Wednesday, October 5, 2022

72 Hours in Istanbul, Turkey: What To Do, Eat, & See

I am a few months back from one of the coolest trips I have ever taken: over two weeks, I went to Morocco, Spain, Turkey (or Turkiye, if you want to be super proper about it). I’ve just been thinking that I have not shown Istanbul enough love on my socials. So, today, dear friends, I will be sharing some of the fun that was had in Istanbul, Turkey and giving you some ideas for a quick trip there. 

Day One
I flew from Barcelona to Istanbul via Turkish Airlines, of course, and arrived in Istanbul mid-morning. I traveled with my friend who will be known from here on out as “K”. K and I opted to take a taxi to the hotel, though there was a public transit option that would have taken about twice as long. 

We stayed at the Doruk Palas Hotel in one of the terrace rooms which had a pretty sick view. After dropping bags, we set out to explore with no real agenda. K has been to Istanbul multiple times and knows the city well. We popped into a couple shops to check out some artisan goods and I ended up getting a bracelet. The real star of the walk we took was the Galata Art Gallery. We walked in and were immediately drawn to the work of one artist. It was so bright, colorful, and rooted in Istanbul. We picked up three pieces by this artist, including two originals. A snap of one of the pieces below (they’ll look so good in my new condo!!). 

For a late lunch / early dinner, we opted to try “manti”, which is considered traditional Turkish ravioli. It is boiled, stuffed dumplings served with yogurt sauce. We went to Sabirtasi Restoran which was highly rated and very much so gave an old school vibe with a couple sacks of onions to greet you at the base of the stairs. The restaurant is on the top floor of a walk-up building, creating quite the barrier to entry, and overlooks one of the main thoroughfares of Istanbul. It was a lovely spot to chill, eat, people watch, and plan for the next stop. 

From there, we took a walk over the Galata Bridge for some wonderful views and grabbed a few snacks along the way. We had these little donuts that were dipped in honey and a wet burger (which surprisingly tasted pretty good despite its, uhhh, wet appearance).

I had severely underestimated the population of Istanbul. Rather, maybe I just never knew. But, what was most striking about the city was the sheer amount of people who were out til late. I’m talking like full families, young, old, everybody packed out on the street, in cafes, in restaurants until midnight and later.  It was wonderful to see and experience a place so lively.

Day Two
This was our first full day in Istanbul. We started off with breakfast at the hotel, then walked to the Grand Bazaar. We explored the Bazaar for a bit and in a move totally off brand for me, I did not buy anything. Once we left there, we stopped by one of the restaurants on the water for a fish sandwich - it was kind of dry, but a good thing to try given how many restaurants were selling them. 

We popped back to the hotel. I chilled while K. went out to an appointment for a tattoo. While traveling this year, we got super into fine dining, so our big activity for the day was dining at Mikla. The food was wonderful and there was a truly spectacular view of Istanbul from the restaurant. 

Day Three
Once again, we got a start to the day with breakfast at the hotel then made our way to Cağaloğlu Hamam. This place was gorgeous. I’ve pulled a photo from google below to show the actual space where the treatments happen, but the entire space is just wow. And so unassuming from the street. Highly recommend Cağaloğlu Hamam. 

We then stopped for a kebab (yum!) before heading over to Hagia Sophia. We ended up hiring one of the English speaking guides who was outside - he was awesome; here’s his
instagram and DM me on insta if you want his whatsapp. It was really nice to have a guide and we did a quick 35ish minute tour. We were in a semi rush because K needed to get back for a second tattoo appointment before our dinner reservation that evening. Anyway! It was an absolutely perfect day, so we walked back over to the water before hopping a bus back over to our side of Istanbul. We picked up a snack along the way, of course.

I picked up our art from the gallery while K got tattooed, then we reunited before heading to dinner at Nicole. It felt like an out of the way establishment that was at the bottom of a mighty hill. Not a problem going there, but I was surely out of breath after dinner walking up that hill. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner. This was another place with a great view. 

We wandered back to the hotel and packed up to get ready to head back to Spain the next day. 

I have so many more bits and bobs to share from travel this year!! So, stick around 💓


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