Istanbul is one of the most popular destinations among tourists in Middle East. Istanbul is one of Turkey’s most popular and famous cities that every year a lot of travelers come to this city for a vacation. Istanbul is filled with attractions that attract a large number of tourists. Despite the attractions, Istanbul has a rich culture and heritage that foreign visitors like to get closer to it and get to know this city better.
Every traveler that visits a city or country for the first time is curious to know the culture of that place and brings a souvenir for herself or her friends and family to remember the great times that she had in that place.
16 best souvenirs to bring back from Istanbul – food & handicrafts
Istanbul is a city in Turkey with Turkish culture and Islamic religion which are two main aspects of its culture. long history and rich heritage of Istanbul are the reasons that you will see various kinds of souvenirs in this city from edible to small and big handicrafts.
There’s a wide range of souvenirs in Istanbul from cheap to expensive, edible to artificial and popular to less known. In this article, we are going to name all souvenirs that you will see in Istanbul and help you to choose the perfect souvenir or gift to buy based on your budget and taste.
We divided Istanbul’s souvenirs into two groups: edible and handicrafts.
Istanbul’s edible souvenirs
Istanbul is the heaven of food lovers. An important part of your trip to Istanbul city is definitely the taste of delicious food and dessert that you can enjoy either on the streets or in fancy restaurants.
Some popular souvenirs from Istanbul are ingredients from cooking or processed traditional Turkish food and desserts. Continuing, we named some of Istanbul’s favorite souvenirs that are edible.
- Turkish coffee
- Turkish tea
- Lokum (Turkish Delight)
- Turkish spices
- Olive oil
Istanbul is probably a coffee lover’s lost heaven. Turkish people have a special way of making, serving, and drinking coffee that has been in their culture for centuries. If you are a caffeine addict and a coffee lover, then you should definitely try Turkish coffee on your trip to Istanbul city.
You can buy Turkish coffee powders from Istanbul and bring them home with you to drink with your friends and family. The taste and smell of Turkish coffee will take you back to the great memories you had in Istanbul city. You can bring this delicious souvenir to your loved ones back home and share the good experience with them.
Baklava is one of the greatest souvenirs you can get from Istanbul. this delightful and delicious dessert is a layered confection dessert that is filled with chopped nuts (mostly pistachio and walnut) and sweetened with syrup or honey. This delicious dessert is from Ottoman empire and is very popular among local people and travelers.
You can bring back Baklava from Istanbul as a souvenir but bear in mind that this dessert should be kept in a refrigerator.
Tea is one of the most common drinks all over the world but the taste of tea is not the same in different cities or countries. Every culture and nation has its special way of making and drinking coffee. Turkish tea is a popular drink in this country and drinking tea is a complete ceremony in their culture with a tradition for every step from making to serving and drinking.
Make sure you try Turkish tea on your visit to Istanbul city. If you want, you can bring back home herbs that you liked and make the same beverage at home. You can enjoy this relaxing beverage when you get back from your trip to evoke your lovely memories of Istanbul.
Herbs and dry tea are popular souvenirs among tourists in Istanbul. there are two reasons that most tourists choose to bring tea and herbs with them from Istanbul as a souvenir: one; it’s light and easy to handle. Two; it’s delicious and delightful.
Lokum (Turkish Delight)
Another Turkish pastry that is one of its popular souvenirs is Turkish delight or Lokum. This dessert is like gummi candy only much healthier, tastier, and much fresher. Lokum is either mixed with nuts or just the gel itself.
You can bring this tasty dessert back home with you as a gift or souvenir. Lokum is less sweet than Baklava so if you are not that much of a sweet-teeth person, this is a better choice for you than Baklava.
Mediterranean lands are the homeland of olive. Turkey is a country located in Middle Eastern part of the Mediterranean region and is no exception. One of the main symbols and products that are grown in this country.
If you want to bring a souvenir back from Istanbul that has a sign of this land’s heritage and history, Olive oil is your answer. Olive oil is one of the basic ingredients that is used in Turkish cuisine and a great souvenir from Turkey and Istanbul which reminds you of the taste of Turkish food.
If you are a fan of Turkish cuisine and you want to bring back a part of it with you, then you should go for the spices. Spices are the main part of the taste in every food, especially in Turkish cuisine.
The shopkeepers in spice shops are very helpful and friendly. You can ask them about every spice and how to use it in cooking; they will answer all your questions and help you. Spices are a very popular souvenir from Istanbul that there’s a whole shopping center in this city only named spice bazaar that sells spices, nothing more.
Another souvenir that you can purchase from Istanbul city is Sumac or Sumach. Sumac is a kind of flowering plant that is used as a spice, in medical procedures, or as a dye. Sumac is used as a garnish and not directly in the cooking process in Turkish cuisine. Sumac adds a sour and lemony taste to your food.
You can buy sumac from Istanbul and bring it back as a souvenir for yourself to remember your good memories from this magical city or to share a piece of Turkish cuisine with your loved ones.
Istanbul’s handicraft souvenirs
- Turkish rugs and carpets – kilim
- Hammam soaps
- Turkish Accessories
- Turkish ceramics
- Turkish towel
- Turkish mosaic lanterns and lamps
- Traditional handmade Turkish shoes
- Backgammon and chess set
- Evil eye amulet
Turkish rugs and carpets – Kilim
One of the most bought souvenirs from Istanbul is Kilim or Turkish rugs. This product is a worldwide famous product and one of Turkish culture’s main symbols. Turkish rugs are called Kilim in Turkish language and you can find them in most countries but to purchase them from its mainland, Istanbul is much more valuable.
Turkish rugs are less expensive and more diverse in shapes and colors. Bringing back rugs is more difficult than small products that we mentioned before but the sellers will help with the shipping process to your country.
Hamam Soaps – olive oil soap
Hamam means bath in Turkish language and plays an important role in their culture. Traditional Turkish soaps are made of olive oil. This kind of soap is being used in the process of Turkish baths for over 600 years. Nowadays this soap that is made from organic ingredients has become very popular worldwide.
Olive oil soap is a popular souvenir from Istanbul and the reason is its many benefits for hair and skin. Turkish Hamam soaps are eco-friendly and very popular among people that are looking for products with fewer chemical ingredients and less harm to the earth.
Another valuable souvenir that you can purchase from Istanbul is Turkish accessories that represent the culture and glamor of this country. The special design and structure of Turkish accessories give a unique character to these products that some people consider a piece of art.
Turkish accessories are mostly made of valuable stones and precious metals like gold and silver. Turkish accessories are not just feminine; some of them are masculine or even unisex.
You have definitely seen the gorgeous patterns on the ceramic walls of historical places in Istanbul like mosques and castles. If you want to bring back a piece of that beauty, you should go with decorative objects like bowls and plates that are decorated with turquoise and tulip patterns.
You can bring a piece of Istanbul’s heritage with you to never forget the beauty of Istanbul this charming city and your good memories. Turkish ceramics with national cultural patterns are the perfect souvenir to bring back from Istanbul.
Hamam or bath is an important part of Turkish culture. There are several products in Turkish culture for use during or after the bath. all of them are organic and eco-friendly. One of these products is a handmade Turkish towel which is a perfect souvenir to buy from Istanbul.
Turkish towels are much more lightweight than usual towels and much easier to carry with you, especially on the beach or on voyages. They have a chick texture and come in various colors that you will fall in love with the minute you see them.
Turkish mosaic lanterns and lamps
Turkish lanterns are made of mosaic and glass that were used as interior decoration in Ottoman emperor’s rooms. Nowadays these charming lanterns are accessible to everyone. Turkish lanterns are the perfect gift and souvenir that you can buy from Istanbul.
Turkish lanterns have unique designs and there is only one of each in the entire world. You won’t find any two lookalike lanterns and this uniqueness is the reason that these products are popular as a souvenir among tourists in Istanbul city. These lanterns will create some shapes on the wall with their colorful shades when lit in a dark room.
Traditional handmade Turkish shoes
Turkish handmade shoes are the perfect souvenir to bring back from Istanbul. Traditional Turkish shoes have fairytale-like shapes that remind you of princess stories. Turkish handmade shoes with vivid colors are a great gift to bring for your loved ones.
Turkish handmade shoes are very comfortable and perfect to use at home or on beaches. Despite the comfort and beauty, you can find these products at convenient prices.
Backgammon and chess set
Backgammon and chess have been a popular game among middle eastern people since the 16th century. You can bring back a backgammon and chess set as a souvenir from Istanbul city which is a piece of art and an exciting game offered in one package. Backgammon and chess sets are made of wood (mostly walnut) and carved to create unique shapes.
Evil eye amulet
Blue evil eye or “Nazar” in Turkish language is an amulet that has a long history in Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries. Narratives believe that Nazar which is a stone in the shape of a blue eye can put a spell on bad energies from jealous people.
Locals believe that this piece of stone can create spiritual protection for the person carrying it. Evil eye amulet is the perfect gift or souvenir that you can purchase from Istanbul city. You can find a cheap sample of the stone itself or even a plastic-made one. Or you can buy this stone made of gold and other precious materials as a piece of jewelry.
Where to go for shopping souvenirs in Istanbul?
Istanbul is the perfect place for shopping for both traditional and modern products. You can see all kinds of Turkish souvenirs in traditional shopping centers and malls from cheap to very expensive. But there are two main places where you can seek souvenirs in Istanbul city:
- Spice bazaar: spice bazaar of Istanbul city as you may already realize from the name is the heaven of food lovers. In this shopping center, you won’t see anything but spices and herbs. We recommended some spices and herbs as Istanbul’s edible souvenirs that you can find in this traditional shopping center.
- Istanbul grand bazaar: Istanbul grand bazaar is a traditional shopping center and one of the largest covered shopping centers in the world. You can find almost everything in this shopping center including all kinds of souvenirs. Make sure you explore distinct zones of Istanbul’s grand bazaar for souvenirs. Don’t buy the first thing that catches your attention. Make sure you ask and find the product with the best deal.
Shopping in Istanbul and bargaining
Bargaining is a common tradition when shopping in turkey and Istanbul; bear that in mind when you want to buy souvenirs in Istanbul. the first price that the shop owner offers you is more than the price value of that product. You can offer half the price that the salesman offers you and bargain to reduce the price. If the salesman offers you a price of 25 or 20 percent less than the first price; that’s a good deal, you can take it.
Final words about Istanbul’s souvenirs
Most people search for attractions of their destination when they are planning a trip to a city or country but they forget about souvenirs when collecting information. In this article, we talked about Istanbul’s souvenirs, where to buy them, and how to get the best deal.