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Tony from San Francisco asked

Design enthusiast spending 4 days in Istanbul in September/ October

Whats the best way to get the most out of 5 days in Istanbul end of September/ beg of October? Any tips on

  • hotels - central and unique
  • restaurants - best Istanbul has to offer
  • design and architecture things to do
  • bonus points for day trips and coffee tips - I'm all about coffee when I travel - any suggestions of places doing unique, beautiful things to beans?

MUCH appreciated.


Istanbul (Turkey)   Turkey

8 Answers
answered by
Ashley Kopka

Hi Tony,

I loved Ortaköy and Beyoğlu district... I would stay at a hotel around there!  If you want to stay on the Asian side, check out Sumahan On The Water.  It's a beautiful boutique hotel!  Definitely check out the turkish bath experience at the spa.  

Restaurants - The House Café for lunch.  Nupera and Ulus 29 both have amazing views.  For the best food, just ask the locals!

Sightsee in the Old City - Grand Bazaar, Mosques, and Palaces.

This would be a little more than a day trip, but Cappadocia is a must!  Stay at the Museum Hotel (it's a luxury cave hotel) and wake up early for a hot air balloon ride.  It's such a special experience.

Comments (1)

I love Cappadocia =))

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ortaköy (neighborhood)
  2. Beyoğlu (metro area)
  3. Sumahan On The Water (hotel)
  4. The House Café (restaurant)
  5. Nupera (attraction)
  6. Ulus 29 (restaurant)
  7. Grand Bazaar (attraction)
  8. Cappadocia (region)
  9. Museum Hotel (hotel)
comments (1)
likes (7) thanks
answered by
Hannibal from Paris

-Concerning the hotels in Istanbul, I would recommend the Martı Istanbul Hotel. Because it is not too expensive and it offers all the qualities of a nice Istanbul hotel as modern and very good location (close to Taksim)

-Concerning the restaurants, there are plenty depending what you want to eat. For a nice view and modern food, you could go to Ulus 29 in . Or if you want traditional kebab or döner, you could go in Taksim, there are plenty of traditional restaurant. There is also Cipriani and Zuma. You can also go to Bebek area to have a drink close to the water. If you want to eat in the best fish restaurant in Istanbul, you have to go to Fisher Kahraman in Rumeli Kavağı. Trust me, it is far, expensive but you will not regret it.

-Architecture and design : It depends what you want. Istanbul is very big. A lot of areas with different moods. You can't miss Hagia Sophia or Grand Bazaar or Topkapi Palace Museum. After you can take a big boat to cross the bosphore. Every good hotel will explain you well how to do it.

-Coffee in Istanbul. There are plenty good places but it is more turkish coffee I'm not crazy about. But to have a nice drink you could go to Angelique or Reina (but more a night club but very nice)

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Martı Istanbul Hotel (hotel)
  2. Taksim (neighborhood)
  3. Ulus 29 (restaurant)
  4. Cipriani (restaurant)
  5. Zuma (restaurant)
  6. Bebek (neighborhood)
  7. Fisher Kahraman (restaurant)
  8. Rumeli Kavağı (city)
  9. Hagia Sophia (attraction)
  10. Grand Bazaar (attraction)
  11. Topkapi Palace Museum (attraction)
  12. Angelique (attraction)
  13. Reina (attraction)
likes (5) thanks
answered first by
Rabih from Lebanon

Hello Tony, 

Make sure that your hotel destination would be in "Taksim" area in Istanbul.  

This area has plenty of hotels from different rates which i can suggest to you to check the hotels:   

*- Elite World İstanbul Hotel: 5 star but its a bit expensive but very nice and have everything especially swimming pool and gym and turkish bath.  

-Nippon Hotel: 4 star+ business hotel. Very clean and modern 

-Grand Öztanık Hotel: amazing service and clean 4 star hotel. 

-Titanic Hotel Taksim. Good place you can have it in good price too.  

* place to enjoy a touristic visit is : "Hagia Sophia"  

Ayasofya is a place that joins between the Christian culture and Muslim culture. It's a historic place that you will visit for 4 to 5 hours where you will be visiting also many historic places that you only read in ancient books. Ayasofya is just 20 minutes away from Taksim. 

*cars: make sure to use metro as much as you can. Or make a car rental through internet. avoid taxi usage. !!!! 

* to drink a good coffee is easy in turkey as they are known by their famous turkish coffee. you can have it in a nice place day and night: Robert's Coffee. 2 minutes walking from Taksim Square.  

Hope this will help you 


Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Taksim (neighborhood)
  2. Elite World İstanbul Hotel (hotel)
  3. Nippon Hotel (hotel)
  4. Grand Öztanık Hotel (hotel)
  5. Titanic Hotel Taksim (hotel)
  6. Hagia Sophia (attraction)
  7. Robert's Coffee (restaurant)
  8. Taksim Square (attraction)
likes (5) thanks
answered by
Marco from Bergamo

Hello Tony!

An Italian friend of mine and his Turkish wife recently opened a contemporary art space in Banker Sokak 6B - Galata Towerand Tarlabaşı. It's called Pasaj (Pasaj). You might want to get in touch and pay a visit, they are very welcoming!

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Galata Tower (attraction)
  2. Tarlabaşı (attraction)
  3. Pasaj (attraction)
likes (4) thanks
answered by

Some more of the beaten track options from a design perspective for you would be:

  • Old Book Bazaar - it is at the back of the Grand Bazaar in a passage that leads through to the University. Ancient texts and calligraphy.
  • Rüstem Pasha Mosque- down near the Egyptian Bazaar at Eminonu. It is beautifully tiled with Iznik tiles and you can get up close to the tiling there. Outside of prayer times you have the place to yourself to absorb the art and techniques used.
  • The city skyline is an inspiration in itself. Late afternoon catch a ferry to Uskudar on the Asian side of Istanbul. From the ferry terminal come out and turn right, keeping as close to the water as you can. After about 400m you come to a row of large steps where the locals come down to end their day as the sun sets behind the Sultanahmet skyline. Bring a picnic - everyone else does!

I stayed at the AND Hotel first couple of times - incredible position, views and breakfast patio overlooking Ayasofya | Hagia SophiaBlue Mosque and down to the Golden Horn Istanbul and more recently at The House Hotel Galatasaray which is probably cooler from a design perspective. Both highly recommended.

The business I run - has two options for food outside of restaurants. One is a Street Food Picnic and the other a Home Cooked experience in a locals house. Our tours are part tour and part concierge service so simply tell the guide what interests you and they will let you know what is the best in the city right now based on your interests. Outside of those Food options - subscribe to - the best unbiased resource to eating in the city and also a great read on its own. When there last I followed their advice on this post: and although I visit the city quite often I would probably never have found these amazing local eateries.

Update - I asked our guys on the ground for a local restaurant recommendation - here is the reply:


Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Old Book Bazaar (attraction)
  2. Rüstem Pasha Mosque (attraction)
  3. Uskudar (neighborhood)
  4. AND Hotel (hotel)
  5. Ayasofya | Hagia Sophia (attraction)
  6. Blue Mosque (attraction)
  7. Golden Horn Istanbul (hotel)
  8. The House Hotel Galatasaray (hotel)
likes (4) thanks
answered by
Agnes from The Hague

Dear Tony, First of all, great period to visit Istanbul, the best weather. Design and non tourist spots in Istanbul can be find the in the Wallpaper guide of Istanbul. A nice place to stay is Karaköy Rooms. it might be a bit easy but The Guardian placed a great article on Stylish Istanbul, which can be find here.

I have seen that many locals gave spot on perfect answers, so not much to add from my side :-) 

Have a great time! 

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Karaköy Rooms (hotel)
likes (4) thanks
answered by
Jodi from Funchal

Hi there! I usually travel to eat, so food is my go-to focus. For your general guide, I'd peruse the Istanbul Eats blog as they have the most comprehensive food coverage in town. They also do culinary tours. (Their recent post is on the 5 best kebab grills in town)

Another handy guide to bookmark is an unusual one, quite opinionated but from an expat who spent quite a bit of time in town: Robyn from Eating Asia

If you're looking for a history of the many felines in town, I wrote a post about it here

Agree with some of the sights above, but please also take a ferry to the Asian side in the earlier morning, so that you can walk through the markets lining the tiny streets. It's quite rewarding, and a lovely way to spend time in another part of the city. Cap it with a meal at Çiya Sofrası.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Çiya Sofrası (restaurant)
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top answer by
Sebnem from Istanbul

Hi Tony,

As a local I can recommend the following:

Hotels: Around Galata Tower, in Cihangir and Karaköy you will find a lot of galleries and will be surround by many locals. I would suggest you Manzara Istanbul (Galata Tower), which has apartments to rent and most of them have a breathtaking view. Second would be Witt İstanbul Suites in Cihangir, just be aware that you have to climb a small hill to get to Taksim Square, but the hotel is definitely a hidden gem and very close to very good coffee shops. Third suggestion is the Tomtom Suites Hotel, which is located very close to the Istiklal Avenue, the location could be negative at night, just wanna let you know. If you wanna spend some money than you will be good with the Çırağan Palace Kempinski and the Four Seasons Bosphorus, which are both neighbours and located directly at the Bosphorus or the Pera Palace Hotel, which the oldest hotel in Istanbul, where Agatha Christie, Heminway and Hitchcock stayed before you! ;-) The hotel was renovated in 2010 as far as I remember.

Restaurants: Sunset Grill & Bar is one of the best restaurants in Istanbul and my personal favorite, where you will meet a lot of people from the Istanbul jet set, they also have the best Sushi in town. My recommendation go there to have a drink during sunset and enjoy a good steak afterwards. If you want to eat like locals do you have to go to a meyhane, which is a kind of tavern starting with meze platters (tapas) and then have a fish or meat. You will find a lot of meyhane in Istanbul, however I will suggest you to go to Cukurcuma'da Bahar, which is quite new but hip as well, they have a garden where you could sit outside, since the weather will be still warm in fall. Your hotel will suggest you mostly the touristic ones, try to avoid them. Another suggestion for meyhane will be Meze by Lemon Tree and Karaköy Lokantası. If you want to enjoy traditional Anatolian food Çiya Sofrası, which is located on the Asian side of Istanbul is one of the best traditional restaurant. Here are some more traditional but fancy suggestions; Feriye Lokantası (Ortaköy), Zeyrekhane (historic peninsula), Nar Lokanta (close to the Grand Bazar and has Armaggan, which is a design shop), X Restaurant (on top of the Istanbul Culture and Art Foundation) and Mikla Restaurant (on top of the Marmara Pera Hotel). All of them have views either to the Bosphorus or the Golden Horn. Bebek, which is one of Istanbul's fancy districts has also a lot of good restaurants, such as Lucca40ChilaiMangerie

Design and architecture: Well as you probably be aware of it Istanbul is very old town. As many others I will also suggest you to visit the Grand Bazaar, which is the world's first known covered shopping mall. Just to have it seen the touristic spots like the Topkapi PalaceHagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are must sees to understand the turkish traditional architecture. If you are interested in the mosaic between modern and traditional the SALT Galata is a museum and gallery. İstanbul Modern is interesting to see the modern art stuff of Turkey, and has a beautiful cafe if there is no cruise ship. The streets around Galata Tower will lead to you small boutiques and galleries, so does Karaköy which is the hippest area of Istanbul these days. I would not say that Istanbul is famous with its buildings and designs, however we have a quite a lot to see. 

Coffee and the beans: Turkish coffee is a must have in Turkey, so don't be afraid of it. The best Turkish Coffee is served with a turkish delight and a small glass of water. The water is drunk first to clear other flavours, then you have the coffee and then the turkish delight to end it sweet. We turkish people say: A good turkish coffee has a 40 years favour. So you see these beans are really important for us too ;-) Mandabatmaz or Karabatak are good addresses to have a good Turkish Coffee. The most popular coffee producer is Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Mahdumları. To find them you need to go to Eminönü and follow the smell of coffee beside the Otantik Spice Bazzar If you still insist of having other kind of coffee, you are good with all coffee shops offering Illy or Julius Meinl. You will find a lot of them in Istanbul. 

Wow, had a lot of suggestions, but there is so much to see and do in Istanbul. You definitely have to visit a Hamam, the best massages will be found at the Cağaloğlu Hamamı, which is one of the oldest hamams in Istanbul. Let me know if you need more information on the traditional way of taking a hamam bath. It will probably look very unhygienic on the first sight, but the hot water prevents any kind of diseases. 

As a man you need to visit a barber shop to get a shaving. You hotel can surely suggest you one.

Try out the continent hopping like we do it every day in Istanbul. You can use the ferry from Kabataş (Europe) to get to Kadıköy (Asia) and back. 

If you have time left visit Burgazada, one of the Princes' Islands and of course our world famous Maiden's Tower on the middle of the Bosphorus. You will find sea shuttles from Kabatas. 

Having a hookah is also a must do, however I get headache from it and therefore don't like it. 

If you need help with something just let me know. And maybe we meet for your first turkish coffee in Istanbul ;-)

Comments (5)

What a phenomenal answer!

thnx Courtney =)

AMAZING stuff here, Sebnem! I can't wait to visit Istanbul myself to see all these places, and to feast on some Turkish delight! :)

oh you should come Debbie, it really is a beautiful city. Let me know when planning the trip =)

amazing inputs, thank you!!!!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Galata Tower (attraction)
  2. Cihangir (neighborhood)
  3. Karaköy (neighborhood)
  4. Manzara Istanbul (hotel)
  5. Witt İstanbul Suites (hotel)
  6. Tomtom Suites Hotel (hotel)
  7. Istiklal Avenue (attraction)
  8. Çırağan Palace Kempinski (hotel)
  9. Four Seasons Bosphorus (hotel)
  10. Pera Palace Hotel (hotel)
  11. Sunset Grill & Bar (restaurant)
  12. Cukurcuma'da Bahar (restaurant)
  13. Meze by Lemon Tree (restaurant)
  14. Karaköy Lokantası (restaurant)
  15. Çiya Sofrası (restaurant)
  16. Feriye Lokantası (restaurant)
  17. Zeyrekhane (restaurant)
  18. Nar Lokanta (restaurant)
  19. X Restaurant (restaurant)
  20. Mikla Restaurant (restaurant)
  21. Lucca (restaurant)
  22. 40 (restaurant)
  23. Chilai (restaurant)
  24. Mangerie (restaurant)
  25. Grand Bazaar (attraction)
  26. Topkapi Palace (attraction)
  27. Hagia Sophia (attraction)
  28. Blue Mosque (attraction)
  29. SALT Galata (attraction)
  30. İstanbul Modern (attraction)
  31. Mandabatmaz (restaurant)
  32. Karabatak (restaurant)
  33. Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Mahdumları (restaurant)
  34. Eminönü (neighborhood)
  35. Otantik Spice Bazzar (attraction)
  36. Cağaloğlu Hamamı (attraction)
  37. Kabataş (neighborhood)
  38. Kadıköy (neighborhood)
  39. Burgazada (island)
  40. Princes' Islands (island)
  41. Maiden's Tower (attraction)
comments (5)
likes (13) thanks

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