TRAVEL GUIDE TO ISTANBUL by Merve B.
Merve B. is an Urban Explorer, Wellness Guru, Music Lover and Fellow Foodie. She loves to travel and enjoys experiencing the destinations she’s visiting as a local by discovering what the city has to offer in an authentic way. Her perspective for Istanbul is therefore unique and her recommendations from her own city will help you enjoy it just like the locals do: authentic yet contemporary...
Born and raised in Ankara, I moved to Istanbul in 2008 and have called this amazing city my home ever since. Istanbul is one of the most awe-inspiring cities, influenced by many empires that once ruled it. Over centuries, Greeks, Romans and Venetians took turns before the Ottoman Empire arrived. This was not a random choice… Its prime location connecting two continents and breathtaking natural beauty have always made Istanbul a main attraction.
All these civilizations in Istanbul’s history have given it an everlasting cultural diversity, making it home to many from all around Turkey as well as other countries. Today, more than 80% of residents are not originally from Istanbul, which adds even more spice and flavor to the city. Like any other great city, Istanbul beautifully combines architecture, art, music and delicious food. What makes it unique are the people -- they are the warmest and most hospitable folks you can ever come across. Discovering Istanbul, you will truly feel like you are at a home away from home.
Let’s start with some summer-focused insider tips. Being a city for all seasons, another guide for fall and winter is required, so stay tuned for cooler weather recommendations...
You can visit Istanbul all year round, however April to October are when the city has the most to offer.
If you want to explore the city in one go, make sure you spend at least 7 nights.
Although the city is spread on both European and Asian continents and is well connected with two bridges as well as sea transportation, I highly recommend you stay on the European side, since it’s more convenient and closer to the main attractions.
Where to stay
The Stay Bosphorus Hotel, Ortakoy
Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel, Ortakoy
Soho House Hotel, Beyoglu
Tomtom Suites, Beyoglu
W Hotel, Akaretler
Les Ottomans, Kurucesme
Where to play
Sakip Sabanci Museum
Istanbul Modern Art Museum - Don’t miss the MSA Restaurant in the museum to taste some luxury food at an affordable price, cooked and served by the students of Turkey’s first culinary school
Misir Carsisi - Spice Bazaar
Karakoy - Hipster vibes with lots of laid-back cafes, bars and restaurants
Bebek and Ortakoy - Take a walk by the sea and enjoy the cafes and cool local stores
Arnavutkoy - Vibrant neighbourhood usually full of young people hanging out in the evenings
Beyoglu - Old city center of Istanbul with historical architecture, local shops, cafes and restaurants
Top brands and stores:
Manu, Nisantasi - Handmade leather bags from Turkey now sold all around the world
Misela, Beyoglu - Bespoke and customizable bags by a young Turkish designer
Bey Karakoy - Contemporary Turkish designers mix
Souq Karakoy/Kanyon Mall - More contemporary Turkish designers mix
Selamlique, Bebek - Best Turkish delights and Turkish coffee with a modern touch
Rumisu, available online and in Souq - Ethically produced silk scarves and shirts with authentic illustrations
Where to eat
Mangerie, Bebek - Enjoy the Best Bosphorus view with delicious world cuisine food; mostly popular for breakfast and lunch
Banyan, Ortaköy - Asian Fusion and delicious cocktails by the Bosphorus
Bi Nevi Deli, Etiler - Casual and simple vegan cafe
Voi Central, Etiler - Healthy coffee shop with vegan food and dessert options in a laid back backyard
Murver Restaurant, Karakoy - Traditional Turkish cuisine with a modern touch by a famous chef, with an extensive wine selection and signature cocktails
Delicatessen, Nisantasi - Best casual cafe in town by the owners of Mangerie
Zipkin, Arnavutkoy - Seafood and traditional Turkish mezze restaurant with a sea view
Uskumru, Beykoz - Seafood and traditional Turkish mezze restaurant on the Asian side. The restaurant offers boats for the guests coming from the European side. Call to reserve a table and a 10-minute boat ride on the Bosphorus.
Sanda Tiryaki Ocakbaşı, Arnavutkoy - Traditional Turkish kebab restaurant on top of a hill looking over the Bosphorus
Backbar, Etiler - Vibrant open air bar with live music on Thursday and weekends. Start your evening with dinner at the restaurant and continue at the bar till late.
Lucca, Bebek - Istanbul’s most popular high energy bar, small and cozy night club with local DJs and a cool crowd
Alexandra Cocktail Bar, Arnavutkoy - Popular cocktail bar with a rooftop
Bomontiada, Bomonti - Old beer factory transformed into an open air meeting point with restaurants and a live music performance venue called Babylon. They host open air concerts occasionally. It’s worth checking their Instagram.
Enjoy my city, ICBRKRs! And be sure to connect with me in the ICBRKR app if you're in town.
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