The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

[Not Food-Related] Visiting Istanbul, Got Any Advice?

Everyone I know who's been to Istanbul has said in some form or another, usually with crazed eyes of excitement, "ISTANBUL IS AWESOME AND YOU WILL LOVE IT!" And thus I am going there for vacation from March 25 to April 1 with Diana and Kåre (same travel buddies as last year's trip to Berlin)! Friends have been giving me advice and I have some guide books to study (flipping through Istanbul Eats' book is giving me all the drools) in addition to all these Serious Eats posts, but if anyone out there wants to throw in their two cents about "things you must do in Istanbul," I'd love to hear it. (And while I know this is a big reach, if you live in Istanbul and am interested in sharing a meal, do contact me, please? :D) We're staying in Cihangir, if that helps to know. Thank you for your help!


Dana / March 3, 2013 9:36 AM

First time on your site. We went to Turkey last summer and did a walking food tour with Istanbul Eats. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Here is a list of their walking tours: We did the Kebab Krawl. It was wonderful and we had the opportunity to taste food and experience the shops in a way that we would have never been able to alone. Have fun. Turkey is fabulous!

Caroline / March 3, 2013 10:47 AM

Oh Istanbul..lucky you!! I went there exactly 5 years ago but at that time, it was to get lasik done (best decision of my life ever!) so I didn't get to see or taste much of the city at all unfortunately. Still it left an amazing impression on me and I have been dying to go again. You should check out this blog:
This couple absolutely loves Istanbul and Turkey and you can feel this in their posts. They have lots of great advice and recommendations.
Have fun there! Can't wait to hear all about your trip!

Susan / March 4, 2013 1:45 AM

Robyn, I was trying to remember which of my friends I'd promised my Istanbul list to! It's got good provenance - started with Chubby Hubby, who sent it to Amy, who sent it to me. And I've sent it on to many other friends. Will forward it to you - but it's a little old - I was in Istanbul about five years ago.

roboppy / March 4, 2013 2:24 AM

Dana: Thanks for the rec! I just emailed them today to ask about getting a tour. Woo!

Caroline: I could use lasik too. (Not to brag, but I tend to win the "who has the worst eyesight but isn't legally blind" contest. ...Sigh.) But I will skip that on my trip. ;) I love Eating Asia, thanks for the link!

Christina C / March 6, 2013 5:57 PM

Ciya Sofrasi on the Asian side – awesome for dinner/lunch.
Also spend some time going to the food market on the Asian side of the city, it's fascinating.

Get a full Turkish brunch, it's a gut buster, but worth it. I would just look around close to where you are, but a must have is honey with Kaymak in lavash. Kaymak is turkish cream is is wonderful, also look for it in the baklava.

Go to the Beyoglu neighborhood and get snacks. The loaded baked potato, just get one and share with 3 friends, it's so freakin' good. Also, have some mezes, it's fun to share and try a bunch of stuff and drink some Raki. I know you may not be into the drinking that much Robin, but your companions may want to give it a try.

The grand bazaar, meh. The spice market is much more interesting. The blue mosque is beautiful on the outside, but definitely go to the Hagia Sofia, amazing.

Not sure if you have time, but if you do, go to Cappadocia. One of the most amazing and beautiful places I've ever been.

Carol / March 7, 2013 3:34 PM

I was only there for a day in April of May of 2011, but it was one of my favorite places ever and I desperately want to go back. Food wasn't my main concern that day as I just wanted to see as much as I could. You MUST go to the Blue is truly the most beautiful building I have have ever laid eyes on. It was breathtaking. I also recommend the Underground Cistern...beautiful and majestic. I enjoyed the Spice Market much more that the Grand Bazaar. Take a walk along the Galata Bridge as well and there are a ton of restaurants underneath the bridge on the walkway that are great. Hope you have an amazing time! Wish I could come along!

Karen / March 14, 2013 9:54 AM

You've got to eat breakfast at this place:
It's in the area where you're staying and is amazing.

Also, get hamsi. Even if you don't like fish, you'll probably like this. Super fresh anchovies flash fried in cornmeal. Amazing. at any fish place in Karakoy, although I'm partial to the last place on the right if you're facing teh bridge and walk to the right. service is terrible, but fish is great.

pit-bbq lamb out in the fatih district. unique place to walk around.

istanbul is for eating and walking... a true diner's paradise.
I've got a google map of good eats if you want it.

Aditi / March 20, 2013 1:07 PM

Definitely echo the Istanbul Eats sentiments. My husband and I did their Two Continents tour in late December and it was amazing.

We hit up a couple of spots from the Istanbul Eats book and every single one was amazing. Our favorite place was Antiochia Concept which was phenomenal.

Eat Kaymak, lots and lots and lot of kaymak. And then find a way to bring it back to NYC>

chris / June 4, 2013 4:39 PM

god bless turkey at this time. praying for the welfare of all its people.

Something random from the archives