What Guidebooks Won’t Tell You About Istanbul
As any good Istanbullian will tell you, getting to know the city will probably take a lifetime. You can visit all of the monuments, markets, and popular streets, but you will only be skimming the surface of what makes Istanbul so alluring.
Take Your Time
One of the most important things to remember when you come to Istanbul is to give the city the time it deserves, no matter how little of it you may have. There are many layers to discover, so pick just a few things to do and do them without rushing so that you can soak up the perfume of life in this unique world where the Asiatic and western worlds meet.
At Hotel Büyük Keban, we firmly believe that getting off the beaten track is the first step towards meeting Istanbul on a more intimate level. After you've seen the important sites, we'll advise you to put away the guidebooks and visit neighborhoods like Fatih and Galata, go for a cup of tea underneath the aqueduct, wander around Rumeli Castle before 9 am, and just generally...get lost!
Take Public Transportation
Let's start out with a very practical piece of advice for giving yourself enough time to explore: buy an Istanbulkart that you can reload at any kiosk. Taking public transportation in Istanbul, especially the trams and underground, is a way to avoid taxis and get yourself from point A to B quickly and efficiently. Learn the basic transportation lines so that you can make the most of your time.
Ride the Ferries
Cool in the summer and warm in the winter, this is a great way to see Istanbul's many skylines while giving you a plethora of magical photo opportunities. Ferries in Istanbul let you sightseewithout having to walk, and they're quite romantic, especially around sunset.
Turkish coffee may be the obvious beverage, but tea is really where its at in Istanbul. There's nothing like a good cup of Turkish tea as you rest up between discoveries and watch the world go by. There are some great hideaways, like the tea shop at the far corner of the parking lot right across from the Istanbul Culinary Institute in Beyoglu's Pera district where the sunlight is just perfect around 2 PM.
Osman's Independent Tea Truck in Karakoy on the other side of bridge from the Kadikoy ferry terminal is another find, as is the teahouse in the lovely park around Dolmabahce Palace.
Go Where the Locals Go
Go to Cihangir. This is a little visited neighborhood just downhill from Istiklal Caddesi and only a 10 minute walk to the Tophane tram stop. And if you want to do like the locals do, go across the bridge from Sultanahmet to enjoy the nightlife.
Visit Local Markets
Go to the Besiktas market on Saturdays and the Tarlabasi market on Sundays. These once-a-week markets are lots of fun and great for buying fresh and dried fruit, cheeses, nuts, and spices. Drink juices from street sellers where pomegranates make some of the most refreshing beverages you'll ever taste. We love the one at the entrance to the Tunel funicular in Karakoy, which is cheap and absolutely delicious.
Contact Us Today
For more recommendations on where to go and what to do, contact us today to book your stay at Hotel Büyük Keban and ask our concierge for ideas while you’re here!