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Istanbul 2015

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Balat Mahallesi, Mürselpaşa Cd. No:10, 34087 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
My Local Guide Istanbul provides a unique tour of Istanbul's UNESCO World Heritage listed renovated and ruined Ottoman Houses. Walking amongst the locals was an experience in itself, with local kids curious to see us in their colourful community....
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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...
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Taksim Square is at the heart of the Beyoglu neighborhood; the pedestrian-only Istiklal Caddesi, its main artery, ends here at the square. You'll also find Gezi Park and a monument to the Turkish Republic. Crowds come here to shop, dine, see and...
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Hunkar Begendi is a traditional stewed lamb (tas kebap) dish served over mashed eggplant. The Turkish name translates to "the Sultan liked it," and I can see why! The lamb is incredibly succulent and flavorful, among the best I've ever had. And...
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Rumeli Hisarı, Yahya Kemal Cd., 34470 Sarıyer/İstanbul, Turkey
Most visitors to Istanbul probably don’t realize that there is a fortress there. Located on the western shore of the Bosphorus (just south of Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge) is a fortress that dates back to pre-Ottoman rule. Rumeli Hisarı...
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Caferağa Mahallesi, Güneşli Bahçe Sk. No:43, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
One day, 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...
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Arasta Çarşısı, Küçükayasofya Caddesi No:135, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Intricate textiles woven on looms handed down through generations. An array of laurel, olive, and lavender bath products and the hammered bowls to hold them. Silk shawls with which to drape the color of the Aegean in a graceful arc below bare...
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Sultanahmet Mh., Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Kabasakal Cad Arasta Çarşısı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The very chill owner of Arasta 79 has one of the best shops in Istanbul. Ikat scarves, knotted silk jewelry strung with chunky jewels, delicate crochet strings of flowers, pestemals (traditional Turkish bath towels) in every weave and color, and...
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Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Ah, Istanbul, I have such a love affair with this glorious city- where the Eastern Exotic meets the modern West resulting in a unique and unparalleled city, rich in history, seeped in culture, splashed with magnificent architecture, never-ending...
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Beyazıt Mh., Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 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...
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5, Mollafenari Mahallesi, Nuruosmaniye Cad. Armaggan No:41, 34120 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
From the fertile lands of Anatolia to gourmet kitchens around the world, Nar Lokanta is a restaurant with a gourmet shop that offers a range of natural products grown, produced and packaged to the highest international standards in Turkey. The...
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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,...
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Alemdar Mh., Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34410 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
A city as ancient as Istanbul has many layers of history, and you’ll have to go below the surface to see the Basilica Cistern, the largest of the underground cisterns. Built in the sixth century for the Byzantine emperor Justinian, the...
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Alemdar Mh., İncili Çavuş Sk. No:15, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
On arrival to Istanbul, many tourists order the chicken şiş (chicken kebab) for a meal because it's familiar and safe, but they're really missing out on some of the best food in the world! I encourage anyone visiting Turkey to gastro-travel...
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Istanbul, Turkey
We arrived in Istanbul with runny noses and foggy heads. Luckily we were introduced to Salep, a hot drink sold on the cheap from street vendors armed with steaming copper kettles. In addition to ingredients like milk, honey, and cream, ground...
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Hoca Paşa Mahallesi, 34110 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
This was my official welcome to Turkey. After taking the train from the airport to our new home in Istanbul - the area Gulhane - we ducked into a tiny cafe on a quiet corner for a coffee. Not only was the cup and saucer bright and beautiful, the...
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Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
There's no cost attached to one of Istanbul’s most distinctive photo ops, and the only lines are from fishing poles. Cross the historic Golden Horn via the Galata Bridge, where fishermen from every walk of life jostle for space, and...
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Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Get on the Turyol ferry across the Bosphorus for a budget friendly no frills tour offering excellent views of Istanbul. Departing every hour from Eminonu between 10am and 7pm, this simple 1.5 hour round trip cruises along the Asian and European...
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I had just left the Spice Bazaar behind me when I noticed the entrance to Yeni Camii (New Mosque). It was late afternoon, and I was already exhausted from a very long day of sightseeing. I wanted nothing more than to call it a day but I was...
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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...
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Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
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...
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Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Kemankeş Cd., 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The best restaurant in the Karaköy area is run by the sweetest owners, Oral Kurt and Aylin Okutan, and is rooted in the tradition of simple food and refined service. The Ottoman and Turkish menu includes dishes like hünkar...
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Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Kara Ali Kaptan Sok. No:7, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The blocks of Karikoy from the Galata Bridge going east to Istanbul Modern have emerged as one of the hottest areas in the city in recent years. In this transitioning neighborhood, there are still plenty of local barbershops and offices and shops...
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Bereketzade Mahallesi, Hacı Ali Sk. No:2, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is famous for being the only city in the world to span two continents (Asia and Europe), and one of my favorite casual dining experiences is enjoying a Turkish tea (cay) and dessert at Galata's rooftop, Konak Cafe. From one seat, you will...
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Bereketzade Mah, Büyükhendek Cad No:5, 34420 Kuledibi/Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Turkey, one of the few countries in the world to be self-sustainable in food production, grows more than 600 grape varieties and is an emerging leader in producing good quality wines. It's no wonder that wine bars specializing in Turkish wines are...
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Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
by Sylvia Kouvali The neighorhood’s best bakery is across the street from istanbul"Rodeo. They make goodlahmacun, something between an unrolled pita and a thin-crust pizza. Thepides, pizza-like baked breads, are also excellent.Lüleci Hendek Cd....
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Firuzağa Mah., Cihangir Mahallesi, Türkgücü Cad. 59/A, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
After a morning of wandering Istanbul's winding streets, it is a treat to find a delicious eatery like Datli Maya, ready to welcome you with brick-oven baked bites in the form of lahmacun (similar to a thin-crust pizza) and other delicious menu...
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Tomtom Mahallesi, Yeni Çarşı Cd. No:54, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Chef Arzu Gurdamar runs her kitchen like she runs her life—with whimsy, flair, and a dollop of determination. She is a thoroughly modern Istanbullu, a woman who goes her own way—and rides a Harley Davidson in her (virtually non-existent) spare...
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Tomtom Mahallesi, Tosbağa Sk., 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Ara Kafe offers delicious food, and it's filled with oversized prints by the master, plus a case full of his books. One of the inexplicable joys and surprises of a recent trip to Istanbul was the privilege of touring Ara Güler's private gallery. I...
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Tomtom Mahallesi, Ara Güler Sk No:2, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Cafe Ara was a perfect stop on a rainy chilly day in the Taksim/Beyoglu part of Karakoy, Istanbul, Turkey. The cafe is named after a magnificent Turkish photographer who worked in Istanbul and whose large format black and white images adorn the...
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Tomtom Mahallesi, İstiklal Cd. No:8 D:163, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
This elite rooftop restaurants is a popular place for locals to celebrate birthdays, milestones, and romantic moments. Called 360 for its magnificent 360-degree view of Istanbul, it's a great place to celebrate just being in Istanbul! Relax with a...
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Take a break from shopping along Istiklal Street at Hala, which specializes in authentic home-cooked Anatolian cuisine. You know you've found it when you see women with white headscarfs kneading dough in the front window. They're preparing and...
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No. /B, Kocatepe Mahallesi, Taksim Fırını Sk. No:25, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
In the heart of the city’s business district of Taksim, the Marti Istanbul Hotel is a thoroughly modern example of Istanbul’s contemporary face. Designed by Zeynep Fadillioğlu, the interiors balance both classic and contemporary...
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Ömer Avni Mh., İnönü Cd. No:50, 34427 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Topaz is regarded as one of Istanbul's most elite upmarket restaurants and it’s the place to be if you wish to celebrate a special occasion. From their terrace restaurant you can indulge in their degustation or a la carte menus whilst the lights...
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Sinanpaşa Mahallesi, Köyiçi Meydanı Sk., 34353 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
One of my favorite foods in Turkey (and there are many) is a serving of fresh kaymak clotted cream, drizzled with honey, and spread on bread. You can buy it in the supermarket or find it in some breakfast spots, but everyone's favorite is Pando in...
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Aziziye Mahallesi, Cengaver Sk. No:12, 42325 Karatay/Konya, Turkey
Konya is a “dry” town and Turkey’s most religious city. While back in Rumi’s day (and in his poetry), one could be a devout Muslim and still drink alcohol, that’s not the case in many parts of the Islamic world today (although most Konya hotels do...
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Istanbul, Turkey
One morning outside Sultanahmet I saw what I believe to be a suffi. He looked somewhat like a Turkish version of Santa Claus (which was odd because it was late December), but I don't really know what else he would be with that beard.
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Rüstem Paşa Mah Tahmis Caddesi, Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Kalçin Sk. No:11, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The best spot for kebaps and kunefe with a view is Hamdi Restaurant. An easy walk from Rustem Pasa, across from the New Mosque, downhill from the Grand Bazaar and a stone’s throw from the Spice Bazaar, Hamdi’s view sweeps the Golden Horn with the...
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Cankurtaran Mh., Akbıyık Cd. No:26, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
In the early 1990s, a Greek family refurbished a charming Ottoman home and opened Albura on the cobbled streets of Akbıyık Caddesi. The quality had locals and travelers flocking, making Albura one of the most popular restaurants in Sultanahmet. In...
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Alemdar Mh., Ticarethane Sk. No:8, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Rumeli Cafe is an ideal location for dining while people-watching from the streetside terrace in the bustling Sultanahmet neighborhood. Summertime sees the opening of a rooftop dining area, where guests can gaze at the stars and glimpse at the...
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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...
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If you revel in gastro-travel, or perhaps you’re pondering how to make Ottoman and Turkish classics back home, then don an apron and broaden your culinary horizons at Cooking Alaturka in Sultanahmet. This innovative cooking school, for groups of...
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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...
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Mecidiye Mahallesi, Mecidiye Köprüsü Sk. 1/1, 34347 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
"Kumpir" is a baked stuffed potato served throughout the city. But the local "thing to do" is venture to Ortakoy near the first Bosporus Bridge to make your own and consume it by the water's edge. There's a number of kumpir stalls near the famous...
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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,...
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Alemdar Mh., Çatalçeşme Sk. No:21, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Located one street back from the tram line in Sultanahmet, Tribal Art Home's owner Nihat and his assistant Yekta will help you browse their extensive range of hand-crafted ceramics, mosaic lanterns, candle holders, waterpipes (nargile), and...
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Alemdar Mh., Ticarethane Sk. No:5, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Selecting the perfect Turkish carpet or kilim can be like finding the perfect partner—there are plenty to choose from, and patience is often required. With this in mind, you need a carpet seller who will listen to your needs, appreciate your...
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Beyazıt Mahallesi Çadırcılar Caddesi istanbul sahaflar çarşısı No.16-18-19-22-23, Beyazıt Mh., beyazıt, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Book lovers and bazaar hunters will revel in foraging through the Sahaflar Çarsısı (Beyazit Book Bazaar) for new titles, secondhand books, historical maps, the Quran (in various languages), ancient texts, and other rare finds. The bazaar, between...
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Cankurtaran Mh., Ayasofya Meydanı No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The sun sets over Istanbul as I am coated head to toe with aromatic clay and served fresh fruit sprinkled with pistachios under the heavenly dome of a 457 year old hamam. Tenderly, my attendant washes me before lathering my body with olive oil...
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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...
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Mecidiye Mahallesi, Mecidiye Köprüsü Sk. 1-7, 34347 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
Reina, with its sublime ambience, elegant style, and idyllic setting, is the place to go to kick up some classy heels right on the Bosporus. Dress to impress, and come dine on a selection of international dishes at one of the four restaurants—...
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Ortaköy Mh., Salhane Sok. No:5, 34347 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
Ortakoy is the premier entertainment precinct to head to if you’re looking for the uber chic that oozes from the well-stocked bars and pumping dance floors. Anjelique, right on the Bosporus by the first bridge, is one such swanky club that gets...
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Alemdar Mh., Divanyolu Caddesi No:6, 34400 Sultanahmet/Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Everywhere we go in the world, it seems we find places where former president Bill Clinton ate. In Istanbul it was no different. The Pudding Shop offers quick eats for hungry visitors to the Sultanahmet District. Stop here for all sorts of...
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Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, General Yazgan Sk. No:8, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
You've strolled the 1.5km of Istanbul's famous Istiklal Street for a spot of shopping, but hunger sets in and the purse strings are tight. Where do you go for a bite to eat? Answer: Helvetia, a modest lokanta (restaurant) tucked away on a quiet...
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Beyazıt Mh., Tığcılar Sk. No:56, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
If you've been pacing up and down the passages of the Grand Bazaar contemplating that perfect purchase, chances are you'll need refueling eventually. Hidden on a backstreet just outside gate 16 of the Grand Bazaar is the cozy and charming Keyf-i...
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Mollafenari Mahallesi, Vezirhan Cd. No:18, 34120 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
When I'm in the mood for affordable home-cooked Turkish food in Sultanahmet, I head to Makarna Sarayı opposite the Column of Constantine near Çemberlitaş tram station. There are oodles of choices here, and you simply point and pick the dishes you...
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The Sapphire Tower, in Istanbul’s Levent business district, is the highest building in the city offering some of the best views in town. The tower is situated away from the main tourist attractions, therefore set aside about three hours for the...
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Galatasaray Islet, Beşiktaş/Istanbul, Turkey
There’s a gorgeous venue in town that all the well-heeled folks and celebrities go to dine. It’s called Galatasaray Island, but most Istanbulites (locals) call it the Suada Club, or simply Suada. The island, on the edge of the Bosporus, is owned...
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Şahkulu Mah., Kumbaracı Ykş. No:57, 34425 Tünel/Beyoğlu/Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Leb-i derya is one of those fabulous fancy restaurants perched high above the streets of Beyoğlu with amazing views of the Bosporus, Maiden’s Tower, Asia and old Istanbul’s peninsula. You could walk past the building so many times on its dimly lit...
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Cankurtaran Mh., Akbıyık Cd. No:56, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
One of the latest cafes to open in Sultanahmet is Karafırın on Akbıyık Caddesi (Street). It's part of a larger chain of stores in Turkey specializing in baked goods and cafe-style refreshments. Check out the bakery section full of tasty treats,...
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Haci Izzet Pasa Sok., Ömer Avni Mh., Serin Apt. No: 26/2 Gumussuyu, 34427 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
There are a handful of tour agencies in Istanbul brave enough to venture off the normal “top sites” tourist trail. Unison Travel and Events is one such pioneer in the local travel industry that caters to travelers seeking a unique perspective of...
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Tomtom Mahallesi, Yeni Çarşı Cd. No:44, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
This tiny hybrid wine shop–cum–wine bar has impressed many local vino lovers with its intimate ambience, tasty mezes, and friendly service from general manager Suleyman Er and his team. It has imported and local wines available to...
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Süleymaniye Mahallesi, Mimar Sinan Cd. No:20, 34120 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Most couples will want to experience all of Istanbul’s attractions together, and enjoying a hammam (Turkish bath) is no different. The majority of the authentic bathhouses in the city have separate male and female bathing areas, making it...
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Nevşehirli İbrahim Paşa Cd., 34083 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Every Wednesday morning in my neighborhood near Fatih Mosque, the traffic disperses, the roads are closed, plastic canopies are strewn from building to building, and thousands of stalls bursting with color and produce are set up across several...
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Büyük Valide Han Çakmakçılar Yoluşu No:31 / 82, Mercan Mahallesi, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Visiting the 17th-century Büyük Valide Han in Eminönü is my all-time favorite experience in Istanbul. It's an Ottoman inn that accommodated traveling merchants over 350 years ago and also stored the Oriental and European wares from the wooden...
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Alemdar Mh., Çatalçeşme Sk. No:21, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Imagine waking up in an opulent cream- and café-colored boutique bedroom with regal gold gilding. Picture a leisurely morning with a hearty Turkish breakfast on a rooftop terrace with views to Topkapi Palace, the Aya Sophia, and Bosporus Bridge....
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11, Küçük Ayasofya Mh., Demirci Reşit Sk., 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
If you like your space and prefer to self-cater on vacation, then book into Topkapi Apartments, near the Blue Mosque. This gorgeous four-story Turkish home is owned by husband and wife Hamza and Yukiko and has one large unit per floor with a...
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Pamukkale, 20190 Pamukkale/Denizli, Turkey
Stroll barefoot past the cotton castles of Pamukkale, then wander the ancient ruins of the Hierapolis, before finishing the day soaking your cares and wrinkles away in Cleopatra’s thermal pool. It’s all possible in a long day trip from Istanbul....
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Salacak Mahallesi, Üsküdar Salacak Mevkii, 34668 Üsküdar/İstanbul, Turkey
The Maiden’s Tower, which seemingly floats in the Bosphorus off Asia, is one of the more popular symbols of the city. Once a Byzantine tollbooth and later an Ottoman lighthouse, it’s most famous for a legend involving a princess and a prophecy...
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Eyüp Merkez Mahallesi, 34050 Eyüp/Istanbul, Turkey
Gentlemen, if your lady appreciates the simple things in life and you both romantically revel in truly unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences, then you should head to Eyüp hill for the panoramic view from Pierre Loti Café. Then, instead of...
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Eyüp Merkez Mahallesi, 34050 Eyüp/Istanbul, Turkey
Overlooking the Golden Horn in Eyüp, Pierre Loti Hill offers a spectacular panoramic view of Istanbul's seven hills. Linger here for a while and partake in keyif—the Turkish art of idle relaxation—at one of the rustic teahouses and restaurants...
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Divan Yolu Cd., Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Travel from Europe to Asia for 2.15TL? Yes you can—with an Istanbulkart aboard a Bosporus ferry. If you’re planning to use public transportation in Istanbul, then it pays to buy an Istanbulkart. The swipe card provides discounted fares for...
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Cankurtaran Mah, Tevkifhane Sk. No:8, 34400 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
One of the things I adore about Istanbul is the ongoing discovery of hidden gems around the city. Not real gems, but rather, venues with spectacular features—a secret garden or a rooftop cafe with a gobsmacking, drop-dead-gorgeous view. These gems...
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Reşitpaşa Mahallesi, Emirgan Sk., 34467 Sarıyer/İstanbul, Turkey
In April, the cold grey days of winter make way for the bright colours of spring when over 11 million tulips blossom in the parks and streets of Istanbul. Istanbul’s Tulip Festival, hosted annually by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality,...