Whenever someone mentions the name of a city or country there’s a good chance I say, “oh I have a friend there!” It’s a byproduct of what I do (and what we do), and it’s been one of the best outcomes of being a part of the travel world. In Istanbul it’s no different. On my last visit in February I was thrilled to have the chance to spend a day with my friend Katie exploring her neighborhood in Kadikoy.
Where is Kadikoy you ask? Well, it is the hip and cool side of Istanbul. Ok maybe I’m exaggerating but after spending some time here I could see myself calling it home one day. It’s a different vibe from other parts of Istanbul (like the tourist center). There’s no shortage of shopping, eating, and historical things to see but it is more like a neighborhood than a place to check off your “must see” list. Precisely why I think it’s a must see!
You can certainly book a stay somewhere on this side of the city but I was staying at the W Istanbul in the Besiktas neighborhood. Getting to Kadikoy was simple – just hop on the ferries that run the Bosporous all day long. Not only is it is easy, it’s affordable. Grab an Istanbul Card from any newspaper kiosk and add some money to it. The ferry is under 3 lira each way. There’s very regular departures so you won’t have to wait long. Swipe your card, wait for the ferry to dock and jump on. The ride takes about a half hour but it’s comfortable – you can even get snacks. But I didn’t need snacks because the best breakfast ever was waiting for me on the other side — and Katie too!
Katie and I walked along the Bosporous and chatted, working up our appetites until we got to Naga Putrika, aka the best breakfast in Istanbul. Turks know how to do breakfast it’s no small affair. This cute restaurant is small and packed on weekend mornings so come before 10am. Everything is local and organic. It’s beautifully prepared and served. It’s also delicious!
From cheeses and kaymak (clotted cream) to sweet honey and sausages with some eggs and plenty of bread thrown in there was no shortage of options. Let’s just say I ate it all and I am not ashamed of that. I still dream of it. For the best breakfast and a great place to enjoy a long conversation with a friend make this part of your plan.
We roamed the streets looking in little shops and watching weekend life in Istanbul go by. We ducked into old churches whenever we found an open door. This area has always been home to people from multiple faiths; Islam, Christianity and Judaism. There are both Greek and Armenian churches that still operate to a small population – many others were deserted after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Kadikoy is also home to Turkey’s largest food market near the Osman Aga Mosque but if you don’t make it, don’t worry. You’ll find food shops everywhere. There’s no shortage of small stores, coffee shops, and cultural venues – way more than we could visit in a day.
This area was quite run-down until the 1990’s when it began to make a come back. Today artists and young people have taken back much of the area. Rent is still affordable (in some areas), and there’s lots to do. At night many streets become overrun with Istanbul’s night scene – one that rivals any European city.
We couldn’t let the day completely slip away without dinner. So we stopped at Çibalikapı (they also have another location on the European side). The restaurant specializes in fish but they also have daily mezze options. So of course we did mezze. There’s no menu, the waiter brings a tray that has the daily offerings and you choose as many as you want. All of them were good but my favorite was the one on the top left. It was barley in garlic olive oil with walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Simple but great!
Before I knew it, it was time to get back on the ferry and go to the hotel. Little did I know there would be an impromptu cello performance on the ferry. A great way to end another amazing day in Istanbul.
Be a part of the MarocMama family!
Sign up for our newsletter today.
You'll get a weekly update + features that won't be on the blog!