The high-end luxury of Nişantaşı and İstiklal aren’t for everyone. While some people prefer to wear the latest trends and most popular brands, others prefer to find bargains, to dip into the fashions of yesteryear and find what’ll be the next thing tomorrow.
And in a city like İstanbul, where the history goes back literally 2.000 years, there are some incredible artifacts you’ll find. The antique shops feature so many pieces of indeterminate date and brands long gone by, mostly sold for a fraction of what you think they should cost.
İstanbul’s (and Turkey in general) history of craftsmanship means that also you’ll find endless numbers of handcrafted, handwoven, and handmade pieces of every shape and size. Some new, some old. So where should you go to dig out these bargains and these pieces of genius?
Shutterstock / OVKNHR
Every Sunday this flea market is packed with people looking to stock up on things, or just browsing in case they come across a once-in-a-lifetime item. It’s located at the bottom of the hill, past Bomonti and Taksim, maybe a ten minute walk from Taksim Square. The market is simply massive and it’s designed to be completely eclectic. You might find yourself lost in a stand full of cameras and old technology, and right next to it is a stall full of an incredible map collection, or old foreign language books, or vinyl, or just about anything else you can think of. Week to week the things you’ll find change a fair amount, and if you go towards the end of the day you might get some exceptionally low prices as people are willing to lower rates to get rid of their wares before taking them back home with them.
Shutterstock / istanbulphotos
Çukurcuma is known for all of its antique shops, and when you walk up Çukurcuma Street you’ll see dozens of shops with odds and ends you wouldn’t believe you’d be able to find. Everything from old photos to post cards to furniture. Most of the stores are literally packed to the brim with items, and even just browsing is fun regardless of whether you intend to buy anything or not.
The flea market in Dolapdere is an absolute gem. Dolapdere is a more rundown neighborhood, and whereas Çukurcuma and Feriköy can sometimes serve a slightly highfalutin crowd, Dolapdere is the real deal. On early Sunday mornings, you can find just about anything here and there are people who both are eager to sell wares and people who are looking for more than just a cute item to sit on their mantelpiece untouched for years. There are true gems in this market, and it may be the best flea market anywhere in the city.
Shutterstock / ColorMaker
Balat is maybe the oldest district in the city, so it’s no surprise that it houses some of the city’s best antique stores. Many of the wares you’ll find are actually new, but still handcrafted by families who’ve been crafting the same things for generations. You could easily spend an entire day wandering through Balat looking both at the old homes, the churches and mosques, and the windy alleyways while stopping in at the little antique shops you pass and checking out what amazing thing will pop up next!