With more than 24 million tourists in 2021, Istanbul is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. It’s the largest city in Turkey and a massive financial, cultural and historical hub. From exploring historic mosques to tasting delicious cuisine, you can find endless opportunities in the city on your trip to Turkey.
One of Istanbul’s most exciting offerings is its Spice Bazaar, or the Misir Çarşisi. This market is the center of spice trading and selling for the city and is one of the largest shopping complexes available. Travelers can explore a wide range of specialty spices and other intriguing products throughout the Bazaar.
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What Spices to Buy at the Istanbul Spice Market
The Istanbul Spice Bazaar is most famous for its massive selection of spices and food-related products. As you explore the bustling and colorful streets, you can find the perfect spices to bring home for yourself and your loved ones.
Here are some of the most popular spices you can explore at the Spice Market:
1. Pul Biber (Red Pepper Flakes)
Pul biber is a popular spice in dishes worldwide. The dried red pepper flakes are a staple in many Turkish dishes, adding spice to cuisine like hearty stews and grilled meats. Pul biber is available in various spice levels, so you can select the heat option that suits your taste buds best. The Istanbul Spice Bazaar has a wide selection of red pepper flakes to explore and purchase.
2. Çörek Otu (Black Cumin Seeds)
Another spice option is çörek otu, known in English as nigella or black cumin. This option has a peppery and spicy taste. Turkish dishes often feature the seed in curries and vegetables. In addition, many chefs sprinkle it onto bread loaves and pastries before inserting them into the oven.
Next, sumac is an excellent option for many dishes. This burgundy-colored spice is ground from wild berries, giving it a distinctive tart flavor. Some cooks use sumac in salad dressings or freshly-cooked vegetables for an extra sour taste.
4. Kekik (Dried Oregano)
You can also find kekik, or dried oregano, at the Spice Market. This herb is a popular addition to many dishes because of its earthy flavor and freshness. Add it to soups, salads and many other popular cuisines.
5. Isot (Urfa Pepper)
The Urfa pepper is a dried chili pepper with a smoky taste. These peppers are made through a sun-drying process that infuses the pepper’s moisture throughout its body. In turn, it features a distinctive taste and dark color. While not as spicy as other options, it gives an extra boost to salads, soups, curries and more delicious dishes.
Tips for Visiting the Istanbul Spice Market
First-time Spice Bazaar visitors might feel overwhelmed by the variety of sights, smells and tastes. It’s a good idea to research the Spice Market before you visit to familiarize yourself with the options. This way, you can enjoy yourself to the fullest.
For instance, one common misconception is the difference between the Istanbul Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar. While they’re both shopping destinations, they offer different specialties. The Spice Bazaar focuses more on spices and food, while the Grand Bazaar has shops in endless categories, from rugs and ceramic dishes to lanterns and clothing.
Here are some other tips for visiting the Istanbul Bazaar:
- Browse the other offerings: In addition to spices, the Bazaar has a wide range of products to explore. One of the most popular options is Turkish delight, a famous Turkish dessert. This candy has a soft texture similar to that of a gumdrop and is available in many flavors and styles. There are even more treats throughout the Bazaar, including tea leaves, nuts and dried fruits. Create an unforgettable shopping experience by visiting the different shops and boutiques.
- Taste before buying: Another smart idea when you’re at the Bazaar is to taste the spices before committing to a purchase. Most sellers provide a free sample upon request, so you can try the flavor. This way, you know you like what you buy.
- Research the operating hours: Visitors should research the Spice Bazaar’s opening hours ahead of time to determine whether it’s open on the day they plan to visit. The Istanbul Spice Bazaar is closed on religious holidays and the first days of Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha. Make sure the hours align with your travel plans so you can ensure a fulfilling experience.
- Set a budget: With so many exciting options, it becomes easy to overspend. By determining a maximum spending amount before you go, you can make sure to save enough for your entire trip. Another option is to negotiate a bit with the vendors to see if you can lower the price of an item a bit.
- Find the best transportation: Depending on where you’re staying in Istanbul, you have various options for getting to the main entrance. Istanbul has a tramline, metro line and many running buses. You can also walk to the Bazaar if it’s within a comfortable distance. Researching your choices before arrival will make navigation easier.
- Visit local sites afterward: Your exploration can continue once you finish shopping. The Istanbul Spice Market is located near many restaurants, historic sites and other exciting destinations. For example, you could visit the nearby Yeni Cami Mosque, a beautiful building that was completed in 1663.
The Istanbul Spice Bazaar is an excellent place to make memories during your vacation to Istanbul, and one of the best ways to reach the city is by cruise. You can view the scenic shoreline and enjoy elegant accommodations on your journey.
Windstar Cruises offers premier cruise journeys to Istanbul, Turkey. Our cruises provide intimate journeys and high-end accommodations, creating unforgettable vacations. With our trips, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy personalized attention and tailored experiences. Your journey to Istanbul becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you’ll remember for years afterward.
To get started with Windstar Cruises, contact us today.