How to Enjoy Istanbul like a Local
As most flights from London are so affordable, once you’ve flown into Turkey’s primary international airport you’ll be able to see the local area in style, spending those eagerly saved pennies on a variety of experiences unique to Turkey’s wonderful cultural scene.
As a sprawling metropolis that blends the best elements from the Eastern and Western cultures, Istanbul continues to be powerful draw for travelers from all over the globe. Read on for highlights of the city’s must-see aspects that will help you feel like a true local.
Where to go
An intensely cultural neighborhood, every day in Istanbul sees a new contemporary café, bookshop, art gallery or bar pop up, contrasting vigorously against the backdrop of the traditional Turkish way of life. This fabulously vibrant mix lends itself to long meandering walks spent staring at the incredible skylines (similar in a way to those in New York City) and stunning minarets all the while soaking up all it has to offer.
Istanbul’s tea gardens are a particularly great place to relax and give you an excuse to soak up the vibe by taking a commuter ferry across to Kadıköy, before taking the historic tram to the gardens which are located in a quiet neighborhood overlooking the sea.
Where to eat
Although Istanbul is fast gaining a reputation as one of the world’s most vibrant culinary scenes, the best rewards are to be reaped simply by following your heart.
Get lost as if you would in Spain and go for a walk down the gorgeous cobbled streets leading you to cheap cafés boasting local delicacies like mantı – small tortellini-like parcels of dough which are usually served with a garlicky yoghurt sauce and fried.
Where to shop
Whilst Istanbul has no shortage of high-end luxury goods available, to really get the native experience you have to make sure you visit as many of the fantastic markets and bazaars as you can. With many bazaars spread over several storeys, it’s the perfect chance to indulge in colourful fresh produce, sumptuous cheeses and sun-kissed olives as well as stunning pieces of cloth and ornaments full of character.
Since Turkey is one of the biggest production centres for big name brands throughout Europe, you’re just as likely to pick up a cut-price Topshop or Zara garment as you are an item of traditional dress. Seize the opportunity to shake up your wardrobe and handpick a few signature pieces that will light up your wardrobe without hurting your wallet!
Have you ever been to Istanbul?