Istanbul was the center of world trade in the Middle Ages due to its advantageous geographical position. This city still has excellent shopping shopping districts, malls and colorful markets, and prices are an order of magnitude lower than in Europe.
Shop opening hours
Most shops in Istanbul are open from 9:00 to 21:00, some of them (usually small private shops) close for lunch from 13:00 to 14:00. There are no breaks in supermarkets and large shopping centers, and in the tourist center of the city there are shops open until the last customer. On Sundays, most shops are closed, but this usually does not apply to large shopping complexes and shops in the city center.
Discounts in Istanbul
Istanbul does not have such a clear sales schedule as in Europe, although Turkey has been trying to stick to it in recent years: there are many tourists in the country who rely on shopping at certain times of the year.
Istanbul stores announce the discount season twice a year – in summer (from July to September) and in winter (from mid-January to late February – early March). These dates can sometimes fluctuate, and many brands continue to run sales on their own schedule, but major shopping malls try to keep to the European schedule. However, such randomness has its advantages: you can get discounts almost at any time of the year. Sales start with 30% discounts, then prices fall by about half, and towards the end of the season you can buy things with up to 70% discount, however, this rarely happens and not in every store.
Shops in Istanbul
Large Turkish cities have modern malls and entire shopping districts. In Istanbul, this is Istiklal Street, which goes from Taksim Square to the Golden Horn. There are many small shops and several arcades where you can buy clothes, accessories, books, musical instruments, antiques and much more.
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The Laleli area is an abundance of cheaper, but lower quality goods: textiles, leather, furs, and more. It’s not as beautiful as Istiklal, but you can bargain for very nice prices, and many sellers speak English.
Another popular shopping district is Zeytinburnu. Here are the lowest prices in the city for leather and furs, but in general there are fewer shops than in Laleli. Zeytinburnu also houses one of the largest shopping centers in the city, Olvium. However, this area is not very convenient for shopper tourists: it is far from the center, and it is best to move inside it by taxi – bus and trolleybus routes are very confusing.
Shopping malls in Istanbul
There are many shopping centers in Istanbul, there is one in almost every district of the city, here are the most popular and largest of them:
- Jevahir is one of the largest shopping centers in the world, it has 6 floors with more than 600 stores, a huge food court, an entertainment center and a cinema.
- Karusel is a shopping center near Ataturk Airport. There are more than 100 shops, a food court, bank branches, a Migros supermarket and 4 cinema halls. Concerts, exhibitions, book presentations and other cultural events are regularly held here.
- Akmerez is one of the oldest shopping malls in Istanbul and in Turkey in general, with over 240 stores, as well as banks, beauty salons and other services.
- Marmara Forum is a multifunctional shopping complex where you can find about 300 international and national brands of clothing and footwear, children’s goods stores and an entertainment area: a cinema with 16 halls, a bowling alley, children’s playgrounds, an entire floor of restaurants and a terrace overlooking the Marble sea.
- The Kanyon shopping center is designed for a wealthy audience, it presents mainly luxury goods.
- Tepe Nautilus is one of the largest shopping malls in the city and the first themed one – its interior is designed in the style of Jules Verne’s novel about Captain Nemo. Everything here is devoted to the maritime theme: blue and blue colors, painted dolphins on the ceiling, stands in the form of a ship’s steering wheel, and some employees even walk in sailor uniforms. In total, the mall has more than 100 stores, Carrefour and Boyner department stores, a cinema, a bowling alley and a food court.
- Migros is a famous mall chain in Turkey. Locals and tourists love these malls for their abundance of inexpensive brands and a wide range of entertainment options – from playgrounds to cinemas.
Outlets in Istanbul
The first and largest Olivium outlet in Istanbul today is located within the city in the Zeytinburnu district. There are more than 130 stores of local Turkish and popular European brands, restaurants, a cinema, a theater, a bowling alley and a children’s entertainment center Kiddyland. All year round, Olivium offers discounts of around 20-30%, and during sales periods they increase to 80%.
You can get to the outlet by metro (Zeytinburnu station) or by bus. Shopping can be combined with exploring ancient sights: a 15-minute walk from Olivium is Yedikule, or the Seven-Tower Castle – a fortress built in the 15th century.
Markets of Istanbul
The oldest and most popular market in Istanbul is the Kapala Charshi Grand Bazaar. It is located in the very center of the city, on walking area from center of Sultanahmet district, and there are more than 4,000 different outlets. The market sells Turkish textiles, leather, furs, ceramics, hookahs, carpets, as well as fresh vegetables, fruits and spices. It is very beautiful here, on the territory there is an old mosque, a fountain and the ruins of an ancient wall, but there are many tourists at the Grand Bazaar, so the prices are high and you have to bargain.
The Laleli Covered Bazaar is a more democratic market, but there are fewer retail outlets than wholesale ones. So if you do not plan to buy a large batch of fur coats, then one or two will be sold to you reluctantly and, most likely, without discounts.
The Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul is an old market built back in 1660. Once it sold mainly spices, but today the range is much wider: fruits and vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, oriental sweets, cosmetics and much more.
To get some of the money back for purchases in Istanbul, you need to spend at least 118 TRY in stores where there is a Tax Free Shopping sign and fill out a form at the checkout or special counter. Keep in mind that Turkish sellers are not very familiar with the VAT refund system, so it is easier for them to offer you an additional discount than to bother with such bureaucracy.
The completed form, along with a check and a passport, must be presented at the airport before departure, the money (up to 18%) will be returned to you in cash or on the card with which the purchases were paid.