Grand Bazaar (Kapaliçarsi)

#5 in Best Things To Do in Istanbul
Grand Bazaar (Kapaliçarsi) picture
Ayhan Altun/Getty Images

Key Info

Beyazit Mahallesi

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Shopping, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.3

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Located within walking distance of must-visit sights like the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern and Süleymaniye Mosque, the Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest and oldest covered shopping markets in the world. It regularly overwhelms visitors with its 60 streets of 5,000-plus shops, each accompanied by an overzealous vendor. Products range from carpets and clothing to art and chessboards, and restaurants, cafes and even two hammams (or Turkish baths) can be found here.

Despite the size and the chaos of this bazaar, shoppers say you'll find yourself strangely at ease with the rhythm of the market, thanks in part to the friendliness of the vendors, who are far from pushy. Remember, though, that Westerners are often quoted higher rates for items here, so come prepared to bargain. Most merchants will drop their rates by as much as 50 percent when a customer refuses to pay full price. What's more, additional discounts are often given to those who pay with cash, although most vendors do accept credit cards.

The Grand Bazaar is situated in Eminönü, a neighborhood in the historic Fatih district. The Bagcilar-Kabatas tram makes several stops by the bazaar, or travelers can take the metro to Vezneciler station. The Grand Bazaar is free to visit 24 hours a day and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

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#1 Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)

Sultan Ahmed I was determined to build a mosque that rivaled the nearby Hagia Sophia, and most would agree that he accomplished this task – or, at least, came close. Since the early 1600s, the Blue Mosque has been quite the sight to behold, with an array of domes, semidomes and minarets (or narrow towers). It's also one of the biggest tourist draws in Istanbul.

Visitors say this mosque offers "stunning architecture inside and out." It can, however, get busy, so consider arriving early. And remember, the Blue Mosque is an active religious site, so dress conservatively. Women should wear headscarves, as is custom. If you forgot to bring one, you can borrow one from the mosque.

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