Our popular and exuberant Turkish guide, Yilmaz, has provided us with a slew of great recommendations for this immense and fascinating city sitting on the Bosphorus Straight. He sent us information on the Top 5 things to see, neighbourhoods to explore, day trips to plan, and much more. We’re going to spread out his recommendations over a couple different articles, starting today. So if you’re planning a trip to Istanbul in 2012, make sure to check back over the next month for more suggestions on how to enjoy yourself in the former capital of the Ottoman empire. Today’s topic: where to eat and shop in Istanbul.
The top 5 places to eat and foods to try in Istanbul
1. Beyti Restaurant. An exquisite taste for those who treat himself or herself as queen or king, and want to enjoy a lingering, scrumptious taste served after a lengthy preparation. The restaurant is away from the main tourist areas, and looks a bit like a beautiful old Turkish house from inside, and serves primarily meat dishes. Enjoy the koftes, and tender yaprak sarmasi (stuffed grape leaves.)
2. 360 restaurant. A hide-away for those who would like to have a decent dinner with the backdrop of the traditional, lovely scenery of Istanbul, including a view of the Bosphorus.
3. Asitane Restaurant. A hidden gem for those seeking the classical taste of Ottoman Cuisine from Medieval times. Dishes like Stuffed Melon; Cored melon stuffed with a blend of minced meat, rice, herbs, almonds, currants and baked in the oven. Delicious!
4. BHU (Bolulu Hasan Usta) Pudding Shop. If you’re at all keen on sweet, creamy rice pudding, this is a must-try in Istiklal Promenade.
5. Haci Aptuallah Restaurant. If you are looking for a posh dining experience with traditional Turkish/Ottoman Cuisine, this place deserves a visit. Tasty food and lovely ambiance in a century-old restaurant.
...and the top 5 places to shop for souvenirs:
1. The Grand Bazaar. This place has over 4400 individual vendors along covered walkways, and many say it is the world’s oldest shopping mall. The best place if you’re looking for traditional tourist souvenirs, and to immerse yourself in browsing everything from silver to shoes to carpets!
2. The Spice Bazaar (also known as the Egyptian Bazaar) offers an immense array of aroma-therapy and the heady scents of traditional spices.
3. The European-style arcades of Istiklal Promenade; these are your hidden gems while you are touring around the modern side of Istanbul. You’ll find some great vintage and antique shops in this area, along with familiar chain stores.
4. The small corner shops in Sultanahmet Square. This square is the heart of Old Istanbul, and has a large concentration of the city’s souvenir shops.
5. The shops along the Divan Yolu, which leads to Sultanahmet Square. This street is a popular shopping street, and also the main trolley route, making it a convenient place to shop. Be sure to pop into the “Bookshop” a famous place to buy literature in Istanbul.
Thanks Yilmaz! We’ll be featuring more of his tips for Istanbul later this winter.