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Istanbul Shopping

Abdulla
25/27 Ali Baba Turbe Sokak
Nuruosmaniye
Istanbul
Turkey
Tel: 90 212 526 30 71
www.abdulla.com

Owner Metin Tosun describes his operation at Abdulla as "giving new soul to old patterns," and indeed this Old City store's fantastic collection of homespun fabrics, cloths, towels, and throws all hail from private workshops from around the country. Check out their traditional hammam pestemals, which come in silk or cotton, and knitted hammam washcloths made from kese fabric indigenous to the Black Sea region. They also have a great line in chunky cubes of soap made from pure olive oil bases, and a collection of animal skin rugs (including sealskin) that will either thrill or repel, depending on your stance on the matter. There's also a branch in the Grand Bazaar (58/60 Halıcılar Caddesi; 90-212-522-90-78).

Beymen
23/1 Abdi İpekçi Caddesi
Nişantaşı
Istanbul
Turkey
Tel: 90 212 343 0404
www.beymen.com.tr

Turkey's answer to Saks, this upscale department store can't be ignored, not least due to its vociferous citywide advertising campaign that has giant renditions of Kate Moss bidding Istanbullus to buy into big labels. With five locations in Istanbul, the most exemplary of which is probably the seven-story structure in Nişantaşi, Beymen houses a comprehensive showcase of top global designers and names in cosmetics and household accessories, in conjunction with its own fashion line. Don't expect any labels-for-less here, though: International brands will tend to be more expensive due to import taxes, so stick with local houses like Mavi Jeans.

Çukurcuma
Istanbul
Turkey

A great neighborhood for antiques buffs, who may uncover more unusual artifacts than one might find at the Grand Bazaar, Çukurcuma comprises a set of quaint hilly backstreets in Beyoğlu, on the fringe of the trendy Cihangir area. The shops around Ağa Hamamı Sokak and Turnacı Başı Sokak are veritable Aladdin's caves of booty, with restored furniture, rural items, and a fair amount of memorabilia dating back to the early days of the Republic. Kitsch often abounds, and a number of these places also import a lot of stuff from Europe; however, there are some gems to be found.

Egyptian Bazaar (Misir Çarşisi)
Yeni Camii Meydanı
Eminönü
Istanbul
Turkey
Tel: 90 212 513 6597

The "Grand Bazaar Lite," this is the place to come if size and commotion of the Kapalı Çarşı has given you a headache. Smaller, more manageable, but equally striking, this market in Eminönü down by the Galata bridge has much of what its larger cousin has to offer, barring mainly carpets and leatherwear. So called because of its latter-day involvement with imported goods from Egypt, the market is also known as the Spice Bazaar—there's a profusion of seasonings piled colorfully high underneath garlands of dried eggplants and zucchini and next to boxes of saffron and bottles of essential oils. The Arifoğlu Spice Center is a no-hassle spice and herb trader with a pharmaceutical edge and, in keeping with many other merchants in this bazaar, fixed prices. More discerning shoppers should head to silk, textile, and cashmere specialist Özer at stall 82, whose gorgeous fabrics are a cut above the usual fare (www.ozer.org). And if you're there around lunchtime and fancy something more substantial than a kebab, make your way to Pandeli Lokantasi, an old-school restaurant up a flight of stairs by the north entrance of the bazaar. The food here is not spectacular, but the traditional tiles and domed ceilings certainly are (1 Mısır Çarşısı, Eminönü; 90-212-527-3909; lunch only).

Eminönü
Istanbul
Turkey

The streets behind the New Mosque at Eminönü and the Egyptian Bazaar that stretch all the way up to the back entrance of the Grand Bazaar are a maze of authentic alleys—a modern-day vestige of the old Oriental souk society. Mostly free of tourists, these streets are where you'll find the actual Istanbullus—veiled, capped, often laden with shopping—going about their business, buying and selling everything from fruits and vegetables, spices, coffee, clothes, household utensils, mobile phones, hardware, and made-to-measure carpentry items. Look out for the 16th-century Rüstem Paşa mosque as you wander around; located on Hasıcılar Caddesi, it boasts a beautiful interior of İznik tiles and is one of the city's best-kept secrets.

Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı)
Beyazıt
Istanbul
Turkey
www.kapalicarsi.org.tr

Depending on your shopping style, Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is either an abundant paradise or a convoluted, serpentine nightmare of sensory overload. Either way, it's the quintessential venue for all of your indigenous souvenir needs. The numerous covered alleys of this huge indoor complex, which dates back more than 500 years, house over 4,000 shops and stalls that sell everything from carpets, fabrics, crockery, and leather to jewelry, hammam goods, and Turkish delight. Haggling over prices with the spectacularly multilingual store owners is par for the course, as is getting hopelessly lost and staggering out with copious shopping bags. Be sure to try and find the Old Bedesten in the center of the Bazaar, a walled-in section with huge iron doors that was actually the original marketplace building in the time of Mehmet the Conqueror (that is, the mid-1400s) and is now home to a great deal of antique bric-a-brac. It's also worth poking around the peripheries of the bazaar: Little side alleys and hidden courtyards house many interesting stores, whose prices tend to be lower than those located along the central thoroughfares. Highlights include Abdulla for textiles and soaps, and Şişko Osman for handmade rugs and kilims, many of them vintage Anatolian specimens given as dowries (15 Zincirli Han; 90-212-528-3548; www.siskoosman.com).

Nişantaşı
Istanbul
Turkey

Less Ali Baba and more Ab Fab, this high-end neighborhood is among Istanbul's most exclusive. It's home to the expected gamut of designer stores (Vuitton, Gucci, Armani), top-dollar Turkish department stores Vakko and Beymen, the latter with its sidekick brasserie, and a host of coiffured, manicured ladies who lunch. Looking for something more homegrown? Try local names in affordable fashion, such as Yargıcı and Mudo.

Robinson Crusoe
389 İstiklal Caddesi
Beyoğlu
Istanbul
Turkey
Tel: 90 212 293 6968

One of a handful of English-language bookshops on, or just off, İstiklal Caddesi, Robinson Crusoe stocks a decent selection of everything from fiction and philosophy to current affairs and history reads, as well as a good range of travel books and English-language magazines. The shop's interior resembles a literary bricolage set in an old-world library, with dozens of dark-wood shelves climbing the walls all the way up to the ceiling, and assiduous shop assistants balancing on ladders to reach the dusty tomes at the top. When not performing acrobatic feats, the staff here are very helpful and will order any books that are not in stock.

Shopping in Galata

This once shabby neighborhood around the landmark Galata Tower has undergone a remarkable transformation. A host of new boutiques have moved into its pretty cobbled backstreets, making Galata one of Istanbul's prime spots for alternative fashion. Start on Camekan Sokak (the street leading downhill from the tower's entrance), where you will find unique bags and belts at leather-goods store Lãl and statement accessories at Adem & Havva. For more upscale (and pricier) designs, turn on Serdar-ı Ekrem Sokak for stunning goth-inspired clothing and jewlry by Bahar Korçan. Keep going to reach Atelier 55 at the end of the street, a source for offbeat women's clothes as well as household bric-a-brac.—Vanessa Able

Simay Bülbül
22 Şahkulu Bostan Sokak
Istanbul
Turkey 34420
Tel: 90 212 292 45 86
www.sim-ay.com

One of the most distinctive designers to recently move into the Galata scene, Simay Bülbül specializes in creations that blend old, mildly militaristic Ottoman and Turkic styles with a more modern punky look and offbeat elegance. Her leather collection includes delicately crafted dresses, jackets, and belts. There is also lightweight asymmetrical knitwear on display, and some really heavy metal jewelry.—Vanessa Able

Open daily 10 am to 7 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.