Insider's Guide to Istanbul, Turkey
When you’ve been to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar and it’s spice market, as well as taken a boat trip on the Bosphurous - what else should you do in Istanbul? We get the low-down from an insider.
A BIT ABOUT OUR INSIDER:
Name: Zeynep Kanra
Place of birth: Istanbul
Hobbies and interests: Travelling, photography and enjoying life as much as I can.
How long have you lived in Istanbul? I was born and brought up in Istanbul, and lived there until the age of 34. Since then I've moved around the world quite a bit, but Istanbul is still home and I visit often.
A BIT ABOUT ISTANBUL:
How do you best navigate your city?
Istanbul traffic can be heavy, so I recommend public transport; metro and tram. The metro and tram lines make it very easy to travel in Istanbul, they're easy, quick and safe.
What do you think Istanbul does better than other cities?
It builds an emotional connection and can bring tears to your eyes if you stay away from her too long. Istanbul is an addiction and she never leaves you.
Where is your favourite view of the city?
Oh, we have plenty! The view of the Bosphorus and the view from Galata Tower are my favorites.
Where is your favourite respite from hectic city life?
We have some forest areas which are amazing to go to for a morning walk in, and also eating breakfast by the Bosphorus, with the seagulls for company!
What is your favourite building in Istanbul?
Where do you consider to be Istanbul's most underrated location that more people should visit?
Karakoy. It used to be an area people avoided, but it is changing now. It is turning into a nice, colourful location. It's great for my photography hobby.
What is your favourite place for a workout?
Walking the streets of Istanbul - you can walk for hours. Also, drinking our national drink, Raki. People from Istanbul definitely consider this a national sport, anyway.
Where would you stay if you were visiting, and why?
I would stay at Soho House for a while and then move to Ciragan Hotel Kempinski – both are in great locations for exploring, and the vibe/service are the best in town.
TELL US ABOUT THE FOOD SCENE:
Which dish is a must-try?
Bursa Iskender Doner is my favorite, and one I always recommend to visitors.
Which restaurant has the best atmosphere?
Any of the restaurants under Galata Bridge – you can have a beer, some fish and enjoy the amazing view and vibe of Istanbul. In addition, the rooftop of The Marmara Pera hotel houses a restaurant called Mikla – a must visit and try.
Where serves the best value for money dining options?
Dem Meyhane in Karakoy - delicious Turkish and seafood.
Where is the best place to splurge on a delicious meal?
Sunset Bar and Grill. It serves great steaks, seafood and sushi, and has an outdoor seating area overlooking the Bosphorus. Just stunning.
NOW, ONTO THE NIGHTLIFE:
Where might we find Istanbul's best cocktail?
You can find some cocktails in Istanbul, but we don't tend to drink them. Our drink is Raki.
Who has the city's best winelist?
Rather than suggest a particular bar, I suggest you seek out some Turkish wine. While it's not traditionally well-known in the 'wine world' we've definitely seen lots of improvement. Doluca and Kavaklidere are the brand names I'd suggest.
And the bar with the best atmosphere?
Try NuTeras in Asmali Mescit – the sunset view is beautiful and so is the ambience.
Which bar is the best value for money?
North Shields Pubs, you'll find them in several parts of the city.
And the best splurge?
Vogue in Besiktas.
FOR CULTURE VULTURES:
Who is your favourite local artist?
Ara Güler – he is one of my favorite photographers, and he shoots my city with such feeling.
Where is your favourite local gallery?
Arter in Taksim. It produces and exhibits contemporary art.
And your favourite international gallery?
Istanbul Modern Museum is a gem that showcases both local and foreign arts.
Can you sum up why you love living in this city?
Istanbul is an addiction. I can share my secrets, my passion and everything with her. She understands because for me, Istanbul has a female soul who loves to listen to you, who loves to share herself with you and who always has surprises for you. Despite all the bad things she has faced, she is still strong, loving and crazy!
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