Istanbul, where East meets West

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Istanbul, one of the most amazing cities in the world and has been the capital of some of the world's greatest empires for over 1500 years. A city that can be overwhelming but also leaves you asking for more every time you land your foot there. We have made an overview of the sights in Istanbul that you must see if you want to visit this city in an alternative way.
Istanbul proves that old and new go together perfectly. The ancient capital offers a huge wealth of historic palaces, mosques and bazaars. At the same time, in the modern part of this hip multi million-dollar city, you can enjoy a vibrant nightlife. It's a buzzing city and a mix of European and Asian, like a summer day in Madrid with a touch of Bangkok.

Coolest neighborhoods

Kadıköy-Moda

Until recently, the neighbourhood of Kadıköy-Moda, on the Asian side of Istanbul at the southern end of the Bosphorus, was an unremarkable, mostly residential place that barely registered on the city’s cultural map. Over the past few years, however, it has become an unlikely hotspot for cutting-edge bars, art and culture hubs, cafes and music venues, as well as a haven for plugged-in, liberal-minded people opposed to Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian political climate. Click here to read more.

The Beyoglu district

The Beyoglu district is the heart of nightlife in Istanbul. There are many clubs, bars and discotheques. It is a modern district located on a hill near the Golden Horn. In the evening many people gather here to enjoy themselves and have a drink. But beyoglu is also worth while during the day. During this time you will find antique shops, boutiques and many other funky shops. To get there quickly you can take an authentic tram. The district is also accessible via metro line 2.

Taksim district

During the day, this district is best known for its Taksim Square and there is a lot happening in the surrounding shopping streets.  But also in the evening and at night the square and district comes alive. You will find many hip discotheques and bars. It is a district that is visited by almost everyone during a city trip. Here are 10 of the best bars around Taksim.

Streetart

Istanbul’s street art culture has grown considerably in the past few years, especially with the success of the Mural Istanbul festival, which has allowed for local and international artists to apply their work onto the sides of buildings all over Kadıköy. TheCulturetrip.com took a look at some of the best local artists whose work decorates the buildings and walls of Istanbul. Picture by: https://quiltripping.com/finding-cool-street-art-in-istanbul/

Yoga in Istanbul

No matter how much you love Istanbul, there will be moments when you get tired of all the concrete buildings, inevitable traffic and the millions of other inhabitants you share the crowded streets with. Sometimes you need to get away from it all and one of the best ways is to attend a yoga class.

Though Istanbul has been slow to jump on the big-city yoga bandwagon, many yoga studios, several of which offer free beginner classes, are popping up around town. We listed a few yoga gems in the city. 

Cihangir Yoga

This is one of the best yoga schools if you ask us. It is a spacious studio with a wide variety of classes at all hours of the day. Most importantly they have great instructors and affordable classes.

There is a welcome package which costs around 200 lira (30 usd) for one month, but if you take just one session it costs 70 lira (10 usd). The teachers mostly use the sanskrit names for the moves but the rest of the classes are held in Tuish. They do speak great English at the front desk which was amazing.

Yogasala 

At Yogasala there are about 10 yoga sessions each day at different times and you can attend a class at any time. You can also go to the other centers in 3 different locations if you want. They have amazing friendly teachers, many Satsang opportunities and a lot of interesting workshops. I would love to come back and pay a visit again to this wonderful center. 

Agni Yoga

This is a beautiful, peaceful and clean studio. The teachers are very amazing, knowledgeable and supportive.   

Nefess Yoga

This is a wonderfull yoga place and one of my favourites. They offer yoga classes from yin to hatha. Nefess, the founder. gives often free sessions and has hired friendly instructors. Definitly worth it. 

Top 10 Vegan / Vegetarian Restaurants

Whether you're vegetarian, vegan, or just searching for plant-based dining options, it's nice to have personal recommendations. That's why HappyCow has created this list, featuring the 10 best vegan restaurants in Istanbul, as determined by the highest scores calculated from HappyCow community member reviews. 

Go green

Istanbul's greenery has created tons of places where you can enjoy a nice picnic in nature. You can enjoy a peaceful day out at these Istanbul parks during your stay.  

Best Coffee 

Of course Istanbul has many places where you can drink traditional Turkish coffee, however I must admit I am not a big fan. I find it a bit to strong and sweet. So here a link to a blog about the best Western hipster coffee hot spots with delicious cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites to order. 

Where to stay

If you are looking for a perfect place to stay in Istanbul we recommend the Gezi Hotel Bosphorus Istanbul. The Takshim square is just a 2 minutes walk and it is very easily accessible by metro. Most room offers a stunning view of the  Bosphorus. The boutique hotel is all about eco-friendliness and sustainability and it is almost emission free. The design of the hotel is amazing:
Last but not least the staff is top notch, friendly, efficient and helpful. This hotel is a hidden treasure in Istanbul and we 100% recommend.

Mystic performances

The Galata Museum is the best place to watch a performance of the Whirling Dervishes. It is located on Galipded Caddesi, not far from Tunel at the end of Istiklal Street. The ceremony takes place every Sunday at 5 pm.

Cruise the Bosphorus

Any trip to Istanbul is incomplete without a cruise on the Bosphorus. Viewing the mesmerizing city from one of the ferries gives you the best panorama of the city, which is lined with fabulous palaces stunning mosques and fishing villages. We recommend to choose a ferry that leaves just before dusk. It will help you enjoy both the sunset and the moonlight. 

Best time to visit

Istanbul can best be visited in spring (May and June) or autumn (September and October) with temperatures between 22 and 30 degrees Celsius (76 & 86° Fahrenheit). During summer it tends to be to hot to visit the city with average temperatures between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius (86 & 95° Fahrenheit).

In the winter months (January and December) Istanbul can experience heavy snowfall, but most of winter it has a pleasant average temperature temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius (59° F). Throughout the year Istanbul is very windy. Click here for more detailed climate information of Istanbul.

This article was last updated on March 31, 2020.