Istanbul: A Mini Guide

Merhaba! Here’s the second volume of my new ‘Mini Guide’ series, my Istanbul Mini Guide. Just like in my guide to Helsinki, I’m by no means an expert on what to do in Istanbul, especially as this was our very first trip, but these mini guides are a fun way to share the treasures we came across.
 
With its mix of Ottoman architecture, Eastern values and ultra-modern design and art scenes, Istanbul is one of the most appealing and magical cities on the globe. We walked and walked and walked, discovering shops, cafes and restaurants along the way. If you’re heading to Istanbul anytime soon, be sure to note down a few of these addresses as a starting point. Without further ado…
 Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi BlogIstanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi BlogHagia Sophia | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi BlogFisherman | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi BlogKaraköy neighbourhood | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi Blog

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SOHO HOUSE ISTANBUL 

For soaking up some serious style, you can’t beat the latest outpost of Soho House, in Palazzo Corpi.  The interior design – all rosewood, original frescoes, crystal chandeliers and Ottoman-inspired art-deco furnishings – is heavenly. The rooms couldn’t be more comfortable and luxurious.

Evliya Çelebi Mahallesi Meşrutiyet Cad. No:56, Beyoğlu, Istanbul 34430

+90 212 377 71 00  |  website

Image credit: Soho House Istanbul

Image credit: Soho House Istanbul

Image source: Soho House Istanbul

KARAKÖY LOKANTASI

We arrived in Istanbul in time for dinner. Following our noses to a buzzing restaurant called the Karakoy Lokantasi, a favourite with in-the-know Istanbulites, we were lucky to get a table without a reservation and got seated in the beautifully tiled dining room. The place soon got packed with locals, which is always a great sign, and the menu looked excellent.

Karaköy Lokantasi has a daily-changing menu and you should order lots of little plates to combine – perfect for sharing and trying everything. We had grilled octopus, fried zucchini, lamb chops, hummus, tangy salads and smoked aubergines. With a great deal of crunchy bread for dipping and mopping.

Make sure you eat here at least once. Book ahead. 

Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mh., Kemankeş Cd. 37/A, 34425 Karaköy/Beyoğlu/İstanbul

+90 212 292 44 55  |  website
Karaköy Lokantasi, Istanbul | Istanbul Mini Guide | Karoliina Kazi Blog

DEM

Sure, there are kebabs and delights but there’s a contemporary scene, too – and you’ll find plenty of amazing breakfast/brunch spots in the Karaköy neighbourhood in Istanbul – Dem being one of them. Dem’s rich menu is composed of 60 different tea varieties, desserts and an extended breakfast menu. We ordered tea and the classic Turkish Menemen, which came presented beautifully.

Kemankeş Mah. Hoca Tahsin Sok. no:17 Karaköy, Beyoğlu  |  +90212 2939792  |  website

Image source: Dem Istanbul

KARABATAK

Karabatak looks marvellous: all rustic walls, vintage furniture and colourful tiles. And the menu? They have a large selection of coffees and the most delicious, homemade lemonade you’ll ever taste. Take a seat outside under the fairy lighted canopy of grape wines and order one of their devilishly delicious cakes to accompany your coffee or lemonade.

Kara Mustafa Paşa Mah. Kara Ali Kaptan Sk No:7  |  +90 212 243 69 93  |  website

Karabatak Restaurant | Karaköy neighbourhood | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi BlogKaraköy neighbourhood | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi BlogKaraköy neighbourhood | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi Blog

CECCONI’S ISTANBUL

If you have over-indulged on Turkish food, Cecconi’s is an excellent choice to nourish yourself with something a little different. Cecconi’s is a modern day classic Italian restaurant serving hand-made pasta, seafood and dishes from Nothern Italy. Ask for a table on the terrace, among the garden’s olive trees. Open for dinner, six days a week and brunch on Sundays.

Evliya Celebi Mahallesi, Meşrutiyet cad. no:56, Beyoğlu, 34430 Istanbul

+90 212 377 7180  |  website

Image source: Cecconi’s Istanbul

FENIX

Every romantic getaway should involve cocktails, and there’s no better place to partake than the fashionable Fenix Restaurant, located in the upmarket Etiler neighbourhood. The DJ playing hip tunes, great crowd, large terrace, huge palm trees – Fenix restaurant is rockin’ it before you even get to the food. Make this your last stop of the evening and you’ll be dancing well into the early hours.

Nispetiye Caddesi No:79 Etiler \ Istanbul  |  +90 212 265 55 88  |  website

Image source: Fenix Istanbul

Image source: Fenix Istanbul

A’YA ROOFTOP LOUNGE – FOUR SEASONS HOTEL

Istanbulites love rooftop terraces and its no wonder with these awe-inspiring views across the Sea of Marmara, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. A’ya rooftop lounge is a perfect spot for resting your feet, chilling in the sun and enjoying a cocktail or two. 

Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1, 34122 Sultanahmet-Eminönü, Istanbul

+90 (212) 402 30 00  |  website

Image source: Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul

Petra Roasting Co.

The Turkish are famous for their coffee and one of the best spots for a really good cup of freshly roasted, artisanal coffee is Petra Roasting Co., located inside the Muse Istanbul art gallery and shop. Have a little wander around beautiful space and marvel at the interesting objects, most of which are for sale.

Hoşsohbet Sokak Panorama Residence Mağaza 1  |  +90 212 356 10 53  |  website

Image source: Petra Roasting Co.

Image source: Petra Roasting Co.

NICE TO HAVE

Karaköy neighbourhood is so full of amazing boutiques and cafes, and they all have their unique style. Nice to Have specialises in delicate needlework art, home textiles, prints and so you’ll find anything from brightly printed fabrics to stationary, pretty homeware and other beautiful bits and bobs. It’s a must-visit!

Ali Paşa Değirmeni Sk. N:8A Karaköy, Beyoğlu, İstanbul  |  hello@nicetohave.me  |  website

Nice to have store | Karaköy neighbourhood | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi Blog

NO VACANCY

Another boutique in Karaköy! There are plenty more shops to explore in this neighbourhood, and this one caught my eye. No Vacancy has a great selection of local art, antique suzanis, vintage Mexican serapes and interesting furniture. And of course, you’ll find smaller items (hand embroidered linen handkerchiefs, jewellery and leather goods to mention a few) so you don’t need to leave empty handed.
 
Karakolhane cd. Duatepe sk. 2/A Kadikoy, Istanbul  |  +90 531 286 94 27  |  website

Image source: No Vacancy, Istanbul

NYKS GALATA

You’ll find this elegant little candle shop in Galata. I could have lingered here all afternoon, sniffing all the incredible, Mediterranean-inspired scents of peppermint, laurel, bergamot and many more. Nyks Galata’s natural and handmade candles are poured into containers made of copper, ceramic, brass and cut glass. A Gorgeous gift for yourself or a friend!

Firuzağa Mahallesi, Boğazkesen Caddesi, No:90/1A Beyoğlu, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul

+90 532 740 71 33  |  website

Shopping | NYKS Galata Candles | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi Blog

MISELA

This Istanbul-based luxury handbag brand by a Turkish designer, Serra Turker, was founded in 2008 and is mostly known for its bold prints and colourful combinations, but they also have an amazing selection of scented candles and other stunning home accessories. 

Asmalı Mescit Mah., Meşrutiyet Caddesi No:107E, Beyoğlu, Istanbul

+90 212 243 5300  |  website

Image source: Misela

Image source: Misela

TULU TEXTILES

Ahh! This textile shop is my absolute favourite in Istanbul. I can spend forever in here! The printed cottons (by the designer and owner Elizabeth Hewitt) are available to buy by the meter and there are heaps of gorgeous cushion covers, bed linens, silks and wool rugs. 

Binbirdirek Mah. Ucler Sk. No. 7/A, Sultanahmet  |  90-212-518-8710  |  website

Image source: Tulu Textiles

Image source: Tulu Textiles

YARGICI

How I loved Yargici! They have quite a few locations across the city, and their stock reminds me of Anthropologie, which is one of my favourite stores back home. The stores carry everything from apparel, accessories and decorative collections – lots and lots of goodies here!

Güzelbahçe Sok. No:1 Nişantaşı  |  +90 212 234 29 08  |  website

Shopping | Yargici | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi Blog

GRAND BAZAAR

At the historical and buzzing Grand Bazaar, you’ll find stalls and stalls filled with antique (and new) carpets and kilims, suzanis, embroidered Ottoman inspired textiles, kaftans and pillows, tulip-shaped tea glasses, pottery, ceramics, frames, pieces of furniture, accessories, and more.
We bought a few cotton Hamam towels and bathrobes, a picnic blanket (which I’m sure you’ll see more of this summer), gorgeously scented natural soaps from Lonca (I highly recommend checking them out!)

I challenge you to browse its stalls and not come away with something special. A must visit! A couple of words in Turkish, Merhaba for “Hello” and Tessekur ederim for “thank you”, will smooth encounters.


Beyazıt Mh., 34126 Fatih/İstanbul  |  +90 212 519 12 48  |  website
Arasta Bazaar | | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi BlogShopping | Grand Bazaar Istanbul | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi Blog

BLUE MOSQUE

The Blue Mosque, with its six graceful minarets and tiers of magnificent domes, is one of the most striking and immediately distinguishable buildings on the Istanbul skyline. The mosque gets its name from the thousands of blue and white Iznik tiles embellished with traditional Ottoman flower patterns. It’s a wonderfully preserved and still fully functioning mosque: wander about to discover its historic grandeur. 

Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul

+90 212 518 1319 or +90 212 518 1330 (museum)  |  website

Blue Mosque | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi Blog

TOPKAPI PALACE

I spoke a bit about the Topkapi Palace in my last post, but I had to include it here for anyone reading the guide separately, as it’s a must-see. I mean, you’d be hard pushed to miss it on a trip to Istanbul as it is one of the top tourist destinations. Go for a stroll in the beautifully curated gardens and courtyards, wander between the Sultan’s palace walls admiring the handpainted tiles and historic rooms. Hire a private guide (or audio) to learn a great deal here.

Sultanahmet, Fatih / Istanbul  |  +90 212 512 04 80  |  website

The Topkapi Palace / The Seraglio | | Istanbul Mini Guide | Istanbul City Guide | Istanbul Kaupunkiopas | Karoliina Kazi Blog

Of course, I’d love it if you had any tips to add – I’d love to hear your favourite places in Istanbul in the comments!

Want more City Guides? Check out my Mini Guide to Helsinki!

28 Comments

  1. 22nd May 2017 / 8:37 am

    Loved this post. Really enjoyed reading this. Love the picture in this post they look amazing.

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:31 pm

      Thank you Annika 💗 I love writing these little guides so it makes me feel great to know that you feel that way.

  2. 22nd May 2017 / 1:04 pm

    I was waiting for this guide! I wish I could fly to Istanbul right not, it looks just perfect.
    I love all the colors of the buildings and the interior designs they have, just a beautiful city!

    Samantha | https://samanthacarraro.wordpress.com/

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Aw, thats so sweet, thank you Samantha xx It’s a gorgeous place and I really can’t wait to go back one day and explore some more.

  3. 22nd May 2017 / 2:21 pm

    Love love love this! The mini guide is extensively packed and giving me major travel goals 🙂

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:47 pm

      Thank you, thats so sweet 💗 My goal exactly – so happy to hear you want to visit!

  4. 22nd May 2017 / 7:15 pm

    Ooh what a wonderful guide to Istanbul! SO, that’s where the street with those umbrellas is, I fell in love!

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:42 pm

      Thanks Jasmin! You must have seen it on my insta stories… that Karaköy neighbourhood and its rainbow umbrellas is amazing – so hip (quite hipster, but not overly).

  5. 22nd May 2017 / 9:58 pm

    I don’t think I will miss any cool spot in Istanbul with these recommendation. Surely I bookmark this! Istanbul is a great city to be visited.

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:54 pm

      Thank you Rose, thats so sweet! We really loved Istanbul and there shopping/restaurant scene there is amazing.

  6. 23rd May 2017 / 9:21 am

    Istanbul seems like a really colourful and busy place, a definite visit, thanks for the recommendations 🙂

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:53 pm

      Hi Kitty! That it was, and nothing like I’ve ever experienced before 🙂

  7. 23rd May 2017 / 9:34 am

    This is a great post. Great information and amazing pictures. Love the umbrella picture.

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:51 pm

      Thank you Annika, I’m so happy you like it 💗 The umbrella street was one of my favourite spots for sure!

  8. 23rd May 2017 / 10:19 am

    Love the Grand Bazaar..I like to pick up souvenirs so that will be a nice choice…interesting suggestions with pictures to help make a choice

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:50 pm

      My only other market experience is from Marrakech and the Istanbul one is so much calmer and more organised somehow – its indoors so great place also on rainy days. You can find incredible treasures and souvenirs there 🙂

  9. 23rd May 2017 / 10:07 pm

    Istanbul is a magnificent city. I went there 3 times and would love to go again. Your post is right on spot and the tips are great.

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:46 pm

      Thank you, great to hear that from someone who’s been there so many times 🙂 We absolutely loved it and can’t wait to go back – and explore more of Turkey as well.

  10. helenevlacho
    23rd May 2017 / 10:19 pm

    This is an amazing guide Karollina! I loved everything in this! I lived 2 years in Istanbul and i have so many memories of all these places! I used to shop in Yargici! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:37 pm

      Hi Helene! That’s amazing, it must have been such an experience to live there. Yargici was sooo lovely and they ship (worldwide, I think) so I’ve been scanning their website as well 🙂 Thank you for the compliment, I really appreciate it 💗

  11. Analesha
    23rd May 2017 / 11:13 pm

    Love your posts! I would so love to have cocktails in Istanbul. Keep up the good work I love your mini guide!

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:39 pm

      Thank you for your sweet and encouraging words Analesha 💗 The rooftop bars in Istanbul are amazing for drinks xx

  12. 24th May 2017 / 8:16 am

    Oh wow! I cannot stop loving your photography! 🙂 I didn’t know that much about Istanbul in prior but your post sure opened it’s culture a bit and also showed some of it’s architecture. This isn’t my number one to go place but it sure looks worth visiting.

    • 30th May 2017 / 1:34 pm

      Thank you so much, it means a lot to me 💗 It’s a city destination for sure, but so different to anything I’ve seen before. We really loved it there and cant wait to go back 🙂

  13. 24th May 2017 / 8:30 am

    What a complete and detailed guide for anyone wanting to visit a place! Also, your pictures want me to pack my bags and take of to Istanbul!

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