10 TIPS TO ENJOY ISTANBUL LIKE A LOCAL
Have you always dreamed of jetting off to exoticdestinations? Somewhere the air is cloaked in spices and shrouded in mystery?Istanbul has it all: flavour, history and culture, why not experience it foryourself? Whether you’re in Istanbul for just a quick trip or have a longerstay in mind, here are 10 tips for living the city like a local.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, andnever is that statement more true than in Turkey. Turkish breakfast is usuallya drawn-out affair, a chance to enjoy and savour the flavours of the dishes andcatch up with friends and family. A typical breakfast spread will consist oftomatoes, cucumber and olives with sliced cheeses and freshly baked bread. Foregg lovers there are traditional menemen (Turkish scrambled eggs with tomatoesand peppers), herb-filled omelettes and fried eggs with sucuk (Turkishsausage). Pisi (traditional fried dough) are excellent dipped in kaymak(Turkish clotted cream) and honey or some local jams. There’s watermelon, roseand fig jams to tempt the sweet tooths out there.
In Istanbul, there are so many breakfast options, allwith stunning views of the Bosphorus or the city. Check out the breakfastlovers’ favorite “breakfast street” full of cafes in Besiktas. Or stroll aroundBeyoglu until you find the perfect spot. Pierre Loti Hill offers spectacularviews of the Golden Horn. On the Asian side, you can find restaurants that arechic and trendy in Kadikoy and Moda, while the Beykoz and Cengelkoyneighbourhoods offer more of a small-town feel with locally produced cheeses,jams and preserves on offer.
2. Walk Along the Bosphorus
The Bosphorus Strait joins the Black Sea in the northto the Sea of Marmara in the south. No matter where you go in the city, thesight of the Bosphorus is seemingly omnipresent. Ship and ferries cruise backand forth across the waters, fishing boats sprinkle the scene on the water.While on land, the playgrounds, walkways and seaside paths are full of walkers,cyclists, fishermen, picnic families and everything in between. Nothing willgive you more of a sense of the different lives and pursuits of Istanbulitesmore than taking a stroll along the city’s life source.
For those seeking to get out of the city, why not jumpon a ferry and explore the Prince’s Islands? These 7 islands to the south ofthe city are a short ride away. Each island has its own unique history andfeel, but each has beaches, walking and cycling tracks, cute cafes andrestaurants and hotels if you feel the urge to overnight.
3. Ferry Ride
Jumping onboard a ferry to cross the geographic pointsof Europe and Asia is a novel concept, and in Istanbul, a daily reality formany. Whether you’re going from Europe to Asia or vice versa, a ferry is one ofthe best ways to see the city. From your waterside vantage point, you’ll beable to take in the harmony of the old city and elements of modern life. TheDolmabahce Palace, The Maiden’s Tower, The Galata Tower, the Topkapi Palace,the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque and Haydarpasa Train Stationare all easy to spot, even for the casual tourist. Enjoying a fresh juice or acup of tea and a simit (Turkish bagel) is highly recommended while you let theferry sail on.
4. Arts and Culture
Istanbul is a living city and while many tourists andvisitors fall in love with the city’s past, its present is definitely somethingto celebrate as well. There are dozens of small galleries and ateliersexhibiting their own unique wares, so going on a deep dive is recommended forthose seeking a unique memento or something off the beaten track. There are, ofcourse, many large art galleries, museums and culture halls that have specialisedexhibitions and extensive permanent collections well worth perusing.
Istanbul has a thriving art scene. Don’t forget tocheck out the latest exhibitions in Beyoglu, Kadikoy, Emirgan, Maslak orBeykoz, where there are a number of large galleries and museums, each withrevolving exhibitions and impressive permanent collections.
Istanbul has been a shopping mecca for thousands ofyears. Whether you’re interested in tracking down antique watches and jewelleryin the Grand Bazar, following in the steps of spice traders in the Spice Bazaror digging out chic one-offs in local boutiques, Istanbul has it all.
The Grand Bazar is steeped in history, constructionhaving commenced in 1455, only 2 years after the Conquest of Istanbul. TheGrand Bazaar is located in Sultanahmet and is an easy stroll from the BlueMosque. Down the hill, the Spice Bazaar is an excellent spot to sip some tea,enjoy some Turkish delight and bargain with sellers. Beyoglu, Nisantasi,Kadikoy and Levent offer more modern shopping options and malls for thoseseeking the latest trends.
When, what and how you eat is entirely up to you, butwith so many choices, make sure you take the time to sit and enjoy! One signyou’ll see all around Turkey is “Ana Yemekleri” even for Istanbul cityslickers, this is the clear sign for comfort food. Translating to “Mother’sFood”, these are a variety of dishes that are simple, nutritious and just likemom used to make. Whether you’re in the mood for Manti (Turkish ravioli), soup,dolma (stuffed peppers, zucchini, eggplant), meat, chicken or rice dishes, you’resure to find something to satisfy.
7. Sweets & Turkish Coffee
Turks love a coffee break every now and then. Whetheryou´re interested in sampling local Turkish Coffee, a thick, strong brew madeto your taste; sweet (tatli), medium (orta) or plain (sade), slowly sipping andenjoying a little something sweet alongside. Or, if you fancy Italian-stylecoffee, there are coffee shops, cafes and patisseries (pastane) to satisfy yourcaffeine cravings and make a dent in your sweet tooth!
8. Live Music
Istanbul is a city full of life and nowhere is thatmore apparent than when strolling along the city streets. Often the bustlingneighbourhoods of Beyoglu and Kadikoy have small festivals, with street artistsplaying a mixture of contemporary and traditional Turkish music. For eveningshows, there’s often local and international artists touring and countlessbars, pubs, meyhanes and concert halls have local acts booked almost everynight of the week. No matter your musical taste, Istanbul will have somethingto tempt you onto the dance floor.
9. Enjoy a Meyhane
Meyhanes or taverns are found in almost every cornerof Istanbul. Whether you’re in the mood for modern twists on traditionalcuisine in an upscale restaurant, good food and a view of the sea or a morecasual meal with friends, a meyhane night is highly recommended.
Usually, waiters will take around a tray of meze, soyou can choose what your table will share. Fresh cooked fish or meat aretypically shared with the table after the mezes have been devoured.
Istanbul has 3 major football teams (Galatasaray,Fenerbahce and Besiktas), all of which play in the Super League and otherEuropean or international championships. Getting a ticket on game day might bedifficult, but the experience is well worth it. Fans chant and sing long beforeand long after the match’s final whistle and being in the stadium is anexperience that will stay with you long after you’re home.
Istanbul has delights aplenty for travellers todiscover. Come, find out what makes this city so unique for yourself!