If you can go on vacation this year only to Turkey, let’s plan your trip to Istanbul correctly. But first, a few basic things to know before going on vacation:
- Buy the Istanbulkart Pass at the earliest opportunity: at any machine at metro or bus stations. Its cost is 6 liras, you can pay only in cash;
- Speaking of cash, don’t exchange currency. None. Just take a bank debit card and withdraw money from local ATMs. With Tinkoff, you can cash out money without commission at Şeker Bank or Halk Bank, from Sberbank – also at Halk Bank;
- download the apps: Moovit – here they will competently draw up a route around the city, immediately schedule all transport, Yemek sepeti or Getir is food delivery, BiTaksi is an online taxi call, the cost is always approximate, not accurate, so look carefully at the counter until they are taking you;
- You will definitely need a local SIM card: take Vodafone – this is the best option;
- buy sweets and spices home only at the bazaar (Egyptian bazaar) – it is cheaper and tastier there;
- to get to know the city better, take a Russian-speaking local guide – you can find these on Airbnb Experience, for example, or on Instagram by searching for “guide” or “excursion”. This will make Istanbul clearer, tastier and more beautiful for you;
- in no case settle in the Fatih and Sultan Ahmet districts.
Then where to live?
Choose districts Kadıköy (especially Moda), Cihangir, Nişantaşı and Beşiktaş. It is tasty, beautiful and good here. There is almost nowhere calmly in Istanbul, but in these areas you will feel at home: no one will deceive you, and you will certainly be fed well and inexpensively. Delicious coffee is included.
Be careful with the Beyoğlu area – this is a fairly large area on the map, where dangerous and beautiful areas coexist. Never settle in Tarlabaşı and Dolapdere, choose Cihangir, Fındıklı, Tophane, Karaköy, Şişhane and Galata instead.
I advise you to choose apartments or apartments on Airbnb: they are many times more pleasant than classic hotels on the “booking”.
Zoo Kadıköy is the most delicious Turkish breakfast! Various Turkish cheese, fresh vegetables, soft bread, cottage cheese, olives, dried fruits, kaymak with honey, jam – all this is seasoned with the most aromatic spices and dried mint.
Yer Moda, or Munchies If you want European toasts, pancakes and granola – then Yer Moda, or Munchies is yours. Great to-go pasta at Say Cheese, modern Turkish cuisine at Küff, burgers at Biber Burger, and ice cream at Pandos Icecream.
Spend the day in cozy Dün Moda with a glass of homemade wine and cold snacks in dim light, or at Moda Parkı with a small picnic. Here they sing, play guitars and basketball, drink wine, dance salsa and endlessly enjoy life. The Moda area was created specifically to rest and overeat.
Here you need to have breakfast outdoors, wander the winding streets with endless shops of local craftsmen and tiny bookstores with vintage records, and dine on the terraces in local cafes, watching the sunset.
Van Kahvaltı Mutfağı / Van Kahvaltı Evi / Arada Endülüs are the places with the most delicious breakfasts. Here, the entire table will be lined with colorful plates with different morning snacks, cheeses, vegetables and fruits, omelets and endless Turkish tart tea.
In the evening, head to Terrace 41 or Limonlu Bahçe. In the first case, you will drink wine overlooking the Bosphorus, and in the second, you will enjoy pasta in an Italian garden with lemon trees.
Alternatively, head to the trendy Nişantaşi area for some of the finest food restaurants in all of Istanbul. The best of the best is Gasto. Choose any position, you will like everything. For cocktails – in Sess: so much beauty and aesthetics, probably, nowhere else. Another good restaurant with a focus on drinks is Joker: 5. The guys have a large cocktail menu, good wine and mezcal. A lot of mescal.
During the day, walk around the antique district of Çukurcuma – look into stylish shops of junk shops and artists, climb all the streets near the Galata Tower and gorge on Turkish sticky pistachio ice cream there, look at the interactive Museum of Innocence, created based on the novel of the same name by Orhan Pamuk, and Salt Galata art lofts and Salt Galata Beyoğlu, and then consolidate your walk with great coffee and gluten-free cheesecake from Mundo Novo. And if you feel like eating, go to Galata Kitchen.
Local guides are skeptical about Sultanahmet: it is too touristy, which means it is expensive, tasteless, and deceiving. But you still carefully look there.
Start with museums. Aya Sofia is now a mosque, which means admission is free. But, most likely, you will not be allowed into the center of the hall, because this is a place for prayer. Be prepared that at certain times you will also not be allowed inside. But this time can be taken by a trip to the nearest museums. They are all interesting.
Not far from the Hagia Sophia Mosque, there is the Halı Müzesi Carpet Museum. You definitely need to go there. It seems completely unremarkable until you whisper the word-password “cistern” to the museum caretaker, and then you will immediately find yourself in the magical underground kingdom of water.
A more popular, but no less beautiful cistern with a rich history is located across the road from Sofia – Yerebatan Tank. Together with the tickets, upon your request, a printed or audio guide in Russian or English will be issued.
Also, don’t forget to drop by the Blue Mosque, one of the main symbols of Istanbul. This is a unique architectural monument – it has 6 minarets, while most other mosques have a maximum of 4, it has 20 tons of marble, and also handcrafted tiles. This mosque is one of the oldest in all of Istanbul.
Wandering the back streets in Sultanahmet is a real pleasure. Look up – building facades, frescoes, ancient mosaics, inscriptions keep so much history in themselves that it is impossible to describe it. Follow your inner compass: wander, circle, listen to your heart – it will lead you to the right places.
The most important parting word for a trip to this area is that you do not eat anything there. You can have Turkish coffee or crunchy boiled corn from the stall right in the square, but for good food, take the 4 tram stops to Karaköy Station. There it will be tasty and inexpensive everywhere.
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The concentration of fish restaurants with really delicious seafood is here. You need to come to this area to stroll along the beautiful promenade with yachts, and then elegantly wrap yourself in one of the restaurants for fish and wine.
In Sur Balık – a view of the Bosphorus, yachts and lights from the opposite bank. Basically, the same is in Arnavutköy Balıkçısı, Mira Balık and Zıpkın Arnavutköy. Be sure to devote one evening to this area, and you will forever remember Istanbul as the most romantic city in the world.
District Üsküdar – Çamlıca
Did you know that Istanbul is home to the largest mosque in the entire world? The diameter of its central dome is 72 meters, it has 6 minarets with a height of 107 and 90 meters, underground parking, a museum of Islamic art, galleries, an art studio and conference rooms, and also a huge observation deck over the entire city. The view from the Çamlıca Mosque is most beautiful at sunset in the pink light over the sea and the strait. By the way, now Çamlıca is a new symbol of Istanbul.
How to get there:
By bus from Üsküdar – Şile (139A) – about 1.5 hours along beautiful roads, by car – 1 hour.
What to do:
Gather a picnic, swim in clear water on a wild beach, crawl through caves, build sand castles, and in the evening admire the sunset to the lighthouse (in Google maps: Şile Feneri) and dine at a random cafe on the waterfront.
How to get there:
By metro to Hacıosman, from there by bus 151 to Kilyos – about 1.5 hours along beautiful roads, by taxi – 1 hour from the center of the European part.
What to do:
Exactly the same thing. Only with the addition: there are crazy tremendous waves, you can accidentally hang in them for half a day. The beach is sandy, incredibly beautiful and spacious. The sunset is beautiful there.
How to get there:
From Üsküdar to Çukurçayır cd. by bus 15Р, from there change to bus 137 and get to the final stop Riva – about 1.5 hours. By car – 40 minutes – 1 hour from Üsküdar.
What to do:
Enjoy, eat, live, swim – whatever you want at the moment. Admire the views.
How to get there:
From Kabataş or Kadıköy stations, take a ferry from Şehirhatları or Turyol. Ride 40 minutes – 1 hour (depending on the station from which you take the ferry). Check the schedule on the companies’ websites of the same name. The island is the second in a row.
What to do?
Go to the 4lcoffee coffee shop, grab any coffee there – all delicious – and some kind of cupcake, then go to the Madam Marta Koyu cliff, cry from the views and go down to the beach, which is located right on the bay (free admission, sun lounger + umbrella = 25 TL ).
A great sunset, pebbles, clear water, tranquility and love await you. Be sure to bring your rubber slippers with you.