Istanbul is a city of the full spectrum: old and new, modern and ancient, east and west. The people are some of the most gentle, hospitable and kind people I have ever experienced. The scents, textures, style and panache was inspiring. We were fortunate to be there during a national holiday, so the streets were full of festive spirits, and there was a small portion of the usual traffic and hustle bustle. We are so thankful to our local friends who took us on explorations by foot, car and boat to witness a few real gems in this incredible city.

Creative Spaces

  • Bomontiada - beer factory turned into cultural center with a music venue, beer house, makerspace, boutiques and airy courtyard.
  • Atolye Istanbul @ Bomonti Ada in Sisli
  • Kollective House
  • Impact Hub House Ayse Nur Ozcan
  • Joint Idea (Arnavutkoy) -  Small and intimate space for events and co-working
  • Misir Apartments * - offices and co-working space in a converted old apartment building, with restaurant on top floor 
  • Iskele 47 (Kadikoy)
  • Esma Sultan Yalisi * -  ruin turned into cultural center and restaurant 
  • Topane-I Amire * - used to produce canons, contemporary exhibits



  • Mangerie - Delicious place for a weekend brunch, European-Turkish style, with airy decor and view of the Bosphorus.
  • Delimonti - Incredible deli of fine Turkish goods and foods
  • Karabatak Cafe - Lovely, outdoor leafy cafe in a cool neighborhood with delicious coffee
  • Karakoy Gulluoglu - Bakery serving up the most famous baklava and Turkish coffee. Open late and a great place for a special dessert. 
  • Karakoy Lokantasi - Parisian style Turkish eatery with local fresh, mezze dishes. 
  • Eleos - Hidden gem with incredible Greek-Turkish food with gorgeous balcony overlooking view of the city. Wonderful service and music. Up a few flight of stairs in an old, unassuming building.


  • Grand Bazaar - know that everything is marked up 50%, so youโ€™ll need to use your bargaining skills.
  • Leila Boutique - artisan leather handcrafts and owned by a wonderful woman representing other female Turkish artists.
  • Nishantashe * - oldest neighborhood to buy things 
  • Cafer Aga Medrese * - courtyard craft shops (watch artists while they work) 
  • BNQ - upscale, Turkish designer boutique.


Ten Karakoy, A Morgans Original - boutique design hotel in the hip Kara key neighborhood that was originally the Baliki Greek Hospital until 1753. Wonderful lobby design, rooms and rooftop balcony for a reasonable price.


  • Karakoy - hipster central, chalk full of coffee shops and bars.
  • Arnavututkoy Bebek * - hip, cool neighborhood to walk. bring good walking shoes for the steep hills.
  • Beyoglu - Youthful, shopping area with many cool alleys and side streets with kebab stalls and small boutiques


  • Ayasofia Mosque & Museum
  • The Blue Mosque
  • Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami - The oldest, most luxurious bathhouse in Istanbul since 1580. Get the full treatment with massage and foam bath. And donโ€™t forget to check out their kiosk store with original bathhouse items.
  • Pera Museum  (museums) - wonderful small museum with just 2 floors of well curated exhibits.
  • Arter - art space
  • SALT Galata - art space
  • Jigange - hipster artist neighborhood
  • Nisantasi - local upscale shopping district
  • Kabak Valley - Fethiye 
  • Sabanji Museum * - museum near sea in forest, modern style in an renovated barn
  • Yerebatan Sarinici - ancient underground tunnels that served as the original Basilica 
  • Piyalepasa Camii - Unique rectangular-shaped mosque with gorgeous interior
  • Ortakoy Sahili - Beautiful rose-colored mosque with a gorgeous view of the Bosphorus river
  • Santra Istanbul - Electrical museum 
  • Galata Anemon - romantic restaurant in Istanbul 
  • Prince islands - lovely local island home to many famous artists and writers. Take a 45min ferry from the main ferry station
  • Galata Tower - incredible 360 views of the entire city


Essential words to know in Turkish: 

  • Tesekkurler - Thanks
  • Serefe - Cheers 
  • Merhaba - Hello 
  • Cok guzel - Very beautiful/good 
  • Huzun- the beauty of sorrow  
  • Mekan - Imkan (space - opportunity)