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Things to Buy in Istanbul for Your Friends Back Home

Where do we begin? With some of the most exciting shopping possibilities the world over right here in Istanbul, making a decision on what to buy for your friends back home can be a little overwhelming. This is why we at Hotel Büyük Keban have decided to make a short list that will make decision-making a bit easier!

Two of the greatest markets in the world, the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar, should give you plenty to think about when it comes to selecting presents for even the fussiest of your friends and family members. Here are our suggestions:


Originally called the Egyptian Market, named for the centuries-old trade between these two ancient powers, the Spice Market is a gold mine when it comes to edibles. Here you will find a plethora of spices, including Pul Biber (red pepper flakes) and Isot, a special Urfa pepper. Sumac and Turkish saffron grown in Northern Anatolia also are good choices. Make sure you buy the spices loose rather than prepackaged, as they will be fresher and tastier.

Dried Fruits and Nuts

Dried fruits and nuts make great souvenir food. Fig, apricots, raisins, and the ubiquitous çerez, a snack of mixed nuts that is absolutely delicious alongside an aperitif, are excellent gifts. Turkey is the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts, so be sure to buy some of these as well.


Turkish coffee is a classic delicacy and a part of everyday life. Distinct from other types, Turkish-style coffee differs with coffee served elsewhere due to how it is ground, prepared, and served. You will undoubtedly try at least one cup when visiting our city, and it will be served in a long-handled Cezve, which makes a wonderful present when coupled with the roasted and ground Arabica beans that make up the fine-powder Turkish coffee. The locals call it “black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love, ” which makes drinking it a challenge that’s hard to resist!

Turkish Delight

And then there’s the ubiquitous Turkish Delight! These cubes made from thickened milk or fruit syrup are decadently appealing to even the most dessert-resistant. Liberally dusted with sugar, some include nuts, mint, spices, grape syrup (pekmez), or rose water. Known as lokum, this typical candy has been a treat since the beginning of the Ottoman Empire, when it was eaten to aid digestion after meals.

Leather, Mosaics, and the Turkish Eye

As one of the world’s first shopping malls, the Grand Bazaar dates from the 15th century and boasts more than 60 streets with thousands of shops filled with just about everything you can imagine. Handmade leather goods such as belts, vests, hats, gloves, wallets, and jackets make wonderful gifts, as do the vast array of ceramics with traditional mosaic designs. Pick up a coffee set or tiles featuring patterns dating back to the 8th and 9th century as a unique and usable gift. And don’t forget to get the classic Nazar Boncugu, the Turkish eye symbol to ward off evil. You’ll find it on keychains, charms, jewelry, and other ornamental pieces.

Staying Close to the Best Shopping in Town

Book a room at Hotel Büyük Keban and you’ll be near all the best shopping areas in Istanbul. Contact us today!

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