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Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Grand Bazaar (Kapali Charshi) in Istanbul is a paradise for fans of shopping, the range of goods will not leave anyone indifferent. Every day it is visited by up to half a million people, during the tourist season the number increases. It is worth going to the famous bazaar not only for shopping. There is a special atmosphere – entering the market, the tourist gets into an oriental fairy tale.

Istanbul is a city of contrasts, where Europe meets Asia. Tourists come here for different purposes: some are interested in the architecture, others want to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the East, and others are interested in cheap shopping.

Grand Bazaar on the map of Istanbul

The market is located in the historic part of Istanbul. If you look at the location of the Grand Bazaar on the map of Istanbul – it is located in the beloved by tourists Sultanahmet district. From the Sultan’s Palace, the Blue Mosque or Aya Sofia it is 1 kilometer on foot.

The market area is surrounded by a stone wall and a dome, which does not prevent access in bad weather. The largest bazaar in Istanbul has up to 4,000 outlets, two mosques, a hamam, several hotels, a police station. The area of the structure exceeds 30,000 square kilometers.

How to get there?

The Grand Bazaar can be approached by metro to Beyazit station or by the T1 express streetcar. Transport stops right in front of one of the gates. You can get off the streetcar at Sirkeji and Beyazit stops. From the side of the pier Eminonu the way will not take more than 20 minutes on foot. For those who have not been to Istanbul before, it is difficult to navigate the streets of the old city. It is recommended to carry a map or use a navigator.

From the Sultan’s Palace, the Blue Mosque or Aya Sofia it is 1 kilometer on foot. You have to move towards the Hippodrome.

History of the Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar Market in Istanbul

The main bazaar in Istanbul has existed since the conquest of the city by the Turks. Sultan Mehmed II ordered the construction of two buildings, the Inner and Sandal Bedestan. As the years passed, new rows of shops gradually appeared around the buildings. There were separate sections for the poor, where they sold crockery, clothing, and other goods. Originally the malls were made of wood, but after several fires the city authorities ordered the wooden buildings to be replaced by stone ones.

The Grand Bazaar is closely linked to the centuries-old history of Istanbul. During the rule of the Ottomans, it was at this market that the best products for the sultan and his family members were purchased. It was here that the most beautiful girls were selected for the sultan’s harem, brought from different countries. As the years passed, the range of goods changed. The last reconstruction took place in the 1960s of the 20th century. This is the form in which the bazaar in Istanbul has survived to this day.

Grand Bazaar opening hours

The Grand Bazaar is open to visitors Monday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. On Sundays, as well as public and religious holidays Kapali Charshi is not open. The opening hours of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul do not depend on the time of year and the influx of tourists.

Useful tips for visitors to the Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar in Stmbul

Grand Bazaar is not just a big market, it is a city within a city, where a separate life with its own rules flows. In addition to shopping, visitors can experience the true oriental flavor, history and culture.

To walk is not marred by disappointment, it is worth listening to the recommendations:

  • Keep an eye on your wallet and documents. It is better for women and young girls not to go to the market alone. It is better to go shopping with a man or at least in the company of several women.
  • Before visiting the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, it is worth getting a diagram of the market. It’s easier to navigate the aisles and find your way out. You can pay for the goods in liras and currency (dollars, euros). But to pay for purchases in liras is more profitable, so you need to change the currency in advance. There are exchange offices on the territory of the complex with a loyal exchange rate, but their search is time-consuming.
  • Bargaining – no purchase in the eastern market can do without it. Sellers deliberately inflate the cost by several times, so they willingly make concessions.
  • Do not openly admire the product – the seller feels the tourist’s interest, and to achieve a price reduction is problematic.
  • Many vendors of sweets and fruit offer to try everything, some treat you to tea or coffee. Don’t look for a catch, it’s commonplace in the Eastern market.

What’s worth buying?

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey

At the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul you can buy everything from small souvenirs to Turkish carpets. Vendors offer an assortment of clothing, including fur and leather goods. But the locals don’t dress there. Mango, LC Waikiki, and other stores with good quality items at the best prices are within walking distance of the market. But stoles, Turkish handkerchiefs and leather products are worth a closer look.

If a thing strongly attracted, and could not resist the purchase, you need to look at the place to inspect the seams, zippers, zippers. Clothing and shoes are often of poor quality, and it is unrealistic to return poor-quality goods.

Prices in the Grand Bazaar Market in Istanbul

Leather aficionados are advised to take a closer look at the range of the market. There are a lot of good quality handmade leather goods here. Shoes, a bag or a jacket can be purchased cheaper than the vendors in town.

Gourmets can buy authentic oriental sweets, fragrant spices, tea, coffee and nuts. At the Grand Bazaar, you can find several dozen kinds of lukum, halva, kurabiye (Turkish cookies) and other Turkish sweets. They are sold mostly by weight, and often sellers offer to try them. Despite the rather high prices, it is more profitable than buying sweets in boxes at tourist spots.

Spice lovers will find spices for all dishes. The cost may seem high, but all natural. The tea and coffee are sold loose, and fans of this fragrant beverage will not go without a purchase.


When going for a walk through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, do not count on cheap purchases. This is a kind of historical landmark, where mostly tourists come together. Sellers and count on vacationers who are trying to take home something to remember Turkey.

Locals choose other markets and stores to shop in. The important point is that prices decrease as you move away from the gate. If you really like a product, you don’t have to pull out your wallet right away. In the depths of the Grand Bazaar you can buy a similar thing much cheaper.

Sweets cost from 10-20 lira per kilo, there are items and 40-60 lira. It’s expensive, but they’re really worth it. Olives cost from 10 lira per kilo, nuts (pistachios, almonds) from 60 lira. Not cheap, but more profitable than domestic markets.

How not to get lost?

Grand Bazaar - prices and opening hours

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is considered one of the largest covered markets in the world and consists of a labyrinth of streets. For convenience, they are divided into product categories. For convenience, you can buy a diagram at the newsstand next to the Kapali Charshi Gate.

In total there are about 60 streets, they are marked with different colors:

  • Blue is textile.
  • Brown – leather goods.
  • Green – carpets, hand-painted tableware and other home goods.
  • Yellow – jewelry.
  • Pink – purses, bags, suitcases.

For souvenirs in the form of boxes, magnets, amulets, figurines, trinkets and other trinkets need to go deeper into the center. This applies to those who came for souvenirs for relatives, friends, colleagues. There are also separate streets dedicated to antiques, hookahs and Turkish cosmetics. Snack bars, coffee shops, and toilets should be looked for closer to the gate.

Excursions to the Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

For those who are afraid or do not want to walk around the Grand Bazaar alone, there are organized tours. These are both sightseeing tours of the city with a stop by the Grand Bazaar, as well as tours of the markets of Istanbul. The second option is suitable for shopping lovers who have come to Istanbul on the hunt for cheap items and other goods.

The advantage of such excursions is that the locals will tell you where in Istanbul to buy certain things. You can book a sightseeing tour in advance, or you can make a choice on the spot. Often such services are offered in hotels, or entice people in places with high traffic(Sultanahmet Square, Eminonu Quay, etc.).

The market is recommended for all visitors to the city, regardless of the time of year. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is an intrinsic symbol of the city and a local landmark whose visit will be remembered for years to come. It is worth bearing in mind that the review of Kapali Charshi will take almost a whole day – quickly run and look at everything “out of the corner of your eye” will not work.

Video overview of the Grand Bazaar

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