Istanbul is a frenetic city with a wealth of culture, history and nightlife. Split in two by the Bosphorous Strait, it is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, Europe and Asia, and thus has two contrasting atmospheres. These itineraries are designed to give you a flavour of the city as a whole. All the sights are crossreferenced to the rest of the guide, so you can look up more information and tailor the day to suit your needs. Price guides include meals, transport and admission fees.

•Refresh your senses in the Spice Bazaar
•Shop for antiques in Çukurcuma
•Haggle in the Grand Bazaar
•Enjoy the buzz on Nevizade Sokak
TWO ADULTS allow US$105
TheSpice Bazaar is a riot of colour, stalls and smells, where you can buy any number of exotic foodstuffs, including handmadeTurkish delight and creamy goats’ cheese. From here, head up to the bustling Grand Bazaar, a labyrinthine Ottoman shopping complex housing thousands of leather, rug, ceramics and jewellery shops. Prices are inflated and price tags often absent altogether so remember to bargain. All this shopping is bound to whet your appetite, so head for the waterfront district of Kumpkapı, where you will find more than 50 fish restaurants vying for your attention. Again, many outlets do not display prices, so ask before you order.
Afternoon Revived and restored, take a taxi to the GalataBridge and stroll over to trendy Tünel and Beyoğlu, soaking up the view as you go. Take time to browse around the cosy cafés and bars in Tünel, before making your way up İstiklâl Cadessi to shop for clothes, shoes, books and music. Further up, the district of Çukurcuma is a hunting ground for antique furniture and ornaments.
NevizadeSokak, just off İstiklâl Cadessi, is a narrow street lined with dozens of meyhanes. The area really comes alive at night, when hundreds of locals flock here and passers-by are serenaded by traditional musicians.

•See Istanbul in miniature
•A boat trip to Büyükada
•A horse-drawn carriage ride around Büyükada
Catch a bus fromTaksim Square to Miniatürk  located in Sütlüce on the northern shore of the GoldenHorn. The park displays miniatures of the city’s most famous sights, such as HaghiaSophia, as well as other treasures from around the country that reflect Turkey’s rich heritage. There is also a children’s park and a
museum showcasing photographs of Atatürk, the great Turkish leader of the early 20th century, and the wars in Gallipoli. When you get hungry, head to Miniatürk’s attractive café-restaurant that overlooks the Golden Horn.

Head back to Istanbul after lunch and hop on a boat bound for the island of Büyükada, one of the nine that make up the Princes’ Islands 99. It is a one-and-a-half hour trip from the docks at Eminönü, so there is plenty of time to admire the view as Istanbul recedes on the horizon. Once you have landed, stroll around the main square of Saat Meydani or take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the island. Climb the hill toSt George’s Monastery for panoramic views and a meal at the hilltop restaurant.

•Byzantine iconography at Haghia Sophia
•Glimpse the past at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
•An awe-inspiring visit to Topkapi Palace

Start at the Blue Mosque, perhaps Istanbul’s most elegant Islamic sight, famous for its slender minarets and blue Iznik tiles. Stroll through the welltended garden at the front before making your way to imposing Haghia Sophia, another of Istanbul’s most renowned mosques. Inside is a marvellous array of Byzantine
mosaics, friezes and Iznik blue tile decorations, as well as a huge domed ceiling. Then head to the nearby
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, which has a wonderful collection of glass and metalwork, carpets and manuscripts from down the centuries, as well as modern art from Turkey and overseas. Head toYesil Ev YY for lunch, a lovely Ottoman style restaurant between the museum and Topkapı Palace, serving traditional fare.

You will need at least three YY hours to appreciate Topkapi Palace, a sprawling complex of courtyards, gardens, fountains, a harem and a collection of priceless antiques. Then, at the end of a long day, indulge
in that most Turkish of pleasures, a visit to a Turkish bath. Çemberlitas Baths (see p81)in Sultanahmet
is one of the finest.

•A boat up the Bosphorus
•Enjoy views at Fortress of Europe
•Stroll through the pretty village of Bebek

Catch a bus from Taksim Square or Eminönü bus terminus heading for Sarıyer or Emirgan and get off at
Arnavutköy on the Bosphorous. There are some lovingly restored Ottoman houses and mansions to admire here, most of them painted in pastel shades and trimmed with intricate wooden fretwork. Cafés line the back streets, so sit and linger over a coffee and a pastry. From Arnavutköy, continue walking northwards, past the fishing boats and pleasure cruisers bobbing on the water, until you reach Bebek, one of Istanbul’s most affluent villages. There are more than enough chic clothes and antiques shops here to tempt visitors to part with their cash and work up an appetite for lunch. Dine in style at thePoseidon. Here you can sip an aperitif and enjoy the splendid view before savouring the menu of fresh fish.

Delve into history at the imposingFortress of Europe, built in the 15th century as part of the Muslim conquest of Constantinople. There is also a fantastic view of the Bosphorus from here. Afterwards, walk around the delightful 19th-century pavilions of nearby Emirgan Park with its hundreds of pine, fir and cypress trees and an ornamental lake.

O nce the capital of the Ottoman Empire,Edirne sits strategically a few miles from the Greek and Bulgarian borders. Today, it’s best known for Mimar Sinan’s Selimiye Mosque and the Kirkpinar oil wrestling festival. This is one of my favorite Turkish cities; smaller and more relaxed than Istanbul, with most places of interest clustered around the centre. Although boasting a host of museums and
mosques, after the plethora in Istanbul I’ve selected my favorite ones—plus some unusual spots. START: Hürriyet Meydani.

1- Maarif Caddesi.

A main street running south from Hurriyet Meydani, this has a charming collection of traditional Türkevi, Turkish wooden houses, for which the city is renowned. Head further down to Kirkpinar Evon the right, a restored house-museum exhibiting the history of Edirne’s traditional oil wrestling (see Slippery Sport, below). Opening hours are erratic, hich is a shame, as there are some
lovely exhibits of this important traditional sporting event, held just outside the city center. If closed, at least the gardens give you a taster, with noble statues of past başpehlivans (head wrestlers) and aga(wealthy benefactors) of this ancient sport.
2- Grand Synagogue.

At the bottom of Maarif Caddesi are the remains of the synagogue, which suffered further disrepair when the domed ceiling collapsed. (I heard recently that there are plans to restore it.) During Edirne’s huge fire in 1905, 13 synagogues were destroyed and replaced by this one, but no Jewish community exists today. It’s possible to peek through the gates at what remains of the interior, although if you turn the corner at the bottom of the street, you can see the main gate to visualize
its former glory. @10 min. Southern end of Maarif Caddesi.
3- Meriç Köprüsü (bridge).
From the synagogue, it’s approximately a 15-minute walk down Karaagaç Yolu to the picturesque
bridge over the Maritza River. Completed in 1847, the 263-metre-long stone bridge with 12 pointed arches also has drainage ports in the pedestals to prevent flooding, which destroyed the previous wooden bridge. Pop into the tiny marble lodge around halfway along, with decorative landscape scenes painted on the ceiling. If you don’t want to walk back the same way, pick up a minibus near Protokol Evi after your coffee break—it’s about a 20-minute walk to Makedonya Kulesi.

4- Protokol Evi.

The café by the bridge is in a newly restored house owned by the local council. Take a table at the terrace’s edge for a peaceful and perfect view of the river, perfect for coffee and breakfast, or soup and salads. Kopru Basi, Lozan Caddesi. 0284 2233 282. $.

5- Makedonya Kulesi.

Also known as the Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower), one of Edirne’s landmarks, built in 1894, is on an archaeological site excavated in 2003. You’ll probably be the only one exploring this site, small
enough to walk in comfort. The main external wall dates back to Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman
times, containing the remains of a tenth-century Byzantine church and fresco, plus late-Roman pottery ovens. (Hopefully one of the official guides will be present to point these out.) For me the highlights, albeit grizzly, are the fragments of Ottoman human bones—includingparts of a skull—embedded in the south wall, mainly covered by foliage, which marks the cemetery. The Roman wall used no cement and still has the rivets marking where iron bars were used to connect it. A fantastic discovery. 45 min. Mumcular Sokak. Daily 8.30am–8pm; free.

6- Eski Camii (Old Mosque).

With room for 3,000 worshippers, Edirne’s oldest Ottoman monument completed in 1414 under Mehmet I has striking interior dominated by the huge Arabic inscriptions of ‘Allah’ and ‘Mohammed’ on the walls. (Climb up to the balcony for the best view.) Built in a perfect square, each of the nine domes—in the style of the famous Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque) in the city of Bursa—is 13m in diame-
ter. Look out for the small piece of stone from Mecca encased in glass, on the wall near the minbar (pulpit), and the marble gate on your way out. To the left of the mosque, near the cafés, is a statueof pehlivans (wrestlers) an Edirne emblem. 30 min. Corner of Talatpasa Asfalti & Londra Asfalti. Open daily from dawn till nightfall.
7- Selimiye Arasta.

Like many shopping areas built around a mosque, this covered market was commissioned to bring in revenue for Selimiye Camii. These days it’s not so much the produce (think baskets of fruit-shaped soap and fridge magnets) but the layout, with 73 arches, which take you back centuries. When you see piles of cheap shoes, remember that part of this market was the ‘ready-made ShoeMakers’ Bazaar’, as recorded by Evliya Çelebi (1611–1682), the famous Ottoman writer and traveler. In those days (perhaps before fridge magnets?) stall holders swore an oath under the prayer dome of the mosque that their transactions would be honest. I hope they’re as honest today. Selimiye Camii complex. Daily 9am–nightfall; free.
8- Selimiye Vakif Müzesi (Selimiye Foundation Museum).

Opened in 2007, this was a lovely surprise on my last trip. The museum occupies the old medrese (school) adjacent to Selimiye Camii (mosque) built around a square garden and using individual classrooms for different themes. Most displays specialize in Ottoman crafts such as calligraphic arts and ornate brass candlesticks, and explain the importance of metallurgy in Turkish art. If you’re a fan
of inlaid wood, you’ll love the 18th century wooden Koran stands and tables inlaid with mother-of-pearl. If you walk around the museum anticlockwise, you end up at the Koran room, with realistic life-size models of a Koran class and ornate 15th century wooden doors from Beyazit Camii (see Ch 3, p 84). Relax with tea in the central garden.  1 hr. Selimiye Kulliyesi, Sarul Kurra Medressi. 0284 212 1133. Admission free. Open daily 8.30am–5.30pm.
9- Selimiye Camii (mosque).

Why not save the best till last? Wonder-architect Mimar Sinan did, completing the mosque aged 80 in 1575 and, in his own opinion, his finest creation, and symbolic of the Ottoman state. If entering through the main entrance, you’ll pass the huge statue of the architect, indicating the reverence
held for him in the city. The four pencil-slim minarets are dazzling, even more so when lit up, each 71m high with three ornate balconies. In the middle of the spacious courtyard the 16-sided şadirvan (ablutions fountain, where men wash hands, face and feet before praying), gets busy at prayer time. Once inside, my eyes are always drawn to the 40m high dome, the most impressive I’ve ever seen, with intricate painting making me wish I could climb higher to see it close up. Take a close look
at the ornately carved marble minbar (pulpit) with tiled top, plus the use of gold, exquisite Iznik tiles and mother-of-pearl throughout. 1 hr. Mimar Sinan Caddesi. Admission free. Open daily sunrisenightfall; no entry at prayer time.

10- Reis.

This new fish restaurant prepares simple fried fish with piles of salad in a spacious dining area, popular for lunch. It’s a lovely place to dine before returning to Istanbul. Mithatpaşa Mahallesi,
Maarif Caddesi. 0284 212 0550.

Practical Matters
Fast, comfortable coaches run from Istanbul’s otogar (bus station) to Edirne, the 250km (155 miles) taking 2.5 hours. Allow extra time for the servis, the free shuttle minibus service that collects passengers from various points in the city and takes them to the bus station; the ticket office will inform you where and when. Taksim, Beşiktaş and Aksaray have offices; buy your outbound ticket
a day in advance to get a good seat. On reaching Edirne otogar, ask for a dolmuş (minibus) to Hurriyet Meydani or Selimiye Camii. A good option for a full-day trip would depart Istanbul on the 7am Ulusoy service, returning on Volkanat 9.30pm or later. Buy your return ticket when arriving at Edirne otogar unless it’s high season. Edirne Tourist Office, 17 Hürriyet Meydani (0284 213 9208) has helpful staff, maps, and leaflets. As with all mosques, visitors should cover arms and legs; women must also cover their hair.

Slippery Sport
If you wondered what’s with the statues of burly wrestlers, it’s because Edirne hosts Turkey’s annual Kirkpinar oil wrestling competition (late June-early July). With roots dating from the 14th century
when Ottoman troops returned from conquest, modern-day wrestlers (pehlivans) compete in heavy leather breeches, their bodies doused in olive oil. The three-day tournament takes place a few miles outside the center at Kaleiçi, complete with traditional music, excitable crowds, and a spirit of genuine humility, tradition, and ceremony. The winner of each level (determined by weight) wins cash prizes, with the heavyweight (baspehlivan) also winning a gold belt. Kirkpinar Festival is popular so if you’re staying overnight, book your hotel weeks ahead, and bus tickets in good time.

This group of islands off Istanbul’s southeast coast has enjoyed a colorful history: Summer houses for Istanbul’s elite, haven for Jewish, Greek, and Armenian minorities and exile for ‘White Russians’ in the 1940s. These days, locals flock here in summer for day trips of cycling, swimming, and car-free exploring—a blissful novelty after congested Istanbul. It’s impossible to cover all nine islands in a day, so here’s an energetic day divided between the two largest, Heybeliada and Büyükada. On each, you can walk, cycle, or hire a phaeton (horse and trap), depending on mood and energy levels. Stick to weekdays if you want to avoid the crowds. START: Heybeliada ferry pier.

1- Deniz Lisesi (Naval High School).

You’d be hard pushed to miss the huge waterfront naval school as you leave the ferry pier on Heybeliada (literally ‘Saddlebag Island’ due to its shape). Originally the Naval War Academy set up in
1852, it’s been a high school since 1985, and the white façade makes a striking sight. It is closed to the pub- lic and uniformed cadets on patrol will prevent you taking photographs close up. Heybeliada Iskele.
2- Hagios Nikolaos Church.
Dominating the village’s main square, the church was dedicated to St Nikolaos, the patron saint of
mariners, and celebrated 150 years in 2007. Like most Greek orthodox churches it’s unlikely to be open outside Sunday services, which are attended by around 30 locals, although it’s worth a try. Inside, it’s adorned with gold, chandeliers and frescoes, with the tomb of Patriarch Samuel I behind the altar. Opposite the church on the square are several bicycle hireshops, and also cafés. If you choose to continue your journey in the relative decadence of a phaeton, head back to the ferry
pier for the rank. Belediye Meydani, Ayyildiz Caddesi. Service: Sun 9–11am.
3- Ismet Inönü Evi.

A 15 minute walk along Refah Şehitler Caddesi brings you to a wooden mansion, and an historical one to boot. Now a house museum, this was part-time residence of Ismet Inönü, president of the new Republic of Turkey for 12 years from 1938. He originally rented the house with his family during a bout of poor health in 1924, but bought it in 1934 (with furniture given by Atatürk) and he lived here until his death in 1973. The house is perfectly preserved, from his book-filled office—with the original ink-well on the desk—to his daughter’s cartoon stickers on her wardrobe. I love the photographsn the walls; not just the formal portraits but holiday snaps of the family in bathing suits enjoying Heybeliada’s beaches. .45 min. Şehitler Caddesi. 0216 351 8449. Admission free. Closed Nov–Mar;
open Tues–Sun 9am–5pm.
4- Cam Limani (Cam Bay).
Depending on how far you want to walk, cycle, or ride, continue along Refah Şehitleri Caddesi, following it around until you descend to the small bay of Çam Limani, a beautiful walk with woods, fields and the odd glimpse of the sea, taking almost an hour. If in doubt, follow the road which the horse and carriages take. Although not picturesque golden sands, the bay is a good spot to rest
on sun loungers or swim off the wooden pier. From here, go back along Gemici Kaynagi Sokakuntil
you pass Deniz Lisesi1on your right, and the ferry pier, from where you sail to Büyükada.
5- Büyükada Iskele (Büyükada Quay).

After a 15 minute journey, ferries arrive at Büyükada’s(Big Island) striking quay. Hang back to admire the tiling on the upper front façade of the terminal. Built in 1914, this replaced the wooden quay built in 1899, and was used as the island’s first movie hall between 1950-51. Its octagonal hall still stands, from where you can try to get a map of the island from the (rarely open) tourist office.
6- Bicycle hire.

If you prefer to explore the island on two wheels, head to the small collection of bicycle hire shops on Çinar Caddesi,with kids’ bikes and tandems also available. Marmara Bisiklet, 10 Çinar Caddesi. 0216 382 5896. Approx 2 TL/hr; 7 TL/day.
7- Çankaya Caddesi.

If walking up to Aya Yorgi (St George’s) Monastery, a long but rewarding hour’s walk, I recommend taking the longer but more picturesque route along Çankaya Caddesi. Lined with grandiose wooden mansions, its previous residents included Ottoman diplomats, painters, princes, and lawyers, and allegedly Leon Trotsky. My favorite is #44, an ageing white mansion, now headquarters of the Kaymakam(district governor). The façade needs sprucing up, but it’s a highlight of the street’s grandeur and, as a public building, you can approach the main entrance for a closer look.

8- Büyükada Kultur Evi.

With a 50-year-old phaeton in the garden, this mansion has been converted into a cultural center, housing exhibitions and summer concerts. Build up your strength with tea and snacks on the terrace for the big walk ahead. 21 Çankaya Cad. 0216 382 8620. $$.
9- Aya Yorgi Manastir (St George Monastery).

You may opt for a phaeton for this long uphill route, although the walk is fantastic. Steel yourself for the final, steepest mile on a rough cobbled track, or hire a donkey at the bottom (bargaining essential). On your way up you’ll pass bushes on the left with strips of fabric attached, each representing a prayer, usually from women wishing for a child. The bell tower is your first glimpse, before you pass through the tiny courtyard (where women should don headcovering and cover legs). The wishes theme continues inside the sixth-century monastery’s silent, remote interior. On the right, you’ll see a large glass container into which people place their written prayers. If you’re surprised to see so many locals making wishes, bear in mind that people of all religions believed (and still do) that the highly revered St George performed miracles. Thousands of worshippers make the trip for the auspicious days of 23 April and 24 September, when all wishes are thought to come true. It’s your decision if youwant to brave the crowds totryit out! 1 hr. Yüce Tepe. Admission free. Open daily 9.30am-6pm.

10- Yücetepe Kir Gazinosu.
This simple restaurant adjacent to the monastery is perfect for its hilltop terrace with panoramas of other Prince’s Islands. Good-value mezes, kebabs, fried eggplant with yoghurt, and beers make this a fantastic refueling spot.Yüce Tepe. 0216 382 1333. $$.

Practical Matters
Ferries and sea-buses leave from Kabataş (see p 163), with more leaving during the summer (16 June–16 September). Fast ferries take around 35 mins to reach Heybeliada, then a further 15 minutes to Büyükada. Check at the ferry pier for times (0216 444 4436; Slow ferries take about 90 mins from Kabataş to Büyükada. Each ferry has seats on the small deck at front and back,
or along the sides of the boat, and simple refreshments are served on board. Buy a jeton (token) before boarding, or use your akbil (see Getting Aroundp 164); single journeys cost about 1.50–2.50 TL.

Ansen 130 TEPEBAŞI
Built in a century-old building in a great neighborhood, chic Zen rooms with kitchenette, sofa and writing desk make Ansen great value. Rooms are spacious, each with huge plasma TV, Wi-Fi, and power shower, all in contemporary, minimalist style. A good central choice for business travelers. Breakfast is not available, but plenty of cafes nearby. 70 Meşrutiyet Cad. 0212 245 8808. 10 units. Doubles 200–500 exc b/fast. AE, MC, V. All buses from Taksim.

Far from sightseeing and nightlife, this is one for asecluded romantic break. Perched on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, all rooms have stunning sea views (some with private balcony) and an uncluttered feel with wooden floors, white furnishings and contemporary art. The terrace is, of course, to die for; good modern European dining. Ahmet Rasim Pasha Mansion, 27 Çubuklu Cad. 0216 413 9300. 16 units. Doubles 280–700. AE, MC, V. Tram: Beyazit.
Ayasofya Konaklari SULTANAHMET

Looking decades old, these nine wooden houses are a recent clever rebuilding project. The cobbled pedestrian street (see p 73) behind Haghia Sophia houses 64 rooms with tasteful Ottoman-style décor, including small Turkish bath in the Pasha Suite. Most rooms are without TV. The street-side rooms have lovely views, and breakfast is served on one of three terraces.
Sogukçeşme Sokagi. 0212 513 3660. 64 units. Doubles 150–200. MC, V. Tram: Sultanahmet.
Büyük Londra Otel TEPEBAŞI
The bar and entrance ooze faded decadence, especially the chandeliers and Ottoman nick-nacks. Guest rooms aren’t as glamorous—ensure you get a renovated room—but they are ideal for Beyoglu’s nightlife and shopping. Over 100 years old, its kudos heightened when featured in two recent Turkish films. Meşrutiyet Cad. 0212 245 0670. 54 units. Doubles �50–150. AE, MC, V. Bus: Tepebaşi.

Çiragan Palace Kempinski

Splash out in this former Ottoman palace—worth paying extra for a Bosphorus-view suite in the old
wing Top notch (and top dollar), outstanding features include the outdoor ‘infinity’ pool, heated in winter, and the excellent Tugra restaurant. Lottery winners could try the lavish multi-roomed Grand Sultan Suite (35,000). 32 Çiragan Cad. 0212 326 4646. 314 units. Doubles from 360. AE, DC, MC, V. Bus: Beşiktaş to Ortaköy.
Dersaadet SULTANAHMET This family-run restored Ottoman house in a quiet street has well-kept rooms and great service. Some have bathtub and Bosphorus views, all have flat-screen TVs and wooden floors; the penthouse suite boasts 180°views and Jacuzzi. Breakfast is served on the flowerfilled roof terrace.5 Kapiagasi Sok, off Kucukayasofya Cad. 0212 458 0760. 17 units. Doubles 115–190. AE, MC, V. Tram: Sultanahment.
Eklektik Guest House GALATA

Hidden away down a Galata backstreet, this charming gayfriendly guesthouse has seven rooms in a converted Ottoman house, each with unique style. Choose from contemporary clean lines in the Black
Room, marble shower in the Sultan’s Room, or circular bed in the Red Room—pure camp. Guests enjoy breakfast around a communal table. Kadribey Çikmasi, off Serdar-I Ekrem Cad. 0212 243 7446. Doubles 95–115. AE, MC, V. Tunnel: Tünel.

Stylishly converted from three adjacent townhouses, the hotel has a vast selection of rooms and prices, from standard double to duplex with two bedrooms and kitchen. Cleverly using the original wood and stone, history is retained but all mod cons are included. The tiny garden is a peaceful hideaway for breakfast or evening drinks next to an old hamam. Akbiyik Cad. 0212 518 2504. 25 units. Doubles 110–150 AE, MC, V. Tram: Sultanahmet.

Erboy Hotel SIRKECI

Great value and hospitality at this centrally located three-star hotel. Simple, bright rooms have TV and AC, with a large lobby and free Wi-Fi in the communal areas, plus a meeting room. Wonderful Bosphorus views from the roof terrace. 32 Ebussuud Cad. 0212 513 3750. 85 units. Doubles �64. AE, MC, V. Tram: Sirkeci.
Four Seasons Hotel SULTANAHMET

An Istanbul longstanding favorite this is Sultanahmet’s most luxurious hotel, with worldclass service. Converted from the neoclassic Sultanahmet Prison in 1986 with distinctive ochre watchtower (and prisoners’ graffiti in the basement), its high-ceilinged rooms are spacious and luxurious; home to
Seasons restaurant (see p 114). Tevkifhane Sok. 0212 638 8200. 65
units. Doubles 350–500. AE, DC, MC, V. Tram: Sultanahmet.
Four Seasons Hotel – Istanbul at the Bosphorus BEŞIKTAŞ

Making a big impact since opening in May 2008, Istanbul’s second Four Seasons is in a refurbished 19th-century Ottoman palace with a contemporary feel. Mahogany furnishings and hand-painted motifs on the ceilings, modern facilities include huge plasma TVs, DVD players, luxury spa—including indoor and outdoor pools—business center and restaurants. Çiragan Cad. 0212 381 4000. 166 units. Doubles 350–500. AE, DC, MC, V. Bus: Beşiktaş.
Galata Residence GALATA

Refurbished from the Camondo family house (see p 37), these apartments are good value, even the small ones with simple kitchens. Large apartments have two bedrooms plus living room, a good option for families, although it’s off a steep road. Most of the original wooden furnishings remain, with TV and in-room internet enhancing the comfort. Watch out for pricey items in the refrigerators! 2 Felek Sok, off Midilli Sok. 0212 292 4841. www. 21 units. Doubles 75–120. AE, MC, V. Tunnel: Tünel.

A friendly little guesthouse in a quiet street, no-frills rooms mean dark, wooden floorboards with simple furniture, with fantastic terrace views of the Marmara Sea for your buffet breakfast. For a little extra, some large rooms have a sea view. Free Wi-Fi throughout, but no TV in rooms. (20% discount for online booking.) 3 Adliye Sok, off Akbiyik Cad. 0212 516 4869. 10 units. Doubles �60–80. AE, MC, V. Tram: Sultanahmet.
Hotel Daphnis FENER

The four adjoining traditional wooden houses, painstakingly restored by its new owner in 1999, have dark-wood floors, plain furnishings and original pale-blue frescos. Some rooms have quaint balconies, although bathrooms are tiny. Fener’s only hotel gets you away from the crowds. 26 Sadrazam Ali Paşa Cad. 0212 531 4858. units. Doubles 90–120. AE, MC, V. Bus or boat: Fener.
Hotel Niles BEYAZIT
Tucked away near the Grand Bazaar (see p 96), this gem of a hotel has small and simple rooms and remarkably helpful staff. Great value, especially with the buffet breakfast on the roof terrace, and there’s also a 24-hour café-bar. The spacious and brand-new suites are ideal for families. Dibekli Cami Sok, off Ordu Cad. 0212 517 3239. 29 units. Doubles 70–80. AE, MC, V. Tram: Beyazit.
Hotel Sapphire (Safir) SIRKECI

Fantastic value in a convenient part of town, away from Sultanahmet’s carpet shops but near enough the sights. Simple, light rooms have ornate touches, with flatscreen TV, minibar and small baths.
There are also family-friendly large triple rooms, a large ornate lobby, friendly and efficient staff, and free airport transfer with a two-night minimum stay. Ibnikemal Cad. 0212 520 5686. 55 units. Doubles �80. MC, V. Tram: Sirkeci.
Hotel Troya TEPEBAŞI

Basic yet good value rooms with en suites at this handy location, close to Istiklal Caddesi but relatively quiet. Rooms and reception have had a recent makeover, so it’s in good—albeit plain—condition. 45 Meşrutiyet Cad. y0212 251 8206. 84 units. Double 50–65. AE,
MC, V. Bus: Tepebaşi.
Lush Hip Hotel CIHANGIR
Opened in 2006, the chic décor in this converted apartment block puts it firmly in the HIP hotel category. Close to Taksim Square (rooms overlooking the street are noisy), rooms come in varying sizes and are uncluttered and light, with natural tones and prints of Beyoglu scenes adorning the walls. Bathrooms have powerful showers. Breakfast is in the elegant 24-hour brasserie, with Wi-Fi throughout and a new spa. 12 Siraselviler Cad. 0212 243 9595. 35 units.
Doubles 130–350. AE, MC, V. Bus: Taksim.
Mavi Ev (Blue House) SULTANAHMET

This restored Ottoman house opposite the Blue Mosque (see p 15; bring earplugs for the dawn call to prayer) is charming, with small, plain rooms and tiny bathrooms, with traditional touches such as brass double beds and wooden floorboards. Ask for a room with views, at no extra cost. 14 Dalbasti Sok. 0212 638 9010. 27 units. Doubles 160–220. AE, MC, V. Tram: Sultanahment.
Mövenpick LEVENT

A good chain choice for business guests in the banking district. Contemporary rooms have extra-large desks, Wi-Fi and the Skyline Club Lounge for all executive-floor guests. The hotel also houses business and banqueting rooms, sauna, pool, and the wonderful AzzuR restaurant. 4 Buyükdere Cad. 0212 319 2929. 249 units. Doubles �190–350 (excluding breakfast). AE, DC, MC, V. Metro: 4. Levent.

Converted from an old townhouse on a traffic-free street, basic rooms have all the basics with Wi-Fi
and AC, but no TV. Standard rooms are small, with two interconnecting rooms suitable for families and a good-value larger double. Friendly staff, with a superb buffet breakfast on the terrace, including homemade yoghurt and cake. Adliye Sok, Akbiyik Cad. 0212 458 6850. 12 units. Doubles �40–55. MC, V. Tram: Sultanahmet.
Pera Tulip Hotel TEPEBAŞI

Opened in May 2008, this compact friendly hotel enjoys a great Beyoglu location. Contemporary rooms have lovely touches like bold patterned cushions and strong colors. With a small business center, meeting rooms, hamamand indoor pool, all rooms have Wi-Fi, kettle (very important!) and minibar, offering great value. Larger executive rooms are worth the extra. 103 Meşrutiyet Cad. 0212 243 8500. 84 units. Doubles 100–200. AE, DC, MC, V. Bus: All buses from Taksim.
The Ortaköy waterfront location is a real highlight, best enjoyed over breakfast on the terrace. Add good business facilities, meeting rooms, and Wi-Fi throughout, plus some rooms have a Bosphorus view. At weekends, ask for a room away from the nearby nightclub if you want to sleep. Mornings and weekends see traffic congestion. 46 Çiragan Cad. 0212 310 1500. 120 units. Doubles 180–360 including breakfast. AE, MC, V. Bus/boat: Ortaköy.

As guesthouses in this area go, it’s at the pricey end, but the dark wood, white walled rooms with a
tiny garden are worth the extra, perfect for a romantic trip. Breakfast is served on the flower-filled terrace. Free Wi-Fi (although no TV) and use of laptops, and obliging staff. Adliye Sok, off Akbiyik Cad. 0212 517 6623. 15 units. Doubles: �90–100. AE, MC, V. Tram: Sultanahmet.
Sirkeci Konak Hotel SIRKECI

This luxury boutique hotel has been popular since opening in 2007, with fantastic guest relations
staff. Tastefully furnished rooms have dark-wood floors, writing desk, and flat-screen TV, some with balcony, with private Jacuzzi in the triple deluxe suite. Additional touches include free afternoon tea
in the bar, plus Turkish cookery lessons. Guests have free use of small pool, hamamand the fitness center. 5 Taya Hatun Sok. 0212 528 4344. 52 units. Doubles 170–220. AE, MC, V. Tram: Sirkeci.
Suite Home Cihangir CIHANGIR

Tucked away in this residential neighborhood near Taksim, suites are in different styles and sizes, and all very contemporary. The big bonus is the huge sofas and kitchens; the larger suites have separate living rooms, while the penthouse suites offer balconies. Long-stay business travelers love
the small meeting rooms and spa. 12 Başkurt Sok. 0212 243 3101. 14 units.
Doubles 80–250. AE, MC, V. Metro/ bus: Taksim.
Suite Home Istiklal TAKSIM

Opened in 2008, this is prime location in the hub of Beyoglu. Great-value rooms in neutral colors
splashed with contemporary art have extras ranging from large living/dining areas and small kitchenette, to comfy sofas. All have large TV and Wi-Fi, desks and fridges, some with balconies. Ask for a back room if you don’t want street noise. Istiklal Cad. y0212 245 0772. 19 units. Doubles 100– 160. AE, MC, V. Bus/Metro: Taksim.

Sumahan on the Water ÇENGELOKÖY

A village on the Asian side of the Bosphorus is perfect for a romantic hideaway, in a boutique hotel renovated from an Ottoman distillery. Rooms are effortlessly elegant and minimalist in light woods, each with huge windows and unbeatable views. Split-level suites have their own terrace, many rooms
have Turkish baths. Kuleli Cad. 0216 422 8000. 18 units. Doubles 90–320. AE, MC, V. Boat/bus: Çengelköy.

Swissotel the Bosphorus MAÇKA

The gleaming—and huge—palatial entrance sets the tone of this Leading Hotels of the World member. Spread over two huge wings, most rooms have Bosphorus views and luxurious touches like chaise longue and huge writing desk. The huge Amrita Spa and Wellness Centre is a big attraction, Istanbul’s largest with 16 different treatment rooms, outdoor pool and sun terrace for a really decadent stay (see Restaurants p 110). Bayildim Cad. 0212 326 1100.
600 units. Doubles 250–500. AE, MC, DC, V. Metro or bus to Taksim, then taxi.


A cut above other hotels of similar price, this new hotel in a quiet side-street has large modern rooms, all with fridge, large sofa, and Jacuzzi. Grand suites (with fluffy bathrobes) have a sofa-bed and sleep three people. Flat-screen TV and large windows add to in-room comforts. Some higher floors have decent views; ask on booking. Doktor Eminpaşa Sok, Çatalçeşme Meydani. 0212 520 9130. 20 units. Doubles 05. AE, MC, V. Tram: Sultanahmet.
The Sofa Hotel NIŞANTAŞI
Nestled in fashion land, the Sofa deserves its HIP label. Spacious rooms and tasteful décor are the
epitome of contemporary chic, rooms come with DVD players and huge bathrooms with powerful
shower. The Omar Suite has indoor andoutdoor Jacuzzis. Huge meeting rooms, a wellness center, small pool, and fitness room caters for all needs—plus two contemporary art galleries and the Longtable restaurant-bar. 123 Teşvikiye Cad, 0212 368 1818. units. Doubles 200–800. AE, DC, MC, V. Minibus: Nişantaşi.
Triada Residence TAKSIM

Converted from a traditional Beyoglu apartment building, what it lacks in décor it compensates with
decent-sized bedrooms with small living rooms and kitchenette, with basic cooker and fridge. Close to shopping, restaurants and nightlife, this is great value for money. Meşelik Sok, off Istiklal Cad. 0212 251 0101. 11 units. Suites 70. AE, MC, V. Bus, or tram/funicular: Taksim.
Villa Zurich CIHANGIR

This friendly and popular hotel in an charming residential neighborhood has newly renovated rooms in tasteful pale blues and creams, many with bath and Jacuzzi, with Wi-Fi throughout. Front-facing rooms have small balconies. Doga Balik restaurant (see p 109) is on the roof terrace. 36 Akarsu Yokuşu Cad. 0212 293 0604. 41. units. Doubles 110–160. AE, MC, V. Bus/metro: Taksim.

Mirrored tables and silver drapes— and that’s just the welcome area. Opened in May 2008 and converted from Dolmabahçe Palace kitchens, this sexy hotel has a wide range of rooms with a contemporary twist on classic Ottoman style, such as Marmara marble sinks, 32 flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi, Ipod docking stations, and spa. Houses the fabulous Spice Market restaurant. Süleyman Seba Cad. y0212 381 2121. units. Doubles 280–600. AE, DC, MC, V. Bus:
Witt Istanbul Suites BEŞIKTAŞ

Opened in 2008, this exquisitely designed boutique hotel has modish suites with a real ‘luxury
apartment’ feel. Each 60m2suite, designed by hip architects Autobahn, has a kitchenette and huge
bathroom, with the Witt’s elegant floral motif on walls and furnishings. Sweeping views from the top-floor’s fitness studio deter any inclination to laziness. Defterdar Yokuşu. 0212 393 7900. 15 units. Doubles 170–200. AE, DC, MC, V. Bus: Beşiktaş.
Rebuilt from an existing Ottoman wooden house in 1977, this popular guesthouse has brass beds and
antique furniture, although recent price hikes have meant its value for money is debatable. The standard double room is tiny and bathroom minuscule. Still, its green wooden exterior and garden are charming, and service is good. Kabasakal Cad. 0212 517 6786. 19 units. Doubles 250–300. AE, MC, V. Tram: Sultanahmet.

Where to Stay?

Hotels cluster around Sultanahmet and Beyoglu,poles apart in ambience and amenities, so your choice depends on priorities. If you prefer views of the Blue Mosque, vicinity to historical monuments and Ottoman houses on cobbled streets, Sultanahmet is for you. Just bring earplugs for neighboring mosques’ dawn call-to-prayer, be prepared for carpet touts and never-ending souvenir shops. If good restaurants and bars are important, head to Beyoglu, where Istiklal Caddesi buzzes all night. It’s easier to travel to Sultanahmet during the day than to travel back there after a night out in Beyoglu.

How Much?
Prices listed are the rack rate for high season (roughly mid-March to late October), including breakfast and tax, often 10–20% less for winter months. Top hotels usually have good deals on their websites or through booking agencies, and can be quieter in August, with fewer business visitors. You can also try phoning the hotel directly to ask for any special rates, especially out of season. Hotels book up quickly and prices shoot up during !eker Bayram, the festival after Ramazan (see p 160) and major events—especially the Istanbul Grand Prix (see p 161).

Live Music Venues
Rock & Jazz
Babylon GALATA

One of the best music venues in the city, this started out more of a club but has found its niche as a great live music venue. Most of the acts are international, incorporating a range of music genres from nu-jazz to Latin to Balkan gypsy-techno fusion. Guest international DJs give the place a more clubby feel. 3 Şeybender Sok, off Asmalimescit. 0212 292 7368. Cover charge. Bus/metro Taksim.

Beyoglu Hayal Kahvesi BEYOGLU

A real local favorite, this venue has live bands most nights, usually Turkish rock and pop acts. The atmosphere is laid-back and grungy, rather than anything too flash, with the program posted outside. 11c Büyükparmikkapi Sok. 0212 244 2558. Metro/bus:

A relative newcomer to the music scene, this little club built in an old bakery hosts live bands, especially roots, progressive, and rock. Recent local and international sounds include Transglobal Underground, Talvin Singh, and the bluesy Nil Karaibrahimgil. A narrow balcony overlooks the stage and crowd. Look out for the monthly program in local book and music shops. 10 Kalyoncu Kulluk Cad. 0212 251 7501. Bus/metro: Taksim.
Istanbul Jazz Center ORTAKÖY

Live jazz nightly at a big classy club in Ortaköy, open during winter months only. Boasting an international line-up with stars from US, Europe and South America, theren is also a restaurant serving European food and pleasant courtyard. 10 Salhane Sok, off Ciragan Cad. 0212 327 from 40 TL. Bus/boat to Ortaköy.
Nardis Jazz Club GALATA
Live music from Turkish and international acts every night in this stonewalled cozy den draws in the jazz fans. The venue was created for local musicians and their friends by the husband-and-wife owners Önder (musician) and Zuhal Focan. Food and drink is pricey, but the small round tables and tiny balcony make it a friendly joint. 14 Galata Kulesi Sok. 0212 244 63 27. Most tickets from 25 TL. Bus/metro Taksim.

Dance, Music, and Theater
Akbank Sanat BEYOGLU
This privately sponsored cultural center has a small theater, cinema and even its own chamber orchestra (a good example of the benefits of banks sponsoring the arts). Hosting regular local dance groups, concerts, and films, and a prominent venue in the city’s arts festivals (see Savvy Travelerp 160), its monthly program is displayed in the window. 1 Zambak Sok, off Istiklal Cad. 0212 252
3500. No credit cards. www.akbank
Atatürk Kültür Merkezi TAKSIM

This Taksim Square landmark is a multi-purpose arts and cultural center, its main concert hall seating 1,300 plus a second concert hall, chamber theater, and cinema. Home of the state ballet, theater and opera companies, its events are posted outside near the box office, and tickets are cheap. Closed for refurbishment in 2008, it is due to reopen early 2009. Taksim Meydani. Box office 0212 251 1023. Tickets approx 10–25 TL. Metro/bus: Taksim.
Cemal Reşit Rey Konser Salonu HARBIYE

A large theatre that is home to its own symphony orchestra, with a regular and varied program including classical, jazz, and world music, plus occasional traveling ballet and modern dance companies. Closed during summer. Darülbedayi Cad, Harbiye.0212 232 9830.
Cemil Topuzlu Açikhava Tiyatrosu HARBIYE

This fantastic open-air theater is loved in summer, when it hosts performances as diverse as Balkan genius Goran Bregovic, best-known for his films scores, and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock or the St Petersburg Ballet. Most concerts are mid-July to early August. Harbiye. Box office 0212 296 2404. Metro: Osmanbey.
French Cultural Centre TAKSIM

Located inside the gorgeous grounds of the French consulate, this small theater is a venue for Istanbul’s theater and film festivals (see Savvy Travelerp 160). Look on the noticeboard outside for events. Istiklal Cad. 0212 393 8111. Bus/Metro: Taksim.
garajistanbul GALATASARAY
A new venue for contemporary performing arts, this space was created in the basement of a car park, not the likeliest venue for such a vibrant arts group. Launched by a group of local artists in early 2007, it has quickly made a name for itself, hosting performances from visiting avant garde dance and theater troupes, and producing works by in-house writers through their production company
GarajPro. 11A Kaymakam Reşat Bey Sok, off Yeni Çarşi Cad. 0212 244 4499. Tickets approx 10-20 TL. Metro/ bus: Taksim.

The famous Byzantine church in the grounds of Topkapi Palace (see p 14) is rarely open—in fact your only chance is for an orchestral concert during June’s Istanbul Music Festival. These will usually be the opening and closing nights, but take any opportunity to go, even just to appreciate the venue, which means booking well in advance. Topkapi Sarayi.

Whirling Dervish Ceremony

Galatasaray Mevlevihanesi were hosting twice-monthly sema ceremonies by the Dervishes, but since it was closed for refurbishment (due to open early 2009), the performances took place most nights at
Sirkeci station, on the railway platform. While this certainly makes semaaccessible to visitors, with many outlets selling tickets, the most authentic experience is at a dervish lodge. The staff at Les Arts Turcs, a cultural organization with tours, Catch the sema ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes. courses and information, organize low-key groups to visit the Museum for the Study and Preservation of Tasavvuf (sufi) Musicon Monday nights from 9pm to experience the very spiritual ceremony, with the white-robed dervishes spinning, slowly, to attain spiritual enlightenment. It is a somber ceremony, which can last for several hours. It’s advisable to go in a group, rather than alone, as this venue does not always welcome visitors. Dress respectfully (women should wear headscarves); no photographs allowed. Highly recommended. Les Arts Turcs, 3/F 37 Incili Çavuş Sok. 0212 527 6859. Tram: Sultanahmet.

Football Clubs
The most accessible ground, a 10minute downhill walk from Taksim Square, with a stunning view of the Bosphorus and Dolmabahçe Palace (see p 20) if the match gets too boring. Beşiktaş’s last league victory was 2003, but have yet to make inroads into European trophies. Youwill find a healthy number of women and families in the crowd. Inönü Stadium. 0212 310 1000.
Tickets from 30 TL. Bus/metro: Taksim. Then walk.
Fenerbahçe F.C. KADIKÖY
Over on the Asian side in the spectacular stadium, one of Europe’s finest, theCanaries are Turkey’s

most successful club, pipped to the post for the league in 2007–2008 by Galatasaray. Their kit shops are modestly called Feneriums. Şükrü Saraçoglu Stadium, Kiziltoprak. 0216 449 5667. Tickets from 35 TL. Ferry: Kadiköy, then walk.
Galatasaray F.C. MECIDEYKÖY
Turkey’s most famous (and arguably most supported) team, ‘Cim Bom’ have won the domestic league four times since 2000, plus the UEFA Cup in 2000 over Arsenal. The infamous Ali Sami Yen stadium (remember the banner ‘Welcome to the Hell?’) will soon be discarded for a muchneeded, larger new ground, from late 2009. Ali Sami Yen Stadium, Mecidiyekoy. 0212 273 2850. Tickets from 30 TL. Metro: Mecidiyeköy.
Motor Racing
Istanbul Park TUZLA

On the Formula 1 circuit since 2005, this new 5.3km race track has 14 bends (including the famous Turn Eight) and mammoth capacity of 130,000. Dates of the F1 are subject to change —in 2009 it will be in August. Bear inthe mind that all hotels bump their prices up over the Formula 1 weekend and are booked up months in advance. Göçbeyli Köyü Yolu, Istanbul Park Circuit, 0216 677 1010. Ticket hotline 0216 556 9800.
Istanbul Golf Club LEVENT
One of the oldest clubs in Europe, going strong for over a century, this is the closest golf club to the city, north of the centre. Non-members are welcome any time at the 11-hole course (book ahead), with driving range, putting and chipping greens, although it gets busy at weekends; booking recommended. Green fees 85 YTL Mon–Fri; 135 TL Sat and Sun; 45 TL club hire. Eski Oto Sanayi
Sitesi Karşisi, Harp Akademileri içi, Büyükdere Cad. 0212 324 0609. Metro: 4. Levent.

Kemer Golf & Country Club GÖKTÜRK

Further out of the city, about 16 km northeast, this upmarket club has an 18-hole course (par 73) and driving range, plus chipping and putting green. Green fees 150 TL Mon–Fri; 200 TL Sat and Sun;
52 TL club hire. KG&CC Kampusu. 0212 239 8720.
Bab Bowling Café BEYOGLU

Visitors of all ages love this six-lane 10-pin bowling alley complete with bar, snack food, glitter ball and disco music. Pool tables and football on the big screen make this a really sporty night out. 10am–
midnight. 24 Yeşilcam Sok. 0212 251 1595. Bus/metro: Taksim.

Veliefendi BAKIRKÖY
The historic racecourse, headquarters of the Turkish Jockey Club, started night races for the first time in August 2008, making for a buzzing atmosphere. Although Atatürk promoted this noble sport, most people are more interested in the betting than any particular equine affinity! The rules at betting counters are pretty easy to understand. Races run three times a week (usually Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday) but at time of writing days and times of their 2009 season were not con-
firmed. International jockeys and horses participate in the most lucrative race meeting of the year, the Topkapi Trophy in September. Şans (which means luck) Lokanta is a beer-and-chips type of place, with Byerley Türk a better restaurant with local food. Check their website or the Turkish Daily Newsfor race schedules. Entry 2-10 TL. Türkiye Jokey Kulübü, Veliefendi Hipodromu, Bakirkoy. 0212 444 0855. to Zeytinburnu, then minibus or taxi.

Istanbul 2010

Even as early as 2008, the city was breaking into cultural party moodas it prepares for Istanbul 2010 – European Capital of Culture, awarded to three European cities every year. Even its preparation and publicity work has been entertaining, with open-air concerts, street parties, and music and drama workshops—plus extensive restoration of mosques and monuments, and areas like Tarlibaşi (see
Modern Istanbul bullet 5) getting a facelift. Before your visit, check out for listings of all events throughout 2009–2010, and get ready for open-air opera, street-theater and
free concerts—plus a whole load of visitors.

What’s On?
Listings of theater, dance, movies, concerts and sporting events can be found in the monthly English edition of Time Out Istanbul ( The English daily newspaper Turkish
Daily Newsalso has basic listings. Buy advance tickets for concerts, plays or sports events at—also at the Biletixout- let at Istiklal Kitabevi, 55A Istiklal Cad. Their website has good day-to- day listings of what’s on. Most cultural festivals (see p 160) are organized by the excellent Istanbul Kültür Sanat Vakfi (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts); check for dates and listings. Look out for flyers appearing on the walls of Istiklal Caddesi
advertising concerts. The movie halls, especially around Istiklal Caddesi, often show recent Hollywood releases. Check they are subtitled into Turkish, rather than dubbed (‘Orijinal dilde mı?). Local Englishlanguage press will have the complete listings.
Football—a National Obsession
Between late August to early May, it’s hard to avoid the football (soccer) season, especially as Turkey’s top league, the Super Lig’s top three teams are from Istanbul; Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray.
If you’re a fan, I recommend going to a match—although given the intense passion and rivalry of supporters it’s best to avoid a local derby. If possible, experience the wonderful Inönü Stadium to see
[email protected]@—and I’m not even trying to disguise my allegiance here: They were my team of choice when living in Istanbul in 1998 and I cheered them on at home games. Many women and families attend matches, certainly more than in England, especially in my favorite Yeni Açik section of the stadium—which also has the best view of the Bosphorus and glimpses of Dolmabahçe Palace’s clock tower.


One of Istanbul’s first venues to capitalize on its view, [email protected] Kat (literally ‘5th floor’) has a small terrace for summer nights. For winter, think deep red walls, purple drapes, beaded curtains, and chandeliers in an arty, gay-friendly bar—a favorite among Istanbul’s literati, with actressowner Yasemin Alkaya watching over the fun. Open till 3am at weekends. 5/F 7 Soganci Sok. Metro/bus: Taksim.

In busy Nevizade, this bar crams tables onto the pavement terrace to watch the crowds. Upstairs, beer-drinking locals enjoy a studenty vibe, with a friendly atmosphere and decent snack menu. 22 Nevizade Sok, Balik Pazari. y0212 245 6718. Bus/metro:Taksim.
Badehane TÜNEL

In this corner bar in a bohemian Tünel alleyway, tables on the streets fill up on summer evenings with beer-drinking young locals. Inside, it’s a goodnatured squash in winter, especially for the live gypsy clarinet music every Thursday (10pm–1.30am). 5 General Yazgan Sok. 0212 249 0550. Tunnel: Tünel.
Gizli Bahçe BEYOGLU

Not the place for a quiet drink and chat after 9pm, when the jazz-funk cranks up to deafening pitch and cheerful 20-somethings enter the fun, especially at weekends. Homely rather than chic; come for an early evening beer before dinner on Nevizade Sokak, sinking into one of the mismatched armchairs on the open terrace or tiny balcony. 15 Nevizade Sok. 0212 249 2192. Bus/metro:
James Joyce BEYOGLU

If you’re dying to watch a Manchester United match on TV, eat a full Irish breakfast, drink Guinness, and surround yourself with ‘Oirish’ paraphernalia, join young expats and locals at Istanbul’s first Irish pub. The terrace fills up on summer nights; winters pack punters inside to hear live bands every night from 10pm. 26 Balo Sok, off Istiklal Cad. 0212 244 7970.
Metro/bus: Taksim.

In an ornate 19th century courtyard, K.V. (pronounced ‘keh-veh’) has outdoor tables amid plants and fairy lights for a touch of romance. When it gets chilly, step inside to the tiny high-ceilinged interior with huge chandeliers and pink neon lighting. Also a popular restaurant, it can be difficult getting a table at weekends, especially with live jazzon Fri and Sat nights. 10 Tünel Geçidi. 0212 251 4348. Tunnel: Tünel.

Pano Şeraphanesi

Also a lively restaurant, this traditional Greek wine house has good deals on bottles of its own wines (in a city with pricey alcohol). Perch at high tables on the first floor with a plate of cheeses or meats to accompany your drink, or sit outside in summer at pavement tables. 4 Kalyoncu Kulluk Cad.
0212 292 6664. Bus/metro to Taksim, then 10-min walk.

One of the few bars in the area, the main bar is at the end of a courtyard, getting lively in summer with a mix of tourists and locals. There are separate stone-walled partitions with rugs and stools off the courtyard. DJs play European hits every night, creating a real holiday mood. 11 Incili ÇavuşÇikmaz Sok. 0212 519 5807. Tram: Sultanahmet.
Sefahathane BEYOGLU
Tucked away down Atlas Pasaj by the cinema, this tiny bar has rock music, photos on the walls and a
laid-back boho atmosphere, refreshingly unpretentious. Come for beers, rather than anything too fancy. Atlas Pasaji, Istiklal Cad. 0212 251 2245. Bus/metro: Taksim.

In the grounds of this rebuilt Ottoman house (see p 148), the leafy garden is a peaceful escape from sightseeing and shopping. A perfect way to start your evening with a glass of wine, although not open late. 5 Kabasakal Cad. 0212 517 6785. Tram: Sultanahmet.

Café-Bars & Restaurant Bars


Inside Ada bookstore, this café now covers most of the first floor. Good for an early evening beer while listening to their excellent music from around the world, or a coffee while browsing through books. Open until about 10pm every evening.158A Istiklal Cad. 0212 251 6682. Bus/metro: Taksim.
Babylon Lounge TÜNEL
This cozy café-bar, little brother to the club Babylon, opened in November 2007, ideal as a pre-gig
venue or recovering from a hangover. Detox over fresh juices and comfort food—or maybe a cocktail
or beer to get the party started. Wooden floorboards, dim lighting, and minimalist décor are easy
on the eye. 4 Jurnal Sok, off Asmalilmescit. 0212 245 3800. Tram/
tunnel: Tünel.

Cadde-i Kebir

One of the cheapest café-bars in the area, this is an unpretentious place with a lovely outside area on the street, perfect for a beer and watching the Istiklal crowds go by. 7 Imam Adnan Sok. 0212 244 3372. Bus/metro:


This restaurant (see p 109) has a great location and is loved for its garden terrace in summer, with a plant-filled indoor bar and fashionable upstairs bar. This is a real hit with Istanbul’s thirty-something nightbirds, especially for its weekend DJ. 16 Hayriye Cad. 0212 245 Bus/metro: Taksim.

Dogatepe Café & Restaurant HISARÜSTÜ

Worth the 20min bus ride from Taksim on hot summer nights. Go for a terraceedge seat at the pricey bar for views over Rumeli Hisari (see p 45) and the huge Bosphorus bridge. Open daily till 2am. 4-6 Duatepe Parki, Nispetiye Cad. 0212 257 4391. Bus: 599C from Taksim.
Dersaadet KARAKÖY
Nothing overly stylish about this cheerful café-bar, located on Galata Fight for the best seats in the house at Leb-i Derya. bridge. This is the place to kick back with a tea, backgammon, beer, or nargile(waterpipe) watching boats cruise the Bosphorus, with music and live football on TV catering,
for all tastes. 20 Bogaz Tarafi, Alti Karaköy, Yeni Galata Koprüsü. 0212 292 7001. Tram: Karaköy.

Although also a restaurant and big brother to Leb-i Derya Richmond (see p 111), its tiny rooftop terrace in this unassuming neighborhood attracts young well-heeled professionals. Hang on to that stool if you find outdoor space or take in the lounge music, liqueur-laced tea, and carefully concocted cocktails. 7/F 57 Kumbaraci Yokuşu. 0212 293 4989. Bus/metro Taksim, then 10-min walk.


A new location for an old Cihangir favorite, this cafébar epitomizes Tünel’s emerging trendy side. Sink into comfortable armchairs overlooking the square for a cappuccino, or perch on a bar stool facing the huge mirror to see the reflection of beautiful people behind you. A meeting point of bohemians, fashion photographers, and expats. 186 Tünel Meydani. 0212 245 4028. Tunnel: Tünel.


Relaxed and crowded for weekend brunch, this mammoth café/bar is now as popular as its previous incarnation Leyla (see above). Think wooden floors, soft armchairs, and newspapers at weekends. 46 Akarsu Cad. 0212 244 5350. Bus/metro: Taksim.

Wooden floors, minimal décor, and creaky stairs to a gorgeous upper floor. The best seats are by the windows opening to the street. This popular café-bar is usually peaceful, a suitable refuge for lone women who don’t want to be disturbed. The daily menu is chalked up on the blackboard over the bar,
including breakfast and pastas. 4A Bekar Sok, off Istiklal Cad. 0212 252 7100. Metro/bus: Taksim.
The House Café ORTAKÖY
Also a restaurant (see p 111) the outdoor decking comes alive on summer evenings. The bar staff love
making fruity cocktails, or sip a cold beer while watching the lights on the bridge change color. If it’s too chilly, the wooden-floored plantfilled interior is inviting. 1 Salhane Sok. 0212 227 2699. www.the AE, MC, V. Bus/ boat: Ortaköy.

Clubs and DJ Bars

360Istanbul BEYOGLU

In newly trendy Misir Apartment (see p 3) this terrace bar-club-restaurant is a hit with fashionistas. Glass walls mean enjoying the views even when it’s too cold for the terrace, and at weekends excellent house DJs Sashah and Tekin light up the dance floor until the wee hours. Line your stomach with international cuisine before sampling top cocktails. 9/F 163 Istiklal Cad. 0212 251 1042. Bus/metro: Taksim.
Angelique ORTAKÖY

One of Istanbul’s best-loved summer clubs with a Bosphorus-facing terrace, slick bar and restaurant. Forget the weekends (members only); phone ahead for the guest-list on week nights, then dress to get past discerning doormen. A wealthy young crowd parties to Turkish and European pop. International cuisine, including sushi is on the club’s decent menu. Free entry. 5 Salhane Sok, Muallim Naci Cad. 0212 327 2844. Bus/boat: Ortakoy.

This micro- brewery has a bit of everything. With huge brewing paraphernalia inside, regulars eat or watch live football on TV from street-facing tables. Through the back is the club, with DJ nights
including techno, dance or house (cover charge varies) or live local bands. 22 Balo Sok, off Istiklal Cad. 0212 293 5690. Bus/metro: Taksim.

Dogzstar BEYOGLU

A friendly little club with a mixed crowd and three tiny floors that fill up by midnight (deserted before 11pm) at weekends. House DJs mix some of the edgiest sounds in town, from post-punk and drum-and-bass to electro-rock. From the glass-ceilinged top floor (hot but fully air-conditioned,
thankfully) pop downstairs to see a live band, usually something pretty unconventional. 3/F 22 Tosbaga Sok.y0212 244 1081. Closed Sun; no cover. Bus/metro: Taksim.

Electronic techno acts and DJs regularly perform in this club, loved for its great lighting, sound system and laser shows. Hard-core clubbers seek solace in the vast, dark space. Buy advance tickets for popular acts. 1-4 Arkasu Sok, off Istiklal Cad. 0212 244 8567. Cover. Closed June-Sep. Tunnel: Tünel.

The garden’s fantastic mural make this rock bar a major draw in summer. An Istanbul institution for rock fans, live bands play almost nightly, mainly well-loved UK covers. Otherwise, DJs spins crowpleasers ranging from loud to glam rock, to a cross-section of ages. Summer Sundays have afternoon barbecues. 33 Siraselviler Cad. 0212 293 6100. Cover charge Friand Sat 20 TL. Metro/bus: Taksim.


After pizza or pasta (see p 113) the party starts, White-sofa chic style at Supper Club. when this summer restaurant transforms into a casually fashionable club at weekends (mid May–mid Oct).
Enjoy Bosphorus views to house DJ sounds, even better after a few vodka hazelnut shots. 149/1 Mesrutiyet Cad. 0212 245 6070. Bus: Tepebaşi.

More than just a club; movie stars, A–Z-list celebs, and financial whiz kids flock to be seen at this vast entertainment complex. You might get in early in the week (after making reservations) for
drinks and music on the terrace bar. Black-suited doormen are notoriously choosy; remember that gaudy (rather than tasteful glamour) is good. During winter the terrace closes and action transfers to the indoor club, decked out in black. Steep cover charge and drinks. 44 Muallim Naci Cad. 0212
259 5919. For the bar only, 50 TL per person (inc one drink). Boat/bus: Ortaköy.

A busy club, this has live rock and pop bands nearly every night, attracting a casual bunch of twenty-somethings in its cavernous interior. Yan Gastro bar has snacks and even full meals, like helim(halloumi) skewers and seafood lasagna. 5 Aslanyatagi Sok, Siraselviler Cad. 0212 249 1283. Cover charge. Bus/metro: Taksim.
Supper Club ORTAKÖY

Latest in the Europe-wide chain, opened in May 2008, where trendy young locals lounge on white sofas and dine on a four-course set meal à la candlelight, plus entertainment. Come here for an expensive drink (hopefully the staff will become more friendly), a dance on the decking to deep house, or just to recline to the late-night chill-out music bathed in lighting changing colors. 65 Muallim Naci Cad. 0212 2611 988. Closed Sun and Mon; no cover. Bus/boat:

Gay Nightlife

A popular club, packed at weekends, where young good-looking gay guys fill the dance-floor with a distinctly European feel. Look out for the aquarium in the dark chill-out room! On Friday and Saturday nights, the bar at the back is exclusively for lesbians. 3/1 Soganci Sok, off Siraselviler Cad. 0212 245 1718. Wed–Sat. Metro/bus: Taksim.

A homely café for gays and lesbians only, this is part drop-in center, friendly coffee bar and information point. It’s about armchairs, Scrabble and reading newspapers rather than cruisey
pick-up joint. The fantastic owner Nihal brews up tea, cooks up comfort food, and gladly helps gay visitors. If you’re new in Istanbul and want the low-down on the best clubs or gay-friendly hotels, this is your best starting-point. 3/F 7 Imam Adnan Sok, off Istiklal Cad. 0212 244 2592. Bus/metro: Taksim.
Otherside TAKSIM

Originally a gay restaurant, local gay guys love its chi chi feel, popular as much as a café-bar as a club. Cozy lounges, complete with chandeliers, contrast with the action on the dance floor, usually to popular European dance tracks. Karaoke every Thursday and Friday nights. 11/4 Lamartin Cad. 0212 235 7914. Bus/metro: Taksim.

New venue for Istanbul’s popular gay club, previously the place for local ‘bears’, it now attracts a more mixed crowd. Gay and straight women would also be welcome, but perhaps not at weekends when things get busy. Loud Turkish and Euro pop are the sounds, with plenty of seats and space for a chat upstairs, until everyone packs onto the dance-floor. Don’t think of getting there before midnight. 14 Ekrem Türk Sok. 0212 245 1653. Bus to Tarlibaşi Bulvari.
Cigarettes and Alcohol
Turks generally smoke like chimneys so a trip to Istanbul’s bars, cafés and clubs—especially traditional tea-houses with card-playing men—comes with plumes of smoke. Nargiles(fruity waterpipes) have made a resurgence among all ages, including young women. So what happens when the smoking ban hits Turkey on 1 July 2009? (Many Istanbul venues have already introduced a ban, including taxis, malls, offices and hotels.) Bars and clubs will be more pleasant and outside spaces smartened up, although winter months are the test, when venturing outside for a cigarette is a less attractive option. Regular increases in alcohol prices shock me; Istanbul is now on a par with New
York and London, mainly due to excessive taxation by the government. For local drinks, Efes beer and Turkish wines are good, but steer clear of domestic vodka and gin. Raki (aniseed liquor) is mixed with water.

Making Friends?

While Istanbul is generally safe, here’s a few hints for visitors: avoid the rare scam of a lone male tourist meeting a friendly chap on the street, being invited to ‘a great bar’ and ending up with ladies at his table and a colossal bar bill. If you’re in a seedy club, men should bear in mind that things aren’t always as they seem: Women may really be men and, in gay clubs, men could be rent boys. Homosexuality is illegal but tolerated here with many gay bars and clubs. For the newcomer, some gay clubs seem alarming with transvestites, transsexuals, bi, straight, and gay guys galore. The bars and clubs listed above are ‘safe’, where a lone tourist won’t feel out of place. Like most parts of the world, look after your wallet!

Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...


Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...