Every week, all over Turkey, locals flock to their local market (pazar) to stock up on their fruit & veg and other essential household items in a tradition that dates back to Ottoman times. In addition to all of the fresh produce on sale, you’ll be be amazed at what else can be bought at the market – a jersey of your favourite football team, underwear, slippers, shoes, heaters, cleaning equipment and more.
It’s a great experience to visit a local market, but be warned, it is not for the feint of heart. When you arrive, all of your senses will be on high alert as you are greeted with stall after stall of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, herbs, spices, pastes, purees, eggs that are freshly laid, flowers, sacks of grain and containers of nuts. Be prepared to jostle for space at some of the more popular stalls in order to grab the freshest produce or the best deals of the day.
As you wander around, you’ll notice that the serious shoppers have their “pazar araba” or shopping cart – this makes it easy to haul the family’s supplies for the week home, and leaves hands free for checking and sampling the produce. Stallholders will shout out their prices, hoping to entice you to their stall. They’ll also press samples into your hands, urging you to try their wares then set about trying to convince you of why their produce is the best in town – no matter if you don’t speak the same language.
There’s no need to try and bargain at the pazar because the prices are already dirt cheap – for example, one kilo of strawberries can sell for around 3TL / kilo, or a kilo of mushrooms will set you back only 7TL in some regions. With prices like these you can see why a trip to the market every week is a must for every household.
Here’s our tips of some markets worth a look when you visit Turkey:
Istanbul Inebolu market – held on a Sunday in Beyoğlu’s Kasimpaşa district, stall holders hailing from Inebolu in Turkey’s Black sea area embark on the 11 hour drive from Inebolu on a Saturday night in order to be able to set up shop at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning. This market is truly a foodie’s delight and features stall after stall of fresh produce, eggs, breads, spices, special pastes, village breads and amazing fresh yoghurt. It’s buzzing with a carnival-like atmosphere, and here you’ll find Istanbul food aficionados trawling the market for the best produce, and hoping to stumble upon the holy grail of the foodie world. You’ll also find lots of locals who pine for the pazar of their childhoold village revelling in the chance to shop away from the large supermarkets that are slowly but surely springing up all over Istanbul. It starts at 6am and those in the know get there as early as possible in order to scoop the best goods.
Selcuk Market – held on a Saturday in a car park directly behind the Selcuk bus station, this market is huge and has everything you can possibly imagine – from the obligatory fruit and veg, to seafood, to a mind boggling array of spices, fresh eggs, underwear, cleaning supplies, football fan clothing and accessories and more. The best thing is that it is set up in orderly rows, making it easy to find your way around and see all there is to see. If you happen to be in the Selcuk / Ephesus area on a Saturay, make sure you set aside some time so that you can experience the joy that is the Selcuk Pazar.
Tire Market – Tire is a charming town about 30km from Selcuk / Ephesus, and is surely one of the area’s best kept secrets. However, its Tuesday market, the biggest in the region, attracts large numbers of locals, and the occasional tourist. Here, over 1700 farmers display their wares on tables, crates, in bags or on blankets at this authentic old style market. The range of produce and herbs is unparalleled in the area. After visiting the market, make sure you have a wander around its charming old town area. Tire’s history dates back to the Hittite times, although these days the main influence you can see is from the Ottoman period. Tire’s old town is full of beautiful old mosques and Turkish baths. To get there, you’ll need to have a car, or catch a dolmus (mini bus) from Selcuk to Tire. You’ll be dropped off near the museum and then the market is just a short walk from there. Before you head back to Selcuk, make sure you have a plate of the famous Tire kofte (meatballs).
P.S. If you are interested in a tailor-made or private tour of Turkey incorporating a visit to one of these markets, or perhaps a culinary tour of Turkey, our tailor-made team will be happy to help you design an itinerary.