This is one of the neatest places to go in Istanbul if you like to shop and haggle, and even if not, it is still quite impressive by its sheer scale in size and offerings. You can almost picture business going on here for centuries! The bazaar is huge – it is a veritable maze of over 60 covered streets and 3,000 shops. How is that versus hanging out at a mall in the U.S.? Yes, not the same thing.
The Grand Bazaar came to be into its current form over a couple of centuries – it evolved and was added to over time and now it is close to 550 years old. Fortunately for us visitors, it sits in a perfect spot with key sites all around it – almost a ground zero for the visitor checking out the places to see in Istanbul: Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sophia and some of the mosques including the Blue Mosque.
I, not a fan of shopping, actually enjoyed walking around and seeing all the goods on offer, getting lost in the maze along the way. I even ran into some sort of informal “pit” of trading in something: guys on cell phones, maybe 8-10 of them, exchanging money around. Pretty cool!
Finally, some advice: haggle is the name of the game; it is expected in fact – so don’t be shy. Pay no more than half of what they originally asked but go for less if you can!
Please note that it is closed on Sundays.