Istanbul my darling city, I never get bored writing about you and never get bored to visit you. Before New York, you were there and you always will be there. (If we get rid of all these political nonsense in the country :/)
As you know I had a month long vacation between April and May. I started my vacation from my hometown Adana, then It continued in Ankara (the capital of Turkey) and continued with Istanbul for two days and after Dubai and Maldives we stayed in Istanbul 3-4 days more for Fatih’s business meeting and enjoying the city.
Because of the last 2 years’ damage, the city suffers a lot. Istanbul was the most visited city in Europe back in 2014. So many bomb attack and Syrian Refugee crisis and not very sympathetic government bring everything to today’s situation. Even though with too many problems, the city never lost its beauty for true Istanbulite. Whenever I pass the Bosphorus with those nostalgic ferries, I forget everything bad about the city. It is the most magical 20 min ride of my life, undoubtedly every time.
Since I have so much love for the city, I decided to write about my favorite places this time. I show a glimpse of local Istanbulite’s Istanbul. Please comment here after you go to these places and tell me if you like it or not.
Limonlu Bahce is one of the favorite places in Beyoglu. I remember I always thought It was a little bit pricey for my student budget but I believe It is definitely not pricey at all now. This place is hidden back yard in one of the old buildings in Beyoglu District. You can pet the street cats and smell divine lemon trees. Because the literal translation of this place is “Lemon Garden”.
Cihangir Mosque’s Garden
I want to thank my dear friend Emre for this magical place. Years ago he brought me to this place and I was like What are we gonna do in the Mosque? Generally, people almost never go to mosques if they are not practicing religion. And we were definitely not practicing or praying at that time. But After I saw that beautiful view of the Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea, I was in total amaze. It was one of the calming places and most of the time there are no people so you can listen to the city and fall into the depth of Bosphorus’ water. (Btw, Cihangir is one the sons of Suleiman the Magnificent)
Dogatepe has truly one of the best views in the city. You see the whole Bosphorus one of the hills of Istanbul. It is just right nearby FSM Bridge which is the second bridge in the Bosphorus. Dogatepe offers you soft drinks like tea, coffee etc during the day but they also have a restaurant so you can enjoy a nice meal with the beautiful view of Istanbul.
Kale Kahvalti Salonu
If you make a little research about Turkey or Turkish people upfront, you must know that we people are obsessed with our breakfast. It’s a true entertainment for especially the people of Istanbul to go somewhere near water (can be Bosphorus or the Marmara Sea) and have 2-3 hour long breakfast (or might wanna say brunch). Kale Kahvalti Salonu (which means Castle Breakfast Parlor) is beyond question the best place to have a traditional breakfast. Since you have no idea what is coming to the table, I’ll tell you what to order:
- Menemen (scrambled egg with tomato and green pepper) or Scramble egg with braised meat
- Halloumi cheese
- Sigara Borek (cigar shaped pastry filled with feta cheese) or Pacanga Borek (a pastry filled with pastirma)
- Sucuk (fermented sausage) or Pastirma (dried meat)
- Simit (bagel like but definitely more delicious bread)
- Olives plate
- Sogus Salata (Tomato, cucumber, green peppers sometimes parsley, too)
- Cheese Plate (variety of Turkish cheese including Turkish feta)
- Fresh squeezed OJ (I mean literally freshly squeezed. We Turks don’t count fresh squeezed if the fruits squeezed more than 5 min ago.)
- Bal Kaymak (honey and cream, this is a must)
I know you think all these stuff is for 4 or more people but It’s not this is pretty much what you order for two people in any breakfast/brunch parlor in Turkey. Please enjoy! You’ll thank me later.
Cinaralti Cay Bahcesi
This place is one of my favorite places when I was a college student. This place is more humble place than any other places I mentioned in below. This place is also considered as breakfast parlor but It’s not actually. We can say this place is a cafe where serve breakfast in the morning but you don’t have to order food from here. If you want you can only order tea or coffee and bring your own food which can be “Borek” (pastry filled with cheese or meat) from just at the corner of this place.You shouldn’t expect an incredible service from here. These guys are literally the tea men keeps walking around the tables and asking you if you need more tea.
Cinaralti is a humble place but it has definitely one of the best views of Bosphorus from the Asian side. I especially love the old fisherman boats. The photos, you are gonna take in this place definitely bring you so many likes. You’ll see.
Don’t forget to take a picture of the 800-year-old plane tree. (Plane trees are very iconic symbol of Turkic mythology)
BONUS: Kunguncuk Mahallesi:
This neighborhood is one of my favorites in Istanbul. It is one of the rare places doesn’t get hurt by urban sprawl. You can still find neighborhood groceries, bakeries, butcher etc in this place. And Kuzguncuk has one of the best piece full family friendly environment and the best view of the Bosphorus.
Extra Bonus: See the places I mentioned on the map accordingly.