@GeekTreks: @RoughGuides – Headed to Istanbul in a week! Must do list? Areas to avoid (given recent events!?)
Get those suggestions flowing please
Let’s start with breakfast. You should go here: terinaandtim.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/kaymakc-pando.html. It’s not the healthiest start to the day (homemade clotted cream and honey with white bread) but it tastes dreamy and the elderly couple who run the show are charmers too.
In the evening, after a few drinks, there’s nothing better than the street food around Nevizade Sok –definitely try the stuffed mussels (which you pay for one by one) and the kokoreç (lamb’s intestines), though probably not on the same night.
Great suggestions Neil.
I’d say as long as you keep away from Taksim Square and potentially Istikal Avenue (if trouble is flaring), you’ll not have any problems.
There’s a phenomenal kebab restaurant just off the square which is well worth a visit. kenanustaocakbasi.com/ You sit round the grill and the owner passes out mini bites while you wait for your meat to cook. Best food I had in three weeks there.
I’d also recommend trying out a few of the new coffee shops, including Heirloom and Kronotrop, once you’ve had your fill of Turkish coffee.
There’s also a nice chilled out new(ish) restaurant in Sultanahment with a glass floor looking down into the basement. It’s full of cushions & sofas and does great mezze. Good alternative to the backpacker street nearby. It’s called Palatium.
And after all that eating, you’ll probably be far too exhausted to go sightseeing so why not just head to a historic hamam (Turkish bath) for a lie down? I visited Cagaloglu Hamami and Cemberlitas and would recommend both – they’re in the old city so handy for a break from sightseeing (or eating) and, although pricier than smaller local baths, are used to tourists so will help you navigate hamam etiquette and make sure you don’t make a fool of yourself. Sprawl on marble under the impressive ancient dome, enjoy a vigorous scrub and prepare to have several buckets of water thrown at you!
When you’re done, the unmissable Sultanahmet sights – Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia and Yerebatan Sarnici – are just around the corner, though you’ll have to join the crowds to see them. For escape, the Archeology Museum’s stunning collection – lots of sarcophagi – is surprisingly crowd-free, or take a walk up to admire the city’s largest and most beautiful mosque, Sulemaniye Camii.