5 Hour Activities


HAGIA SOFIA
Hagia Sophia Square, Sultanahmet Fatih
+90-(0)212-522-1750
ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr

MUZEKART
muzekart.com

WALKS IN ISTANBUL
walksinistanbul.com

CAFERAGA MADRASA
Caferiye Sk., Sogukkuyu Cikmazi No.5, off Caferiye Sokak
+90-(0)212-528-0089
tkhv.org

SEVEN HILLS
Cankurtaran Mahallesi, Tevkifhane Sokak 8
+90-(0)212-516-9497
sevenhillsrestaurant.com

SKIP THE QUEUES AT MUST-SEE SIGHTS

  • Access the city’s best landmarks with ease and enjoy Byzantine and Ottoman sights
  • Explore backstreets on an adventurous walking tour led by scholarly local guides
  • Have a peaceful lunch in a courtyard teahouse or a sunset cocktail at a roof terrace restaurant

In 2014 three and a half million people visited Hagia Sofia, all through the same high-security gate. Jump the line with a three-day Muzekart, which also gets you into Topkapı and several other landmarks. (Tip: pick up your Muzekart from our concierge to skip the line.) Navigating the Byzantine and Ottoman sights (and attendant hustlers) crammed cheek-by-jowl into Sultanahmet can be challenging, especially for first-time visitors. But not if you book a tour with Walks in Istanbul, they offer customized walking tours with scholarly local guides. Their walking tours are off the beaten track including culinary adventures. (Ask for Arzu Altınay or Ebru Gökteke, who are both erudite and entertaining.) Need a break? A peaceful spot for a modest lunch is the teahouse in the courtyard of the Caferaga Madrasa, where calligraphy, marbling, and other traditional arts are taught. For panoramic views of the Old Town, you can’t beat the roof terrace restaurant of Seven Hills, a small local hotel. Go at sunset for a drink. You’ve earned it.

Head to Hagia Sofia Square to find this Turkish landmark with incredible Byzantine architecture. If you’re interested in a walking tour, you can find Walks in Istanbul on Yerebatan Caddesi. Follow your guide off the beaten path and see what the city has to offer.

HAGIA SOFIA
Hagia Sophia Square, Sultanahmet Fatih
+90-(0)212-522-1750
ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr

MUZEKART
muzekart.com

WALKS IN ISTANBUL
walksinistanbul.com

CAFERAGA MADRASA
Caferiye Sk., Sogukkuyu Cikmazi No.5, off Caferiye Sokak
+90-(0)212-528-0089
tkhv.org

SEVEN HILLS
Cankurtaran Mahallesi, Tevkifhane Sokak 8
+90-(0)212-516-9497
sevenhillsrestaurant.com

SEHIR HATLARI FERRY TIMETABLE
en.sehirhatlari.com.tr

IDO FERRY TIMETABLE
ido.com.tr

YUCETEPE KIR GAZINOSU
Yuce Tepe Mevki No:5
+90-(0)216-382-1333

RIDE A HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE AROUND A CAR-FREE ISLAND

  • Escape to an island with picturesque wooden villas painted in pastel colors
  • Ride the ferry across the Sea of Marmara while snacking on wafers and Turkish tea
  • Climb into a horse-drawn carriage or rent a bicycle and admire breathtaking sea views

Traffic in Istanbul can be intense—and intensely frustrating. Escape to the Prince Islands, a cluster of car-free islands in the Sea of Marmara. The prettiest island is the biggest, Büyükada, its wooden villas painted in pastel colors. It’s about 105 minutes (5TL each way) by ferry from Kabataş docks, located between Dolmabahçe Palace and Istanbul Modern. IDO operates a faster catamaran service during summer months (10TL each way)—the journey takes just under an hour, but you can’t go out on deck. Buy a token (jeton) at the pier and ask for the boat to Adalar (Islands). Beware: on sunny summer weekends, the ferries are rammed, so aim for the earliest boat. Snack sellers hop aboard at every stop, balancing trays of Turkish tea, fresh orange juice, and paper-thin wafers. Climb into a horse-drawn carriage on Büyükada’s beguiling harbor, or rent a bicycle and loop round the island’s only road, stopping to swim at sandy coves. It’s a 30-minute hike through pine forests to the Monastery of St. George atop Yucetepe, the island’s highest peak. The house wine and kebabs at Yucetepe Kir Gazinosu restaurant are passable, but the sea views will take your breath away. It’s open daily in summer, weekends only in winter.

To get to the Prince Islands, head to the Kabataş docks, located between Dolmabahçe Palace and Istanbul Modern. You can also take the IDO catamaran for a quicker trip. Once you’re on the island of Büyükada, go all the way to the southern tip to find Yucetepe Kir Gazinosu.

SEHIR HATLARI FERRY TIMETABLE
en.sehirhatlari.com.tr

IDO FERRY TIMETABLE
ido.com.tr

YUCETEPE KIR GAZINOSU
Yuce Tepe Mevki No:5
+90-(0)216-382-1333

EMIN SAATCI
BUSINESS ADDRESS
+90-536-243-8488
emin-saatci@hotmail.com

ŞAKIRIN CAMII
Nuhkuyusu Caddesi No: 2
sakirincamii.net

KARACAAHMET CEMETERY
Nuhkuyusu Caddesi

ETABAL
28/A Güneşli Bahçe Sokak
+90-(0)216-414-9977
etabal.com.tr

ÇIYA
43, 44, & 48/B Güneşli Bahçe Sokak
+90-(0)216-336-3013
+90-(0)216-330-3190
ciya.com.tr

CROSS OVER TO ASIA FOR THE DAY

  • Follow a guide across the Bosphorus to see things you can’t find on your own
  • Take a 20-minute cruise to the Asian shores and explore two contrasting suburbs
  • For phenomenal food, don’t miss the culinary markets and mind-boggling kebab selection

Surprisingly few visitors to Istanbul venture over to the Asian shores of the Bosphorus. Explore the contrasting suburbs of Üsküdar and Kadıköy with Emin Saatci, an exceptional guide who will take you to places you’d never find on your own. Getting there is half the fun. From Beşiktaş pier, Dentur commuter ferries shuttle between the two continents roughly every ten minutes until midnight. It’s an exhilarating 20-minute cruise to conservative Üsküdar, then a short cab ride to Şakirin Camii, the first mosque in Turkey designed by a woman. With its plexiglass chandeliers and futuristic fountains, it’s a dazzling antidote to the adjacent Karacaahmet Cemetery, where thousands of inscribed gravestones lie among cypress groves. Kadıköy has a more bohemian feel, with its student bars and dusty antique shops along Tellazade Caddesi. Don’t miss the historic fish and food market on Güneşli Bahçe Sokak, a few blocks inland from the dock landing. The potent pickles and spices are a steal, and the expensive organic honey from Etabal is worth every penny. Çiya, which has three outposts on the same street, looks like an unassuming canteen, but the food is phenomenal. The vast repertoire of obscure Anatolian dishes at Çiya Sofrasi is heaven for vegetarians. Carnivores can choose from a mind-boggling selection of kebabs across the street (try the “sour kebab” marinated in pomegranate juice). Time your return to watch dusk settle over Topkapı as you sail back to Europe.

Make your way to Beşiktaş pier to hop aboard a commuter ferry. After a 20-minute cruise to Üsküdar, take a short cab ride to Şakirin Camii which is on Nuhkuyusu Caddesi. Adjacent to the mosque is Karacaahmet Cemetery and the local outposts Etabal and Çiya can be found on Güneşli Bahçe Sokak.

EMIN SAATCI
BUSINESS ADDRESS
+90-536-243-8488
emin-saatci@hotmail.com

ŞAKIRIN CAMII
Nuhkuyusu Caddesi No: 2
sakirincamii.net

KARACAAHMET CEMETERY
Nuhkuyusu Caddesi

ETABAL
28/A Güneşli Bahçe Sokak
+90-(0)216-414-9977
etabal.com.tr

ÇIYA
43, 44, & 48/B Güneşli Bahçe Sokak
+90-(0)216-336-3013
+90-(0)216-330-3190
ciya.com.tr

CULINARY BACKSTREETS EATINERARY
culinarybackstreets.com/culinary-walks/istanbul

DISH & DINE
Anadolu Sok. No:23/6-5-1
+90-531-469-7289
facebook.com/dishndin

CREATE YOUR OWN EATINERARY

  • Get serious about eating like a local with a fascinating food walk
  • With personalized recommendations, follow a bespoke Eatinerary through city backstreets
  • Take a Turkish cooking class with an eclectic twist

Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities for foodies. Get serious about eating like a local with the help of our concierge or guides like Culinary Backstreets, which runs fascinating food walks that go far beyond the well-worn tourist trails. (The Kebab Krawl is mandatory for spicy-food lovers.) If you’d rather go it alone, they’ll put together a bespoke Eatinerary, with personalized recommendations from workmen’s cafés to wine bars and detailed tips about what to order where—be it ram’s testicles or dandelion salad. Want to re-create your favorite Turkish dishes? The charismatic Ayca Apak runs Dish & Dine, Turkish cooking classes with a twist in eclectic Galata: historians, musicians, and artists provide cultural context as you prepare culinary classics such as kadınbudu köfte (“lady’s thigh meatballs”). It’s like a lively dinner party where everyone shares anecdotes and helps with the cooking. Plus, you can invite your friends and family to eat what you’ve made.

Visit the Culinary Backstreets website to customize your Istanbul food itinerary. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know where to start your yummy experience. Register for your Dish & Dine cooking workshop and the website will give you the full details on where to go.

CULINARY BACKSTREETS EATINERARY
culinarybackstreets.com/culinary-walks/istanbul

DISH & DINE
Anadolu Sok. No:23/6-5-1
+90-531-469-7289
facebook.com/dishndin