Turkey is famed for the colorful and lovely bazaars and farmers’ markets that are traditionally held weekly in towns and villages throughout the country. There couldn’t be a better time, in which maintaining our optimal health and conducting our chores outside are key, to discover the wonders of the freshest and most diverse array of produce, cheeses, olives and nuts available in Turkey in addition to traditional textiles, clothes and pretty much anything and everything you could ever need to make a house a home.
(For tips on how to shop like a pro at these bazaars, check out this article.)
Şişli 100% Ekolojik Pazar
In a league of its own, literally is the Şişli ecological bazaar, which is also referred to by locals as the Feriköy Organik Pazar, due to the neighborhood it takes place in and because it is a market dedicated entirely to providing organic and ecological produce. In addition to a vast selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, there are also a wide variety of organic and ecological products available. The Bomonti neighborhood where the Feriköy marketplace is located is as colorful as the market itself, making for a wonderful Saturday outing, which is the day of the week the market takes place, opening from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are also stalls offering freshly prepared gözleme pastries, stuffed with a variety of savory fillings as well as freshly pressed fruit juices. The historical covered market space also serves as the location for the weekly Feriköy Antique Market, which used to be held on Sundays, but has now been moved to Tuesdays in order to accommodate the Sunday lockdown due to COVID-19.
A few more
While the market held in Şişli’s Feriköy district is definitely the most established and well-known of the bunch, there are also a handful of ecological markets selling organic and ecological produce in locations throughout Istanbul and all are well worthy of a visit. The Kartal 100% Ekolojik Pazar is held weekly on Fridays, the Bakırköy 100% Ekolojik Pazar takes place on Saturdays as does the Izmit 100% Ekolojik Pazar, just outside of Istanbul.
Ortaköy Sosyete Pazarı
Once known as the Ulus Sosyete Pazarı, in other words, the Ulus Society Market, this tarp-covered open-air market, located in one of Istanbul’s most esteemed neighborhoods, was considered the most upscale of weekly markets and has a specific focus on clothes and textiles. In 2005, this market, which was once located across from the Akmerkez Shopping Center, was forced to shut down due to lack of space. It has since been revived in the Levazım neighborhood as the Ortaköy Sosyete Pazarı and it continues the legacy of having a heavy presence of clothes on its stalls, however this time, space is no longer a concern as the new market grounds are said to have a capacity of nearly 1,000 stalls. Turkey is a significant textile and clothing producer and these markets provide shoppers the opportunity to purchase products that are export overruns or with minor defects at extremely reasonable prices. Expect to see heaps of clothes on tables with women wading through the different designs and cuts as the stall keepers yell out “beş lira,” “on lira”, etc. referring to the price of the items in the various piles and if you are willing to take the time, you can definitely get a find. This market used to be held on Sundays and Thursdays, however, these days just on the latter and it is open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Kadıköy Salı Pazarı
One of the oldest and most popular bazaars held in Istanbul is the historical Kadıköy Salı Pazarı. For over a century the market was held along the Kurbağalıdere, a creek in an extremely crowded location that included highway junctions and the neighborhood’s sports club Fenerbahçe’s football stadium. As a result, 15 years ago, the famous market was moved to a brand new permanent location in nearby Hasanpaşa and it is now a covered market equipped with an ample parking lot. The market is held on Tuesdays and Fridays with an emphasis on textiles and clothes on the latter as well as a bustling flea market. The market area also hosts a Sunday antique market, however, due to the Sunday lockdown as per COVID-19 preventative measures that particular market is currently on hold. In the meantime, every other month an online auction of antiques is being held via the Kadıköy Antika Pazarı Instagram page in which anyone and everyone is welcome to peruse.
There are actually a number of “sosyetik” markets in Istanbul, with the interesting name referring to “society” as well as “in fashion” and infers the availability of a wide variety of clothes, accessories, bags, textiles and shoes as well as fresh produce and food products. The Ulus market, which is now in Ortaköy and Kadıköy’s historical Salı Pazarı just happen to be the most popular and well-established over the years. However, there is also the Beşiktaş Sosyetik Pazarı, which is located on a two-floor marketplace across from the Beşiktaş wedding registrar department and is held on Saturdays. In this particular case, the first floor of the marketplace is dedicated to food items, while the second floor is where to find clothing, textiles and household goods. Located on the Asian side of the city, the Erenköy Pazarı is another expansive farmers’ market held on Thursdays off of the minibus road.
A note on the noteworthy Kastamonu market
Many a foodie expat will know that once upon a time there was a spectacular Sunday market held in Beyoğlu’s Kasımpaşa neighborhood that was referred to as the Kastamonu Pazarı or the Tarihi Inebolu Pazarı (Historical Inebolu Market) in reference to the Black Sea region where a wide variety of unique products were brought in weekly for early-bird restaurateurs to purchase the cream of the crop. The products would come straight from the Saturday market in Kastamonu, and included regional breads, wild greens, a variety of mushrooms and fruits and vegetables specific to the region. Unfortunately due to the measures in place to prevent the proliferation of COVID-19, this very special market has gone on hiatus. However, once weekend restrictions can be lifted, it is anticipated this Sunday market will also resume in Istanbul.