25 Suggestions to Do in Istanbul


Istanbul is set on many steep hills so pack sturdy footwear for urban hikes. Make use of the city’s historic funicular – and the new tram is the best way to reach the old city from areas such as Karakoy.

Drinks Break

Sip refreshing Turkish coffee on the Bosphorus at Assk Kahve. asskkahve.com

Morning Fix

Treat yourself to a hearty Turkish breakfast. Good venues include Cafe Setup in Kabatas, Cafe Private in Galata or Piraye in Kadikoy


Razor Sharp

Have a wet shave at one of Istanbul’s classic barbers. We recommend Cihangir Erkek Kuaforu for the works.

All Aboard

Chart your own boat for an autonomous tour of the city’s waterways or simply call a water taxi and bypass the infamous Istanbul traffic in style.

Walk on the European Side

Take a Bosphorus-side stroll from Bebek to Arnavutkoy, passing fishermen’s boats and large yachts.


Drink and be Merry

Discover the fantastic architecture at Haydarpasa station as you sip your tea on the ferry from Kabatas to Kadikoy.

Forest Trail

Head to the village of Polonezkoy, a Polish settlement founded in 1842. This verdant hamlet is known for its June cherry festival.


Leisure Options

Take the seaplane to Bursa. Try a famous Iskender kebab and take to the thermal waters at one of the city’s spas. From here you can also ski or hike in the hills surrounding Mount Uludag.

Caffeine Hit

Join the long but fast­ moving queue to buy freshly ground packets of Turkish coffee at Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi, a historic coffee producer at the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. mehmetefendi.com

King of the Castle

Traverse the battlements of the Anadolu Hisari fortress on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, a strategic site built in the 14th century.


Shopping Heaven

Revel in the delights of the Grand Bazaar; stock up on antique copper and Uzbek silk, and drop in on Cuhaci Han for beautiful diamonds.

Royal Visit

Head to Buyukada, the largest island in the Princes’ Island archipel­ago, and have tea in the Splendid Palace hotel. splendidhotel.net

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Seafood Special

Eat a fresh Black Sea mackerel sandwich off a boat that’s pulled into Eminonu pier. Elbows at the ready: there are always crowds

Turkish Coffee

Drop into Mandabatmaz Coffee: this tiny cafe has been manned by brewmaster Cemil Pilik for nearly 20 years. Olivia Gecidi 1/A, Beyoglu

Water Works

Head to the seaside suburb of Florya to see Ataturk’s sea pavilion. Istanbul Caddesi, Florya


Sand and Song

Take a swim on the Black Sea shores at Suma beach – and stay long enough to watch it turn into one of the city’s finest party spots.

Good Afternoon

Sail from Kabatas to Uskudar to walk the backstreets and lunch at Kanaat. kanaatlokantasi.com.tr


Flower Power

Take in the city’s tulip season. Visit Gulhane park’s gardens around Topkapi or Emirgan Park in Sariyer.

Football Furnace

Take in the atmosphere at a local derby; Fenerbahce versus Galatasaray is a particularly heated affair.

Liquid Refreshment

Drink a fresh pomegran­ate juice from one of the city’s many carts. It’s the perfect vitamin boost for any fading wanderer.


Roll Up, Roll Up

Join the throngs of Turkish housewives at one of the city’s daily markets. Kadikoy’s Tuesday market is well worth a visit.

Bath Time

Get steamy in a hamam. Try Cemberlitas for a really robust scrub or Ayasofya, built for the sultan’s concubine in 1556.

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The Old Ones are the Best

Marvel at the city’s Byzantine past at Istanbul’s archaeology museums. istanbularkeoloji.gov.tr

Music to Your Ears

Get a dose of Istanbul’s vibrant jazz scene at subterranean spot Nardis. nardisjazz.com

Room with a View

Have a drink at the Maiden Tower watching the sunset and discover its history as a lighthouse, quarantine station and watchtower. kizkulesi.com.tr