Visiting Istanbul

1 month countdown to Turkey,

Lauren's Plate


Maedl May 9, 2012
I spent 10 days in Istanbul over Christmas 2010. I was a bit intimidated at first, but it turned out to be a great trip. Go to Uskudar and visit the old mosques there. At Kadikoy, go to the open air market and eat at Ciya ( To get there, you take the ferry to Asia, walk through a marvelous produce market and find Ciya along with all sorts of amazing shops.

Check out and take some of their food tours. Also, contact the Istanbul Culinary Institute to see if they are offering any cooking classes. If not, have lunch in their restaurant on the first floor of their building.

Avoid the Grand Bazaar unless you like used car salesmen-types. Drink pomegranate juice with abandon, try sahlep, boza, and kaymak. In fact, sample kaymak every chance you get! Treat yourself to a Hammam visit, but avoid the ones recommended for tourists in guide books. Instead, go to the bazaar behind the Blue mosque and find the hammam shop owned by a Canadian woman. Ask her to recommend a good hammam.
SeaJambon May 9, 2012
All the food we ate was fabulous -- and I still fondly remember the local version of "continental breakfast" (including tomatoes and olives!). For me, it wasn't food but the history -- particularly Hagia Sofia. I dragged my poor husband back three times because I couldn't get over the history. We also had tea (chai) on the terrace in front, surrounded by "Ali's used temple parts" (my husband's name for all the temple pieces just randomly here and there). It was an amazing trip and we found the people very friendly. Oh --although this was a number of years ago -- the Turkish rugs were beautiful and unbelievably cheap. FWIW: handmade rugs fold up just like a very thick textile (machine milled can only be rolled but the handmade can be folded like a sheet). We bought a very large but cheap suitcase at one of the market stalls and were able to place our rug -- folded tightly -- in it. Brought it back with all our other luggage. Nice not to have to deal with shipping home separately. If you take the time to learn just a handful of Turkish words (yes, no, thank you and water) you will make friends everywhere! Oh, and Turkish coffee is wonderful and unbelievably strong for how little there is. Be advised that one cup after dinner may keep you going longer than you wanted; two may keep you awake all night (learned the two the hard way).

Have fun! You'll have a marvelous time. Sorry I can't give you specifics regarding food or restaurants, but everything (truly EVERYTHING -- interestingly, not a statement I can make with regard to France, but that's another story) was wonderful.
bigpan May 9, 2012
My "must-do" when in Istanbul is to go to the spice market (next to the grand bazzar).
Ask local people (even your hotel staff) where do they take their family when they go out for dinner. That is how you find great local food at great prices instead of the tourist traps that serve ho-hum shiskabobs and old rice.
Elaine R. May 9, 2012
Spent a moth in turkey and it was a wonderful place for good food
bugbitten May 7, 2012
Gosh, this was not my question, but it might have been. My wife and I will be in Istanbul for three days in October, at the end of a "Mare Nostrum" cruise. I only hope that all the knowledgeable Food52ers will chime in here!
Lauren's P. May 7, 2012
and where to eat, take a class, and day trip for great food?
SallyBroff May 7, 2012
Is there a question here? We found any restaurant we tried was fine, if that's what you want to know. If you want a real tourist experience, eat on the bridge. Don't remember name, but your hotel will know.
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