Spend A Whole Saturday Like A Local in Istanbul

Jen Welter-Çaylı
05 June, 2014

Generally when people come to visit our schedule consists of making a tour of the Spice Bazaar, the Blue Mosque and maybe head over to the Asian side for tea. We see all the sights that has made Istanbul the current number one tourist destination in the world. I have been to the Hagia Sofia more times than I care to admit. So, when I was recently asked what my perfect day would be, I had to put a little bit of thought into it. This is what I came up with for you.

@9:30AM | Breakfast-Brunch | Cake House (Besiktas)

Little place that serves ‘ev yemeği’ which translates to ‘house food’.  They manage to pull off comfort food that still feels super fresh and healthy.

Location: Foursquare Link 

@10:45AM | Grocery Shopping | Besiktas Farmers Market (Besiktas)

Located just across Cake House, Beşiktaş market is a  relatively small one as Istanbul ‘pazars’ go. The bottom level is the vegetable/fruit market and the top level is where thrifty Turks go to find amazing deals on factory seconds and jewelry. Don’t miss it!

Location: Foursquare Link

@12PM | Little Walk-Sightseeing | Ihlamur Palace

Just a city block from the Saturday market and is one of the loveliest parks in the city with linden trees for which it was named. The palace was an Ottoman summer home that now it functions as a museum.

Location: Foursquare Link

@1:15PM | Heading to Taksim Square | Grab a Cab

Grab a taxi and head over to Taksim Meydanı. This cab ride shouldn’t cost more than 10 lira, unless there is heavy traffic. So be aware!

READ: More About Taxis in Istanbul

@1:45PM | Start Your Walk at Monument of the Republic

The statue depicts Atatürk as well as prominent Russian soldiers without whom Turkish independence could not have been won. Also note that at the edge is the now famous Gezi Park which of course was the catalyst for last summers anti-government protests. At the height of the protests this area held 1 million people

Location: Foursquare Link

@2:15PM | Little Walk - Sightseeing (Istiklal Avenue)

Note  two exceptional places, the ornate Çiçek Pasajı Turkish for flower passage, where Russian women once sold flowers in the early 1900’s as well as the Balık Pazarı located immediately after which is Turkish for fish bazaar. Make sure you try the midye tava (fried mussels). 

Cicek Pasaji Foursquare Location

Beyoglu Balik Pazari (Fish Market) Location

@3:45PM | Turkish Bath - Hamam Experience | Aga Hamam

Make your way to Ağa Hamam for an authentic Turkish hamam experience. You could consider taking the whole package they offer, the oil massage is well worth the 25 lira price tag. (open till 10pm everyday)

Location: Foursquare Link

@5:30PM | Antiques Shopping | The Works, "Objects of Desire"

The neighborhood which the hamam is located has a lot of antique shops ranging from junk shops to extremely high end, it is a lot of fun to poke around.

@7PM | Pre-Dinner Drinks | Midpoint Restaurant

Head back to Istiklal and continue making your way towards Midpoint for a light meal and maybe a drink. The view of the Bosphorus from the terrace is amazing so be sure to ask to be seated outside.

@8:15PM | Dinner | Eleos Restaurant

Get your evening started back on Istiklal at Eleos fish restaurant. You will get an authentic fish, and raki experience while avoiding the tourist trap areas. The views from the balcony are beautiful but the fresh Mediterranean catch and delectable hot and cold mezzes are what you will remember. Order a bottle of raki and enjoy the festivities with the mostly Turkish patrons.



Jen Welter-Çaylı

An American expat who has been living in Istanbul for the last 4 years. Interested in travel, exploring other cultures and eating great food along the way.

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