Istanbul is such a cosmopolitan city, with a MILLION  “must do’s,” so we have only given a short list of the major things, but we recommend to keep exploring to see what else is out there!  Art Galleries, Museums, Bands…the list is endless!

Also, here is a map of our favorite places in Taksim (since most of you will be staying in this area!)

Map Link:





***Kapali Çarsi (Grand Bazaar)

***Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque)

*** Yerebatan Sarnici (Basilica Cistern)

*** Topkapi Sarayi (Topkapi Palace)

*** AyaSofya (Hagia Sofia)

Galata Kulesi (The Galata Tower)

** Dolmabahçe Sarayi (Dolmabahce Palace): You can take a boat tour of  the Bosphorus by “Saltanat Kayigi (Sultans’ row-boats)


*** Ortaköy: Little town by the water.

*** Bebek: Seaside, cafes, A good fish restaurant “Bebek Balikçi.”

*** Istiklal caddesi (Taksim/Beyoglu): The most famous street in Istanbul. Good for nightlife.

* Nisantasi: Soho of Istanbul.

** Pierre lotti

** Prens adalari (Princes’ Islands): Ottoman and Byzantine royalty members were exiled to this island. 45 minutes boat ride. This is a day trip.

***Cagaloglu Hamami (Turkish bath): 300 years old hammam.


*** Asmali Mescit (Street in Taksim): Bistros with fish and Snack. It’s a must. You should at least walk through the street on a weekend evening.

** Çiçek Pasaji (Cité de Péra): Authentic street with fish restaurants, even just to walk through.

*** 360istanbul: Rooftop restaurant. Good for dinner and clubbing at night. Stunning view.

*** Lebi Derya: Good for a drink.

*  Özsüt: Desert  shop at Istiklal Caddesi. Good chocolate soufflé.

** Canim cigerim: This is a hole-in-the wall kebap place and they only serve 3 kinds: Lamb shish, chicken shish and liver shish.
Bibucuk: Located in Beyoglu with nice grilled chicken wings.
**Vogue: Located in Besiktas.
**Hamdi Kebap: Famous kebap place located in Eminonu.
***Develi: Kebap restaurant that is located in Etiler.
*** Kosebasi: Kebap restaurant.
** Sunanin yeri: Fish restaurant located in Kandilli.
** Tarihi Karakoy Balikcisi: 90 year old fish restaurant.
** Kale: Breakfast place located in Bebek.
** Emek café: Breakfast place located in Bebek.
***Namli Gurme: Breakfast place located in Karakoy

 *** Reina: The most famous club in Istanbul. Located in Bebek.

*** Anjelique: Club located in Bebek.


  • People drink tea (Cay) here, and a lot of it.  It’s basically the center of life – Don’t expect an American cup of coffee. It’s not going to happen.
  • Try simit off the streets – there is a vendor at every corner, but make sure you get it when you wake up.  They look like bagels, but are so much more!
  • Try turkish coffee after a meal – either as sweet ‘şekerli’ (sheh-kerh-lee), medium ‘orta’ (or-tah) or without sugar ‘sade’ (sah-deh). While in Taksim, definitely hit up those guys selling shellfish on the street. It’s called midye & it’s amazing pescetarian street food.
  • Eat profiterol at Inci on Istiklal Caddesi in Taksim (Hakan noted above!) Turkish profiteroles are served in a dish and covered in a kind of chocolate milk based pudding.
  • When you are in Taksim – don’t forget to grab roasted water chestnuts hot off the streets, and some dondurma (ice cream.) It’s an experience in itself — get some and you will find out!
  • Eat breakfast by the Bosphorus – and take a camera.  The fisherman are fantastic to watch.
  • Eat breakfast at Emek Cafe – Hakan said its a 2 star above….but it’s my favorite.  It’s not fancy – its local, and special.
  • Go to a hammam and experience a traditional Turkish bath.
  • Try the Turkish liquor raki.  Traditionally drunk mixed with water with another glass of water as well – alternate between drinking the mixed drink and the plain water.  You’ll recognize it as a cloudy looking drink and always served with two glasses. I hate it.  Hakan lives by it!
  • Eat Su Böreği at Gulloğlu in Karaköy and maybe some baklava!
  • Eat at a proper kebap restaurant – I am a vegetarian, and I still had kebap when I went – it’s fantastic.
  • Watch a soccer game at Fenerbahçe stadium (Şukrucuoğlu)- never did it, but I really want to!
  • Wander through the streets of Ortaköy.

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