Turkey is a shoppers paradise, especially if you are spending time in Istanbul. There are plenty of unique souvenirs from Turkey to look out for while you shop, and there are plenty of other things you should be buying as well. Shopping in itself is part of the adventure when visiting Turkey, from getting lost in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, to people watching with a cup of Turkish coffee outside a carpet shop.
This post will give you all of the unique souvenirs from Turkey as well as deals on things like shoes and luggage that you should be looking for while you are shopping at one of the many bazzars around the country.
Unique Souvenirs from Turkey and Shopping Tips
The Evil Eye
The Evil Eye is something you will see EVERYWHERE in Turkey. I started with this as 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. If you are looking for a small Turkish souvenir or something that you can bring home as a gift, this is my top suggestion! They are extremely affordable for small ones (less than 1USD to start), and even the larger pieces are much cheaper in Turkey than in other neighboring countries!
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! Make sure you also get yourself a pot to make the coffee. They are cheaper than the coffee and at home they might be hard to find.
While rich and bitter, this coffee does take some getting used to, so do not be discouraged if you do not like it the first time. I take mine with lots of sugar to cut down on the bitter taste, and do not drink the muddy grinds left in the bottom. A perfect Turkish coffee is scalding hot and just a few sips. Most bazaars in Turkey will serve coffee with Turkish delights, another Turkish souvenir that is next on my list!
If you are looking for my favorite Turkish coffee to buy online, check out this one.
Turkish delight, locally known as “locum” is one of the most popular Turkish souvenirs to bring home to share with family and friends. 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! Try both the gummy style and the fruit and nut filled ones.
My kids loved the mini gummy cubed style (rose was their favorite), 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!
If you are looking for a taste of Turkey, but the locum is long gone, do not despair, you can get plenty online here.
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!
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. It is also great if you have not included the right clothing in your Turkey packing list. 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. You will for sure be able to find what to buy in Turkey from the Grand Bazaar.
If you ask someone what to buy in Turkey, they might start with spices. 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), If you are visiting Istanbul in December, it is the off season, and you are more likely to get better discounts than in the bust tourist season.
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 and other Middle Eastern countries like Jordan that makes a great decorative souvenir back home. The hardest part about shopping for one of these in Turkey, is finding the luggage space to bring it back home with you!
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!
The tough part for me is that there are DOZENS of kids selling these tops.
While I really try to stay away from buying things from children, this was one that I could not avoid as I never saw adults spinning the tops. I also found it to be a learning opportunity for my own children, that these kids have to help provide for their families, while my kids get to play after school!
A Final Word on Turkish Souvenirs
After reading this list of the best things to buy in Turkey I hope you have some souvenir shopping plans in mind. But if you are not actually going to Turkey and were looking to buy some Turkish souvenirs online, maybe for yourself, or maybe for friends or family you can find quite a few of these things here.