Located just west of Sultanahmet inside the old city walls of Istanbul is one of the world's largest covered markets, the Grand Bazaar. With a reputation that has long preceded it, this shopping and bartering experience can without a doubt be a day long engagement for those of us who've gotten the hang of haggling; for the rest it very well could be much shorter depending on how quickly your pockets get turned out.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors per day, these sixty or so interconnected streets create a labyrinth of harried conversation, enticing scents, and exotic goods. There is still an energy reminiscent of this ancient Ottoman crossroads, but this center of Muslim life (with its shops, restaurants, mosques, and even two hamams) has more or less become saturated with tourists. To this end, many of the family-owned shops have been pushed out of business, while factory-produced jewelry, clothing, etc. are becoming more and more the status quo. Still, chances are you’ll be happy with the wide range of souvenirs available to bring home.
Although it's hardly the practical center of Turkish life that it used to be, the Grand Bazaar can still amaze you if you bring your haggler's spirit and a sense of adventure. For a smaller and no less touristy version, the Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi) is within walking distance, a ten block jaunt north to the Eminönü neighborhood. Somewhat cheaper and less pushy is the Arasta Bazaar behind the Blue Mosque.
Note:The included website has a map available to print and have handy in case you find yourself getting lost. Don't scoff, it could happen!