I’m going to be home in Denmark the entire month of June (after visiting eight countries in the past three months, I’m looking forward to quality time with my pug on the sofa…), but we did just book a trip to Istanbul in July! Simon and I never had time to take a honeymoon after we tied the knot in November, so this, my friends, is it. We’ll be staying at the insanely chic Soho House Istanbul and can’t stop talking about all the hummus we’re going to consume. I am saving my pennies for the Grand Bazaar and look forward to getting scrubbed down in a luxurious Turkish bath. I just ordered this book (doesn’t it look fascinating?!) and can’t wait to dive in. If you’ve been to Istanbul before, I’d love to hear your suggestions on where to eat/drink/shop/explore! Below are some fun finds from Turkey I’ve been flagging for shopping inspiration. Thank god Turkish Airways has a generous luggage policy!
Silk Ikat Polka Dot Pillow, $69
Ikat Silk Velvet Pillow Cover, $75
How lovely! And I hope you post about your Grand Bazaar treasures after your honeymoon!
Istanbul is magical and feast for the eyes, especially if you’re an art history fan! I spent a few nights in the city a while back and after a long day of sightseeing, my friend and I loved the A’YA Rooftop Lounge at the Four Seasons in the Sultanahmet for drinks and the insanely beautiful view. Enjoy your trip!
Istanbul is my favorite city! A multi-layered, fascinating blend of east and west, old and new, religious and secular…it’s unlike anywhere else I’ve been. It’s especially wonderful in the summer! My recommendations are:
– Dinner at Asitane (one of the top Turkish restaurants in Istanbul, in an old converted mansion with a walled garden, so romantic and beautiful – if you’ll be there during Ramadan, I recommend their traditional Iftar feast)
– Shopping at Tulu in Sultanhamet
– The Grand Bazaar is great, but it’s often so crowded that it’s hard to even walk! I think the smaller yet no less awesome Arasta Bazaar in Sultanhamet is better
– If you’re going to have a Turkish bath, I highly suggest the fabulously luxurious Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam – you should Google photos of this place, right next to the Hagia Sofia. It’s seriously one of the most beautiful places and possibly the best 2 hours of my life. Worth every penny!
– Wandering Cihangir, the trendy and super Parisian-feeling neighborhood – so many great restaurants, and some have rooftops with amazing views
– And of course, the first-time visit must-do’s – visit the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace, descend into the Basilica Cistern to see the Medusa Heads, and take a cruise on the Bosphorus!
Hope that helps! Enjoy!
Katie Armour says
Jamie — Will do! xo
Inneli – Thanks for the tip! Will try to check it out for cocktails!
Jenna – This is so helpful! Tulu and the spa you mentioned were already on my list! Adding all the rest. Your suggestions have me so excited! Thank you! xx
Just a heads up, my son is studying at Stanford, as his school sponsors research programs for students, he will be in Sicily this summer (diving exploring a 6 AD Roman shipwreck-the lucky kid), but the program rejected a second trip later in the summer to Turkey to students- due to concerns for their safety. There is a travel warning at this time. https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/turkey-travel-warning.html
I grew up in Europe and traveled abroad extensively all around the globe (Istanbul is a beautiful city), so generally feel that these concerns should be taken with common sense and don’t get too worked up about such things- but just thought you should know.
Katie Armour says
Kumi – Thanks for saying hello. We read the travel warning, but still decided to book the trip. Obviously won’t be going anywhere near the Syrian border and are praying there won’t be any incidents in Istanbul while we’re there. On another note, I hope you’ll be able to visit your son in Sicily?! I spent two weeks there in college—such an incredible place. xo
Hi, I came across your blog while researching for my trip to Paris and saw your entry about your trip to Istanbul, my home city. Born and raised in Istanbul I would like to point out some good things if you’re interested :)
-Tea time in Pera Palas Hotel (this is a historic hotel, Ataturk stayed there frequently and has a dedicated room/museum room that you can visit. Also Agatha Christie has a dedicated room )
-A visit to Pera Museum (in the same area as the Pera Palas, has a good collection of orientalist/ottoman inspired paintings of 19-20th century)
-Boat tour on the Bosphorus (private tour if possible) seeing the city from the sea is priceless
-Visit to Prince Islands (there are several islands in Istanbul, they are surprisingly not very touristic but I would highly recommend seeing them, you’ll feel like you stepped into a time machine, motor vehicles are not allowed on the islands and the houses are all from 19 – early 20th century so its very nice) And if you are a sailor, you can rent a sail boat and sail to the islands yourself, they are not far.
Neighbourhoods Moda and Karaköy are definitely authentic, nice and worth seeing, apart from the old city of course :) And if you want to see the modern and pretty areas visit Bagdat Street
For shopping Haremlique is fantastic, and for the evil eye beads “Pasabahce” shops are the best
And of course the food ! You have to eat “Simit” (traditional round dough with sesames, you’ll see these literally everywhere) Drink lots and lots of tea (served in the traditional glasses) Visit the restaurant “Ciya” (traditional ottoman couisine, you can taste very unique and old school stuff here) A more sophisticated fine dining in ottoman cuisine would be “Neolokal” and of course for Turkish delight I would recommend “Hacı Bekir”, founded in 18th century, definitely THE best lokum and candy in İstanbul.
Hope you have a lovely time in Istanbul :)
Katie Armour says
Gul — I’m so thrilled you stumbled across my blog because this is so helpful! The islands you mentioned sound especially amazing. Will look into it all. Thank you so much!
You MUST go to Jennifer’s Hamman! It is the best place to buy turkish towels, robes, soaps, scrubs, etc. (So soft and so beautiful!) Istanbul is such a gorgeous place! I hope you enjoy every second!
Katie Armour says
Leslie — Adding it to our itinerary now. I intend to stock up on Turkish towels. Thanks for the tip! xx
I brought home an antique Turkish carpet last November from a fantastic seller in the Grand Bazaar. I highly highly recommend Şişko Osman. You will be overwhelmed at the Grand Bazaar so it’s good to hone in on one seller and then start the laborious (but fun!) process of finding that special piece. Here’s the lowdown:
I’ve lived in istanbul for 20 years. I can give you a local list, where we loved to drink, eat, shop and visit:))
But the top 10 list is below; Istanbul’s Top10 from a local social butterfly:)
1.Best for Turkish Tapas, http://www.dublemezebar.com/
2.Best for shopping Local Turkish Modern Designers, https://www.instagram.com/souqkarakoy/
3.Best Coffee in town http://www.petracoffee.com/collections/workshop
4.Best Breakfast in town http://www.sutis.com.tr/index.asp?action=subelerimiz_emirgan
5.Best Bosphorous Dinner http://www.sunsetgrillbar.com/
6.Best Wine Tasting Place: http://georges.com/tr/bar-restaurant-le-fumoir-de-georges/
7.Best Hipster Place and Delicious Foods: https://www.instagram.com/bomontiada/
8.Best Dinner&Wine in Galata: https://www.instagram.com/nolaistanbul/
9.Best Roof Bar: http://www.thestregisistanbul.com/tr
10. Best Club: http://www.anjelique.com.tr/turkish/#turkish/anjelique-hakkinda.html