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11 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar Istanbul is truly grand. Since the middle of the 15th century, the Grand Bazaar has been Istanbul’s most famous bazaar and a perfect shopping paradise. If you want to shop and explore, you should spend at least an entire day at the bazaar. Here are 11 things you should know to make the most of your experience at the Grand Bazaar Istanbul:

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  • Oldest Shopping Mall

Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is the oldest and largest covered market in the world. Spanning 61 covered streets and a total of over 4 000 shops, this bazaar is said to be the oldest in the world. Dating back to the 15th century it is truly the heart of Istanbul’s old city center. Before Covid, the Grand Bazaar was visited by close to 100 million visitors every year. That means around 250.000 people a day making it the world’s most visited tourist attraction.

This bazaar, which was first used for sea vehicles during the Byzantine Empire, turned into a central bazaar during the Ottoman Empire. When you enter the Grand Bazaar, you will be enchanted by the many shops and boutiques. You’ll discover clothing stores, jewelry boutiques, boutiques, sweet and spice shops, and gift shops, among a variety of other businesses that sell millions of things.

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  • What is the best time to visit Grand Bazaar Istanbul?

Autumn, from December to February, is an ideal time to visit the Grand Bazaar and explore and buy the various shops there, as this is the time when you can get good bargains and deals with less crowds.

Summer, on the other hand, sees a wave of crowds from June to October as this is the ideal time during the holiday season. However, towards the end of April, a moderate crowd can also be a good experience.

The best time to visit the indoor market is in the morning or any time before 5 PM. This is when the crowds are less and visitors can shop and explore the market with ease.

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  • Do you need tickets for the Grand Bazaar?

Entry to the Grand Bazaar is free.

  • What day is the Grand Bazaar closed?

The Grand Bazaar is open between 08:30 and 19:00 and is closed on Sundays and the first day of religious holidays. 

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  • Are they any restrooms in the Grand Bazaar?

Unfortunately, the Grand Bazaar doesn’t have access to the facilities restrooms. However, the bazaar is surrounded by the market, many great cafes and restaurants who would be happy if you visited them too.

  • How to Reach the Grand Bazaar?

The distance between Istanbul Airport and the Grand Bazaar is approximately 47 km and takes approximately 50 minutes by car. It is also possible to reach the bazaar from the airport by other means of transportation. This requires taking the metro from the airport to Zeytinburnu and then taking a tram from Beyazıt to the Grand Bazaar.

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  • Talk with the Merchants and Bargain

One thing you notice here immediately though is that people are not really very pushy. They’ll ask you where you’re from. The vendors in the grand bazaar are super friendly and entertaining and if you spend an afternoon here you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time.

As this is the most visited tourist attraction in the world, prices are higher than elsewhere in the city. So, often you will have to bargain quite a bit. With over 4 000 shops there’s something for everyone in there but you got to make sure you bring one skill with you and that is bargaining.

Bargaining is a tradition in Turkey as in many countries. Customers in Europe and America usually only bargain when buying a car, house or other expensive item. Bargaining in Turkey has been expanded to include less valuable items, particularly unique handmade items such as carpets, handicrafts, artwork, antiques, and other items that do not have standardized markets.

  • Try Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is actually finely ground coffee that is prepared by boiling it. Typically in the Western countries, people pour over or espresso. However, Turkish people boil the coffee in the water and then they just put it in a cup and the coffee grounds actually stay in the cup as well. 

  • Visit the Spice Market

Every single shop on this Street is all about the spices and the tea. Overall you will just find a lot more locals in Spice Market and a lot less tourists. You can tell the shops are also a little bit more geared towards the locals because the prices are much lower. Also, some of the things you find here you won’t easily find in the Grand Bazaar.

  • Things to Buy at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

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With so much to buy, here’s our five pick for you to buy from Grand Bazaar:

  • Home Decor: You can find colorful lamps and beautiful cushions. In other items Grand Bazaar has dark fish, Turkish cats.  Not only reflects Turkish culture but it also makes your house look beautiful.
  • Turkish Tea: You must buy Turkish tea. Turkish tea comes with different flavors. You can also find some healing powers. Such as: Weight loss, sore throat, sinus, body ache. Do you know what the best part is? You can try it before you buy it! 🙂
  • Turkish Delights: Just like Turkish tea, Turkish delights are also famous and unique. If you’re visiting Turkey, you must go to Grand Bazaar and try them out before you buy.
  • Jewelry: Bazaar is full of jewelry shops. You can buy gold, silver, diamonds and artificial jewelry. You can also find unique designs but don’t forget to bargain. Don’t be afraid to walk away because you will be called back by the shopkeeper.
  • Designer inspired items: From bags to shoes, from clothes to belts, from jewelry to watches, the Grand Bazaar is full of designer-inspired products. Even if you don’t buy it, it’s a great feeling to see all these for sale here.

 

  • Take Your Time

The Grand Bazaar is a huge area and this makes it impossible to explore the bazaar in limited time. The most reasonable thing to do here would be to devote an entire day for this purpose.

Divide the shopping day into two parts. One in the morning and the other in the afternoon after the lunch break. This is when the crowd is minimal and shopping can be done without hassle.

It is also recommended not to rush and buy the first thing you see. Take your time, research well and then invest in something.

 

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