City guide: Istanbul
Every city has a way that it is set up. Can you give an overview of Istanbul to help orientate a visitor to the city?
Istanbul has a unique set up as the city itself connects Europe to Asia. It is said to made of seven hills parted by the bosphourus which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. Unlike the typical European cities where the city is built around the city centre, because of the layout of the city Istanbul doesn’t have a city center. First of all city is divided into two sections – the European side and the Asian side. Even tough there are many different districts in each part, the Asian side is more residential than the European side. The bosphrous in between two continents is the most precious part of the city.
What are some typical things to do in Istanbul that you can't do elsewhere?
Turkish breakfast, boat trip along the bosphorus, local fish restaurants, historical tours around the old city and walking through Istiklal Street.
Pictured above: Istiklal Street (credit: Ahmed Hussain)
What are the best ways to get around the city? Any local tips?
Istanbul is not the best city to walk because of city’s structure but I would go around by subway, tramway and avoid car trips during rush hours.
What are some of the typical dishes/foods of Istanbul, and where are your favourite places to go for them?
Kebab & Döner (sliced lamb meat served over rice or in pita) - Hamdi Restaurant is one of the well known kebab restaurants in Istanbul.
Manti (dumpling or ravioli with meat)
Bodrum Mantı Kokoreç (which is made of lamb intestines)
Çengelköy Kokoreç Balık & Ekmek (grilled fish served in bread) - you can find local places to eat at near the Spice Market.
Pictured above: Hamdi Restaurant (credit: TourOption)
You are a designer, so you obviously love beautiful things. What are some stores in Istanbul for beautiful objects?
It depends what you are looking for but there many places to find beautiful things. I would recommend Grand Bazaar for jewelery and textiles. There are several great concept stores called Midnight Express, Sanayi313, Atelier 55, Fey, Shopigo where you can find local designers as well as international brands.
What kinds of crafts and objects from Turkey are worth buying from there?
Textiles, carpets, handmade ceramic handcrafts and definitely jewelery.
What are your favourite neighbourhoods in Istanbul?
Beyoğlu (Asmalı Mescit & Pera), Çukurcuma & Galatasaray & Cihangir , Bebek
Can you tell us what to do in your favourite neighbourhoods?
Beyoğlu (Asmali Mescit & Pera
This area was once the heart of Istanbul and it has been going under change for the past 10 years. Many historic buildings on the Istiklal Street has been renovated and turned into art galleries. I have always dreamed of working in the old part of Istanbul and that’s why both my showroom and my first boutique is located in this part of the town.
Located in the heart of Istanbul, Soho House boasts an impressive interior covered with greek mythology wall paintings. At the rooftop bar, a breathtaking view awaits. Customers will be able to get a view of the Golden Horn, a body of water which separates the Northern and Southern parts of the European Istanbul.
Behind its small bakery facade, Gram whips up local dishes made out of fresh ingredients - perfect to start out your day with!
If you're wandering down the streets of Nisantasi, you might want to check out Delicatessen. Don't forget your olive oil dip when you're savouring the dishes!
If you want to sample various Turkish cuisine without having to order a main dish, try the meze in Yeni Lokanta. Many tourists claim that the food served in Yeni Lokanta typically comprises of traditional Turkish cuisine with a modern twist to it.
Baylo not only offers drinks at a reasonable price, it also has lounge music and a warm and cosy ambiance - perfect for drinking or having a romantic night out.
Çukurcuma & Galatasaray & Cihangir
This neighbourhood has many hidden gems and I love to explore the area. It is a very hip place to hang out more like the Lower East or the Greenwich of New York.
There are many antique shops as well as unique designer shops in this area. I would highly recommend exploring the streets of Çukurcuma. My favorite store is ‘A la Turca’.
Besides good music, Café Smyrna (Emniyetevleri Mh., Akarsu Cd No:29, Kağıthane, Turkey) offers delectable food and drinks for the hungry souls. Located near Taksim, this café is perfect for people who want to chill and catch up with their friends.
49 Çukurcuma, a pizzeria and breakfast place offers pizzas in a variety of different flavours for one to choose from.
Those who are interested in trying out vegetarian Turkish cuisine, should pay no:19 Yemek Evi a visit. This buffet-style restaurant is always bustling with customers.
Dinner & Drinks
Located near Istiklal, Münferit is the perfect restaurant to sample Turkish cuisine in small amounts. Although it is a little bit pricier for the budget travellers, there are many others who have claimed that it is a place which one must try!
This neighbourhood is located by the Bosphorus and it is very lively during the weekends because there are many cafes to hang out.
Do find some time to take a walk at the seaside with the Bosphorus view.
Hang out and Drink
Café by day and bar by night, Lucca is opened from 10am all the way until 2am, making it an ideal place for people to hang out. Touted as the "super-hip Istanbul restaurant" by Conde Nast Traveller in 2009, this is one of the places you might want to check out.
If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to head to Pastel. They offer a variety of desserts ranging from scones to cakes.
Located off the beaten track, Mangerie is a restaurant which is frequented not only by the tourists but the locals as well. Head over to Mangerie to have lunch with a view overlooking the Bosphorous.
Despite the cost of the food Bebek Balıkçısı offers, the view from the terrace overlooking the Bosphorous and the fresh seafood served by the restaurant more than makes up for it. If you love seafood, you should definitely check this place out.
Stylish apartments in Istanbul
This stylish Taksim apartment is a perfect combination of contemporary and vintage design.
Going to Istanbul? Check out more vacation rentals in Istanbul on Roomorama.