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Istanbul in 48 Hours

Spend a few days in Sultanahmet, then explore what this vibrant East-West city has to offer.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: Multiple days

Overview:  The only city in the world that encompasses both Asia and Europe, Istanbul also straddles the ancient and modern worlds. The ghosts of... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Balikçi Sabahattin

Grab a seat in the garden of this Sultanahmet seafood restaurant. The mezes, small appetizer plates of roasted red peppers and marinated octopus, make for perfect snacks and are best enjoyed ith a glass of raki, Turkey’s signature liquor. Order platters of smoky eggplant salad and buttery lakerda (cured bonito)—then choose grilled levrek (sea bass... More

Even if contemporary Turkish art isn’t your cup of çay, visit Istanbul this repurpose warehouse museum for its stylish café and waterfront terrace. With luck, giant cruise ships won’t obstruct the postcard-perfect view of the Old Town as you tuck into a breakfast of simit (sesame bread rings), creamy beyaz peynir (feta), crunchy cucumbers, ... More

3. Kallavi

Beyoglu is known for its raucous drinking houses, or meyhane, where meze are an excuse for rivers of raki. This is the insiders’ favorite: a brick-walled dining room illuminated by chandeliers that sets the scene for house specials like ficin, a spiced meat pie. The best part? Watching beau monders stomp their heels to the Turkish band’s beat.... More

Time your visit with the sunset—and the evening call to prayer. That’s when young locals file in for cocktails, like fresh-ginger-and-muddled-lime mojitos, and jockey for steel stools on the open-air terrace overlooking the city’s two coastlines and the Bosporus strait in between.

Address:
57 Kumbaraci Yokusu, 7th floor
Istanbul
Turkey

Phone:
90... More

5. Mado, Istanbul

Sample the goat’s-milk ice cream, which is thickened with the powdered root of wild orchids. Splurge on a triple scoop of pistachio, pomegranate, and black mulberry.

Address:
26 Mecidiye Mah.
Istanbul
Turkey

Phone:
90-212-259-1015

This museum restaurant is noted for its neo-60’s interior of unpolished oak and black-leather banquettes. Try the olive oil-braised celery root enlivened with tangerine, and rosy lamb chops, from the smart modern-Mediterranean menu.

Address:
22 Sakip Sabanci Cad., Emirgan
Istanbul
Turkey

Phone:
90-212-323-0901

The 19th-century mansion in Emirgan houses an impressive collection of Ottoman paintings.

Address:
42 Sakip Sabanci Caddessi
Istanbul
Turkey

Phone:
90-212-323-0901

Atop a drab tourist hotel across from the Four Seasons is an insider’s secret: a rooftop terrace with an unobstructed panorama of the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and the Sea of Marmara. The drinks menu is nothing to write home about: Keep it simple with an Efes Pilsen beer.

Address:
8A Tevkifhane Sokak
Istanbul
Turkey

Phone:
90-212-516-9497

9. Seyhmus

Famished after haggling for kilims at the Covered Bazaar? It’s worth tracking down to this macho kebab dive colonized by gaggles of mustached vendors. Order lahmacun—wafer-thin lamb-slathered pizza—with seyhmus kebap (an epic charcoal-grilled lamb patty) and a vegetable salad dressed with pomegranate molasses. Washing your meal down with ayran, a ... More

10. Tamara Restaurant

On a street lined with carpet shops near the Arasta Bazaar, this restaurant, whose owners hail from Turkey’s eastern Lake Van area, serves up the region’s puffy breads, herb-flecked otlu cheese, and addictive tahini spread. Eggs baked with spicy soujuk sausage might seem like overkill, but order them anyway.

Address:
14 Kucukayasofya Caddesi
... More

It would be a crime to miss the Süleymaniye Camii mosque, an Ottoman masterpiece; it would be sadder still not to visit this nearby sweet shop. Decked out in weathered marble, this vintage cubbyhole specializes in boza—a cross between pudding and a beverage, which is made from fermented bulgur. Traditionally it’s consumed with leblebi, nutty ... More