Souvenir Shopping, Istanbul (Self Guided)

Istanbul, throughout its history as Byzantium and Constantinople, has been a center of commerce and trade- a place to buy all kinds of exotic items. Today’s modern traveler in Istanbul also enjoys an interesting and colorful shopping experience. The sheer number of shops, bazaars, products, prices and insistent shopkeepers, however, can be overwhelming. To focus your search and improve your shopping experience in Istanbul, here is a list of suggested gift items that reflect true Turkish culture along with where they can be bought and their price ranges.
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Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: Turkey » Istanbul (See other walking tours in Istanbul)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km
Author: Daniel

1) Artrium

Located at Tünel Geçidi, Artrium offers an impressive selection of miniatures, old and new ceramics, maps, cards, prints, paintings, Turkish calligraphy, prints, jewelry, curios, old Turkish movie posters, and much more.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 9 am -7 pm.
Galip Dede Caddesi (Street)

2) Galip Dede Caddesi (Street)

What to buy here: Turkish Musical Instruments – Traditional Turkish music boasts a number of instruments that can easily be packed into a traveler’s suitcase. Wind instruments such as Kaval, Mey and Sipsi and stringed instruments known as Baglama make unique gifts for music lovers and collectors. You can buy a Mey for 30TL, or a basic Baglama starts at 100TL. Instrument prices greatly vary depending on quality. It is best to discuss your needs with a shop owner to buy the right instrument. The best place for travelers to buy instruments in Istanbul is on Galip Dede Caddesi (off the end of Istiklal Caddesi towards the Galata Tower) in the Tunel district. It is an old cobble-stone street lined with music shops on either side. Some shops are closed on Sundays.

Operation hours: Daily 10 am - 8 pm.

3) Pasabhace

What to buy here: Turkish coffee set – Turkish coffee is served in unique cups and saucers that are often gold rimmed. Beautifully decorated cups and saucers are served on a silver tray as a sign of good hospitality in Turkish homes. Turkish coffee cups can be ceramic or copper. When buying a coffee set it is important to ask if it can be used to drink from or if it is just for decoration. Many people sell decorative sets that may contain paints or metal alloys not approved for food consumption. If you are looking for a practical set to use at home, it is best to buy from a grocery store or for more interesting options go to Pasabahce on Istiklal Caddesi. These sets will be around 200TL. Pasabhace is a high end, Turkish store specializing in glass tableware. They are known as the father of Turkish glassware. Their product line has expanded to not only include glassware, but also ceramics and artistic pieces using precious and semi-precious metals. There are many stores throughout Turkey, including one on Istiklal Caddesi near Tunel (Tel: 212 244 0544). Their website is

Operation hours: Monday – Saturday 10 am - 8 pm, Sunday 12 - 8 pm.
Beyoglu El Sanatlari Evi

4) Beyoglu El Sanatlari Evi

What to buy here: Hand Painted Ceramic Plates – Local artists use rich colors and traditional designs to make a variety of beautiful ceramic decorative pieces. Originally created to imitate Chinese pottery, Iznik potters in Anatolia quickly developed their own stylization and designs. By the 16th century, under Suleyman the Magnificent, this style of pottery was in full force. Artists love combining geometric patterns with carnation, roses, hyacinths and above all, tulips. Many different techniques for glazing, firing and creating colors have been discovered over the centuries allowing for a multitude of available ceramic products. Small plates start at around 20TL and the prices can increase to around 200TL for larger more intricately painted plates. These plates are found throughout the Grand Bazaar, Sultanahmet, Spice Market and Istiklal Caddesi. An excellent shop specializing in hand painted ceramics is Beyoglu El Sanatlari Evi (Phone: 212 293 99 90). Located near the upper Tünel entrance on Istiklal Caddesi, this family run business is easily accessible.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday 9.30 am - 9 pm.
Eller Sanat Galerisi

5) Eller Sanat Galerisi

What to buy here: Ottoman Jewelry – Locally produced jewelry inspired from authentic Ottoman pieces make unique gifts. A current Turkish TV program, Muhtesem Yuzyil, has reinforced the locals’ desire for Ottoman inspired jewelry. Turkish jewelry is available at the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, but the best place for Ottoman jewelry is Eller Sanat Galerisi on Postacilar Sokak just off Istiklal Caddesi next to the Dutch Consulate (Phone: 212 249 2364). They are experts on all eras of Anatolian jewelry and their premises is like a museum. They also run workshops on traditional jewelry making. All pieces are made on the premises and prices start at 50TL for simpler pieces and go up according to the metals and stones used. Working hours can be flexible and start times delayed.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday 10 am - 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm - 8 pm.

6) Migros

What to buy here: Raki | Turkish Coffee.

- Raki – The traditional national drink of Turkey. This anise-flavored spirit is also known as Lion’s Milk. It can be drunk straight but is usually drunk with ice and water which turns the clear liquid a milky white color. It is frequently drunk with fish and seafood meals. The beloved Turkish leader, Kemal Ataturk, was known for his fondness of raki and he apparently loved to debate with his friends and advisors over raki late at night. The most popular brand of raki in Turkey is Yeni Raki. You can buy it from any liquor or grocery store in Istanbul for about 40TL per bottle (70cl).

- Turkish Coffee – Coffee originated in the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire developed coffeehouse culture. Turkish coffee involves boiling finely ground coffee in a pot, cezve, with sugar. The coffee powder settles to the bottom of the cup and the top is covered by a layer of foam. After drinking the coffee, Turks turn their cups upside down on their saucers and wait for them to cool. Once cooled, a fortune teller (usually any Turkish woman) “reads” the coffee grounds and predicts the coffee drinker’s future. In order to enjoy Turkish coffee at home you need to buy a Turkish coffee pot, cezve, and the finely powdered Turkish coffee. The best place to buy these items is in a grocery store as the prices are much better than in the tourist markets. The price of a steel, 4-cup cezve is 8TL and the average price for Turkish coffee is just under 2TL/100g in most grocery stores. Migros is a higher-end grocery store with 173 stores in Istanbul alone. Their website (only available in Turkish) is

Operation hours: Daily 9 am - 10 pm.

Walking Tours in Istanbul, Turkey

Create Your Own Walk in Istanbul

Create Your Own Walk in Istanbul

Creating your own self-guided walk in Istanbul is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Roman Heritage of Outer Constantinople

Roman Heritage of Outer Constantinople

Istanbul, known as Constantinople in the Middle Ages, was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over a millennium. Although conquered by the Ottomans in 15th century, the city still preserves many signs of its imperial Roman past that reflect the might and splendor of this long vanished empire.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Theodosian Wall of Constantinople

Theodosian Wall of Constantinople

Constantinople was so named after the Roman emperor Constantine the Great who made the city the capital of the eastern empire. This walking tour will take you along the great wall that saved the city many a time during its wars against the Avars, the Tartars, the Russians, and the Bulgarians.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km
Architectural Walking Tour

Architectural Walking Tour

Istanbul can offer its visitors quite an unforgettable experience when it comes to architecture. Here you can admire both the architectural achievements of the long vanished Eastern Roman Empire and its influence and the traditional Ottoman-Arabic style. Take this tour to see some of the best examples these architectural styles.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
Mosques Walking Tour

Mosques Walking Tour

Istanbul has been a center of Islam for over half a millennium. Add to the fact that it was always growing in population and wealth, and we have the reason why there are so many dazzling mosques in the city.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.4 km
Shopping Tour of Istanbul

Shopping Tour of Istanbul

Istanbul can easily claim to be one of the most interesting cities in the world. Located on the very edge of Europe, it later expanded into Asia resulting in a mixture of both cultures. When it comes to shopping you will be amazed by the variety of goods you can buy here and the way everybody bargains - even in the grocery store. Take this tour and explore the legendary bazaars and the hidden...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Istanbul, Turkey's main city, straddling the Bosphorus Strait to bridge gap between Europe and Asia, is an ancient metropolis embracing cultural influences of many civilizations that once flourished on this land. The Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet part of the Old Town, the Roman-era Hippodrome, and the iconic Byzantine Hagia Sophia are just some of the multiple historic landmarks adorning the...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Istanbul Shopping Guide: 16 Turkish Items To Bring Home

Istanbul Shopping Guide: 16 Turkish Items To Bring Home

Istanbul, known throughout history as Byzantium and Constantinople, has been a major center of commerce and trade, a place where merchants and general folk would rush to regularly in search of exotic things. In our days, modern travelers to Istanbul are also bound to enjoy a truly magnificent...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Istanbul for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Istanbul has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Istanbul's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Istanbul Tourist Pass or Istanbul Welcome Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Istanbul's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows user to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Istanbul hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel, Deluxe Golden Horn Sultanahmet Hotel, Great Fortune Hotel & Spa.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Istanbul, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Istanbul typically costs somewhere between US$20 and US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Istanbul from the open top of a bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (the ticket is valid for both). The ticket provides 24-, 48-, or 72-hour access, plus a free ride on Bosphorus sightseeing boat, and more.

- No visit to Istanbul is complete without savoring authentic Turkish cuisine. Embark on a 5-hour night food tour of Istanbul for a generous dollop of delectable Turkish culinary delights at the food hotspots many tourists don’t even know about.

- Get yourself lost for a while in the aromatic maze of stalls at Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar in the company of a knowledgeable guide, followed by a jaunt aboard a sightseeing boat along the Bosphorus Strait!

- Prepare for an action-packed day of sightseeing visiting Istanbul's top attractions in a single go including historic district Sultanahmet, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the dazzling Grand Bazaar and more.

- Follow an expert guide on a 3.5-hour walk around Istanbul’s must-see attractions to familiarize yourself with the city's contrasting cultures and history.

- Take an opportunity to witness centuries-old Istanbul culture in the form of whirling dervishes performing their dance-like spiritual ceremony accompanied by Persian chanting and traditional Turkish music played by live orchestra.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Istanbul, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Gallipoli, Ephesus, or Cappadocia. For as little as circa US$100 up to US$300+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites (rock pillars, cave villages and subterranean cities), explore World War I battlefields, see the finely-preserved ancient eastern Mediterranean city and walk the pavements once strutted by toga-clad Romans, visit what is believed to be St. Mary’s last place of dwelling, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Istanbul, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, private vehicle or a plane (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.