When hunting for a culinary treat, a visit to the local farmers’ market is a must, and there is no better time to do it than during the summer when stalls blossom with an abundance of colors and flavors. Even if you’re only in Istanbul for a short period of time, a visit to one of the weekly markets might well provide you with an unexpected delight.
Treasure hunting tips for beginners
1. Visit at the right time
The later you go, the more likely you are to buy produce at a discounted price from vendors who simply want to go home after a busy day. This rule however best applies to common produce, sold everywhere in large quantities, not to rare items.
Although the chances of finding an English speaker among vendors is slim, you can still satisfy your curiosity by pointing at things you would like to buy, and google translating the names of fruit and vegetables.
3. Observe the seasons
Producers ensure there is a wide range of goods to choose from in their markets, even if they are out of season. Be smart about your choices—the fruit and veggies in season not only cost less but, first and foremost, taste much better than out-of-season produce. Keep in mind that the climate and seasonality in Turkey might be slightly different to those in other parts of the world, so the right time to buy certain types of produce may also vary.
4. Try before you buy
It is common practice at local markets to accept a tasting sample without any obligation to buy. While this does not work for potatoes or eggs, feel free to try a pomegranate seed or a piece of melon to allay any concerns you might have over the freshness or taste of the product.
5. Beyond fresh produce
If you explore the market carefully, you’ll notice that farmers offer not only fresh fruit and vegetables, but also quality honey, tahin, molasses, homemade pasta, pastes, and jams among other items. Some of them make for a great souvenir for travelers to take home.
Best weekly farmers’ markets in Istanbul
On the European side
- Monday: Fatih-Unkapanı
- Tuesday: 4. Levent-Konaklar Mahallesi, Balat, Reşitpaşa, Kozdere (Sarıyer)
- Wednesday: Ayazağa Merkez, Fatih Çarşamba Pazarı (next to Fatih Mosque), Küçük Ayasofya (Sultanahmet), Dereboyu (Ortaköy), Bahçeköy (Sarıyer), Sarıyer Merkez, Yeşilköy
- Thursday: Dikilitaş (Beşiktas), Göktürk Merkez, Koru Mahallesi (İstinye), Kumkapı-Kadırga, Kireçburnu Ömürtepe (Tarabyaüstü)
- Friday: Çayırbaşı Mahallesi (Sarıyer), Yeniköy
- Saturday: Feriköy (organic market), Darüşşafaka (İstinye Dereiçi), Rumeli Hisarüstü, Rumeli Kavağı
- Sunday: Göktürk, Kasımpaşa İnebolu (Kastamonu) market, Mecidiyeköy, Bağlar Mevkii (Yeniköy)
On the Asian side
- Monday: Göztepe Özgürlük Parkı
- Tuesday: Salı Pazarı (Kadıköy-Fikirtepe)
- Wednesday: Göztepe Özgürlük Parkı
- Thursday: Acıbadem, Erenköy
- Friday: Şile Earth Market
- Saturday: Beykoz Çayırı
- Sunday: Şile Earth Market