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 you’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 don’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)