Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) is the ultimate covered market. Its 5,000+ vendors hawk carpets, beaded bracelets, gold and silver jewelry, multicolored lanterns, leather goods, ceramics, belly-dancing outfits, and more. With goods that span all price ranges, you’ll find the perfect souvenir in the bazaar’s labyrinthine alleys.
Getting lost in the Grand Bazaar is part of the experience, as every twist and turn reveals interesting Turkish goods. Built in the 15th century during the Ottoman era, the market remains an active and lively center of commerce—and today, tourism—in Istanbul.
Explore the best stalls on a guided shopping tour. Many Istanbul sightseeing tours combine the Grand Bazaar with the Spice Bazaar or with other sights in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, including the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia Museum (Aya Sofya), and the Basilica Cistern.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Grand Bazaar is a must-visit for history buffs, carpet enthusiasts, and shopaholics.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle; it’s expected.
- Wear comfortable shoes—you will be on your feet as you explore the vast market.
- Be prepared to take your time. The Grand Bazaar is large and it’s easy to get lost.
- The bazaar is accessible to wheelchair users, though there is a 4-inch (10-centimeter) drop at most entrances and some lanes are quite narrow.
How to Get There
The Grand Bazaar, a 20-minute walk from Sultanahmet Square, has many different entrances. One main entrance is a short walk from the Beyazit tram stop; another is behind the Spice Bazaar, not far from the Eminonu tram stop. Taxis are a convenient option.
When to Get There
The market is open from 9am to 7pm Monday through Saturday; it is closed on various Turkish and religious holidays. Beat the crowds—and possibly strike better deals—in the morning or close to closing time.
Buying a Carpet in the Grand Bazaar
Many Istanbul visitors aim to pick up a Turkish carpet. The buying process in the Grand Bazaar involves haggling over a price while sipping Turkish tea. Take your time to speak with the seller and have a sense of what you’re looking for in a carpet. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the sale, as the carpet seller will often lower the price to keep you in the shop.