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Fantastic. Great advice. Oh how I wish you'd posted this before we went to Istanbul. We still had a wonderful time though, and will go back for sure someday.


Absolutely fantastic post, makes me want to revisit, and I've not yearned to do that since our one and only trip about 15 years ago. It's not even that we didn't love it, just that we loved other places more and hadn't really thought much about going again.

Turkey's For Life

Lost count of the amount of times we've been to Istanbul and we've still not spent enough time there. This is a great guide for a special city!
Can I just add, for budget travellers and in Sultanahmet's defence, (and we try not to stay there but needs must, sometimes) the private, en-suite hostel rooms in Sultanahmet are *generally* cheaper than those on the Taksim side of the Golden Horn.
Wherever we stay next time, can't wait to get back. :)


I agree on No.6 - the food. We went to one the first night because it was late and we didn't know where else to go, so went out of hotel's recommendation. This 80 years old 'restaurant' - which was more like a cafe - everything was pre-prepared, just dished it out on orders really. That Turkish meatball was aweful, soup was cold. The only nice thing I remember was the bread. Food of that quality would not have survived in Asian food cities for 8 months, let alone 80 years. For anyone's interest - there were 2 close together in the neighborhood - it was the one that took cash only - and that was the 'recommendation' - I could not begin to think what the other one was like. The Korean restaurant nearby in Sultanahmet was good, but of course not a recommend for experiencing Turkish cuisine.


Would it be possible for you to list some reputable sites for renting apartments in Istanbul? I'd love to rent one for my trip there, but I'm leery of forking over money to just anyone.


Thanks for the comments everyone.

Julia, hostelbookers had some interesting looking budget options on the Beyoglu side. One in Karakoy in particular (name escapes me) -- but OK, point taken.

Seoulgirl -- I'll try to do an addendum to this post addressing that within the next couple days, so check back.


Kept trying to comment this morning as I opened the past and was held captive by it. Yes, Robyn lists don't work for me either but something like this brings alive the city. We spent 7 days at Istanbul and fell in love with Istanbul. Time to go back there and head out....great pics David...such a contrast from the far east...gives great variety to the blog. Love the vivid colours


Good tips. You almost sound like an ex-pat. Just a quick tip- with the introduction of the Istanbulcart you actually can NOT pay money on buses- that's right, that charming little man sitting at the front with his box of change is GONE, buddy, he's gone for good. If you try to board a bus without a pass, (or as happens to me close to payday, with no money on your pass) the best you can do is look helpless and forlorn and ask everyone if THEY have an Istanbulcart until someone takes pity on you and swipes you in. Safe travels, everyone!


Wish we'd had this article before our trip to Istanbul in February, great info and tips. We did have a wonderful time, and hope to return so will make use of your many suggestions. Thanks for sharing

Lisa in Toronto

Excellent list!
I hope i can get there again soon to enjoy more of the special Istanbul experience.

Nia Moore

Gosh, all of the described experiences one may have in Istanbul are right on! I had the chance to visit it for just a weekend and have to tell you that fell in love with it! The tea drinking, so as visiting the markets and the Old city, the Bosphor and the fish markets on its shore are just some of the very little things I did, not to mention the soo loved by me baklava:) I can not wait to visit it for longer again!!!

Account Deleted

Great list! The best advice is to wander, and to check out the local weekly markets. We've just moved to fishing village Samatya, aka Kocamustafapasa on the Banliyo train line that runs along the Sea of Marmara. 15 minutes from Sirkeci Station (and using the same easy transport card), but a world away from Sultanahmet. Wide parks along the water, hidden ancient churches and forgotten gardens, a vibrant street life, a huge market on Saturdays. Istanbul is full of neighborhoods like this, making what could be an overwhelming mega city a very enjoyable local experience.

Account Deleted

Great post. We have been enjoying Istanbul as you have described these past few days. It is a wonderful city. We are really enjoying cihangir and the beyoglu areas. Number is particularly useful, thanks. Wish I would have read that when we got to turkey 10 days ago.

What do you recommend in the rain?

I've posted a few pics from our trip on my blog if you are interested.


Thanks Robyn, this is more than enough to send me energized for a trip there soon enough.

I Live in a Frying Pan

I can't believe I didn't eat menemen when I was in Istanbul four years ago. Saving this super informative article in case I ever get to go there again!


Health to your mouth (-; This is the opinionated advice I wish I could give to tourists touring dutifuly around the usual places. I am still discovering Istanbul and i've been here for over a decade!!


Thank You Thank You Thank You! I love reading your blog and have visited many places you recommend (including the Chicken Rice place in Penang which was amazing.) We are taking the kids to Istanbul for 8 days in July and now we have some inside information on where to go. Bookmarked this page for sure!

Olga@Delicious Istanbul

Fantastic list, Robyn: something I would refer any friend traveling to Istanbul! And you know what.. reading this post has reminded me how lucky I am having moved to Istanbul. Give Istanbul the time it deserves? Definitely!

thyme (sarah)

Oh, Robyn....this is such an incredible post. I hope you guys are working on a guide book to travel in Istanbul. We very much travel the same way you recommended. I will get up in the morning, wander around with my camera...return for breakfast...stay in offbeat areas...wander, wander, wander...people watch like a two year old. I can't wait to lay out that map of the city and get familiar with all of the "hard to remember" words/ferries/bus stops that you laid out. Please let me know about your upcoming "group" trips. Can't make the one in August but I really consider a future one...


Some great advice here. I've never been to Istanbul but these tips will help wehn I eventually do go! Luckily I'm English so I've got the tea-drinking sorted already. Thanks for sharing.

Alex. K

Great travel advice for me because I just booked a ticket to Istanbul and definitely will visit a man with vegetables at the Tarlabasi Sunday market. :)

Tom Removalisa

Well researched and convincing travel guide. I was in Istanbul for two nights helping with logistics, didn't have much time to snoop around but had time for a finest kebab in Mabeyin. The setup is gorgeous!!

Travel tips and itineraries

Really extensive and valuable cheat sheet on what to do in Istanbul. I am under the impression that away from the lustrous magazines it is a normal Eastern city just you have to move a bit away from the tourist spots.


Amazing guide and it will be very helpful to me as im going next week to Istanbul,i can t wait!!

moving van

amazing guide i will b the on my next holidays

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