Tag Archives: Istanbul

What to do in Istanbul and the best places to see in Istanbul.

10 Istanbul Museums to Experience

All the museums listed below are on the European side of Istanbul and they are mostly very close to one another, so you can see all of them in just a couple of days.

Magic Ice: Istanbul’s Ice Museum

Istanbul Ice Museum may sounds a bit surprising. But unfortunately Istanbul is no longer the usually-warm city visitors imagine. Sure, it still has hot summers and generally warm springs, but it also sees lots of close-to-0 days, as well as snowy ones.

Istanbul Ice Museum by Inka

Opened in April 2010, Istanbul is to be the hottest city that holds an ice-themed museum. It is in Forum Istanbul, a popular and trendy shopping center. You can visit the museum every day, compliments of being located in a mall. All you need to do is to take the subway and get off on the stop that leads directly inside the shopping center.

The admission to go into the Viking-themed ice wonder is 20TL, and you need to wear protective outfits before you enter. After that all you have to do is walk around and enjoy the sculptures under blue lights and read the story of the Viking’s Istanbul voyage (which is available in both English and Turkish.)

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (Istanbul Modern)

This list includes several museums that contain many diverse examples of Ottoman Empire, Byzantine and Ancient Anatolian civilization’s culture, but it is not to say Istanbul doesn’t have its share of museums that exhibit modern and post-modern artworks from both Turkish and international artists.

Sculpture in front of Istanbul Museum of Modern Art by Inka

Continue reading

10 Great Istanbul Restaurants to Discover

Istanbul is one big cosmopolitan city that lies both in Asia and Europe with 2 bridges connecting the land on both continents. You have endless restaurants from which to choose,; I tried to pick great restaurants from both sides that won’t hurt your budget. And don’t be intimidated about the size of the city. Without traffic, crossing sides won’t take more than 15 minutes. However I recommend that you take the ferry during rush hour. I’ve given the prices in Turkish Lira (TL; in March 2012 1TL = £0.35/$0.56/0.42Euro.

Goze, Sariyer, European Side

Located by the sea, on the European side, Sariyer is full of restaurants with great views. However only Goze offers a gorgeous view, a rich brunch menu at only 25 TL, creatively decorated tables, glass walls, elevated entrance and 2 patios.

Istanbul restaurants

Photo via sariyerilcesi.com

Turks are big on brunches at the weekends, and you can rarely beat Goze’s price and location. The open-buffet brunch menu is varied with unlimited tea, though you might have to pay extra for coffee or orange juice. Across from the restaurant there is a patisserie of the same name which specializes in desserts, so it might be a good place to finish your brunch on a sweet note.

Ciya, Kadikoy, Asian Side

Ciya, a favorite of both the tourists and locals, is a unique restaurant as its 3 branches are all located in the same fish market district of Kadikoy, and all of these branches specialize in different things. One offers traditional & authentic Turkish dishes from all around Turkey, the second one has kebab and “lahmacun” as well as a selection of traditional dishes and the last one offers dishes cooked with olive oil only.The traditional dishes are healthy and delicious, and many of them can be feasted on even if you are on a diet. I should know, my uncle is allowed to eat there by his dietician. The fact that “olive oil” dishes don’t include meat means Ciya is also a heaven for vegetarians.

Istanbul restaurants

Photo via ciya.com.tr

Continue reading

The Best of Istanbul Travel Tips

On the edge of Europe, the fascinating Turkish city of Istanbul has more than enough to entertain pretty much every traveller. This round-up of posts about the city on Europe a la Carte will give you plenty of ideas of things to do in Istanbul.

Podcast on Things to Do in Istanbul


Subscribe to the Europe a la Carte Podcast in itunes or audioboo



Tourist Attractions in Istanbul

A must see in Istanbul is the Dolmabahce Palace – the largest palace in Turkey, situated right on the Bosphorus on the European side. It’s opulent and impressive, and you must take a guided tour to see inside.

Things to do Istanbul

Dolmabahce Palace by Kivanc Nis

The Bascilica Cistern was formerly a vast water reservoir which serviced the city during the Byzantine and Ottoman period. It’s now open to visitors who can walk along the wooden walkways and admire the three hundred marble columns.

Things to do Istanbul

Bascilica Cistern by Salim Virji

Although you can’t take the Orient Express these days, Sirkeci Gare train station is still well worth a visit. It’s an elegant building with a small museum and numerous reminders of the Orient Express days.

Things to do Istanbul

Front of Sirkeci Gare station by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Museums in Istanbul

Istanbul is full of interesting and varied museums, and one of the newest is also one of the strangest: this rather warm city is now home to an Ice Museum. The story of how the Vikings came to Istanbul in the ninth century is told through ice carvings and if you’re worried about the cold, don’t be – museum visitors are supplied with very warm capes to survive the temperatures – modelled below by Inka!

Things to do Istanbul

Outfits for the Ice Museum by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art opened in 2004. Don’t be put off by the unassuming warehouse building which houses it – there really is excellent art to be found inside.

Things to do Istanbul

The Istanbul Modern by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Eating in Istanbul

A highlight of any trip to Istanbul has to be enjoying some of the local Turkish food. One of the obvious must-eats are shish kebabs – or correctly, ÅŸiÅŸ kebabs – and Marcus will get your mouth watering with his tip to visit the Umut OcakbaÅŸi restaurant to get a great example of this food.

Things to do Istanbul

The grill at umut ocakbaşı by Marcus Cedestrom

Inka was advised to try a fish bun at the Galata Bridge, which sounds delicious (and not even too unhealthy – the perfect snack!). Inka reckons that the Flower Passage is the place for fish restaurants in Istanbul.

Things to do Istanbul

The two tier Galata Bridge by lobh

Shopping in Istanbul

When you want a break from sightseeing, then you might want to follow Inka’s unique shopping tips for Istanbul, as well as exploring the famous bazaars like Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and the gorgeous Arasta Bazaar,

Things to do Istanbul

Embroidered boots in an Istanbul shop by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Day Trips from Istanbul

We’ve got several tips for day trips from Istanbul, and the first is to head out to Yoros Castle, over on the Asian side of Istanbul. The castle ruins are open any time and free to visit, and Marcus suggests coinciding your visit with sunset so you can get this great view over the city lights of Istanbul.

Things to do Istanbul

View of Istanbul from Yoros Castle by Marcus Cedestrom

Another day trip possibility is to take a boat ride out to the Princes’ Islands. These are a group of nine islands off the shore of the Asian side of Istanbul and with almost no cars permitted, you’re bound to experience a relaxing day – and perhaps a horse and cart ride!

Things to do Istanbul

Horse and cart ride on the Princes’ Islands by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Finally, another great place to visit on the Asian side of Istanbul is Kadiköy. You’ll find fewer tourists there and instead, be able to explore the flower markets, local restaurants and patisseries and old wooden mansions.

Things to do Istanbul
Shop window in Kadiköy by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte

Where to Stay in Istanbul

To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the Best Places to Stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels

Magic Ice – Istanbul’s Ice Museum

I was intrigued when I first heard about one of Istanbul’s latest attractions: an ice museum because that’s one of the last things you would associate with a city in a generally hot country. In fact, the ice museum which opened its doors in April 2010 is the only one in Europe created in a warm country.

Located in FORUM Istanbul, one of the city’s most fashionable shopping malls, a visit to the ice museum is a brilliant choice. Apart from the show, history and exhibits, the museum is open every day of the week, whereas many other museums and historical places in Istanbul are closed on Mondays. So, why not combine a Monday looking at ice sculptures with doing some shopping – window or otherwise – in the pleasant surroundings of FORUM Istanbul. The FORUM is easily reached because it has a separate stop on the METRO (clearly indicated) and is located close to the Central Bus station  in Bayrampasha.

FORUM Istanbul shopping mall in Bayrampasha

Entering the forum from the Metro stop, you descend two floors and find the entrance to Magic Ice right opposite the escalator. Admission is TYL 20 and then the fun begins , because first you have to dress up. You are given an ice blue, protective, hooded  cape with gloves dangling from the collar to put on over your clothes to protect you from the freezing temperatures which are needed to preserve the art behind the ice tunnel. Very fetching outfit, I think.

Wrap up warmly!!

Then you delve into the blue lighted world of ice, walking between semi transparent walls with elaborate lamps over head. The theme of the museum is based on the history of the voyage of the Vikings to Istanbul in 880 and the story is etched into sheets of ice, thankfully in Turkish and English. You can admire an entire Viking boat, a house, an elk and, of course a Viking and read the story of one of the warriors by the name of Halvan who visited the Hagia Sofia and etched his name in runes into one of the walls.

Part of a Viking boat

At the end of the walk an ice bar awaits and you are offered a drink in a glass made from ice. That’s when you need to gloves, so your fingers won’t freeze off. A fabulous chandelier made from ice hangs over the bar.

Chandelier hanging over the bar

Take off your cape and visit the museum shop. Plenty of carved Vikings are in evidence but the souvenirs  I liked best are glass enclosed replicas of some of the exhibits in the museum. You are not allowed to take photographs inside the museum but the PR lady kindly gave me permission when I told her that I was writing about it.

The nicer souvenirs from the museum shop

Then, if you like, go to the upper floors of the shopping mall, have a snack and enjoy two bookshops where you can get a great selection of English language books, something not easy to come by in Turkey outside of Istanbul .Or else, stock up on any imaginable brand of international cosmetics and browse the displays of designer shops as well as more affordable but very chic local creations.

More Istanbul Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Istanbul in our Best of Istanbul Tips.

Where to Stay in Istanbul

To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the best places to stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels

More on European Museums

Find out about more museums in Europe on Europe a la Carte.

Dolmabahce, Istanbul: A Palace of Superlatives

Known as one of the world’s most glamorous and opulent palaces, Dolmabahce on the European side of the Bosporus in Istanbul, attracts thousands of visitors each year. You should experience the overwhelming architecture and decorations of this Istanbul attraction for yourself.

Dolmabahce Palace

Photo from wikipedia, author: SBarnes

Dolmabahce is Turkey’s largest palace, built by Sultan Adbülmecid I between 1843 and 1856. The mono block building covers 45.000 square meters and features 285 rooms and 68 toilets. The cost was the equivalent of 35 tons (!) of gold and 14 tons in the form of gold leaf were uses to gild the ceilings. In addition, the palace entrance hall is illuminated by  the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, which was a gift from Queen Victoria and a sweeping staircase with banisters made from Baccarat crystal.

Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles are combined with Turkish ottoman features to create a unique building. Surrounded by gardens, the palace overlooks the Bosporus on a site which originally served as public gardens, a fact from which the name Dolmabahce (full garden in Turkish) is derived.

Clock Tower adjacent to Dolmabahce Palace

The palace was the administrative center of the last Ottoman sultans and became the presidential summer residence of Atatürk, who died here on 10th November 1938 at 9.05 am. All clocks in the palace remain stopped at the time of Ataürk’s passing.

Whereas you can stroll around other museums and monuments at your leisure in Istanbul Dolmabahce palace can only be viewed with a guided tour.  And you are not allowed to take photographs of the interior.

Sultan's Gate

The tour leads around the most important sections of the palace and you can admire works of art as well as marvelous palace carpets. You can walk around freely in the gardens and to the separate clock tower.

I like to visit by taking the tramway from Sultanahmed to the last stop, Kabatas and then walk along Ciraghan Caddesi , gazing at  the waterfront and admiring  many old mansions which line the street. The walk takes about 30 minutes. Calculate 1 to 2 hours for  the visit to Dolmabahce with the guided tours starting every 20 to 30 minutes.

More Istanbul Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Istanbul in our Best of Istanbul Tips.

Where to Stay in Istanbul

To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the Best Places to Stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels

Kadiköy on Istanbul’s Asian side

Where in the world can you travel from one continent to another for less than a simple London bus fare? Exactly, only in Istanbul.

For a very enjoyable day trip take the ferry from either Eminönü or Karakoy and embark on a 40 minute ‘cruise’ to Kadiköy. Arriving at the ferry terminal you feel the much more sedate, typically Turkish middle class atmosphere of the ‘other’  Istanbul. There is no sign which says Welcome to Asia, people don’t look different or speak another language, but the first thing you notice is the absence of camera toting tourists.

Typical shop window in Kadiköy

Instead you are greeted by a sea of flowers, as right opposite the ferry terminal, in a vast square is one of the most beautiful flower markets I have seen in Istanbul. Right next to it you find another historical train station: Haydarpasa station, very much in the style of Sirkeci Gare but less spectacular. Once the terminal for the famous Bagdad-Istanbul line, it now serves trains to Asia.

Flower market near ferry terminal

The beauty of Kadiköy is not as eye catching as the overwhelming array of world famous buildings and monuments which you find at every twist and turn in Sultanahmed and beyond. Hence the absence of tourist groups. You have to look a bit closer to find the charm of Kadiköy. A lot of the attraction is about food and drink and many cafes and restaurants which  excellent Turkish dishes, at much lower prices than on the other side. I loved this patisserie which specializes in sweets and decorations for new babies.

Sweets and gifts for babies

The main street, Bagdat Caddesi is a commercial place with department stores and other outlets ,much frequented by locals from both sides of Istanbul. A streetcar runs along, blue and white in color but, sadly, plastered from top to bottom with adverts.

You will find art as well in Kadaköy, like this bronze hand, but, again, rather subdued as opposed to ostentatious. Stroll along, shop or window shop, sit in one of the restaurants and then make your way to the bank of the Bosporus to admire some very fine, old, wooden mansions.

Bronze hand in Bagdat Caddesi

Return to the European side either again by ferry or over one of the bridges where, indeed, you will see a sign saying: Welcome to Europe.

More Istanbul Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Istanbul in our Best of Istanbul Tips.

Where to Stay in Istanbul

To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the Best Places to Stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels

A visit to Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

With all the stunning historical sites in Istanbul around you, it’s easy to forget that Turkey has prestigious modern artists too. To create a home for their work and give Turkish modern art the exposure it deserves, the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, commonly referred to as ‘Istanbul Modern’ opened its doors in 2004.The museum has become quite the ‘in’ place for the sophisticated Istanbul art and literature crowd to see and be seen at vernisages and other cultural events.

Istanbul Modern Cafe on the top floor

You should not miss a visit to this remarkable Istanbul attraction when planning your sightseeing. Located in Tophane, just across the Galata bridge, the museum is situated in a vast former dock warehouse right on the shore of the Bosporus. It’s extremely stark, a gray concrete block with a bright red  stripe down the side emblazoned with the words Istanbul Modern. It’s really an impressive contrast to all the opulence of the other buildings which are Istanbul’s landmarks.

The museum is located in a former dock ware house

Picture by nerostrateur taken from wikipedia free licence

Take the Kabatas tram and get off at the Tophane stop. Don’t miss to look at the  fishermen on the Galata bridge and cast your eye over the Galata tower looming in the background.

View of the Galata Tower crossing Galata Bridge

Cross the street towards the waterfront, turn left and start walking. Your route leads you past the baroque Tophane mosque and, next to it, a row of quaint nargile cafes.

Follow an arrow towards the gate to the parking lot and make you way to the entrance of the museum. You can’t miss it anyway as the red sign which is higher  than the building is visible from quite a distance.

In the small park in front of the museum are a few sculptures by modern artists. Whereas the exterior is bare, the interior is beautifully distributed and dedicated to changing exhibitions of Turkish as well as foreign artists. They also have slide shows, videos and audio guides.

Modern sculpture in front of the museum

You are not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but you can photograph in the museum shop which offers a wide range of art books, posters and such things as stationary and note books  adorned with reproductions of the paintings inside.

The museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm but, like most museums in Istanbul, closed on Mondays. Admission is TYL5.

After you have walked through, climb up an iron staircase and enjoy a coffee and snack in the museum café with a nice view over the water.

More Istanbul Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Istanbul in our Best of Istanbul Tips.

Where to Stay in Istanbul

To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the Best Places to Stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels

More on European Museums

Find out about more museums in Europe on Europe a la Carte.

Sirkeci Gare – Istanbul’s emblematic train station

Orient Express and Sirkeci Gare are two tightly connected key words. Although the famous luxury train no longer runs all the way to Istanbul, a visit to the station is a worthwhile trip down memory lane.

Sirkeci Gare's main front

The pink brick, white stucco and black wrought iron structure is a prime example for late 19th century Ottoman architecture which sought to combine oriental elements with western modern style. The architect of the train station was a German, August Jachmund, who had come to Istanbul to study Ottoman architecture and ended up lecturing at Istanbul’s polytechnic. The building was completed in 1888 and inaugurated in 1890.

Side entrance of the train station

Approach the station from the street car stop of the same name and admire a gleaming steam engine which is exhibited at the left of the side entrance. The exterior is beautifully maintained whereas the interior serves as a modern day train station which connects Istanbul to the Balkans and Greece.

Steam engine outside Sirkeci Gare

However, 19th century nostalgia remains very much in evidence. First is the Orient Express restaurant which serves excellent food and is full of photographs and memorabilia of times gone past.

Orient Express restaurant

Next to it is a tiny museum. Admission is free and it’s only one room, but you can admire a lot of exhibits connected to the Orient Express, like old log books, the reconstruction of a luxury dining car, a conductor’s uniform, even cutlery and crockery which was used on the famous train. The charm of this museum lies in its small size and the fact that, short of touching, you can get really close to the exhibits and study them at your leisure.

Memorabilia in the Railway Museum

Also within the station is a community hall. For some reason this is the venue where several nights a week the Sufi lodge of Istanbul arranges a performance of the whirling dervishes, the best I have seen outside of the festival in Konya because the performers are Sufi who have trained many years to achieve perfection. Tickets to the event can be obtained from many shops and kiosks in the vicinity or along Divan Yoglu.

Whirling Dervishes performing in a hall in Sirkeci gare

Leave by the front entrance, cross the square and take a last look at the graceful structure which is an important historical landmark of Istanbul before crossing the Galata Bridge to sample some fish buns and perhaps proceeding to visit the Galata Tower.

More Istanbul Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Istanbul in our Best of Istanbul Tips.

Where to Stay in Istanbul

To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the Best Places to Stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels

Ten of the best Istanbul Hotels for all Budgets

Here are my recommendations for some of the best Istanbul hotels, whether you’re looking for a budget option or something really special.  I searched for a double room for two nights 20 – 22 October 2010.  All the accommodation received an average of at least 75% in mainly verified (i.e. guests actually stayed there) guest ratings.

Istanbul budget hotels

The Tulip guesthouse is located in Istanbul’s historical Sultanahmet district, near the campus of Istanbul university. It’s also within walking distance of all major sites. The guesthouse offers free high speed internet access and has a roof terrace. The price for a room with private bathroom was £50 including breakfast   There’s also the budget option of a bunk in an 8 bedded dorm with shared bathroom facilities for £12 a night. It receives an average of 86% from 10 guest reviews.

The Hotel Antique is also located in the Sultanahmet district within walking distance of St Sofia and the Blue Mosque. The price was £33 for a basic ensuite room or £41 for a room with TV and air conditioning, including breakfast.  It receives an average of  78% from 80 guest reviews.

Best Istanbul Hotels - Best Places to Stay in Istanbul

Blue Mosque Istanbul

My personal favorite, a hotel in which I’ve stayed, is the Muhlis Bey Hotel in Sultanahmed, situated directly opposite the Four Seasons. From the roof terrace where breakfast is served, you can nearly touch the Blue Mosque. The rooms are small but very modern and so are the bathrooms. The price was £60  including breakfast.  It receives an average of 80% from 14 guest reviews.

Best Istanbul Hotels - Best Places to Stay in Istanbul

Bedroom of the Muhlis Bey Hotel

Istanbul mid range hotels

A brand new hotel with rooms furnished in a mixture of Ottoman and Byzantine styles but at the same time equipped with all modern amenities like free wi-fi internet is the Harmony Hotel, located in Sultanahmed. Rooms with balcony overlook the Sea of Marmaris and all major sites are within walking distance. The price was £58 for a basement room or £72 for a standard double room including breakfast. It receives an average of 82% from 32 guest reviews.

A notch up is the W Hotel in Dolmabahce Caddesi near Dolmabace Palace. It offers a lot of luxury and a wonderful location in Istanbul’s fashionable Besiktas district. You can reach Sultanahmed either by taxi or by Metro and tramway. A double room with many amenities costs £187 including American buffet breakfast. It receives an average guest rating of 90% from 141 reviews.

Best Istanbul Hotels - Best Places to Stay in Istanbul

Dolmabahce Palace

Istanbul Luxury Hotels

All my recommendations for luxury accommodation in Istanbul are hotels in which I’ve stayed.

The luxury Four Seasons Sultanahmed is located in a historical building which was once a prison and is close to Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque. Apart from all amenities in the spacious rooms, the hotel offers special event nights every week, from wine tastings to performances of the whirling dervishes. The lowest price for my date search was £573 but this was for a room with a separate living area and a view of the old city.  A standard double generally costs around £350. The hotel receives an average guest rating of 92% from 157 (unverified) reviews .

Best Istanbul Hotels - Best Places to Stay in Istanbul

Performance of the whirling dervishes

Ciragan Palace Hotel is the ultimate luxury hotel in Istanbul. Again, it’s a historical building which once was a Sultan’s Palace with a modern annex but in keeping with the style. Located in Besiktas directly on the Bosporus the hotel features a spa, several restaurants and an infinity swimming pool. The price was £374 for the simplest double with park view but without breakfast . It receives an average guest rating of 96%.

Best Istanbul Hotels - Best Places to Stay in Istanbul

Garden of the Ciragan Palace Hotel

More Istanbul Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Istanbul in our Best of Istanbul Tips.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels

Istanbul Shopping Tips

Let’s be honest. What’s a holiday without a bit of local shopping. Browsing the markets, looking out for souvenirs, even buying necessities just to find out which brands such and such country has and how the locals do things is fun and educational at the same time.

Who can resist to try on this antique kaftan?

Thinking about Istanbul, such world famous places like Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and maybe even Arasta Bazaar immediately spring to mind and certainly should be on the must-see list, but I love to find shops which are not necessarily found in guide books but offer special or particularly nice things.

I’d like to share two Istanbul shopping tips with you; one is a small boutique which specialises in antique and modern traditional Turkish clothes, embroideries, pillow cases and small artefacts and the other is a shopping mall which is an architectural work of art in its own right.

The boutique is located in the basement of the Muhlisbey Hotel in Tevkifhane Street  in Sultanahmed and belongs to the lady who owns the hotel too.  The hotel has only a few rooms and is housed in a restored wooden building, very romantic and a nice place to stay.

The owner is extremely knowledgeable about Turkish history as far as textiles are concerned and entering her tiny shop, you feel like you have walked into a museum, but one where you can actually touch the exhibits, try them on and, bank balance allowing, buy them. She is an avid collector of embroidered antique caftans and wedding gowns, but these precious things cost a bundle.

Enjoying a coffee after my chat

For the more modest purse though, you can find hand embroidered bed spreads, pillow cases, towels and other linens as well as new kaftans, shawls and scarves. She also had lamps, picture fames and other small artefacts.

Even if you don’t buy anything, it doesn’t matter, you are made extremely welcome, can sit on one of the fabulous sofas, drink a Turkish coffee or tea and discuss the art and history of textiles .And she told me about the Sadberk Hanim Museum, started by a Turkish lady of that name who shared the same love for the exceptional art of Turkish clothes and textiles. The museum is to be found heading north on the European side of the Bosporus, turning left towards a white waterside mansion shortly before reaching Sanyer’s town center.

I like to visit a shopping mall, because that’s a place where the locals go and you can learn about their culture by seeing what’s on offer and what they buy. Istanbul has several huge shopping malls, some of them award winning. My favourite is the Kanyon Mall located in Istanbul’s Levent district and so named because the mall was designed to resemble a glass, steel and concrete canyon. The mall is reached by taking the Metro to the Levent stop and then simply following the signs to the entrance.

Cafe in Kanyon Mall Levent

It’s truly a work of art, because the 30 tiered floors are soaring up into the sky, but in such a graceful way that you can only look in admiration. 4 floors are dedicated to shops, the rest are offices. Water, plants and lots and lots a flowers intersperse the walk ways. The shops have a lot of floor space which makes browsing around a pleasure because  you never get pushed or jostled. Not only do you find branches of Harvey Nichols and other international brands but also Turkish designers, shops offering hand made soaps and lemon cologne and of course, an enormous variety of Turkish Delight. You find sit down restaurants with the freshest seafood on the menu as well as romantic cafes or stalls for a quick sandwich.

So if you’re looking for two unique experiences, take my Istanbul shopping tips and head for the boutique at the Muhlisbey Hotel and/or Kanyon Mall.

More Istanbul Tips

You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Istanbul in our Best of Istanbul Tips.

Where to Stay in Istanbul

To help you find a hotel for your stay in the city, you can check out our round-up of the Best Places to Stay in Istanbul, which includes a range of hotels from budget through to luxury.

Click here for the lowest prices on Istanbul hotels