Last Updated on September 7, 2023 by Soumya
Wondering what to buy in Turkey? Looking for the best Turkish souvenirs? What are the best gifts from Turkey that your friends and family are gonna love?
Well, let me tell you that there’s lots to buy!
Turkey is not just full of amazing places to visit but is also a treasure chest of exotic handicrafts, cultural knick-knacks, and delicious food items that you can take back home. And the best part is you get it cheap.
Turkey is probably the only place in this world where I did a lot of souvenir shopping. Turkish ceramics and Iznik pottery were my favorites.
But I bought a lot of other stuff too, including Turkish towels, evil eyes, and a ton of edible Turkish souvenirs for family and friends. And, of course, I drooled at many others that were out of my reach.
So, here comes my epic list of the 20 best Turkish souvenirs that are absolutely the best buys from Turkey.
If you feel your favorite Turkish souvenir is not listed here, drop me a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out on my next trip.
- Best cultural Turkish souvenirs from Turkey
- Best foodie Turkish souvenirs from Turkey
- Where to buy the best souvenirs in Turkey?
- Loved this epic list of Turkish souvenirs? Pin this for later!
Best cultural Turkish souvenirs from Turkey
Ceramics can never go wrong for souvenirs. Turkish ceramics are a class apart. They are beautiful, colorful, and sturdy and make for the perfect decorative item for your home.
The history of ceramics in Turkey goes back to more than 1200 years. However, the art reached its zenith under the rule of the Seljuks and Ottoman kings in the 14th century.
Ceramic art first developed in the historic region of Anatolia but quickly spread to other parts of Turkey.
A small town called Iznik in the province of Bursa became an active site for the growth and evolution of tiles and ceramics in Turkey.
Beautiful tiles from Iznik adorn several mosques in Istanbul including the Suleymaniye Mosque and the Mosque of Rustem Pasa.
As you travel through Turkey, be sure to notice the abundance of turquoise tiles that decorate every building. They are probably from Iznik.
Be sure to pick up some from shops as presents because ceramics are definitely the best buys in Turkey.
Every time I have visited Turkey, I have picked ceramics to bring back home. Be it a wall plate, a bowl for my table, smaller items to gift to friends, Turkish ceramics have always found a place in my bag and my HEART.
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Evil eye or Nazar Boncugu
Have you heard of the Turkish evil eye? The Nazar Boncugu?
Well, the evil eye bead is the most ubiquitous thing that you’ll find in Turkey. In shops, in restaurants, at homes, on jewelry, and even on trees – nazar boncugus live everywhere in this country. And for good reason.
Evil eye beads have been around in Turkey for more than 5000 years now. Wow! That’s a really long time!
They are eye-shaped beads that are commonly used to protect someone or something from the evil eye.
If someone has feelings of envy and jealousy for you, all you need to do is to wear a nazar boncugu amulet and you’ll be sorted. At least, that’s what the Turkish believe.
Evil eye amulets, door hangings, key chains are one of the cheapest souvenirs to buy in Turkey. They are small and handy. Therefore, they also make for great gifts from Turkey.
As an Indian born in India, I grew up with Turkish towels everywhere around me. They were not just in the bathroom but also in our cars and offices adorning car seats and plush office chairs! The Indian obsession with Turkish towels is real.
Imagine my surprise when I stepped into Turkey and found that Turkish towels were something completely different.
Also known as peshtemal towels and hammam towels, the real Turkish towels are made of 100% organic Aegean cotton with extra long fibers that are flat woven.
What I had been using all these years in India were actually terrycloth towels.
Turkish towels are soft, highly absorbent, and quick drying. The best part is that you are going to use the towel when you get back to your country, making it a really useful buy from Turkey.
Prices of the towels can range anywhere between 100 – 1000 TL depending on the fiber count and softness. I bought a couple from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and they cost me about 100 TL each. I got the cheapest ones!
Colorful mosaic lamps
As soon as you enter the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, it is like stepping into a medieval marketplace with an overwhelming feel of the stories from Arabian Nights. You cannot miss this marketplace.
Even if you’re in Istanbul for a day, you have to visit the Grand Bazaar.
Arched alleyways lined with shops glittering like stars in the sky. That’s when you realize the magic of Turkish mosaic lamps.
Yet another artsy remnant of the illustrious Ottoman Empire, the mosaic lamp is a beautiful thing to bring back home with you.
Like everything else in Turkey, the art of making mosaic lamps is thousands of years old. Artisans make them by hand by joining hundreds of small crystals in various colors, giving them the appearance of a mosaic.
When the light twinkles through these mosaics, it is almost like you are in a richly decorated palace of the sultan.
In my opinion, mosaic lamps are one of the best souvenirs from Turkey. Just one lamp is enough to amp up the vibe of your home. They are available in both hanging and standing versions.
The only negative with these lamps is that they are not easy to carry.
I have always been scared about breaking them on my travels, that’s why I have never bought one. But I am sure there are efficient ways of packing that the vendors use.
If you have ever purchased a mosaic lamp and brought it home from Turkey without breaking it, then please do let me know how.
I love to pick handmade soaps wherever I can get them. They are small, fragrant, and easy to carry – making them the best travel gifts.
You’ll find many varieties of handmade soaps in Turkey. They are also referred to as hammam soaps and come in different flavors – rose, lavender, cinnamon, olive oil, pistacchio – you name it.
Usually, the soaps come in attractive boxes that are covered with floral prints. That makes them cute little Turkish presents that everyone loves.
Handmade rugs and carpets
If you are looking for a handmade carpet or rug to adorn your living room, then it might be a good idea to get one in Turkey.
Turkey is famous for its hand-woven rugs and Oriental carpets. You’ll find plenty of designs to choose from while wandering through souvenir shops in Turkey.
The most remarkable thing about Turkish rugs is their superior quality, tight weaves, and intricate patterns that makes them a classic souvenir to possess. The carpets usually feature geometric patterns, flower motifs, and abundant depictions of nature which makes them seriously attractive.
If you’d only like to look, head to Dolmabache Palace for its beautiful carpet collection that is more than 150 years old. For a long time, Turkish carpets also furnished many European palaces.
So, if you wish to feel like a monarch and carry a bit of Turkish legacy with you, then opt for a carpet. You’ll find some of the best ones at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar or Goreme’s Muze Cd. in Cappadocia.
Pottery from Cappadocia
Do you have Cappadocia on your Turkey itinerary? Well, you must because Cappadocia is a place unlike any other in this world.
With its surreal tufa landscape dotted with unusual fair chimneys, Cappadocia makes for an interesting travel destination.
If you are looking for something more offbeat when in Cappadocia, then head to the quaint, riverside town of Avanos that has been the pottery center of Turkey since ages.
Studies suggest that Cappadocians have been making pottery since the time of Hittites in 1800 BCE.
In Avanos, you can purchase some famous Cappadocia pottery made of red clay from the Red River that flows through the town. Even better, attend a historical pottery-making workshop and make your own piece to bring back home.
Buy a Turkish silk scarf or shawl at the beginning of your journey. It will come in handy when visiting mosques in Turkey and every city has lots of mosques. Istanbul has so many that, honestly, I have lost count of how many I visited and how many got left behind.
Every mosque requires that you cover your head before entering, if you are a woman. If you haven’t already packed a scarf, buy one as soon as you land in Istanbul.
People of Turkey have cultivated silk since a long time. The first silk production happened during the time of Byzantine Emperor, Justinianus in 6th century CE.
Bursa, a historical town in northwest Turkey, became the center of silk production. So, if you are headed to Bursa, be sure to get your authentic Turkish silk scarf from there.
I found these cute, little, glass bottles everywhere in Turkey and really liked them. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
I was fascinated by these because they, like the mosaic lamps and nargile pipes, bring to my mind visuals from Arabian Nights and life in the Middle East.
At many places, you’ll see vendors selling these bottles with perfume inside them. Some come empty too. You can just fill them with oil or rose water or anything else that you fancy.
In short, these miniature bottles make for cute gifts from Turkey and add a dash of twinkle to your house.
Also known as hookah and sheesha in other cultures, the Turkish nargile pipe or the Turkish water pipe is a prized souvenir to buy in Turkey.
The nargile pipe has a history of more than 500 years. Even today, it is an inherent part of Turkish cafe culture. You can head to a cafe of your choice in Istanbul and enjoy a smoke.
The best part is that you can bring a nargile home. Just head to one of the stores at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and pick a nargile of your choice.
Some of them are really unique pieces of art that can be used to beautify your home even if you don’t smoke.
Copper and brass kitchenware
Copper vessels have been used in Turkish cooking since a long long time.
It is not unusual to find copper utensils across Central Asia, Persia, and India and that’s why, you’ll find them in Turkey too. After all, these were all part of the Silk Road, the greatest trading route of the world.
However, coppersmithing is now a dying art in Turkey. There are barely any coppersmiths left.
With people moving to steel and cast iron skillets, kids of coppersmiths are looking for other jobs. There are barely a handful that now continue the tradition.
If you are looking something for your kitchen and would love to add a heritage feel to it, feel free to pick a copper pot/pan from Istanbul.
Not the most usual Turkish souvenir, but a unique one definitely.
Tea glass set
If you love Turkish tea or just the Turkish tea glasses, you cannot help but get a bunch of them home.
Known as ince belli, Turkish tea glasses are tiny, tulip-shaped glasses that look absolutely adorable on the table. They are made of glass and are completely see-through.
You can buy a set of 6 at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Pair it up with 6 ceramic saucers and play the traditional Turkish host the next time your guests show up.
Best foodie Turkish souvenirs from Turkey
I love to collect foodie souvenirs when traveling. Anything edible that I can bring back home is always a good deal.
It not reminds me of all the amazing food I have had in that place but also takes me back to all my wonderful experiences.
Turkey is a great place to pick up some foodie souvenirs and Istanbul’s local markets are the perfect place to get them.
Local spices are one of my favorite edible souvenirs to get from any country. They are easy to carry, can be used for a long time, and not very expensive.
I always make it a point to visit local markets as well as supermarkets to hunt for traditional spices. And, am usually pretty satisfied with my haul. 🙂
You’ll find a lot of variety in Turkish spices. According to Go Turkiye, some of the most popular spices used in Turkish cuisine are red pepper flakes, thyme, mint, cumin, sumac, and cinnamon.
Every travel guide out there will probably tell you to get your spices from the Spice Bazaar (also called the Egyptian Market) in Istanbul. You can definitely shop there but let me give you a small pro tip.
Pro tip: Instead of getting your spices from the Spice Bazaar, buy them from shops in the alleys behind these markets or away from touristy areas. You’ll get the same quality at half the price. Tried and tested advice. 🙂 Scroll to the end to find out where I got my spices and dried fruits from.
Turkish dried fruits
You cannot go wrong with Turkish dried fruits. Dried fruits from Turkey are as fresh as can be and of the best quality.
Whether you are looking for salted pistacchios, dried figs and apricots, Sultana raisins, or naturally dried apples, you’ll find all of them here.
Dried fruit peels are also a popular thing in Turkey. For example, there are orange, mandarin, and lemon peels – all cleaned and dried. You can use them in your face masks and/or for flavoring your food and drinks.
Apart from drying fruits, Turkey has a long tradition of drying and preserving vegetables. This was usually done so that people had adequate food during the winter months when nothing much grew.
I was fascinated by the astonishing amount of dried vegetables available at the Spice Bazaar in Turkey. Could not help but get into a chat with the shop owner who gave me a little insight.
At the end of the harvest season, usually during fall, you’ll see thousands of vegetables drying on roof tops, gardens, and courtyards. There are egg plants, red peppers, chillies, and gourds.
Drying time varies across vegetables because of their moisture content. For instance, tomatoes will take longer than carrots to dry and get ready for preservation.
If you would love to include some of these dried and preserved vegetables in your meals back home, feel free to pick them from the Turkish markets in Istanbul.
Lokum or Turkish delights
I should have probably put them on the top of the edible Turkish souvenirs list but honestly, I am not a lokum fan at all.
However, I eventually ended up buying a lot of lokum from Turkey for friends and family back home. And for my 9-year-old son who is an absolute admirer.
Lokum or Turkish delight is a small, chewy dessert made of starch and sugar. Depending on what customers like in their sweets, lokums may also contain pistachios, walnuts, and dates.
Turkish delight originated in erstwhile Constantinople somewhere in the late 18th century. They were invented by an entrepreneurial individual called Bekir Efendi.
Nothing better than to buy some authentic Turkish delights at the very shop that they were invented in.
Bekir’s enterprise still runs under the name of Haci Bekir today. They still sell the good, old Turkish delights. But if you are looking for something different, they have some nice new flavors infused with spices, coffee, and mint.
The northern Turkish town of Safranbolu is known for its saffron-flavored lokum if you love Turkish delights with a twist.
Another iconic dessert from Turkey – the Baklava!
Whether you like it or hate it, you cannot ignore the baklava in Turkey. It is literally everywhere. Every cafe, restaurant, and sweet shop in Turkey is lined with unending rows of baklava, enticing you to come inside and take a bite.
Baklava is a flaky, buttery pastry stuffed with pistachio nuts and loaded with sugar syrup. A good baklava is not too sweet and light enough to melt in your mouth.
There are several theories about where the baklava originated. Some say it was Turkey. Some say it was Greece. If it was Turkey, then Topkapi Palace kitchens in Constantinople was where this royal sweet took birth.
Where can you find the best baklava now?
Apparently in the southeastern city of Gaziantep that is known for its gastronomic history and its inclusion in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
If you aren’t visiting Gaziantep, don’t worry. You can still try Gaziantepli baklava in several restaurants across Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ankara.
One of the best places that we had Gaziantepli baklava and kunafe was in Selcuk, Turkey. You can also pick well-packed baklava souvenirs from Hafiz Mustafa and Saray Muhallebicisi stores in Istanbul.
The cezerye is an interesting sweet that I saw for the first time at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul. It is a sticky dessert made from carrots, coconut, and lots of walnuts, hazelnuts, or pistachios.
As you walk through local bazaars in Istanbul, you’ll see mounds of cezerye vying for your attention.
Pick some as a foodie souvenir from Turkey because this is definitely going to be different from the other Turkish desserts that you have tried earlier.
Cezerye is dairy free. So, that makes it a good vegan option.
Turkish tea or cay
If you are buying a Turkish tea set already, why not get some tea or cay to go with it?
Tea drinking is a cultural ritual in Turkey. It first came here through the Silk Road and went on to become a prominent cultural fixture. People drink tea from small, slim-waisted glasses known as ince belli.
Whenever you walk out into the streets, you will find people sitting on small stools in front of tea shops and enjoying each other’s company and sharing their lives over a cup (or a glass, in this case) of tea.
Tea is very much a part of Turkish culture.
An interesting fact about Turkey is that the people of Turkey are one of the highest consumers of tea in the world. No doubt, you’ll find some of the finest tea in the world here.
If you are not a tea person, bring home some Turkish coffee that gives you a strong, rich brew.
Turkish coffee is prepared by boiling ground coffee beans with water and sugar (if needed). The coffee is not filtered which means the coffee grinds remain in the coffee and result in a higher caffeine content and therefore, stronger coffee.
I had my best Turkish coffee at Hafiz Mustafa. Maybe you would want to try it here before buying your stash to take back home.
Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi is one of the most popular brands that sells roasted and ground coffee in the market.
Where to buy the best souvenirs in Turkey?
Istanbul souvenir shopping
My go to places for Turkish souvenir shopping when in Istanbul are the following four places.
- Grand Bazaar. Check out this amazing shopping experience in Grand Bazaar.
- Spice Bazaar or the Egyptian Market. Book this incredible combo tour of Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar now.
- Arasta Bazaar – a bit of a hidden gem in Istanbul. Find all about the Arasta Bazaar here.
- Lanes behind these famous bazaars and mosques that are filled with small, local shops. I got all my spices and dried fruits from the shops on Itfaiye Cd. in Fatih.
Cappadocia souvenir shopping
When in Cappadocia, my favorite place to shop is the Museum Street or the Muze Cd. which has a ton of souvenir shops selling everything from carpets and hammam towels to mosaic lamps, ceramics, and fridge magnets.