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!)
***ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY MUST DO
*ONLY IF YOU HAVE TIME
***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)
NEIGHBORHOODS TO EXPLORE
*** 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.
EATING AND DRINKING
*** 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.
*** Reina: The most famous club in Istanbul. Located in Bebek.
*** Anjelique: Club located in Bebek.
CHRISTINA’S NOTES (FROM A REAL TOURIST!)
- 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.