So as some of you may know, when it comes to beads I just cannot help myself! I own a bead shop on etsy selling all kinds of beads and every time I go on holiday it's the first piece of research I do. In fact (looking about suspiciously and whispering) it is sometimes what motivates me toward a certain destination...but shh don't tell my husband!
I turned 40 last week and I am not a great lover of birthdays, the whole going out and making a fuss is not for me. So me and my other half decided, no well actually I decided we would go to Istanbul for a long weekend.
What a great city! Aside from all the amazing churches, mosques and architecture, the bead shopping aint half bad either.
I didn't really look for beads in the Grand Bazar, though I am sure there would have been some but we visited on a saturday and it was ramma jamma ding dong! And I didn't have my bargaining head on.
The place to go is the maze of narrow streets descending from the Grand bazar to the Spice market, keep your eyes open though as the shops are not always that obvious.
If you are going specifically for beads with a sprinkling of sightseeing then Stay near the Spice market in the area of Sirkesi or Eminonu. We stayed at the Regie Ottoman and it was plenty close enough. In fact I think I would stay in that area again anyway.
Istanbul is very easy to negotiate as a city, with very good public transportation, get yourself an istanbulkart ( like a uk oyster card) you can buy them at the tram stops and you can charge it up rather than paying for each journey with change. Though note: when you are charging it up the machine will not give you change so make sure you credit the right amount otherwise, like me you'll be stuck with a card that still has credit on it.
Sorry back to the beads. You will see these type of beads everywhere the evil eye beads, they are a Greek and Turkish talisman believed to ward off the curse of the evil eye. You will see these beads in plastic as well as glass and in all kinds of sizes and prices. The large more expensive ones are generally made in Turkey and not imported from China.
I did find lots of shops selling crystal beads in all the colours of the rainbow and many shops selling semi precious stone and pearls but I didn't buy any of either. I found the stones to be a little pricy and the crystal is just not my bag really. So I stuck to the glass.
Here are two of the shops that I bought from, if there was a "bead street" I would say it was Marputcular Cadessi. Make this your starting point.
Along this street there will be many small shopping malls poke your nose in as some will be ribbons and bows and others will be wall to wall beads. I tried bargaining in one of the shops where I got a tiny bit of movement but not much, I pretty much got the impression that the price was the price...but it doesn't hurt to try.
What we found super useful is an app called City Maps 2Go you can download it to your phone and put pins in areas of interest then use it as a GPS when you are on the go. Im not sure how long it would have taken us if we hadn't had the app.
I hope this has been useful in some way to someone, feel free to comment or if you have any questions just ask.