Kadıköy, lying beside the Bosphorus, next to historic Üsküdar, is perhaps Istanbul’s liveliest neighbourhood after Istiklal Avenue. Being the cultural center of Anatolian side, Kadıköy will welcome you with numerous cafes, bars, cinemas and shops. Most importantly, you will be amazed by the extraordinary energy in the air! You will see mostly young people on streets, though its locals also include middle-class families that enjoy its famous markets even more than its nightlife.
The centre of the area is a bull statue marking the meeting point of six roads, including Bahariye Avenue, the shopping corridor, and Söğütlü Çeşme Avenue, the gateway to the coast. Moda, adjacent to Kadıköy, is also a must-see place to feel the old Istanbul. At night the heart of the district beats on Barlar Sokağı (Kadife Street) and Osmancık Street.
A Perfect Day...
Sea, tea and peace – Moda is a good way to start the day. Get there by taking the tram in front of Kadıköy IDO (ferry station) to the Moda stop.
The most famous house in Moda is certainly the one that Barış Manço, world wide known Turkish rock singer, used to live before passing away in 1999. The house was turned into a museum by his wife to cherish his memory. Check out his interesting costumes, jewellery, classic car and other personal belongings Tuesday to Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
There is nothing like drinking tea with a view of the Bosphorus. One of the best places for that is Kemal’in Yeri, where you can enjoy the sea from above. Or, get closer to the water at the restaurant in Old Moda Seaport (Tarihi Moda İskelesi).
I suggest returning back to Kadıköy by foot along Moda Avenue. At the end of the avenue, on the right you will see Tellalzade Street (or Antiques Street). The street will transport you to the 1960s with its beautiful antique shops and old colorful houses. Although several cafes and bars have been opened lately here, the small tea place on the corner at the beginning is still the spot.
At the end of the street, turn left and then right to Serasker Street. Walk to the left and you will see Ali Suavi Street on the right with a statue of a famous Ottoman thinker Ali Suavi. This lovely street, full of vendors selling handmade jewellery, ceramics, glass works and original artworks, is home to Surp Levon Armenian Church.
Turn back to Bahariye Street. It is shopping time! You can find famous brands all along the street. For lunch, Happy Moon’s would be a nice choice with its large menu of world cuisine. Across the road there is Süreyya Opera House, an important building of Kadıköy founded in 1927 by Süreyya İlmen Pasha.
From Bahariye, turn to Dr. Hasan Ünlüer Street on the right and then to the second left to find Masal Evi, a nostalgic cafe in a Greek house. Be sure to try its special (spiked) coffees like “coffee after eight” and “coffee d’orange.”
Continue to the right to find Barlar Sokağı. Should you resist the pull of its pubs and cafes, turn left from Rexx Cinema and continue walking until Sarraf Ali Street. Take the first right and you will see Kadıköy Market spread before you, with stands selling fish, grocery, cheese, and spices and crowds eager to buy it all.
For a nice walk along the seaside, walk towards white balloon. On its left Kadıköy Coast leads up to Moda - a great way to finish the day or enjoy the sunset.
If you prefer sitting somewhere on seaside, Balon Cafe under the white balloon is a nice spot for a snack and tea. By the way, that shining building seen across the sea is Haydarpaşa Train Station which was built in 1872 in neo-classical structure by two German architects in order to connect Istanbul to the important railways of the time.
For a nice dinner, your next destination should be Çiya Sofrası. With its rich menu of classic Ottoman cuisine and beautiful presentation, Çiya Sofrası has become a predominant restaurant in the district. If you prefer having fish, Agapia Meyhanesi is a nice place for eating fish with meze and rakı.
If you had your dinner in Agapia Meyhanesi, then you are now in Barlar Sokağı. Ready to have fun? Barlar Sokağı is where usually university students hang out at night. There are two bars with live performances on Fridays and Saturdays. For those who prefer electronic music Karga Bar is a good choice. If you like rock music, then you should check out Buddha Bar. Hera is a calmer place to hang out with friends. Finally, metalheads should not miss Zincir Bar.
Osmancık Street is a newer area in the Kadıköy scene, drawing mostly 20- and 30-somethings. One of the best spots on Osmancık is Shaft, where really good Turkish bands take the stage. All around Shaft are quieter spots where you can sit and chat with your friends till morning.
Other Places to Check Out
Istanbul Toy Museum
Everyone has a child inside and this is where you can make him happy! Istanbul Toy Museum was founded by famous poet and writer Sunay Akın with over 1,000 toys he collected from antique shops in 20 different countries. It is open Tuesday to Friday 9.30 a.m. - 6 p.m.; 09.30 a.m. - 7 p.m. on the weekend. For more information click here.
Salı Pazarı (or Kadıköy Bazaar), is the biggest bazaar of Anatolian side. More than the half of the bazaar is comprised of clothes and the remaining is groceries. You can find great deals here if you’re willing to dig. And do not forget to bargain! The bazaar is open in Tuesdays and Fridays. You can get there by minibus from Kadıköy. You can catch it at minibus stop on very right side of seaside behind the buses.
Other Places to Eat
Süt Yumurta Reçel
This small place was founded in 2011 by a married couple, to serve its customers healthy and home-made breakfast. Süt Yumurta Reçel, which also offers local Turkish breakfast menus, such as those from the Aegean and Black Sea regions, is considered one of the best places for breakfast in Anatolian side. The warm atmosphere and delicious food will fill you up in every way.
Since its founding in 1923, Baylan Patisserie has become a classic in Istanbul. You should definitely try its “Kup Griye”, a cup with ice-cream and cream, a dishinventedat Baylan and today sold in Europe with the name “Coupe Baylan.”
Cafe Kibrit Kutusu, means “matchbox”, is where you can feel the warmth of your home. Found on Ali Suavi Street, this cafe is known for its different kinds of soda brought from all around Turkey and delicious desserts.
Mola Yemek Evi
Those interested in daily Turkish food should not miss this affordable place. The chef and owner of this small restaurant in Damacı Street pays attention to use only natural ingredients. With the “menu of the day,” you can taste dishes from a different region every day.
Viktor Levi Wine House is one of the most elegant places in Kadıköy with its rich menu of world cuisine and long wine list. The nicely decorated, leafy garden is a cool spot (in every sense of the phrase) for a hot summer day.
Belfast Cafe Pub
Belfast is the first Irish pub founded in Anatolian side. Drinks are more expensive than they should be but it is worth to its cool atmosphere and great Guinness beer. You can find it on Dr. Esat Işık Street, when you turn left from at the end of Kadife Street.
How to Get There
To go from Sultanahmet, take the tram to Eminönü and then ferry from Eminönü Kadıköy İskelesi. For Taksim you have 3 options. 1) Bus 110: Kadıköy is the last stop. 2) A dolmuş (yellow minibus), which will cost 6 TL. 3) For those who don’t want to risk a traffic jam, taking the ferry from Beşiktaş is a good option.
Getting back to the European side late night from Kadıköy is not difficult. You can again take dolmuş which works all night. The last run of the 110 bus is 02.50 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Otherwise,you will be able to find a taxi on streets easily as they wait for customers getting out the bars. It would cost around 35-40 TL.
But, the hardest part will be leaving!