Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world, housing more than 5,000 shops on over 60 streets and welcoming an estimated 400,000 visitors every day.
The Grand Bazaar has been an important trading center since it was built in the 13th century, thanks in part to the city's previous position as Constantinople - the imperial capital of the Romans and Byzantines.
In the times of the Roman and Byzantine empires, traders came from across the world to deal in silks, furs, spices and exotic goods. Today, visitors are more likely to discover traditional Turkish delight, ornamental carpets, copperware, amber prayer beads, candlesticks, and silver and gold jewelry inlaid with turquoise and coral.
Tips for visiting the Grand Bazaar
- Haggle - haggling and bartering is expected by stall holders who will likely inflate their prices, expecting you to negotiate down.
- Go early - up to 400,000 people can visit daily, and it may get particularly busy at the hottest times of day, so go early to avoid crowding.
- Take tea - the Grand Bazaar has many cafes where you can enjoy a refreshing cup of Turkish tea and some flavored Turkish delight. While rose- and lemon-flavored Turkish delight is most common, trying more exotic flavors like pistachio is highly recommended.
- Be savvy - unless you are buying an antique or something unique, you may want to buy elsewhere as you may find similar items cheaper outside the Grand Bazaar.
Getting to the Grand Bazaar
The Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel, Istanbul is less than a 12-minute drive from the Grand Bazaar, making it a perfect base for visitors looking to shop in the city by day and relax by the glamorous waterfront by night.