Collected by Greg Vlad
Cankurtaran Mh., 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
If these palace walls could talk they’d recite plans for military campaigns and tales of love, lust and betrayal that make this former residence and imperial seat of the Ottoman Empire so intriguing. Walk the tile-and-mosaic-lined corridors...
My Turkish friend Erem introduced me to these highly addictive "wet burgers" the minute I got to my hotel near Taksim Square. After a 17-hour flight, the compact burger—a garlicky patty inside a soft bun that's been doused in tomato sauce—...
Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Adorned with more than 20,000 blue handcrafted İznik tiles, stained-glass windows, and the golden brushstrokes of a 17th-century calligrapher, the Blue Mosque is the legacy of Sultan Ahmet I (1590–1617). The young sultan audaciously wished...
Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Walk into Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) and look up to the heavens to see why so many conquerors and their respective religions claimed this basilica turned mosque turned museum as their own. Visitors will swoon over the Byzantine gilded mosaics,...
Beyazıt Mh., 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Soon after conquering Constantinople and defeating the Byzantines in 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II commissioned the beginnings of the Grand Bazaar to reinvigorate trade with the city. More than 550 years later, the bazaar is one of the oldest...
Vişnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahçe Cd., 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
This decadent palace, which overlooks the Bosphorus from the European side, holds great importance to Turkey. The late-19th-century sultans resided here and ruled the Ottoman Empire from here, and while the Turkish Republic's capital is in Ankara,...
Ragıp Gümüşpala Cd. Eminönü Otobüs durakları yolu karşısı, Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Rather than take the suggestion of our guidebook (and spend 6 hours floating on the Bosporus only to navigate our way back to the dock of origin with a little trickery), we headed to the west of the Galata docks in Eminonu and bought a ticket for...
İstiklal Cd., Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The lifeblood of modern Istanbul is the two-mile-long pedestrian street Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), running from Taksim Square to the Tünel train station. It's equal parts touristy and local, commerce and culture, and strolling down...
Firuzağa Mahallesi, Bostanbaşı Cd. No:19, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The Çukurcuma neighborhood, just a short walk down the hill from Istanbul’s busy İstiklal Avenue, is an antique, vintage, and retro lover’s delight. Step onto Faik Paşa Street or Turnacıbaşı Street and you step back in time....
Caferağa Mahallesi, Güneşli Bahçe Sk. No:43, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
One afternoon, I dragged my travel companions—a German, a Turk, and two New Yorkers—to Kadıköy, a neighborhood on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, to dine at Çiya. Everyone was cranky and hungry by the time we found it, but I knew the...
Alemdar Mh., İncili Çavuş Sk. No:10, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Dubb Restaurant has an excellent reputation for good quality, tasty Indian cuisine that consistently attracts international guests. Located up from the entrance to the Basilica Cistern, the restaurant offers street-side dining on one of...
Alemdar Mh., Ticarethane Sokak & Divan Yolu Caddesi 39/41, 34110 Sultanahmet/Fatih/Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Ask most tourism representatives, restaurateurs, and waiters in Old Istanbul to recommend a restaurant, and most will offer Khorasani Ocakbaşı and Kebabhouse. This restaurant has been a part of the Sultanahmet gastronomy scene for many years and...
Kılıçali Paşa Mahallesi, Akarsu Ykş. 21/A, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
I started walking down Cihangir Street in search of a place with Wi-Fi and ran into Journey Cafe. Few tables, interesting book selection, crowd is a mix of locals and foreigners, all very enticing. Although I wasn't hungry I saw plates of very...
Alemdar Mh., Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34410 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The Basilica Cistern is a must-see on any Istanbul itinerary. If you take a tour of the city, you may see major mosques, houses, and churches, but this is a truly unique experience. It is located right across the street from the entrance to Aya...
While visiting Istanbul, take an afternoon trip across the Bosphorus to Kadiköy to stock up on food, sweets, and tea. The prices in this Istanbul neighborhood are at least half of those in the touristy Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. You'll also...
Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Smaller than the Grand Bazaar but more intense, the Spice Market is equal parts tourist trap and necessary shopping stop for cooks and foodies. Meet the original spice girl at Ucuzcular (remember Area 51 to find her booth), one of the few...
Mahallesi, Simitçi Şakir Sk. No:16, 34080 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Are you a coffee lover or foodie searching for a unique Turkish culinary experience? Then after a satisfying meal in Turkey ask your waiter if they serve "menengiç" coffee from South Eastern Turkey. Menengiç is a pistachio-flavored caffeine-free...
Rıhtım Cad. Katlı Otopark Altı No: 3-4 Karaköy, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
While in Turkey I enjoyed traditional desserts like baklava, but I learned to eat them in an nontraditional way. Did you know there was baklava etiquette in Istanbul? My friend Fatih took me to Karaköy Güllüoğlu, the famous baklava sweet shop in...
Caferağa Mahallesi, Moda Cd. No:166, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
A cross between baklava and a croissant, katmer is a sweet, airy, pistachio-drenched Turkish breakfast pastry guaranteed to give you a sugar high that will last the whole day. Made from sheets of thin phyllo dough, kaymak (clotted cream), sugar,...
İstiklal Cd., İstanbul, Turkey
After a long night of drinking and dancing in Taksim, a pile of nohutlu pilav (chickpeas and rice) from a street vendor will give you energy to stumble back home or to your hotel. And it's a bargain at only 1.50 Turkish lira.
"Bir lira, bira lira!" you'll hear from food cart vendors as you stroll though the streets of Istanbul. It means, "one lira, one lira," so if you're hungry and on a budget you might want to check out what's on offer. These guys peddle corn on the...
At the north end of the Galata Bridge, and just before the start of the seafood market, stands a small kiosk where a man grills mackerel filets for sandwiches. A few shakes of spices, some salad, a squeeze of lemon, and you're on your way to the...