Five-star restaurant Lacivert offers beautiful views of the Bosphorus as you dine on authentic Mediterranean cuisine. For something more casual, Ara Kafe has hearty Turkish fare and features works by famous photographer Ara Güler, whom the café is named after. In central Istanbul, Aret’in Yeri has amazing Armenian mezzes alongside raki, the famous local liquor. But there’s also plenty of street food you should try, such as simit (round pretzels covered in sesame seeds) and kumpir (loaded baked potatoes).
Vogue Restaurant & Bar brings you right back to the waterfront with its fantastic array of drinks and a trendy atmosphere. I also really enjoy kicking back at Spago in the St. Regis hotel, especially over the weekends. Alternatively, electronic music fans should definitely check out KLEIN. The premier nightclub hosts a range of DJs putting out the best beats.
One of the city’s most important attractions is Maiden’s Tower. To get there, you take a boat to the entrance of the Bosphorus. Climb to its summit and relish the view while sipping a delicious Turkish tea in the café. Relaxing at a traditional hammam (spa) is also a must-do. Highly recommended is the Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı, which was built back in the 16th century and remains in pristine condition. You could also take a day trip to the Princes’ Islands to getaway from the bustling city. Only horse-drawn carriages are allowed there, so it’s like stepping back in time.
My favourite places to stay always involve convenience. The Basileus Hotel in the heart of the Sultanahmet district is just a stone’s throw from attractions such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, while the four-star Villa Pera Suite Hotel in Beyoglu is just a short walk from Taksim Square, Istiklal Caddesi and some really amazing restaurants.
The Istanbulkart is the best way to get around the city. With it you can ride all buses, trams and ferries. Grab a map to easily get around the transport system.
Illustration by Sibel Açıkalın Akgün
Singapore Airlines flies to Istanbul five times weekly. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
This article was originally published in the October 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine