Built in conjunction with Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, the Arasta Bazaar’s market stalls were originally created so their rent could fund the imperial mosque. Today, the long row of shops sell all kinds of Turkish goods—including carpets, kilims, ceramics, and textiles—plus prepared foods and tea in the heart of the Sultanahmet neighborhood.
Thanks to its historical connection to the Blue Mosque, the Arasta Bazaar is centrally located in Sultanahmet. A lively open-air café serving tea, water pipes, and Turkish food is just next to the bazaar. In addition to myriad vendors selling various items and souvenirs worth hauling home, the bazaar houses the Great Palace Mosaic Museum, which contains ancient mosaics that have been unearthed all over Istanbul.
Small-group and private tours that explore Sultanahmet can pass through the Arasta Bazaar. These tours usually also stop at area highlights including the Blue Mosque (aka the Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Sultanahmet Camii), the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), Topkapi Palace, the Hippodrome, the Basilica Cistern, and more.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Arasta Bazaar is a must for shopaholics, and the Mosaic Museum is a great add-on for history and art buffs.
- Haggling is expected in Istanbul markets, so bargain for a perfect price.
- Wear comfortable shoes to explore the bazaar.
- The bazaar is on a long flat road and accessible to wheelchairs.
How to Get There
The Arasta Bazaar is located in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood, on the southeast side of the Blue Mosque. It’s a short walk from the Sultanahmet tram stop and a slightly longer walk from the Eminonu ferry terminal. There is limited parking in Sultanahmet, but taxis are a convenient option.
When to Get There
The Arasta Bazaar and the Sultanahmet neighborhood can get very busy by midday, so arrive early to beat the crowds. The Mosaic Museum is open Wednesday through Monday and can also get busy in the afternoon. Shops close come evening, but the café near the Arasta Bazaar stays open later.
Finding the Perfect Souvenirs
With its convenient location in the midst of Sultanahmet, the Arasta Bazaar is a great place to buy souvenirs for friends and family—and yourself. Sip tea and haggle for a handmade Turkish carpet or kilim. Shop for ceramics made in the Iznik style, with the traditional colors of red, blue, and green. Buy textiles and pestemal, the light towels used in Turkish baths, as well as scented soaps and loads of other goodies.