The wonderland of Turkey, cradled between Europe and Asia, is a beacon of Ottoman history, art, and culture. Once you witness the beauty of Turkey in all its glory, it can be hard to leave it behind and get back to the rut of your daily life.

To keep you from those withdrawals, we have a list of Turkish souvenirs that we think you must consider buying. These are sure to spark conversations and act as a magical portal that is reminiscent of the wonders you witnessed in the country.

1. Tea & Coffee

Turkish Coffee in Traditional Copper Cups

There is a famous Turkish proverb that says when tasted, Turkish coffee should be “as black as hell, strong as death, and as sweet as love,” and we couldn’t agree more. It acts as the perfect benchmark while you shop for coffee to bring back home. We recommend you complete the Turkish Coffee Set by purchasing the traditional copper cup that’s used to drink the beverage as well.

On the other hand, the tulip shaped glasses filled with small portions of black tea probably ranks top as the favorite souvenir in the country. We recommend purchasing these glasses from the Northeastern Rize area, widely regarded as the tea capital of Turkey.

2. Carpets and Rugs

Handwoven Carpet

Another product that Turkey is widely known for are its exotic handmade carpets and rugs. A word of caution though – while you stroll through the streets of Istanbul, you are bound to be approached by salesmen trying to talk you into purchasing a carpet or a rug from them. You don’t have to pay any heed to them. In fact, many will claim their wares are much cheaper than most, and they might be right but the products will probably be one of the many mass produced fakes that have infiltrated the country. While authentic carpets and rugs can be difficult to find and expensive, the effort will be completely worth it.

3. Spices

Chanda Gauranga

That’s right. Spices. Turkish spices like sumac, paprika, and allspice, add that extra oomph in your dishes. The Turks are aware of this and conveniently sell souvenir packages for you to carry home and cook with. Istanbul’s Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul are two spice havens where you can find the best of Turkish spices.

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: We recommend purchasing a copper spice container. The spices might get repleted over a couple of dishes, but the containers will act as a reminder of the delicacy it once held.

4. Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight Store

If we speak of spice, it’s only natural to follow it up with something sweet, and Turkey brags of being home to one of our favorite desserts – Turkish Delights.

You’ll find packaged boxes of all sizes selling this extraordinary, yet simple sweet dish all across the country. These small jelly-like gums come in a variety of flavors such as lemon, rose, nuts, cinnamon, etc. Despite being easily available, we recommend you purchasing Turkish Delights from the family shop of Hacir Bekir Efendi in Istanbul, who is originally credited as the inventor of these little delights.

5. Traditional Instruments

Chalice Drum

A bit unusual as a souvenir, but these are excellent souvenirs to bring back, regardless of if you intend to play them or just have them up for display. Some of the popular instruments are the chalice drum, also called the goblet drum; Turkish longneck lute, or locally called ‘saz’; and the kaval, a wood instrument used primarily by shepherds.

These souvenir won’t just remind you of Turkey, but resonate the culture and ambience when you play them!

6. Mosaic Lanterns and Gourd Lamps

Mosaic Lanterns and Gourd Lamps

Another exquisite product you are bound to run into multiple times on your visit to Turkey – the mosaic lanterns. Much like their name suggests, these are made with mosaic glass and come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colours leaving you spoilt for choice. But regardless of how many you choose to bring back, they’re sure to keep your memories of Turkey bright and alive.

Chanda Gauranga

Interesting information: The craftsmen of Turkey make lanterns not just with mosaic glass, but with something that’s a little more natural and organic – dried pumpkins and butternut squash! Widely accessible at the coastal regions, these lanterns are made by drying pumpkins and butternut squash and decorating them with vibrant colors and sparkling gems.

7. Clayware from Cappadocia

Clayware from Cappadocia

For centuries, the locals of the small town of Avanos have been using clay from the banks of the Red River (Kızılırmak) to make pots and vessels to use in their households. Ever since Cappadocia became a tourist attraction, these claywares became an instant hit amongst tourists, and rightly so. The villagers, with experience passed down for centuries, excel in red clay pottery.

Ithaka’s Pro Tip: Cappadocia is perfect for not just buying a souvenir, but also for trying your hand at pottery. Create something beautiful and bring back a piece of art you created in Turkey!

8. Ceramic Wares

Ceramic Wares

Turkey not just excels in pottery, but their artisans are some of the best when it comes to ceramic wares. A craft that has its roots dating all the back to the 8th century, you can find intricately designed plates, bowls, and vases, all made with ceramic on display at a number of places in Turkey. These wares come in vibrant colors, shapes and sizes, and it is said that they even built mosques with ceramic tiles!

For the best wares, go to the district of Iznik, a place that had shot to fame as the center of expert craftsmen in the 16th century.

9. Nazar Boncugo

Nazar Amulets

We’ve kept the simplest, yet one of the most popular souvenirs to buy in Turkey for the last. Nazar Boncugo, or the Evil Eye, is deeply rooted in ancient culture, as a talisman to ward off evil. You’ll find these eyes hanging from a lot of places in Turkey – inside cars, homes, and offices. You can purchase these talismans in the form of key chains, badges, bracelets, or trinkets. The best workshop that manufactures these talismans is located in the village of Nazarkoy.

This is the best souvenir to buy in bulk to hand out to colleagues, friends, and families.

While these are our pick of the best souvenirs that you can bring back from Turkey, we’re sure that from your travels, you’ll find something unique and extraordinary through your interaction with locals. We’re sure that you’re trip to Turkey will culminate with memories – regardless of the form, that you will share and reminisce for a lifetime.

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