Istanbul, with its rich history spanning Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods, boasts a multicultural heritage that’s reflected even in its shopping experiences. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the city’s nostalgic streets and historical passages where you can indulge in unique shopping in Istanbul experiences.
But of course, there are also modern shopping malls to shop in Istanbul. If you want to read our content about them, I recommend our article on the best shopping malls in Istanbul .
Table of Contents
Shopping in Istanbul 2023
1. Istiklal Street (İstiklal Caddesi)
Istiklal Street remains a significant shopping destination in Istanbul, despite occasional negative reports. In the 19th century, Beyoğlu, previously known as Pera, experienced a remarkable transformation during the last century of the Ottoman Empire. It managed to rival European cities of that era.
The presence of embassy buildings, banks, and hotels in the Ottoman capital drew attention to this area. Wealthy non-Muslim residents of the city competed to construct beautiful buildings in Beyoğlu. As you stroll along Istiklal Street today, admiring the vibrant shop windows at eye level, you may forget to notice the architectural marvels, but Beyoğlu still retains the echoes of those times.
The passages along Istiklal Street were constructed in the latter half of the 19th century. After Sultan Abdülmecid moved to Dolmabahçe Palace, Beyoğlu’s vibrancy began to overshadow that of the Historical Peninsula.
It’s safe to say that Istiklal Street, referred to as Cadde-i Kebir by Turks of that era (known as Grand Rue De Pera by foreigners), began to flourish once more.
Atlas Passage (Atlas Pasajı)
Atlas Passage was built by Agop Köçeoğlu in 1870. Köçeoğlu, one of the leading figures of the city’s Armenian community during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, had a friendship with the sultan himself. The building attracts attention with its high ceilings, wall frescoes, and gold leaves; It stands out as one of the most beautiful buildings of its period. The building was used as the PTT General Directorate for a while; Today, it attracts attention with its Atlas Cinema, clothing stores, and souvenir shops. You can find original clothes, bags, and retro glasses in the Atlas passage.
Halep Passage (Halep Pasajı)
Halep Passage was constructed back in 1884 by a businessman named Haciyar Hacar. The building showcases an “Eclectic” architectural style, blending various design elements and adorned with impressive reliefs.
If you examine closely, you’ll notice a medallion on the building’s facade. Inside this medallion, the castle walls symbolize the Citadel of Aleppo. Hacar Bey, who resided in Istanbul during the Ottoman era, wanted to preserve a significant memory from his hometown. Today, the lower floor of Halep Passage is home to Beyoğlu Cinema.
On the ground floor of Halep Passage, you’ll find a variety of shops, primarily focused on clothing. These shops offer books, silver items, jewelry, oil paintings, posters, and frames. Additionally, you can enjoy a delicious meal at the entrance of Halep Passage at Münhasır Restaurant.
Built in 1871 by Greek-born businessman Kiryaki Hazzopulo, Hazzopulo Arcade is notable for its central courtyard. Regardless of the time of day, you’ll find a lively atmosphere in this passage, with people enjoying tea, coffee, and conversations.
This passage was once a hub for valuable tradesmen from the non-Muslim community of the Ottoman Empire. Dacat Güler, the father of the renowned photographer Ara Güler, used to have his pharmacy here.
For a period, all weddings held in Beyoğlu’s churches were arranged by Katia, the hat maker in this passage. This shop, known for its nostalgic women’s hats, still operates.
Hazzopulo Passage boasts a variety of stores, including perfumeries, bag shops, jewelry boutiques, and bookstores, totaling 40 different types of stores. One of its key features is that it connects Beyoğlu’s Istiklal Street and Meşrutiyet Street.
Aznavur Passage, built by the Aznavur family in 1893, bears traces of Italian architecture. The passage, where famous writers spent time in the last years of the Ottoman Empire, hosted the most beautiful cafes and restaurants of that period.
In Aznavur Passage, which is a 9-storey building; There are shops selling jewelry, hats, toys, and bags. In addition, there are places to have a good time, such as cafes and billiard rooms. Aznavur Passage is located just opposite Galatasaray High School.
European Passage (Avrupa Pasaji)
Many people who have frequented Istiklal Street might be unaware of the existence of Avrupa Passage. This hidden gem is not directly accessible from the main street but is entered from inside the Beyoğlu Fish Market, making it a well-kept secret.
The major Beyoğlu fire in 1870 led to significant changes in the area’s landscape. During the reconstruction period, the construction of the European Arcade commenced, and it was inaugurated in 1874. Designed in the Renaissance style by Austrian architect Domenico Pulgher, the passage spans 56 meters and houses 22 shops.
A visit to Avrupa Passage allows you to admire magnificent sculptures adorning the shops. Furthermore, the passage serves as a connection between Beyoğlu Fish Market and Meşrutiyet Street.
Flower Passage (Çiçek Pasajı)
In fact, when talking about passages in Beyoğlu, the first place that comes to mind is Çiçek Pasajı. However, Çiçek Pasajı, as it is known, is a place full of various fish restaurants and taverns. Those who want to shop in Beyoğlu can of course consider taking a meal break in the nostalgic atmosphere of Çiçek Pasajı.
Beyoglu Fish Market
Beyoğlu Fish Market, situated near Çiçek Pasajı, beautifully embodies the district’s nostalgic charm. When you visit this market, make sure to drop by Üç Yıldız Şekerleme, one of Beyoğlu’s oldest confectionery shops. Stepping inside feels like stepping into a Yeşilçam movie, surrounded by nostalgia.
Beyoglu Business Center (Beyoğlu İş Merkezi)
Beyoğlu Business Center in Focusule is a passage that gets bigger as you go in. This place is like a maze and has over 200 stores, mostly selling surplus export items. You can buy various things here, like clothing, underwear, accessories, bags, and shoes.
Terkoz Çıkmazı, located on the right as you go towards Tünel, is like a street market that is always open. You can find everything from underwear to jeans in the shops on the street – like Mahmutpaşa.
Since there is Terkos Passage, whose real name is D’andria Passage (built in 1882), in Terkoz Dead End, you can witness that this street is also called Terkos Passage.
You can find very cheap t-shirts and dresses by browsing the open market stalls in Terkoz Dead End.
Galata is one of the rising stars of Istanbul. In recent years, wonderful souvenir shops have opened around the Galata Tower. There are also very nice concept shops. Galata stands out among the modern places to shop in Istanbul.
Galip Dede Caddesi
Galip Dede Street, located between Tünel Square and the Galata Tower, is a hub for various musical instrument shops. Many professional and amateur musicians visit these stores around the Galata Mevlevi Lodge. In recent years, due to tourism, souvenir shops have also emerged in this area. These shops sell colorful products and offer higher-quality alternatives compared to typical tourist souvenirs found in the Historic Peninsula.
Serdar-ı Ekrem Caddesi
On Serdar-ı Ekrem Street , which extends from Galata Tower towards Cihangir , there are shops selling some specially designed products. These places, where items used in daily life are presented in very creative designs, will attract the attention of shopping enthusiasts. Some of Istanbul’s best quality cafes are also located on this street.
Serdar-ı Ekrem Caddesi
Gathering dealers selling the same type of goods in a certain place is a tradition that has been going on since the Ottoman period. It is possible to come across places such as Hardware Stores and Furnishings Market in the historical districts of Istanbul. There are many shops selling lighting products on Büyük Hendek Street next to the Galata Tower .
Çukurcuma, a district in Beyoğlu, is known for its unique charm. Besides being home to Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence, it’s renowned for its antique shops. Strolling along Çukurcuma Street and exploring these antique stores can be a delightful experience. If you’re a photography enthusiast, you’ll find plenty of opportunities here. Çukurcuma and its neighboring district, Cihangir, offer some of the most picturesque walks in Istanbul. To cap off your day, you can head to Cezayir Street for entertainment and relaxation.
Karaköy is a cosmopolitan district that served as the city’s dock during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Goods coming from the Silk Road, the most important trade route in history, were collected in Eminönü and Karaköy on both sides of the Golden Horn and from there they were exported to Europe through Italian colonies.
This port district, which has been lively in every period of Istanbul’s history, was completely revitalized in the 19th century, the last period of the Ottoman Empire. There are also works of art such as Minerva Han in Karaköy, where all local and foreign businessmen of the city invest.
Today, the most visible shopping places in Karaköy are the shops selling outdoor equipment. There are places like Atlas Outdoor, that sell quality and wide-ranging winter gear.
On Tersane Street, which extends from Karaköy towards the Golden Horn, there is a Hardware Market that sells a wide variety of equipment. On Kemeraltı Street, continuing towards Kabataş, shops selling diving suits can be seen lined up side by side.
In Nişantaşı, one of the most fashionable districts in Istanbul, two of the standout streets for shopping are Abdi İpekçi Street and Mim Kemal Öke Street. While luxury stores are prevalent, you can also discover boutiques offering specially designed products. If you’re on the hunt for evening dresses, don’t forget to explore the charming side streets where you’ll find the latest in evening fashion. Abdi İpekçi Street, stretching from Maçka to Nişantaşı and boasting over 50 luxury stores, feels like an open-air shopping center.
In Eminönü, shopping hotspots are nestled between the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. On weekends, Uzunçarşı Street and Mahmutpaşa Hill, which run between these two historic bazaars, can get so crowded that finding a place to step becomes a challenge.
The Egyptian Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı)
For many years, caravans transported silk fabrics from China and spices from India to Egypt. From there, these valuable goods made their way to Istanbul by ship. The Venetians and Genoese, who lived in Istanbul, played a key role in exporting these goods to Europe.
Today, some of these important trade items are available to the public at the Spice Bazaar, also known as the Spice Bazaar of Istanbul. This bustling bazaar sits alongside the New Mosque in the heart of the Eminönü district and remains a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists. On weekends, it can get incredibly crowded, making it hard to even take a step around the area.
Uzunçarşı Street is a gently sloping road that stretches from the Eminönü waterfront to the Grand Bazaar. This street is home to a diverse range of businesses, shops, and places to eat and drink.
If you’re looking for a nostalgic shopping experience in the Historical Peninsula, this is a great place to visit. However, it’s worth noting that you can often find many shopping items at more affordable prices in other areas.
Mahmutpaşa Hill starts from the Mahmutpaşa Gate of the Grand Bazaar and takes you down to the back streets of Eminönü. It comes to mind as the first address when shopping for engagement, wedding or circumcision ceremonies in Istanbul.
Mahmutpaşa Bazaar; It is the only place where you can shop from children’s clothes to adult shirts and even underwear at a cheap price, just like the factory.
Sirkeci is one of the most popular districts among places to shop in Istanbul in 2023. The most suitable places to buy electronic goods and cameras are located here.
Located in the heart of Sirkeci , Doğubank has been a frequent destination for those who want to buy cheap mobile phones and technological products for many years. You can buy cheap technological devices called spot here. This market, where you can exchange your old mobile phones for new ones, is an important alternative shopping place.
b. Hayyam Pasaji
As everyone knows, photographic equipment is quite expensive. Products of brands such as Sony, Canon and Nikon are sold in technology markets at “bargain” prices, so to speak.
Located on the tramway in Sirkeci , Hayyam Passage is one of the places to buy cheap cameras and lens kits. In this passage, where many photographer shops are lined up side by side, you have the opportunity to examine the product you are looking for in detail and compare prices.
Sultanahmet was not only an important place to visit in Istanbul today; it was also a significant shopping destination during the Ottoman period. When you explore this historical period, you’ll discover that the most crucial shopping areas in the city were the districts surrounding Sultanahmet, including Beyazıt, Eminönü, and Unkapanı.
During the Ottoman period, it was customary to construct an arasta (bazaar) next to the mosques. This practice helped cover the operating and maintenance costs required for the mosques to endure for centuries, as the rent from the shops supported these expenses. For example, the New Mosque in Eminönü and the Spice Bazaar were built together for this reason.
In the 17th century, the Arasta Bazaar was built next to the Sultanahmet Mosque for the same purpose. Today, the Arasta Bazaar, which also houses the Great Palace Mosaics Museum, is particularly popular among foreign tourists. The products available for purchase in the Arasta Bazaar make excellent souvenirs of Istanbul.
Some shops in the Arasta Bazaar, like Jennifer’s Hamam, have gained such fame that they have been featured in the world’s leading travel magazines
Nuruosmaniye Street, linking Sultanahmet and the Grand Bazaar, sees an influx of tourists during Istanbul’s spring months. This street is home to various businesses, offices, and coffee shops, along with expensive carpet and jewelry stores. While it may be a pricier shopping destination, it offers a delightful experience. You can sit at one of the coffee shops and observe people from different nationalities bustling about, enjoying the shopping scene.
Grand Bazaar ( Kapalıçarşı)
The Grand Bazaar is like a traditional shopping mall that evolved over centuries, combining many separate markets. It’s divided into various covered bazaars, featuring 67 streets and over 3,000 shops. For first-time visitors, it’s easy to get lost inside the Grand Bazaar, but getting lost is part of the experience.
The bazaar has multiple entrances and exits, with the Nuruosmaniye Gate on Nuruosmaniye Street considered the Main Entrance (Gate number 1). Beyazıt Gate (Gate number 7) is also a popular entrance.
The street that runs between these two gates is known as Kalpakçılarbaşı Street and is considered the main thoroughfare. To navigate the Grand Bazaar more easily, I recommend keeping the direction of this street in mind like a compass.
Balat has become one of the trendiest shopping districts in Istanbul in recent years. One of the best things about visiting nearby neighborhoods like Fener and Balat is that you can combine your trip with dining, cultural exploration, and shopping.
Take a stroll along Vodina Street, which connects these two districts, and explore the retro shops in the area.
When you enter the Balat bazaar, you might notice some shops hosting auctions. These small-scale auctions offer antique items at bargain prices, and it’s quite a sight to see people spilling out of the shops onto the streets during these events.
Kadıköy, located on the Anatolian Side of Istanbul, is the go-to place for shopping. From the beach to the fish market and from Bahariye Street to Bağdat Street, Kadıköy boasts a variety of shopping streets.
What makes Kadıköy special, especially for foreign tourists, is the atmosphere of the Kadıköy Fish Market. It’s highly recommended by foreign travel writers because it still retains Istanbul’s neighborhood culture and traditional shopping vibe.
Kadıköy’s dock and Fish Market carry a rich history spanning centuries. Some hidden gems of the European Side can be better appreciated in Kadıköy Bazaar. For instance, traditional dessert shops like Tatlıcı Erol, Baylan, and Ali Muhiddin Hacıbekir add charm to the market. Moreover, various beer halls, coffee shops, raki and fish places create a vibrant atmosphere, especially on weekends. You might also want to explore the second-hand clothing shops and souvenir stores in the side streets leading to Moda.
In the area between the Fish Market and Bahariye Street, you can find everything you need about Istanbul. Don’t forget to check out the Culture and Art Centers, bars on Kadife Street, and the Rexx Cinema, which are must-see places in Kadıköy.
Tellalzade Street (Tellalzade Sokak)
When it comes to antiques on the European Side, the places that come to mind are Horhor Street in Fatih and Çukurcuma. The most central place where you can find antique dealers on the Anatolian Side is Tellalzade Street , located between Kadıköy and Moda . Interesting antiques can be found in the antique shops lined up on both sides of the road.
Çilek Sokak (Eski Salı Pazarı)
Çilek Street, once home to Kadıköy’s old Tuesday Market but now lined with shops, is also a popular shopping destination.
At the entrance of Çilek Street, across Altıyol (Boğa and its surroundings), you’ll find a hat shop that has stood there for years. The street is often bustling, especially on weekends, and features boutiques offering the latest fashion clothes. You can explore a wide range of shopping options, from makeup supply stores to shoe shops, along this vibrant street.
Bahariye Street is among the most beautiful spots to walk in Kadıköy. From this street extending from Kadıköy’s famous Bull Statue to the interior of Moda; Just like on Istiklal Street, the nostalgic tram also passes. There are also symbol buildings of Kadıköy, such as Süreyya Opera, on the street.
Opera Onur Çarşısı is an ideal passage for those who want to do cheap shopping in Kadıköy. Those looking for evening dresses or casual sportswear can find products similar to the stylish designs of expensive brands here.
Bagdat Street (Bağdat Caddesi)
Bağdat Street was one of the most popular shopping streets in Istanbul until 3-4 years ago. The street, which has been subjected to urban transformation in recent years, has remained far from its former glory due to the closure of various shops. However, despite all the negativities, Bağdat Street continues to be a center of attraction like Istiklal Street. Bağdat Street, where luxury brands are located, deserves the title of Istanbul’s largest shopping street with its 7 km length. Bağdat Street, which starts from Bostancı and extends into Kadıköy, welcomes you with beautiful shops, cafes and parks, especially in Şaşkınbakkal, Caddebostan, Göztepe and Selamiçeşme. There are bridal shops, evening dress shops and pilates studios on the upper floors of the apartment buildings on the street.