If you are planning your first visit and want to know what to buy in Turkey, this post has you covered! I love wandering a bazaar or a souq or a gift shop to find the best thing to buy as a memento of my trip, especially if it is a unique Istanbul souvenir. If you have read my post on what to buy in Egypt, you know that I am always on the hunt for something unique in my travels! And the kids love shopping too! I always let them pick out something to remind them of their travels, and Turkey was no exception!
What to Buy in Turkey
Turkish delight, locally known as “locum” has got to be one of the popular things to buy in Turkey. Even if you do not take it home as a souvenir, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul has plenty of vendors offering sweet samples outside of their shops! My kids loved the mini gummy cubed style, but I prefer the flavourful nut-filled ones. If you are buying in bulk, you are likely able to negotiate quite a bit on the per kilo price!
The Evil Eye
The Evil Eye is something you will see EVERYWHERE in Turkey. I think it is one of the must buys in Turkey as it makes a great visual reminder of your visit. The Evil Eye is typically made from glass and circles or tear drop shapes in blue, white and black. You can pick these up almost anywhere in Turkey and in various sizes from bracelets to large wall hanging pieces.
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Tea & Tea Glasses
While you may not think of tea as one of the best souvenirs from Turkey, it is one that should not be overlooked! While in the Grand Bazaar, check out the aromatic flavours of teas in the shops. A popular one is Apple tea! You can get it in tea bags, but I also like the crystallized (sweetened) version that has dried apples and spices in it! This makes one of the great gifts from Istanbul to take home and share with your friends! You will also see plenty of vendors that sell the cute glass tea cups that are synonymous with tea in the region!
Turkish Coffee is not only something that you should try in Turkey, but also one of the things to buy in Turkey to take home to your friends and family! ( That is, after you ask how to properly prepare it! haha ). I take mine with lots of sugar and also bought a small turkish coffee pot to easily make it after I had returned home! Try it with and without cardamom to decide which one you prefer!
Knock offs and Luggage
The Grand Bazaar is arguably the best place for shopping in Istanbul and is well known for its knock off merchandise. While some have said it has died down a lot, I sure noticed plenty of purses, shoes and clothing. While I was not looking for more “higher end” knock offs, you know, the ones that sell for almost a hundred bucks for the knock off version, I am sure they are there, just not in plain sight! One of the other really great things to buy in Istanbul is luggage! It is sooooooo cheap for hard case spinner luggage! So bring your old suitcase and take a nice new one home with you!
A note about the Grand Bazaar: It is not always the “cheapest” place to buy things, but its labyrinth of stores, its indoor decor and the ambiance of street vendors is what makes it one of the best places to shop in Turkey.
The bazaar’s in Turkey have an amazing array of spices making them one of the popular things to get in Turkey. But just like anything, you need to pay for the good stuff, so don’t be fooled by the cheap saffron. Opt for the better quality ones!
If you want to know what is famous in Turkey, it has got to be carpets. If you want to bring home a beautiful one, most companies are able to ship them for you. But beware of cheap knock offs and go to a quality shop. There is plenty of manufacturing in Turkey that there is no need to get them in from China, but some shops have started doing that in order to cut costs. (Which surprises me as Turkey makes a LOT of its own goods VERY cheaply)
A common sight outside coffee shops and in store fronts are tobacco pipes, known in Turkey as “nargile” pipes. Whether they are “shisha” or “nargile” or “hookah” pipes, they come in many different shapes and sizes. Tourists often think these are one of the things to buy in Turkey that makes a great decorative souvenir back home.
Further Reading for Later: Things I wish I knew before visiting Turkey for the first time
If you want to know what to buy in Istanbul, just take a few minutes to browse the Grand Bazaar for the beautiful mosaic lamps illuminating the shops. Various sizes are available; pay attention if they plug-in or are hardwired. Also make sure that when you make your purchase, they wrap it up well, you do not want a shattered lamp when you arrive home!
If you have kids in your life, one of the best things to buy in Istanbul is a top to bring home for the kids! My kids picked up one each on our first day for less than USD2 and they played with it every day on our trip! It was for sure a great value for money!
If you enjoyed this post on things to get from Turkey as souvenirs mementos of your trip, then check out some of my other posts below
Lindsay is the founder and editor of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She left her career in Canada to share her love of travel with her two young boys. She is passionate about sharing adventure travel activities for families and to encourage others to explore the world. She resides in the suburbs of Vancouver when not jet setting abroad.