While Ortakoy is often overrun by tourists, there is a reason it is so popular. Situated along the Bosphorus, it offers a magnificent view of the city and no shortage of cafes and shops to spend your time and money. There are numerous cobblestone streets and tables full of jewelry arranged in the most meticulous of ways. There is a beautiful old mosque situated below the magnificent bridge that connects Istanbul’s European side of the city to the Asian side of the city (For locals, the bridge simply connects to ‘the other side’ ).
I met my friend yesterday and we hopped on the one-hour Bosphorus boat tour surrounded by giddy tourists. We bought beers and moved to the roof of the boat. We enjoyed the views of our marvelous city and exchanged stories and updates. It was a perfect afternoon.
Directions for the Perfect Ortakoy Experience:
1.) Wander through the shops to collect some special trinkets. Perhaps some olive oil soap or a special piece of jewelry ?!
2.) Find the row of potato and waffle vendors. The majority of these shops are all on the same loud, busy cobblestone street that leads to the waterfront departure site of the boat tour. Any Turkish local will insist you buy a ‘Kumpir’, a baked potato with every possible topping imaginable. Select the least annoying vendor and point to any topping that appeals to you. Warning: ketchup and mayonnaise are seen as essential toppings. Be prepared to stop this from happening if it disgusts you as much as it disgusts me!
3.) Jump on a Bosphorus Boat Tour. For 10 lira (7 dollars), it takes you along the European and Asian shores of Istanbul. You can admire ornate Ottoman Palaces, glamorous nightclubs and beautiful Ottoman homes. The sun will be out. Waiters will offer you numerous drink options and you are bound to fall in love with Istanbul (if you have not already)
4.) End your night on the terrace of one of the numerous waterfront restaurants that line the waterfront. The food is not always spectacular, but the ambience, people watching and water traffic will make it well worth your time.
While there are many opportunities to see Istanbul by boat, my favorite experience is the short 1 hour trip that starts and ends in Ortakoy. I send all of my guests to this location to admire the city and experience the Bosphorus. It is not only worthy of its own blog post, but also of an afternoon, regardless of the amount of time you have in Istanbul. The ride starts at the first Bosphorus Bridge and turns at the second bridge. It provides a perfect opportunity to see traditional Ottoman homes, and the summer palaces which dot the shore. You can marvel at the old European and Asian fortresses that were once built to protect the city from invaders, and are now situated within the modern city. Additionally, you can see the amazing concert venues, cafes, night clubs and summer homes that line the city’s Asian and European shores. As you sip your tea, you catch a glimpse of what makes this city so special…
It is a beautiful Autumn day in Istanbul. I am busy brainstorming all of the things I must do before Winter arrives. One of my favorite ways to spend a beautiful day in Istanbul is an afternoon in Ortakoy. Once a small seaside village, Ortakoy quickly became enveloped by Istanbul’s growing metropolis. It has managed to maintain its charm, despite its new identity as a rather upscale and touristy weekend destination. However, despite this reputation, it remains a beloved and picturesque neighborhood that both Istanbul residents and tourists enjoy. On the weekends, there is an outdoor market along the waterfront, which sells a variety of different homemade crafts and special imports. Additionally, the homes in the area have been transformed into cafes with 3-4 floors, and stairs that lead to a terrace with a spectacular view of the Bosphorus bridge, the shore of the Asian side of the city, and the minaret and outline of Haghia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. Ortakoy is also famous for its waffle and hot potato stands. You can easily spend 2 hours walking through the market and the shops, as well as stopping to sit and take in the scene at one of these cafes. However, the appeal of the 1 hour Bosphorus tour is usually reason enough to lure me to Ortakoy…