Wander the cobblestone streets of Istanbul, Europe’s largest city, and you’ll see a community that cares about…cats. Food on doorsteps and makeshift homes in alleys, neighbors take care of Istanbul’s almost one million street cats.
Behind the street cat community are ancient churches-turned-mosques, spice markets, restaurants on hills, and ferries that disappear into the sunset. To see it all, spend years in Istanbul. Here’s what my wife, five-year-old daughter, and I did in seven days.
- Baklava from Karaköy Güllüoğlu, a shop with different kinds of baklava that first opened in 1843.
- Breakfast feast at Van Kahvalti Evi, a small breakfast shop that some locals claim is the best in the city.
- Fresh bread from Çeşme Bazlama Kahvaltı Nişantaşı 1, a popular breakfast spot where women make fresh bread in the front.
- Manti from Saloon Galata, a restaurant near Galata Tower with a diverse menu.
- Takeout from Bombay Masala Indian Restaurant, an Indian restaurant with tasty butter chicken.
- Turkish food at Lokanta Elina, a small restaurant outside the main tourist area.
- Wraps from Basta! Street Food Bar, a small restaurant on Istanbul’s Asian side.
- Bubble tea from Monster Teashop– Kadikoy, a small teashop with custom bubble tea.
- Salep from Roots Studio Cafe, a cafe on the top floor of a building with views of Istanbul.
- Explore the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest markets, finding its side markets.
- Find the rainbow stairs near the Findikli tram station.
- Ride public transportation from buses to the Metro to ferries
- It’s easy to navigate and cost-effective.
- For one of the best sunsets in the city, ride the ferry as the sun goes down.
- Shop for authentic Turkish towels at Pera Family, a family-owned shop near Galata Tower.
- Take your kids to Cihangir Park, a fenced playground on a hill.
- Cobblestone streets on hills in Balat, once known as Istanbul’s Jewish quarter.
- Design-forward fish market at the Besiktas Fish Market.
- Historic Ottoman houses in the Kuzguncuk neighborhood.
- Murals throughout the city, but especially in the Kadıköy neighborhood.
- View of the city from Kuzguncuk, a neighborhood on the Asian side.