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 Beyoglu: You can find everything you want here, cheap food, “cheap” drinks (as cheap as it gets in Istanbul), hipster cafes, street music, street art and one of the most crowded streets in the world.
What is there for me to see/do?
Istiklal Caddesi (Avenue)
You can’t say you visited until you have been to this street. It has 1.4 kilometers of length and around 3 million visitors every day. Throughout the street there are countless stores: international and Turkish brands, cafes, restaurants…
As the street deserves its own things to do, here it goes:
Photograph the Historical Red Tram | Taste the Street Food: Cheap Doner/Durum, Içli Kofte, Wet Burgers, Freshly Squeezed Juices… | Check out the Flower (Ciçek) Passage| Visit the Free Art Galleries (Arter, SALT, Galeri’nev…) | Hunt the mean panda graffiti’s | Get tricked by an ice cream man | Enjoy its night life | Join the locals and dance and sing with them.
This is the Hipster Neighborhood of European Istanbul. Antique stores, nicely decorated cafes and fancy restaurants are some the things you will find here. My favorite part is its architecture as it’s a mix between Ottoman and European. The famous “French Street” is here as well.
It’s the paradise for the ones who have a sweet tooth. Here you will find the best baklava houses in town and delicious home-made cakes. To make the sweets even tastier, the neighborhood has an amazing view towards the old part of Istanbul and the perfect sunset shot. Istanbul Modern, a contemporary art museum is also located in Karakoy.
Recommended places: Karaköy Güllüoğlu for Baklava and Mum’s Café for a Cake
Besides the famous Galata Tower (which you should climb), Galata is a historical neighborhood and what used to be a Jewish area. If you pay close attention you will see hidden synagogues (to visit you have to contact the Rabi in advance). Here is also where you can find the most creative gift shops and cheap fruit – in the street that goes down to Karakoy.
What is there for me to eat/drink?
Best Value for Money Restaurants: Marmara Café & Yemek Kulubu
Both located in Istıklal Caddesi, these are my favorite restaurants when I want to eat a proper meal and not pay much for it. Marmara Café has the best fresh juices in town (for 3 or 4 TL) and traditional Turkish dishes. Yemek Kulubu seems like a tourist trap from the outside, but it’s actually very loved by the Turks. It’s in a beautiful building, which immediately makes you think that is overpriced, when it is actually not! Here you can get some Turkish and international dishes for a very decent price.
Nevizade Sokak (Street)
This is mandatory place if you want to explore the liveliness of Istanbul. Young and old, foreigners and Turks meet here to drink and eat. If you want to have a typical Turkish dinner and observe the locals having fun, it’s the place to go. If you are on a budget check the prices before ordering. Raki, Meze and Fish are the specialties.
The Cheapest Doners in town
At the entrance of Istıklal Caddesi there are at least 15 doner stalls. Prices start at 5TL for a chicken durum and a red meat one will be around 9TL.