Tag Archives: Tourism

10 Essential Istanbul Experiences

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Ok, savvy travellers. If you are coming to experience the rich and dynamic cultural offerings of Istanbul you absolutely must experience the following:

1.)  A Full Turkish Breakfast at Cafe Kale

Situated along the Bosporus, the breakfast at Cafe Kale thrills and delights absolutely everyone. Within a few minutes of placing your order, your table will be covered by numerous small plates: hot and cold, sweet and savory, there is absolutely something for everyone.  It is the perfect way to spend a morning and experience the city.

2.) The Istanbul Modern

In recent years, Istanbul’s modern art scene has exploded.  The Istanbul Modern is the heart and soul of the art world and has initiated the transformation of the surrounding area. New shops and cafes are popping up around it and interesting exhibits ensure I keep coming back. Situated in an old warehouse along the Bosporus  the space alone is worth seeing. It has a fabulous view of the old city and the buzz of activity on the water. The museum’s permanent collection offers a  uniquely Turkish palate,  landscape and overview of modern Turkish art history. It is the perfect lens to gain additional understanding of modern Turkey. There is a lovely cafe and a great gift shop (perfect for those of you searching for souvenirs).

3.) Watch the Sunset from a Terrace Bar

The city comes alive at night and its treasures are hidden above the chaotic streets. As you wander through Beyoglu, look up and find a terrace to watch the sunset. Many old apartment buildings along the backstreets of Istiklal Caddessi host hidden cafes and restaurants with extraordinary views of the city. My favorite is Balkon, near Tunel. For dancing, try the wonderful top floor bar Araf for Balkan beats and a fabulous view of the city…

4.) A Day on the Islands

The perfect escape from the chaos of city life. In 80 minutes you are transferred to a summertime paradise complete with beach clubs, ice cream stands, bicycle rentals and horse-drawn carriages. The Princes Islands were once where the city’s Greek, Armenian and Jewish intellectual elite spent their summers. The beautiful homes around the city center are a perfect testament to the Ottoman charms that once defined Istanbul as the center of the Ottoman Empire. If you only have one day, go to Buyukada. Be sure to have some ice cream, hike the steep hill to the monastery and drink a beer at the top to enjoy the fantastic view.

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Walking the Streets with Istanbul Eats

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I could not resist. Please excuse my horrible rhyme. However, my heart still beats when I think about Istanbul Eats and the wonderful day we spent in Beyoglu tasting the hidden delicacies and street food of this neighborhood’s backroads and alleyways. I have lived in Istanbul for three years, and the day was still full of surprises and firsts for me.

We started at the Turkish equivalent of an old school greasy spoon restaurant in Cihangir where we sampled eggs, sucuk (Turkish sausage),  kaymak  (clotted cream) and honey. Next we strolled over to Datli Maya, where we toured this innovative chef’s latest creation: a small bakery and cafe in the neighborhood’s old Simit shop.

We past several preserve and pickled shops. We tasted Turkish delight and baklava. We sampled some Black Sea delicacies. We indulged in the city’s infamous profiterol shop. We nibbled on several different types of durum (the Turkish equivalent of a burrito with kebab). We sipped Turkish coffee at a traditional coffee shop. We wandered through the old passage ways, courtyards and churches hidden in the backstreets of Beyoglu. We sampled an eclectic mix of street food, including the kokorec sandwich and fried sardines.

Overall, it was a fun day and a perfect way to share Istanbul with your curious and adventurous guests. I would recommend this tour to Istanbul natives as well as visitors. For people looking to get outside of Beyoglu, they also offer food tours for the Old City, Kadikoy and beyond.

They also have a fantastic blog called Istanbul Eats which reports about all of Istanbul’s best restaurants and most authentic meals. This is my guide and inspires every dining choice or recommendation I make. They also started a network of underground foodies in cities around the world (including Mexico City, Shanghai and Barcelona) called Culinary Backstreets. For natives and tourists, these websites will not disappoint.

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The fabulous Natalie of Turkish Travel Blog prepared the following infograph about tourism trends in Turkey. It highlights Turkey’s current statistics and long-term goals. With an emphasis on regional development and sustainable tourism (at least on paper), the Ministry of Tourism has big plans for Turkey. Last year, Turkey had 31.4 million foreign visitors. The majority of tourists flock to the resorts in Southern Turkey. The Big 3?  Turkey is an established destination for many British, German and Russian tourists.  I loved these captivating graphics and overview of information in this infograph. I hope you do too!

Check out more information here: http://turkishtravelblog.com/tourism-in-turkey/

 

Istanbul Tourist Trends