Information for travelers and expats – some of my personal choices
Guide to events:
Hotels: I suggest if you will be here for more than 2 days to stay in the Karakoy or Galata since they are less touristy than Sultan Ahmet and filled with good restaurants and easy access by tram or ferry all parts of the city.
Galata and Karakoy:
Istanbul Place – Beautiful apartments in Galata excellently restored by a Turkish/English couple.
Karakoy Rooms - Restored building turned into hotel.
The Vault – An Ottoman bank turned hotel with great rooftop view
The George Hotel – Galata’s nicest street with rooftop restaurant and best view ask for a room with a view.
Pera Palace – Historical hotel from the Orient Express
Adahan – Historical palace beautiful rooftop restaurant and views very comfortable with big rooms
Soho house – For members and not.
Empress Zoe: Lovely restored building with private garden looking over ancient structures. Owned by two sisters from the states.
Istanbulkart is a very convenient transport card that can be used by more than one person and is valid to use on all public transportation. Buses, ferries, trams, metros funiculars and cable cars. The yellow and blue minibuses, “dolmus’ are private and you pay on board.
You can buy one in most newspaper stands near the piers or in a top up machine by the ferries and the trams etc. It’s 7 tl. For the card and you top it up with lira.
Money: you can get a better rate in the money exchange kiosks (döviz) than in the banks and the best place to change money is in the Grand Bazaar.
Turkish Baths: Two I recommend – Cemberlitas (which has both a mens area and womens area). It is historical and clean. Near the Bazaar
Kilic Ali Pasa – Done by the same architect, Mimar Sinan, it is also very beautiful and recently restored. It’s more expensive and you need an appointment, borderline spa still a lovely experience. Women can go up till 4 pm and then men after. In Karakoy.
Most restaurants in Istanbul either specialize in either fish or meat. Meze are wonderful appetizers typical to Istanbul that are brought out on a tray to choose from and can be found in most restaurants. There are also hot ones you can order but you must ask.
Ali Ocakbasi in Karakoy - grill with a beautiful view hidden away in a back street on the 4th floor.
Karakoy Lokantasi - very trendy and local. lunch no reservation but dinner yes. close to the hotel
Gumruk no reservation needed for lunch - never been for dinner also very near the hotel
Neolokal in the grand Ottoman bank building now called Salt Galata. Open at 7pm
Mürver a rooftop restaurant on top of a hotel. Has been highly recommended by many.
Privato - Best breakfast in the city. In a back street of Galata.
Mikla celeb chef restaurant with an incredible view of the city - for a splurge
Eleos hidden away in a run-down building on Istiklal, on the 2nd fl. is a lovely Greek style taverna with great meze/fish and a Bosphorus view reservations opens at 2 pm.
Antiocchia South Eastern Anatolian cuisine mainly meat dishes and good meze
The Historic Penninsula
Pandeli's an old and beautiful lunch restaurant over the Spice Bazaar - nice decor simple Turkish cuisine no alcohol.
The Asian Side:
Çiya very popular Turkish cuisine with a twist no reservations
Cibalikapı Balikci in Moda – excellent meze and fish reservations
Uskudar – (Kuzguncuk)
A Sude – local and very cheap home cooking lunch only
Izmet Baba – fish and Raki (traditional anise liquor) on the Bosphorus reservations
Boat ride up the Bosphorus
Take the Sehir Hatıları (the City line) in Eminonu. There is a long tour that starts at 10:30 to 16:40 or a short one in the afternoon. 14:30 – 16:30