Istanbul unveiled is a series of 4 posts that intends to show, in detail, my 4 favorite “districts” (I have no idea how to call them). The idea is to go beyond the touristic path, as you can find that in every travel book and website, and show you places that usually only locals know.
Reasons to love Beşiktas: Its liveliness and young soul; it’s a great source of cheap bars, restaurants and breakfast places; has the Bosphorus just next to it and nice areas to walk by it; has the best clubs in Turkey; it never sleeps.
What is there for me to see/do?
Istanbul doesn’t have many parks and green areas, so this place is a little gem. There are old Ottoman houses and pavilions which were converted into cafes/restaurants (they are not very pricy as they belong to the city) and nice paths through the “forest” to hike or run. I think it’s a great place to escape Istanbul’s traffic and if you are around in spring and summer, the flower pathways are lovely. There are also squirrels wondering around
Ortakoy is where I live, but no, that’s not why you should go there :p . It’s a lovely and lively neighborhood by the Bosphorus which has cozy cafes and bars, perfect to spend a calm afternoon. The prices are kind of high, when compared to other places in town, but you have a great view. You can see Sultanahmet with all the minarets, the beautiful Ortakoy mosque and old ottoman style houses.
It’s not like you can visit the palace, because it’s a hotel nowadays but you can take a look. The palace is huge, and really beautiful. The gates are extremely detailed and to see the front, you can take a ferry from Ortakoy to Eminonu (just a few per day) or a Bosphorus Cruise.
Bebek & Arnavutköy
These neighborhoods are full of cafes next to the Bosphorus and beautiful, renewed houses which are actually worth millions of euros. It’s the perfect place to take a walk by the Bosphorus, appreciate architecture and enjoy the views and the sun. This is the most expensive part of Istanbul, so be aware that the prices will be very high.
This is one of the perfect places to go if you want to see how people in Istanbul live and behave. Beşiktaş has markets, street food and cheap restaurants, which makes it the perfect place for social meetings.
What is there for me to eat/drink?
Breakfast Quarter – Beşiktaş
Beşiktaş has a whole quarter just for breakfast (kahvaltı)– search for Celebioglu Sokak. On weekends they are completely full; especially if you wake up late (people have breakfast after 11am). My favorite things to order are: a breakfast plate (cheese, ham, jam, butter…), eggs with sucuk (Turkish sausage) and pişi (fried dough) *drooling a bit right now*. Be sure you don’t miss the Turkish breakfast experience!
If you want to learn more about Turkish breakfast and food click here.
Ortakoy is home to the most famous and exclusive clubs in Istanbul: Reina, Anjelique, Sortie… These are places where all celebrities go and where drinks are stupidly expensive. On the bright side, you have the most amazing view over the Bosphorus and Istanbul by night. So if you want to experience the best night life in Istanbul, this is the place to go. Anjelique is usually the most recommended.
Kumpir & Waffles – Ortakoy
These are Ortakoy’s specialties. Kumpir is a baked potato filled with whatever you want. There are several food stalls serving it and screaming for your attention. As for the waffles I guess it doesn’t need much explanation, just you can also put a LOT of stuff on top.
Starbuck doesn’t sound very Turkish I guess… but this one is worth to pay a visit. You can get a nice cake for 2.5€ and amazing view to go with it. This Starbucks occupies a whole building, 3 or 4 floors, just next to the Bosphorus. It’s perfect both by day and night.
Hope you have a great time discovering Beşiktaş! If you have more suggestions tell me 🙂