10 favorite places in Istanbul

For the TV production mordkommission istanbul I was allowed to spend some weeks in turkey. And besides the beautiful mishmash of languages on set and the wonderful food and my days on the black sea, I also had time to explore exciting istanbul.

As beautiful as it was, this visit unfortunately also highlighted how much turkey has changed since my last trip five years ago. War, the gezi demonstrations, the power-hungry president erdogan. All these things changed the mood and struck a chord with the young, educated class. It makes them fear, feel unfree and doubt whether turkey is still the right place to live. Some of my colleagues said: the city is changing. We have the impression that 'they' want to get rid of us. On the other hand, I also met many who want to defend their freedoms and take brave steps forward, even though they know the dangers.


Maybe exactly these people are a reason to visit the city instead of turning away. So we can show that we appreciate their istanbul and believe in their power. A democracy is a fragile good, just like freedom of expression, tolerance and equality. In istanbul, much of it seems to have fallen into disrepair, but that shouldn't stop us from looking.

Anyway, I had a wonderful time and I am grateful for all the insights I got. Of all the wonderful tips I was given and the spontaneous discoveries I tested, here are now the most beautiful combined and hopefully encourage you to make a trip.

1. Hamam

A visit to turkey is not complete without a thorough cleaning. But be careful: once you've been there, you'll want to go again immediately, because a hamam is a blessing for all the senses. Compared to a steam bath in our country, here you are pampered, scrubbed and washed until you feel pore-deep clean and refreshed. The kılıc ali pasa hamamı is newly renovated, has outstanding service, and in many ways resembles a modern spa. The good thing for tourists is that you don't have to worry about anything and you are well taken care of. However, it is important to book online in advance.

If there is no appointment here you can find a great list of the best hamams in the city at atdaa. I can also recommend the galatasaray hamamı. Here, however, things are a bit more rustic.

Kılıc ali pasa hamamı
kemankes karamustafa pasa mh.
Hamam sk. No:1
34425 istanbul (tophane/karakoy)

Women: 8:00 – 16:00
men: 16:30 – 23:30 hrs

2. Artwalk through yeldegirmeni

Istanbul is full of culture, rich in mosques, palaces and archaeological sites. But after a few days in sultanahmet and fener, searching for the hidden treasures and riches, I was eager to discover the young art scene. But that is not so easy. The city doesn't excite me when it comes to modern and contemporary art museums. So I have been disappointed by istanbul modern on several occasions. However, the contemporary art scene is very active, diverse and widely scattered. You just have to look for them and find them. The best way to do this is with the help of artwalk istanbul. They offer different tours. The best way is to book a guided tour through yeldegirmeni directly with saliha yavuz. If there are several people, it costs 100 lira per person (approx. 33 €). Alone you pay 100 euro. In addition to visiting several artists' studios, galleries and art cafes, you also get wonderful talks about culture, history and politics delivered to you. Saliha was definitely one of the most bubbly, confident and courageous people I had the pleasure of meeting in istanbul. She sees the continuation of the gezi protests in her work and boldly moves forward. The artwalk should be done in the first days of your stay, because you will be recommended so many exciting exhibitions and vernissages that you should have time to visit them.


3. Cuma

Turkish food is fantastic and I love the simple stores that provide you with cig kofte, borek and kumpir, and these vegetable-rich delicacies are also called fast food, as well as the restaurants with their wonderful soups, finely spiced meat and delicious vegetable combinations. Sometimes, however, one is happy about a little excursion into the familiar cuisine and cuma is the perfect place for that. This is where handmade sourdough bread meets avocado and turkish goat cheese, and although you can get a steak here, it's a good place for vegetarians and vegans with a great selection of salads, soups and daily changing dishes of all kinds. The small garden-like terrace, in an amazingly quiet alley beyoglus also invites you to linger and offers many interesting magazines to browse through.


cukur cuma cd. 53
34100 istanbul (beyoglu)

Tuesday to saturday: 9:00 a.M. – 12:00 p.M
sunday: 9:00 a.M. – 8:00 p.M

4. Corinne hotel

This cute little boutique hotel is a joy to stay in. Nice rooms, silky soft pillows, courteous staff. The only downside is that it's not entirely quiet here. The reason for this is that from here you can reach almost everything you need to see on foot. Next door there is a hamam, several coffee shops, restaurants and the big, crowded and world-famous shopping street istiklal caddesi, where there is always something going on. Downhill you come to the galata tower and the bridge of the same name, which leads you to sultanahmet, where most of the historical sights are located. At the foot of the hill are also the ferries that take you quickly to other parts of the city in addition, they serve a wonderful breakfast at corinne with lots of fruit, freshly baked waffles and various turkish delicacies. My recommendation: order an omelet with tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Corinne hotel
turnacıbası caddesi ayhan isık sokak no 41
34433 istanbul (beyoglu)

5. On a boat

Istanbul is crowded, incredibly noisy and in the rarest cases you can get around without any problems. Public transportation is an imposition and even walking can seem complicated because of the lack of street crossings, for example. The most pleasant and beautiful way is to take a break on a boat. This offers not only relaxation, but also a magnificent view of the city and speedy progress, whether you use the ferry to commute between europe and asia, or venture out to the prince islands or even to another city like bursa or to the black sea. Moorings, tours and offers abound. The best thing to do is just stroll to one of the piers and head out.


6. Neolokal

The name says it all. Everything new. All local. For example, the restaurant offers only turkish wines. The ingredients also come from various regions of turkey and are meant to preserve traditional flavors for the future. This attempt results in gigantic taste explosions in the most modern of garb. An enrichment for eyes, mouth and curiosity. I recommend the tasting menu because it gives you a great overview of what the restaurant is capable of. My favorite course was the octopus with lavender, baby potatoes and lemon cream, finished with pine nuts, parsley and lemon zest. The neolokal is also located in salt istanbul, a center for contemporary art. It's best to reserve your table as early as 19:00 and then come a bit earlier to explore another exhibition or do some research in the public library. I already say: afiyet olsun! (good appetite!)


Neolocal at SALT galata
bankalar caddesi
karakoy 34420 istanbul

Noon 12:00-15:00 I evening 19:00-24:00

7. The most traditional confectioner in town

Why I recommend so much food in istanbul? Because the turkish food is one wonderful taste explosion. Everywhere you look: exciting dishes, sweet nibbles and exciting spice combinations. Lokum, also known as turkish delight, is something very special here. It's a type of dried syrup that is enhanced with rose petal water, pomegranate juice, or orange blossom water. In a way, lokum is the precursor of our gummy bears. But, much better! Often the sweet cubes also contain pistachios, almonds or other nuts. My favorite combination is pomegranate gel pistachio. You can buy the delicacies everywhere but the most traditional store is hacı bekir, which exists since 1777 in istanbul. You can read the history of the family business here. You can buy from hacı bekir online (so, worldwide) and at these addresses. I was in eminonu, where the oldest store is said to be.


8. Lookout tower – istanbul sapphire

I admit it. The shopping mall you have to cross to get to this viewing platform is not worth a recommendation. But on the way to the highest tower of istanbul (236 meters) you can see a quarter full of skyscrapers that look like they are trying to imitate new york or dubai. Once you reach the top with the high-speed elevator, you can get a view of the gigantic city, which is hard to grasp from the ground. If you come early in the morning, you can sit comfortably on the terrace, enjoy the peace and the view.


9. The port of eminonu

The port of eminonu is like the landing stages in hamburg. Seems very touristy, shrieks with advertising and the fish rolls can also be saved in my opinion. But: if you were not there, you were not there. I therefore recommend to throw yourself into the hustle and bustle in the evening (maybe if you have seen some before anyway) and then watch the hustle and bustle and the lights from a safe distance from the galata bridge. The view from here is fantastic anyway and can't be replaced by anything else. The anglers give an unusual picture and you have the absolute feeling of being in istanbul.



10. Lobby bar at the grand hotel de londres

The grand hotel de londres looks like a relic from a bygone era. When you take a seat in the lobby bar, you feel like sleeping beauty waking up from a hundred-year sleep in a romantic castle where the plaster has crumbled in the meantime and the wallpaper is slowly rolling off the wall. Even the parrot yakup, who likes to say allo and beep loudly seems to have been living in this cage for ages. In any case, it perfectly complements the collection that can be found in the lobby and reminds a bit of a visit to a museum. A gramophone, a mirror planted with cacti, a music box and an african wooden figurine are just the most obvious exhibits. Looking around is in any case a voyage of discovery. The hotel is known in germany from the film gegen die wand (against the wall). Fatih akin shot parts of the film here, because he also likes to stay here privately.



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