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Plan Your Trip to Istanbul: Best of Istanbul Tourism

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Explore Istanbul

Istanbul is a city that mixes old and new, and the best way to explore it is through its mahalles (neighbourhoods). Get your history fix in Beyoğlu—it’s chock-full of 19th-century European elegance—or head to Sultanahmet and see the holy sites. Then, make your way to Nişantaşı for high-end shopping and trendy restaurants, or pop into a bar or cafe in edgy Kadıköy. That’s just the start—we’ve got more ideas below.

Travel Advice

Essential Istanbul

How to do Istanbul in 3 days

Incredible mosques, Turkish breakfasts, and relaxing hammams
Read on

How to shop in Istanbul, from the extravagant to the extraordinary

I've browsed, haggled, and drained my bank account while shopping on almost every continent. While the chill seaside markets of Costa Rica and sprawling mega-malls of Bangkok have a special place in my shopaholic's heart, Istanbul, with its fabulous fusion of high-brow and rare goods, calls me back every time. Straddling Europe and Asia, this city is full of epic finds and extraordinary deals.
Elizabeth Lavis, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Arasta Bazaar
    If you love authentic, silky, roomy pashminas as much as I do, Arasta Bazaar is a fab stop. This is a smaller but substantial bazaar near Sultanahmet Square. It's easy to pop by before or after touring the Blue Mosque or Hagia Sophia. I picked up a sky-blue pashmina trimmed with gold and some loose tea on my last wander through Arasta, but you can also find jewellery and every colour of plush Turkish towels.
  • Zorlu Center
    Get your Gucci fix and your duty-free tax deduction at Zorlu Centre, one of Istanbul's most luxurious shopping centres with fancy shops, tasty food, and stunning architecture. It's a multi-use complex, just over 20 minutes away from the popular Eminonu district (where I always stay) by metro. I love this spot because you have a galaxy of high-end options like Vuitton, Tiffany, and Dior, but there's also a huge Zara.
  • Istinye Park
    I love Istinye Park because it mixes modernity and an authentic Turkish bazaar vibe with many airy, open spaces where you can chill, enjoy a Turkish coffee, and give your feet a break. High-end brands are king at Istinye, and it's a great place to get cosmetics and perfumes. My guilty pleasure is visiting the Rainforest Cafe on the first floor for a nostalgic hit and some post-shopping comfort food.
  • Mahmut Pasha Bazaar
    Mahmut Pasha Bazaar is a superb option if you're in the mood to haggle and want the hustle and bustle of a bazaar without the total overwhelm. A modest 256 shops, this spot sits close to Eminonu and is packed with little cafes selling baklava, textile shops, and plenty of custom-made bath and plumbing stores. I've scored several gorgeous items over the years, including a button-down silk flowered dress that remains one of my faves.
  • Misir Carsisi (Spice Market)
    Also known as the "Egyptian Bazaar," Misir Carsisi is the top place in Istanbul for Turkish ice cream and loose spices. You'll find loose teas, bright baskets of golden saffron, smoked paprika, and fragrant dried bay leaves. They also sell some of the cheapest and most authentic Turkish Delight here. The spices come in tiny bags, so I like to shop with a larger tote that I am okay with getting a little dirty.
  • Olivium Outlet Center
    I love the Olivium Outlet Centre for two reasons: it's convenient to get to by train, and you can find designer goods at outlet prices. It's the place to stock up on sportswear and sneakers, and I've seen good deals at both the Nike and Adidas outlets, especially when they're rolling out new seasonal fare. This mall runs regular sales that they advertise on social media, and it's open every day until 10 p.m.
  • Kanyon Shopping Mall
    Kanyon Shopping Centre is one of the most stunning shopping complexes I've ever seen, with wide, well-lit corridors and a convex ceiling that perfectly marries the indoor and outdoor spaces. If you appreciate understated elegance, Kanyon hits those notes. There are upscale clothing shops, many dining options, and entertainment, but the top reason I visit Kanyon is for cosmetics. You'll find a mix of budget-friendly and top-of-the-line brands like NARS, Watsons, and Yves Rocher.