A local’s guide to Istanbul: mosques, slow-cooked kebabs and the magnificent Bosphorus | Istanbul holidays

Lisa Morrow has lived in the metropolis since 2010 and blogs at Inside Out In Istanbul


The kinds of meals obtainable in Istanbul replicate its various inhabitants. Ficcin Erra Goppa, in the backstreets of the busy Taksim district, serves notably good ficcin, a flat pastry meat pie from the Circassian territory – in northern Turkey on the different aspect of the Caspian Sea.

For a heartier meal I often head over to Siirt Şeref Büryan Kebap Salonu, close to the Valens Aqueduct, throughout Haliç, (the Golden Horn) in Fatih. Named after Siirt, a metropolis in south-east Turkey, it specialises in buryan kebab, mouth-watering lamb slow-cooked in a tandir (tandoor) oven. I’ll mix that with a plate of mumbar, lamb intestines full of rice, parsley, onion and pepper.

The Golden Horn metro bridge
The Golden Horn metro bridge. {Photograph}: Yilmaz Savas Kandag/Alamy


I really like Istanbul’s waterways. I usually catch the ferry up the Bosphorus to Emirgan to soak up the air and artwork at Sakip Sabanci Museum. Turkish businessman Sabanci’s former household dwelling now places on a wide range of native and worldwide exhibitions. The massive terrace overlooking the water is a good place to daydream. Or I’ll take a ferry alongside the Golden Horn to Eyüp. There I stare upon the stunningly lovely tiles in the Eyüp Sultan mosque advanced, sit for some time below centuries-old airplane bushes and then meander by means of elaborate Ottoman graveyards serious about what I’m going to write subsequent.

The terrace of the Sabanci Museum art gallery
The terrace of the Sabanci Museum artwork gallery. {Photograph}: Tim E White/Alamy


The phrases Üsküdar and conservative typically go hand-in-hand, however this mosque-filled neighbourhood provides much more. I marvel at the extraordinary glass dome roof in Nevmekan Sahil, a former registry workplace turned library. Lunch is at close by Filizler Köftecisi.

Its handmade köfte are extraordinarily good, and the view from the first-floor tables is fabulous. Kiz Kulesi (the Maiden’s Tower) is immediately reverse, and some days you see individuals swimming previous. Afterwards, I am going to Kadim Kahve for the thrill of ingesting a espresso in a former hamam, then to Tabi Tasarım Dükkan to see if they’ve a brand new scarf to add to my assortment.

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Inexperienced area

Out of doors area is valuable in Istanbul, and a lot of it vertiginous. Yildiz Park, not removed from Dolmabahçe Palace, cascades down the banks of the Bosphorus, providing a leafy retreat from the site visitors. I get pleasure from Turkish breakfast right here with pals in Malta Köşkü – which was constructed for Sultan Abdülaziz as a searching pavilion – or pack a picnic to eat on one among the grassy terraces.

Tiles in the Eyüp Sultan mosque complex.
Tiles in the Eyüp Sultan mosque advanced. Illustration: Hennie Haworth/The Guardian

Lately I’ve taken to strolling the paths alongside Haliç. Broad tracts of flat land have been created on both aspect of the estuary utilizing the sludge faraway from the waterway. The gardens are a piece in progress but it surely’s nice to see them take form.


Evenings out in Istanbul often revolve round assembly up with pals for dinner, to eat and discuss over a glass of wine or two. For that I like to go to Viktor Levi Şarap Evi, a long-established wine home in Kadiköy. It produces its personal wine, with bottles labelled by the quantity. The inside is sort of a gents’s membership, with cosy banquettes, and there’s alfresco eating in the backyard.

After I need to dance, I am going to Babylon. It’s a membership the place everybody focuses on the music and having time so it’s like being at a celebration filled with pals. They’ve stay acts in addition to DJs from round the world.


The charming and quirky Hotel Empress Zoe (doubles from £42 B&B) has a labyrinth-like format that mirrors the complexity of the metropolis’s historical past. The reception space is down a brief set of stairs and incorporates a part of the wall of a Byzantine Palace. From there, a spiral staircase winds up to rooms ornamented with timber detailing and handwoven rugs, and a backyard lush with palm bushes and different unique vegetation. It’s inside straightforward strolling distance of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

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