T R A V E L / C I T Y G U I D E S
Discover our favourite hotels, restaurants, nightlife and things to do in Istanbul right now.
This insider's city guide has been a long time in the making. We've eaten in countless Istanbul restaurants, dined in the coolest alfresco eateries and visited the latest hotspots. We've also asked the most discerning Istanbul locals we know to share their favourite hangouts – whether brand new or classic institutions. We bring you our hand-picked selection of our favourite places in Istanbul right now.
| ISTANBUL |
Whether you're looking for the ultimate design hotel, a cosy boutique hotel, or an ultra-cool apartment, here is our pick of the best places to stay in Istanbul.
1. WOW Factor!
FOUR SEASONS SULTANAHMET
With two luxurious locations in Istanbul’s ancient city and on the Bosphorus waterfront, each hotel offers a unique hotel experience. We especially love the classically elegant Four Seasons Sultanahmet, located in the heart of Istanbul’s ancient city. €€€
Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1, Istanbul
fourseasons.com/istanbul | +90 212 402 3000
2. Sleek & Modern ...
PARK HYATT MACKA PALACE
This luxurious 5-star hotel offers an intimate, luxurious sanctuary away from Istanbul’s tourist crowds. Located in the upscale Sisli district, the hotel’s ground floor is home to a labyrinth of stylish dining, lounge and bar spaces to suit all occasions. €€€
Tesvikiye, Bronz Sokak No. 4 Sisli, Istanbul
istanbul.park.hyatt.com | +90 212 315 1234
3. Modern Design..
Following the success of their boutique hotels in New York, Los Angeles and London, the Morgans Hotel Group has now opened an ultra-stylish haven in Istanbul's Karaköy district. Interiors blend period architecture with Ottoman-influenced contemporary design. €€
Kemeraltı Caddesi No. 10, 34425 Karaköy, Istanbul
morganshotelgroup.com | +90 212 703 33 33
4. Cool & Affordable ...
THE HOUSE HOTEL
Istanbul’s award-winning The House Hotel group offers four boutique properties in Istanbul’s hottest neighbourhoods. While all properties are worth visiting, we love the luxe, modern yet cosy Vault Karakoy Hotel set within a former bank. Don't miss a visit to their lovely rooftop bar. €€
Bankalar Caddesi No. 5, 34420, Istanbul
thehousehotel.com | +90 212 244 64 34
5. Rooftop Terrace ...
WITT ISTANBUL SUITES
Housed within the former Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency headquarters in Istanbul’s artistic Cihangir district, this cutting-edge design hotel is home to 18 generously-sized, open-plan and airy suites styled as modern loft apartments. €€
Defterdar Yokusu No:26, Cihangir, Istanbul
wittistanbul.com | +90 212 293 15 00
6. Boutique Chic ...
Set within a 1850s building which was formerly the home of French nuns and some well-known Levantine families, the Tomtom Suites features clean, modern and minimalist living spaces that retain a sense of the building's history. €€
Boğazkesen Caddesi Tomtom Kaptan Sokak No.18
tomtomsuites.com | +90 212 292 4949
7. Designer Haven ...
Located in Istanbul’s stylish Levent business district, The Istanbul Edition is an urban oasis which blends contemporary living spaces with traditional Turkish design. Sip a cocktail by the salt-water aquarium in the lobby bar before dining at Cipriani Restaurant. €€€
Buyukdere Caddesi No. 136, Levent, Istanbul
edition.hotel-istanbul.net/en/ | +90 212 317 7700
8. Budget-Chic Hotels ...
9. Apartment Rental ...
Staying at the 4Floors is like staying at your cool, local friend’s designer home for the night. Housing four contemporary apartments within a beautifully restored 19th-century building, each apartment spans an entire floor in Istanbul's hip Beyoglu neighbourhood. €€
Tomtom Mahellesi, Tercuman Cik. No. 20, Istanbul
4floorsistanbul.com | +90 532 497 7921
Average Price of a Double Room: € = Around €100 or less; €€ = Around €200; €€€ = > €300
| ISTANBUL |
Whether you're looking for a fabulous foodie dining spot, the city's best classic Turkish cuisine, or a see-and-be-seen waterfront dining spot, here is our pick of the best places to eat in Istanbul right now.
1. Wow Factor! ...
With a stunning location on Istanbul’s waterfront in the chic Ortakoy district, Zuma offers a sophisticated, contemporary twist on the traditional Japanese Izakaya style of informal dining. Dine in the see-and-be-seen main dining room overlooking the open kitchen. €€€
Stinye Park, 461 Sariyer, Istanbul
zumarestaurant.com | +90 212 236 22 96
2. Turkish Cuisine ...
CONTEMPORARY CUISINE Perched high above the city on a rooftop, Mikla is one of Istanbul’s most glamorous fine dining restaurants. Mikla’s Turkish-Scandinavian chef, Mehmet Gurs fuses flavours and cooking techniques from Scandinavia, Turkey and the Mediterranean. We also love Lokanta Yeni and Neolokal for superb contemporary cuisine. €€
TRADITIONAL CUISINE Fusing the home-style cooking of a classic Turkish restaurant with the plush decor of a stylish tavern, Karakoy Lokantasi restaurant is set over two spacious floors of a historic building near Istanbul's historic Karakoy Wharf. Asmali Cavit restaurant is another local favourite of ours for traditional Turkish cuisine. Enjoy delicious grilled kebabs overlooking the Sultanahmet waterfront at Hamdi, a local institution in Istanbul. €€
3. Chic French …
LA PETITE MAISON
Combining the finest fresh, seasonal ingredients with the culinary influences of the Côte d’Azur region, La Petite Maison is the Istanbul outpost of the famous Niçoise restaurant in the Côte d'Azur. The menu features the best of the Mediterranean, so come for a long lunch, a light dinner or a late-night feast. €
Maçka Palas Maçka Cad. No: 33B 34367, Istanbul
lpmistanbul.com.tr | +90 212 232 02 32
4. Modern Turkish Tavern …
Attracting Istanbul’s fashionable local crowd within its dimly-lit, seductive dining room, Münferit restaurant is a modern Turkish tavern located in Istanbul’s trendy Beyoglu district. Begin the Münferit journey with a glass of potent Beylerbeyi raki which is distilled at the owner's family distillery in western Turkey. €€
Yeni Carsi Cad. No.19, Istanbul
munferit.com.tr | +90 212 252 5067
5. Best Breakfast ...
This is one of the city’s coolest all-day dining spots styled as a rustic-chic beach house. Hidden away on the top floor of a building in Istanbul’s trendy Bebek district, Mangerie Cafe serves fresh, healthy and stomach-satisfying international cuisine. €€
Bebek Mh., Cevdet Paşa Cd No:69, Istanbul
mangeriebebek.com | +90 212 263 5199
6. Cool Design ...
Teşvikiye Caddesi Atiye Sokak. No:6, Istanbul
noparestaurant.com | +90 212 327 5868
7. Alfresco Cafe...
This casual local cafe chain is great for all-day dining and drinks with friends. Creating a space which fuses cutting-edge design, fresh and delicious food, and a cool-yet-relaxed local crowd, each House Cafe branch has its own unique design and layout. €€
Maltepe Mh., Salhane Sk No:1, Istanbul
thehousecafe.com | +90 212 227 2699
8. Local Gem ...
Enjoy authentic and inexpensive Turkish cuisine in a lively pedestrian street of Kadikoy. Savour the fragrant aromas of the bubbling pots of Turkish soups, simmering casseroles, and marinated meat kebabs grilling in the wood fired ovens. €€
Caferaga Mah. Güneslibahce Sk. No:43, Istanbul
ciya.com.tr | +90 216 330 3190
Average Price of a Main Meal: € = Less than €10; €€ = Around €20; €€€ = More than €30
| ISTANBUL |
Whether you're looking for a stylish rooftop bar, a cosy cocktail bar, or the city's coolest late-night club, here is our pick of the best places to party in Istanbul right now.
1. Wow Factor!
This is one of Istanbul’s hottest nightlife spots set within an elegant waterfront mansion. Designed by Istanbul’s hip design firm, Autoban Studio, Angelique restaurant, bar and nightclub boasts a stunning location in a multi-level, waterfront mansion in Ortakoy. €€
Muallim Naci Cad. Salhane Sok. No.5, Istanbul
anjelique.com.tr | +90 212 327 2844
2. Cocktail Bars ...
Sip a cocktail at one of Istanbul’s most glamorous rooftop bars perched high above the city on the rooftop of the Marmara Pera Hotel. Mikla is one of Istanbul’s most glamorous rooftop bars. Opened as part of the award-winning Mikla restaurant, this open-air terrace boasts sweeping panoramic views of Istanbul’s skyline. €€
The Marmera Pera, Meşrutiyet Cd No:15, İstanbul
miklarestaurant.com | +90 212 293 5656
3. Sophisticated ...
Perched high above the city with magnificent views overlooking the Bosphorus, Ulus 29 is one of Istanbul’s premier restaurant, bar and night clubs which attracts the city’s A-list celebrities, fashionistas and politicians. €€
Ahmet Adnan Saygun Caddesi, Istanbul
ulus29.com | +90 212 358 2929
4. Trendy Scene ...
A favourite local hangout spot for all-day dining and late-night partying, Otto is a all-in-one restaurant, bar and nightclub. With several locations in Istanbul’s Izmir, Alacati and Santral districts, each venue has its own unique, post-industrial aesthetic. €€
Sıraselviler Caddesi No.66/A, Istanbul
ottotr.org | +90 212 293 96 17
Average Price of a Drink: € = Less than €10; €€ = Around €20; €€€ = More than €30
SEE + DO
| ISTANBUL |
Don't miss these incredible Istanbul museums, art galleries and cultural landmarks.
Best Museums & Galleries ...
The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (Istanbul Modern Sanat Muzesi) is set within a redeveloped 8,000 sq m warehouse on the Bosphorus waterfront. The museum hosts one of Istanbul’s finest contemporary and modern art collections, dedicated to promoting Turkish art and exhibitions by international artists. Founded in 1881 by Osman Hamdi Beythe, the Archaeological Museum displays a collection of national treasures spanning 5,000 years. Housed within a converted century-old electric power station, Santralistanbul is a center of contemporary culture in the north of Istanbul, designed by three prominent Istanbul architects, Emre Arolat, Han Tümertekin and Nevzat Sayın.
Scenic Boat Trip ...
Diving the Asian and the European continents, the Bosphorus River is a picturesque waterway that cuts through the heart of Istanbul. A quintessential local experience is to take a scenic boat trip with Istanbul’s official ferry company, Şehir Hatları, which offers several tours of varying durations.
Best Markets ...
At the frenetic Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, discover row upon row of local stall owners selling beautifully handcrafted rugs, cloth, jewelry and exotic homewares. The nearby covered Spice Market also hosts endless stalls selling fragrant spices and delicious sugary sweets stacked high in handmade wooden baskets.
Best Landmarks ...
One of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks is Topkapi Palace, where you can visit the ancient home of Istanbul’s royal sultans which dates back to the 14th century. Explore the intricately carved stone courtyards, the landscaped gardens, and the harem rooms which were the former residences of the sultan’s wives. The Galata Tower is also one of the most striking landmarks in the city, a soaring medieval stone tower which boasts some of the city’s best panoramic views. The Sunken Palace (Yerebatan Sarayi) is the eerie underground cisterns located in a 9,700sqm underground cavern with over 360 illuminated marble columns.
Must-Visit Mosques ...
Known as “The City of Mosques”, Istanbul is home to over 2,900 mosques. The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) is one of the world’s most famous religious mosques, constructed with six towering minarets and over 20,000 blue Iznik tiles which ornament the mosque’s interior walls. The Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya) is another architectural wonder, originally built as a church in 537, then converted into a mosque during the 15th century. The Suleymaniye Mosque (Suleymaniye Camii) was built in 1557 by one of the finest architects of the Ottoman Empire, Sinan.
Best Spas & Hammams ...
Visiting a traditional Turkish hammam is a quintessential local experience in Istanbul. For a luxury hammam experience, visit the Ciragan Palace Kempinski or the Hotel Les Ottomans. The Çemberlitaş Hamamı is one of the city’s most famous traditional hammams, where invigorating body scrubs and massages can be organised for a less expensive fee than at the luxury spas.
NB: When visiting a mosque in Istanbul, there is a strict dress code where you’ll be required to dress modestly and to remove your shoes before entering. Women should also cover their hair and shoulders with a head scarf.
O U R O T H E R C I T Y G U I D E S . . .