no alt text

Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 10 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

It’s the oldest shopping mall in the world, and possibly the biggest, with 5,000 shops to browse through. Glittering like Aladdin’s cave, Istanbul’s Covered Market or Grand Bazaar consists of 66 streets covered with stone vaulting and enclosed by a wall.

All of Turkey’s treasures are on display, but it’s an everyday market too, selling everything from diamonds to dishcloths; during peak times there are as many as half a million people inside its walls. Maybe not the best place for bargains, but an unparalleled treat for the senses, and an essential part of the Istanbul experience.

How to haggle

Haggling is expected, and as a general rule you should pay no more than a third of the original asking price. Be prepared to walk away – vendors will likely chase after you and accept your price. Occasionally the stallholders will pretend to get angry, either at you or their ‘inexperienced’ apprentice, to increase the price. It’s an old trick, so just smile and walk away.

While you’re there 

After you’ve visited, the adjacent Sahaflar Carsisi book market is a wonderfully picturesque bibliophile’s enclave, crammed with dozens of second-hand book stalls for browsing and an eclectic café for leafing through your purchases.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

There are 22 entrances to the Bazaar, but the main ones are on Beyazit Square and at the end of Nuruosmaniye Caddesi. If you’re determined to bag yourself a major purchase – like a carpet – visit at least three shops and haggle for the lowest price. Stalls sell a lot of the same goods, so never buy from the first place you see something.

You could easily spend half a day here. It’s completely safe, but beware of pickpockets and keep your belongings close to you.

Give the size, guided tours are a good option here, and especially if you’re time is limited. They’ll have insider knowledge on discovering the Bazaar’s best treasures, bartering for bargains, and the tasty lunch spots.

When to do it

The Bazaar is open all year round, Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Who to go with: organised tours

5

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Morning Istanbul: Half-Day Tour with Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome and Grand Bazaar

Istanbul

Morning Istanbul: Half-Day Tour with Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome and Grand Bazaar
Enjoy this 4 hours tour with visits to the highlights of the old city. Firstly visit the magnificent Byzantine church of St Sophia. After here continue to Hippodrome, the former centre of sporting and political activities in Constantinople and the Blue Mosque, amazing blue tiles from 16th century. Final visit of the morning is to the Grand Bazaar.

Price: $88

Min age: 0

Rating 4.35 / 5 [80 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Istanbul Old City: Basilica Cistern - Blue Mosque - Grand Bazaar

Istanbul

Istanbul Old City: Basilica Cistern - Blue Mosque - Grand Bazaar
Visit the historic ‘old town’ of bustling Istanbul on this tour. Photo opportunities await at Sultanahmet’s notable religious sites including the Underground Basilica Cistern and Blue Mosque. Wander through aromatic spice markets after exploring the Byzantine heritage of the Hippodrome. Witness the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire influences in this part of Turkey's great metropolis. Tour the historic reference points of the old town with an English speaking tour guide Benefit from a smaller tour group that can be customised to your interests Sample Turkish delights in the Grand Bazaar and visit a local carpet workshop Enjoy the best scenery of Istanbul from Blue Mosque

Price: €30

Min age: 7

Rating 4.84 / 5 [44 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Best of Istanbul: Basilica Cistern - Blue Mosque - Grand Bazaar

Istanbul

Best of Istanbul: Basilica Cistern - Blue Mosque - Grand Bazaar
Explore the vibrant and storied "old town" of Istanbul on this tour, where you'll have the chance to capture incredible photographs at renowned landmarks such as the subterranean Basilica Cistern and the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet. Take in the aromatic delights of the spice markets and delve into the rich Byzantine heritage of the Hippodrome. Be inspired by the local art and craft scene, and discover the secrets of traditional carpet weaving during a visit to a historic carpet workshop. • Enjoy priority access and skip the ticket lines at the Basilica Cistern • Indulge in Turkish delights at the bustling Grand Bazaar • Try your hand at weaving loom if you're feeling adventurous. • Benefit from a smaller tour group that can be customised to your interests

Price: €30

Min age: 7

Rating 4.88 / 5 [34 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Shopping in Grand Bazaar

Istanbul

Shopping in Grand Bazaar
Sharpen up your bargaining skills while exploring Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar on this must-do 3.5-hour walking tour. As one the world’s largest covered markets, the Grand Bazaar is home to thousands of shops and stalls spread over nearly 60 blocks. Find the best places to shop in this mystical maze as your local guide introduces to you its best traders and helps you to bag a few bargains! Numbers are limited to 5 on this small-group tour, ensuring you’ll enjoy personalized attention from your guide.

Price: €108

Min age: 3

Rating 4.07 / 5 [28 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar

Istanbul

Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar
Discover Imperial Istanbul on this private half-day sightseeing tour. Visit Hagia Sophia, which is today one of the most magnificent museums in the world and look for a bargain at the Grand Bazaar. Explore the Basillica Cistern, 500 feet underground this ancient cistern not only has historical importance to Istanbul but has also been featured in James Bond.

Price: $235

Min age: 0

Rating 4.41 / 5 [24 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Istanbul

Marmara Region, Turkey

Large illuminated mosque at night with sea in background

Exotic, inexhaustible and dynamic – East meets West head-on in this mesmerising city metropolis, famed for its extraordinarily rich history, superb food and shopping, and mind-blowingly magnificent, over-sized mosques.