While most visitors tend to spend the majority of their time visiting the European Side of Istanbul (check out my Guide to the European side), the Asian side is also worthy of some attention. If you’re looking for a more authentic experience in Istanbul, 60% of residents in Istanbul live on the Asian side, so you’ll find more authentic food and shopping here.
What to do on the Asian Side
Visit the Kadikoy Market
If you’re a lover of food then this is the market for you. Getting off the ferry in Kadikoy you can basically follow your nose straight to the market. The aromas of spices, seafood, grilling alone will draw you in. If that doesn’t work walk straight up the main road from the ferry to Sogutlu Cesme Caddesi. Here just wanter around the streets where you’ll find lots of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and eventually the Kadikoy market
It is this area that is considered the heart of the Anatolian side of Istanbul. Where you’ll be shopping and sipping with the locals so word to the wise, if there’s a line just join it. You wont regret it. If you’re looking to pick up supplies, it’s here that you’ll find fresh cheeses, meats, fish, spices. It’s a foodie paradise. Also try all the pastries from baklava to Turkish delight here.
With its wide pedestrian path, the seaside promenade from Fenerbahçe to Bostancı is a very pleasant place to go for a walk. Here you’ll see swimmers, sunbathers, joggers, rollerbladers, soccer-players, rowers, and vendors of simit, and tea. The promenade, known as sahilyolu in Turkish, has great views of the Princes’ Islands just off the coast in the Sea of Marmara. It is best reached by a Bostancı-bound dolmuş from Kadıköy; if you get off in Fenerbahçe, it’s only a few blocks’ walk to the seaside.
This former summer residence of the Sultans is smaller and less ornate than Topkapi Palace. Just north of the Bosphorus Bridge, the palace was designed in the 1860s by Ottoman architect Sarkis Balyan a French neo-Baroque style, but retains traditional Ottoman division into the selamlık (men’s quarters) and harem (women’s and family quarters). The palace is best reached by bus or dolmuş from the Üsküdar ferry landing (or by less frequent direct ferries), and is also accessible from the Boğaziçi Köprüsü Metrobus stop.
Where to Eat
Moda Cay Bahcesi This was my favourite spot in Istanbul for morning tea. Beautiful views across the Bosphorus and on a clear day to the Princes Islands. Amazing waterfront tables and a perfect place to unwind.
Kanlica Yogurt Cafe I admit, this one is hard to find. The only way I knew it even existed was because I was taken here by one of my local friends. But if you hop on a boat from Kadikoy to Kanlica and it’ll drop you off at this sleepy waterside village. There really isn’t much to do here except visit the yogurt cafe. I know this sounds weird, but it is quite simply the best yogurt ever. It’s really tart and comes served with a bowl of powdered sugar to adjust to your own level of sweetness
Adanali Kebapci Senol Kolcuoglu This will undoubtedly become the most memorable part of your trip to Istanbul. If you’re looking for a traditional Turkish restaurant then this is it. Come with a group, there is so much food at this mixed grill restaurant.
Where to Stay on the Asian Side
I will admit, I am not too familiar with hotels in Istanbul since I was staying with friends. However I have spoken with fellow travellers who recommend these two Spots
Cheers Hostel offers clean rooms and free wifi in the heart of Kadikoy from $14 for a dorm to $40 for a private room
Grand Naki A no frills boutique hotel with free wifi and breakfast from $60
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO ISTANBUL?
Yes! In general Turkey, especially Western Turkey is safe to visit. Yes there is political volatility and conflicts around Turkey’s borders but I felt completely safe in my travels here. As a female traveling alone, of course you’ll get some unwanted attention but I never found myself in any danger. Protests are usually planned so avoid these areas as they can turn violent.
DO I NEED A VISA
Yes. Most tourists will need a visa. Check with the Turkish embassy to see what you need but for most people you apply for a visa online and you get an electronic visa sent to you within an hour
DO I NEED TO LEARN TURKISH
If you’re traveling to smaller towns then yes I’d say you need to learn a few key phrases. But for the most part, especially in tourist centres you can get by with the bare minimum or in most cases English
DO I NEED A POWER ADAPTER
Yes. If you’re traveling from North America you’ll need a European power adapter. Some power sources will have a universal plug, but don’t count on it.
WHAT IS THE BEST SEASON TO TRAVEL TO TURKEY
I would say the best time is from Spring to mid autumn to take advantage of the warm weather. With that being said it does get crowded mid summer so if you’re willing to bear some colder waters in the spring then I’d say come visit in April or May. My favourite time to visit is September-October
Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip. Feel free to leave a comment if you think i’ve left something out or to let me know about your trip.
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