Visiting Turkey is a one-of-a-kind experience. Shopping here is more so. The country is known for its sprawling bazaars that strike a cord with its Mediterranean border, all the while maintaining its Asian roots. Depending on your budget, Turkey has a lot to offer, both for the casual buyer (just looking for the ‘famous things’) and people willing to get the best for the buck. If you’re looking for what to buy in Turkey, you’ve come to the right page.
Depending on which part of the country you’re in, every region has something unique to offer. Istanbul’s iconic Istiqlal street offers exotic handwoven rugs, Avanos specializes in pottery, while Ephesus (of biblical fame) sells figurines of the Virgin Mary. The list goes on.
- Here are the 10 most famous things to buy in Turkey
- 1. Turkish Carpet and Rugs
- 2. Turkish Tea & Coffee
- 3. Turkish Mosaic Lamps
- 4. Turkish Hookah/Sheesha & Nargile Pipes
- 5. Turkish hand painted Ceramics plates
- 6. Turkish Delight (Sweets)
- 7. Turkish Spices
- 8. Nazar (the blue evil eye of Turkey) Ornaments
- 9. Turkey Handmade olive oil soap
- 10. Traditional Instruments of Turkey
Here are the 10 most famous things to buy in Turkey
1. Turkish Carpet and Rugs
Interested in buying a handmade, beautifully elaborated carpet that distinctly stands out as Turkish? Your best bet is Istanbul, with its sprawling rug bazaars.
Conveniently dubbed as ‘Anatolian rugs’, these handcrafted pieces enfold centuries of tradition, often passed down generation-to-generation.
Different regions across the country have their own distinct flavors when it comes to weaving. Writing a list of souvenirs without including these is simply not possible. With a wide range of selection available, your rug selection will pull your decor elements together and cozy up your personal space where it matters.
2. Turkish Tea & Coffee
Turkey has a rich tea tradition and visitors come to appreciate the country’s hospitality anytime the condiment is offered. Wherever you go in the country, Turkish tea and coffee will be offered as a sign of friendship and hospitality, anywhere and any time, before or after any meal.
If you’re in the country, head over to a Turkish coffee house for a cup of whatever takes your fancy. Additionally, Turkish coffee flavors are sold at these establishments so if you’re thinking of buying souvenirs for your loved ones back home, this is the place to do it.
Drank from small cups, Turkish tea is pure black, essentially prepared with boiled ground beans and cardamom (with sugar added as per drinker’s discretion). More invigorating than its globally available counterpart, the drink is rich in tradition and flavor.
As the Turks say
“To drink one cup of coffee together guarantees forty years of friendship”. Turkish coffee is an offer you simply cannot refuse.
3. Turkish Mosaic Lamps
One of the more colorful merchandise to buy from Turkey is its famous mosaic lamps. These lamps have a long history, with its manufacturing technique dating up to 5000 years old.
These pieces once adorned the palaces of the Sultan, incorporating Ottoman traditions. If you’re looking to change up your lighting and/or decor, these eye-catching and spectacularly lighted lamps are the way to do it.
The mosaic lanterns or lamps, which are made with mosaic glass, come in all sizes, shapes, and colours across Istanbul.
4. Turkish Hookah/Sheesha & Nargile Pipes
Smoke from water pipes is known as nargiles and it is very popular in Turkey. Known by different names in different parts of the world (SHISHA in middle east & HUKA in Asia), Turkish nargile pipes come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.
With a wide selection of colorful glass bottles and customized metal pipes and hose, the very contraption itself is a beautiful decoration piece you can display in your house (if smoking it is not your cup of tea, that is)
Nargile pipes have a unique variety of tobacco flavors including flavors native to the Turkish market. These makeup for very nice souvenirs and can be found in all regions of the country.
5. Turkish hand painted Ceramics plates
Turkish pottery is one of the finest when it comes to ceramic wares. Among the dazzling mosaics on display, you will definitely love it if you have visited the Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque. You may like to grab some of that 8th & 9th-century styled (and miniature) craft home with you.
Porcelain and other Turkish hand-painted ceramics items are also available in Turkey’s Grand Bazaar. There are several stands that sell interesting modern and old-style ceramics plates. Intricately hand-designed ceramic hanging ornaments, ornate plates, bowls, mugs, ashtrays, vases, and even cute animal figurines are available there.
6. Turkish Delight (Sweets)
This list is simply not complete without mentioning the famous Turkish delights. Turkey is home to one of the most iconic sweets & desserts. These sweets come in many flavors and sizes. Although available countrywide, Istanbul comes among the pick-of-places to buy Turkish delights and the city is peppered far and wide with eateries that will cater to your taste buds.
Among the many tantalizing Turkish sweets available in the market, we highly recommend buying kuru baklava, made with pistachios from Gaziantep and clarified butter which is a must-taste traditional dessert. Buying wrapped sweets is a good idea if you’re looking to share the culinary experience of Turkey with your loved ones. For a long-haul trip back home though, make sure you get dry baklava as it lasts much longer.
Baklava dessert is very popular in Middle Eastern culture and can be frequently found outside of Turkey as well. However, the taste and quality of local Turkish sweets is unique and are a sure-fire way to supercharge your tastebuds positively.
7. Turkish Spices
Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul are havens for spices and herbs. Spice up your meals by taking some of these with you back home.
If you’re a connoisseur of spices, this is the right place to buy some allspice, paprika and sumac (among other GAZILLION spices).
8. Nazar (the blue evil eye of Turkey) Ornaments
Nazar Boncuk, also known as evil eye ornament, is among the most recognizable and very prominent souvenirs in Turkey that you can buy at any Bazaar. It is deeply ingrained in Turkish culture, as an amulet to ward off evil. You can see these blue discs with dots forming an eye at their center.
These are widely used in their homes and offices, hung on doors or at storefronts and given as a present to a newborn baby. This highly popular and famous Turkish souvenir comes in various forms of amulets, keyrings, bookmarks, jewelry, glass, ceramic items, and lapel badges.
9. Turkey Handmade olive oil soap
Whilst in Istanbul, make sure to experience some of the world’s finest hand-made soaps (or sabun). Sold in abundance at the Grand Bazaar, these soaps come in numerous sweet-smelling scents and kinds.
Olive oil has long been known in Turkish bath culture for a natural prettiness remedy and it helps against the loss of hair & dandruff.
Handmade olive oil soaps are part of Turkish culture and represent the centuries-old tradition, made with only natural and organic ingredients. It is a combination of high-quality olive oil, honey, lavender, and pure white ones with others to create beautiful bars of soap.
10. Traditional Instruments of Turkey
Whether you intend to play instruments or merely display them, Traditional Turkish instruments look great, sound great and are simply a work of art. Goblet drum, also named as the saz, chalice drum or Turkish longneck lute, and the kaval, a wood instrument popular with shepherds is an extremely popular choice to bring with you back home as a token of the rich Turkish music culture.
Galip Dede Caddesi is the best place for explorers to buy musical instruments in Istanbul. If its a marketplace for musical instruments you’re looking for, look no forward than Galip Dede Caddesi bazaar.
Visiting Turkey is an experience of a lifetime and what better way to cherish your memories by bringing some of these souvenirs (if not all of them!) back home. They make up for very nice gifts for friends and family as well. This list is by no means comprehensive and the country will definitely surprise you by offering a host of experiences and merchandise.
Bought something nice from Turkey and want us to know? Share your experience with us in the comments below.