We were lucky enough to spend two weeks in Kadikoy, on the Asian side of Istanbul. Not only do the tourist numbers drop here but things are a lot more relaxed. This is normal life and surrounding you are locals going about their day to day life. This is also one of Istanbul’s cooler and more alternative suburbs. It’s here you’ll find Istanbul’s young and hip kids and university students hanging out.
We thought we’d share the best of Kadikoy with you, if you packed it all into a single day of sightseeing. This is what it would look like.
The streets of Kadikoy.
Wandering the streets of Kadikoy, there is a lot of street art to be found. Mostly big murals like these, adding colour and vibrancy to the streets.
There are several main shopping streets, but step into the side streets and alleyways and things get a lot more fun. There are bazaars and antique shops. There’s the food markets which sell everything from fresh fish to spices. And there’s lots of bars, tea houses and restaurants to stop in at any time of day. It’s also a great place to try Turkish coffee.
Lunchtime lahmacun – yes please.
Tired of wandering the streets? It must be time for a lunch. Our favourite meal in Turkey, hands down, was the lahmacun. And the best lahmacun we had in the entire country was in Kadikoy at a small place called Tas Firin. Delicious! Find out more about lahmacuns here. Tasty treats for $1.50. Yes please.
My Turkish hamam experience.
The Asian side is also the perfect place to try a hamam experience – local style and local prices. I had a fantastic experience at the Aziziye Hamami. In the womens only area, I entered the main room after disrobing to just my underwear. Not sure what to do, I watched and learnt from the Turkish women around me. Which involved sitting back, relaxing and occasionally splashing myself with cold water in the hot steamy room. Then, before I knew it, it was my turn to step up to the big marble slab in the middle of the room for my massage and exfoliation. The exfoliation was worth the money alone! Why aren’t there hamams all over the world. It was such a relaxing experience. I left 60 minutes later, light as a feather and feeling incredibly clean.
The best ice cream in Istanbul.
Dondurmaci Ali Usta is reputed to have the best dondurma (ice cream) in Istanbul. After eating here a number of times we’d support this claim – once you’ve tasted the flavour and texture of the ice cream here, you’ll understand why it gets rave reviews.
Kadikoy is also famous for its stunning sunsets and views across the Bosphorus to Sultanahmet. We spent quite a few nights relaxing in the park here, watching the sun go down and playing with the local cats.
We loved watching the local game of shoot the balloon over the water. We saw this across Turkey but never gave it a go ourselves. What idiots!
Nightlife in Kadikoy.
At night, the streets of Kadikoy come to life. As soon as the sun goes down, the bars and restaurants are packed. Take your pic from any number of great restaurants along Gunesli Bahce Sokak. If local football heroes Fenerbache are playing, you can expect a great atmosphere but get your seat early, as the night we were there, there wasn’t a seat available in any bar or restaurant hours before the game kicked off.
The area is also popular with university students and Istanbul’s young and alternative. It was fun to watch them out at night, acting like young people anywhere else in the world.
While we loved the more touristy sights of Sultanahmet, and the more upmarket and colourful side of life in Beyoğlu, Kadikoy was our favourite part of Istanbul – hands down. It reminded us of our hometown suburb of Newtown in Sydney, Turkish style. We loved it!