modern, European shopping experience, the huge new malls of the Atakoy Galleria Mall in Atakoy, the Akmerkez Mall in Etiler and the Carousel Mall in Bakirkoy have European outlets, Turkish fashion shops, branches of Istanbul's most elegant shops, as well as restaurants and a cinema. In Bakirkoy, the Carousel Mall is worth a visit, as is the Atlas Passage in Beyoglu. Bahariye Avenue, Bagdat Avenue,and Capitol Mall on the Asian side, offer the same shopping opportunities.
In Istanbul's busy flea markets there is an astonishing assortment of goods, both old and new. There is a daily opportunity to poke about the Sahaflar Carsisi and Cinaralti in the Beyazit areas. On Sundays, in a flea market between the Sahaflar and the Covered Bazaar, vendors uncover their wares on carts and blankets. The Horhor Carsisi is a collection of shops selling furniture of varying age and quality. Flea markets are open daily in the Topkapi district, on Cukurcuma Sokak in Cihangir, on Buyuk Hamam Sokak in Uskudar, in the Kadikoy Carsi Duragi area, and between Eminonu and Tahtakale. After a Sunday drive up the Bosphorus, stop between Buyukdere and Sariyer to wander through the many lively market.