My Insider Guide to This Incredible City

Embarking on a quest for vintage textiles in Istanbul is not just a shopping excursion; it's a cultural adventure through winding streets and bustling markets. As someone deeply passionate about fabrics with a penchant for exploration, I've curated an insider guide to help you navigate this enchanting city, while uncovering hidden textile treasures.

STAY: Firstly, for a successful textile hunt it’s crucial to be well-rested and energised for your exploration. I highly recommend staying at Novotel Istanbul for its convenient location, providing easy access to the bazaars and all areas of the city. The bonus being that it has a lovely spa for the wind down after shopping. It’s great value, well located and a really relaxing treat. Plus, the vibrant café spots lining the streets behind the hotel offer the perfect ambiance for a quick pick-me-up before diving into your shopping escapade…..or a strong drink post a busy day's shopping. 

EAT: A productive shopping trip requires fuel! You have got to try the ultimate Turkish breakfast at Cafe Privito. Their spread of olives, cheeses, pastries, and aromatic tea will invigorate your senses and prepare you for a day of exploration. For lunch, immerse yourself in Istanbul's street food scene, where fish wraps and pretzels reign supreme. I highly recommend sampling these delectable treats from local vendors. They are all just soooo delicious.  As the day winds down, savour a dinner experience at Antiochia, a favourite among locals for its authentic Turkish cuisine. We also loved the pizza and pasta at Papas on the street behind the hotel.

VISIT: Venture into the colourful streets of Balat for a day. 100% make sure to visit iconic landmarks like the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, but remember to pack a headscarf if you plan to enter these sacred sites. Plus check out the spice bazaar for Turkish delights and delicious soaps.

SHOPPING: If vintage linens are on your shopping list, head to the northern fabric quarter of the Grand Bazaar. Allow at least two days to fully immerse yourself in the labyrinth alleys and stalls of the bazaars. For vintage suzanis, meander through the Bedesteni Walk within the Grand Bazaar but be prepared for a challenge in finding the centre – it's all part of the adventure! For vintage Turkish rugs of the highest quality, venture to the bazaar behind the Blue Mosque. The most important tip of shopping in the bazaars is to always haggle, haggle, haggle with the price - the first price is not the best price! If, like me, you love a bargain then you will need to work for it.

TOP TIP: Pack light so you can return with as much treasure in your luggage as possible!

GETTING AROUND: While Istanbul offers various modes of transportation, including the metro and ferries, I recommend primarily exploring on foot. Walking through the city allows you to soak in its vibrant atmosphere and stumble upon hidden gems tucked away in the maze of the streets.

As you navigate Istanbul's vibrant streets and markets in search of vintage textiles, embrace the serendipitous moments and unexpected discoveries that await you. From savouring culinary delights to immersing yourself in the city's rich history, every step of your journey is woven into the fabric of Istanbul's unique charm. So pack your curiosity, embark on this cultural odyssey, and prepare to be enchanted by the treasures that await in this captivating city where East meets West.