Info About İstanbul

The position of İstanbul as a crossing between continents has always been a determining factor for the city. İstanbul held great importance for the historical cultures of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Black Sea. In every era, city’ s rich natural environs and uniquely beautiful topography have made it an attraction. For thousands of years, from prehistory to ancient ages to modern times, the area has hosted human settlements, and today retains its quality as an important world center. For nearly sixteen centuries, it served as the capital of four empires: the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922).

İstanbul with its unique position that connects Asia and Europe, is one of the most important cities on earth. The important waterline dividing İstanbul into two is the Bosphorus. İstanbul is both the nearest Asian city to Europe and the nearest European city to Asia. The Bosphorus Strait on which it is positioned is a connecting point of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas to the south, and of the Black Sea, and the Danube, Dnieper and Don rivers to the north. İstanbul has always been a junction of trade.

What makes İstanbul privileged, and enfolds it with an extraordinary beauty compared to other cities, is probably vibrant landscape along the Bosphorus.

İstanbul, with a population of 13.5 million, is the largest and most important city of Türkiye (commonly known by foreigners as Turkey) and that may be regarded as the leading open-air museum of Turkish culture. Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK, the founder of Modern Türkiye (one of the greatest leaders with amazing vision and an amazing power that changed an empire and civilized it) who had designated Ankara as the nation’ s capital mainly for geostrategic reasons, was a great admirer of İstanbul. During his presidency, he came to İstanbul in every opportunity. In his last days, he resided at Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosphorus, where he could observe his beloved city. İstanbul took on its role as the important plateau in the progress of the new, modern Türkiye after the war of independence and the founding of the republic in 1923. It was the focus of his mission to create a contemporary society in line with international standards. And today, this city lying at the intersection of the hubs of Europe, Asia, Middle East and North Africa, continues to be the pride of Türkiye.


Useful Telephone Numbers
110 Fire
112 Emergency / Ambulance
155 Police Emergency

Time Zone
Türkiye follows GMT +2 hours. This means that Türkiye is two hours ahead of the U.K.

Official Language 
Turkish (English and other common languages are spoken in most touristic areas)

International Dialling Code
The international dialling code to dial a number in Türkiye is (+90) followed by the area code and the relevant number.

İstanbul Telephone Area Code
Telephone numbers in Türkiye consist of 3-digit area codes and 7-digits for the subscriber numbers. Note that the inter-city codes (area codes) for İstanbul differ depending on whether you are on the European or Asian side of the city. The codes are 212 (European side) and 216 (Asian side). To call a number on the other side of the Bosphorus, first dial 0, followed by the code.

Safe Water
Though the water in İstanbul is chlorinated, it’ s recommended that visitors drink bottled water.

Restrooms / WC
There are a number of public restrooms in İstanbul, and the majority are well maintained and clean. Fees for use range between about 50 kuruş – 1 TL. Alternatively, fast food chains, restaurants and bars will have restrooms for diners which are provided free of charge.

Türkiye uses the GSM900 mobile phone network which is compatible with the rest of Europe. There are currently three GSM operators: Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea. Local SIM cards and prepaid vouchers are widely available from stores; passport identification is needed to buy a SIM card in Türkiye.

Business Hours
While offices and banks tend to open on weekdays from 9am – 5pm, bigger stores tend to be open much later. You can find many shops open on weekends till late at night.

Turkish Lira is the official currency of Türkiye. Bank notes come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 TL, while coins (called as Kuruş –kr-) come in 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kuruş pieces. There is also a 1 TL. coin.

ATM' s, Credit Cards, Exchange Bureaus
ATMs are abundant and ATMs of different local banks are usually clustered together around centres, at the Arrivals Terminal at Atatürk Airport, Taksim Square and Sultanahmet district. The most reliable local banks in İstanbul include: Garanti Bankası, Akbank, İş Bankası and Yapı Kredi Bankası. If you prefer to carry your own currency with you to İstanbul, you can also exchange it at Turkish currency exchange offices called ‘Döviz Bürosu’. There are exchange offices at the Arrivals Terminal as well as Sultanahmet, Taksim, İstiklal Street and other areas. Restaurants and hotels in highly touristic areas like Sultanahmet and Taksim also accept US Dollars or Euros but rates are often not competitive. Most major credit cards are accepted all through the country but some smaller businesses will only accept local currency.

As of July 2009, smoking in public places including restaurants, bars and public transport was forbidden in Türkiye. In İstanbul, as well as in the rest of the country, this law is generally adhered to. However, a large proportion of bars in İstanbul have roof terraces with adequate heating where it’ s possible to smoke year round and many establishments are adept at bending the rules.

Alcohol is readily available in İstanbul and generally less restricted than in parts of Western Europe and North America. Beer, wine and hard liquor can be bought at supermarkets and small stores called ‘Tekel’, which are often open late into the night. The legal drinking age in Türkiye is 18.

As in many European cities, the voltage in Türkiye is 220, European style rounded tip two-prong plug. Adaptors for different electrical systems are available in hotels and can be found in central areas as well.

Transportation in İstanbul
Transportation vehicles are at work in every part of İstanbul, by bus, minibus, subway and taxis. But the ideal transportation vehicle for tourists is the taxi. Licensed taxis in İstanbul are yellow, have the registration numbers on the sides and a “Taksi” sign up. They can be found on the ranks or hailed on the street. Also hotel, restaurant and bar staffs provide taxi. Taxi charges are determined officially. From 6 a.m to midnight day time fare is applied. Crossing over the Bosphorus bridge requires extra fare. Taxis have a taximetre that works when the customer gets in the car. “Dolmuş” is the name given to shared taxis that operate on major routes.

At restaurants in cheaper places some people do leave a few coins in the change plate. In more expensive restaurants, tipping is more usual. Some places will automatically add a service charge of 10 or 15 % to your bill. But traditionally, it will be better for you to leave 5 to 10% on the table for the waiter.

İstanbul has a climate combining those of Meditarranean and Black sea types, with a hot dry summer and pleasantly warm spring and fall. Winters are cold but snow is rare. The vegetation is predominantly of the Mediterranean type. Min/Max temperatures: January and February 5 -9° C, March and April 9-18° C, May 14-24° C, June 18-27° C, July and August 20-33° C, October 16-23° C, November and December 6-13° C. Seasons in İstanbul are generally moderate, thus rendering the city comfortably liveable year-round, yet one can certainly enjoy sunbathing in the hot summer sun, and sometimes winter can bring a cover of snow. With spring comes a feast of purple redbuds along the Bosphorus shores and an array of colorful flowering trees throughout the city. With the arrival of autumn mists, the city retains a more romantic appearance.

Offical Holidays In Türkiye
January 1 – New Year’s Day
April 23 – National Sovereignty and Children’s Festival
May 19 – Commemoration of Atatürk & Youth and Sports Festival
August 30 – Victory Day
October 29 – Republic Day
3 Days – Ramazan Bayramı *(Ramadan Feast)
4 Days – Kurban Bayramı *(Feast of Sacrifice)
* Ramazan and Kurban feasts are determined according to the muslim calendar, so dates differ every year.


Çerkez Tavuğu

Hailing from the Circassian region, this dish is creamy but light, made of shredded chicken and walnuts.

Hünkar Beğendi

Translated loosely as “Sultan’s Delight”, this dish consists of lamb stewed in a flavorful tomato sauce and served on bed of creamy eggplant purée.


In this Anatolian dish, eggplant is stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, tomato, onion and spices,

then oven-baked. 



Lakerda is pickled bonito fish served with a side of raw red onion and lemon, and is melt in your mouth.

Etli Yaprak Sarma

In this Turkish classic, vine leaves are stuffed with minced meat and herbs, covered with yogurt and served hot.

Yaprak Sarma

Unlike the hot version that contains meat, this dish is vegetarian. Vine leaves are stuffed with a tangy mixture of rice and sour cherries to delicious effect.


An Anatolian classic, börek is a pastry in which layers of flaky filo dough are filled with cheese, meat or spinach.

Izgara Balık (Grilled Fish)

For the most flavorful and fresh fish, go with what’ s in season.


Kebap is one of the most important values of Turkish food culture. From the preparation of its meat to the spices added, from its sauce to the way it is cooked, kebab has a wide range of flavor alternatives.

İskender Kebap

Named after Alexander the Great, this dish is made of thin cuts of roasted lamb spread over buttery pita bread which is then topped with a savory tomato sauce, a drizzle of butter and a dollop of yogurt. Best enjoyed at Hacıbey Kebapçısı. Location: Teşvikiye.


Köfte are small, grilled meatballs seasoned with spices and onions and bursting with flavor.


Sometimes called Turkish ravioli, mantı are tiny dumplings stuffed with meat, slathered with a garlic yogurt sauce and dusted with dried mint and red pepper. Whether boiled, steamed or fried, they are always delicious.

Zeytinyağlılar (Olive Oil Dishes)

The Mediterranean region’ s greatest contribution to Turkish cuisine has been olive oil based hors d’oeuvres and cold vegetable dishes. Several cold dishes cooked with the finest Turkish olive oils are served as main dishes.

Turşu (Pickles)

Another popular accompaniment to Turkish cuisine is pickles. At some restaurants pickles are served prior to the main course. Often, pickles are displayed in colorful, decorative jars, particularly in windows of many specialty pickle shops. These shops also offer a wide variety of pickle juices.

Simit – Peynir – Çay (Bagel – Cheese – Tea)

Those who have never tasted simit before can think it is only dough covered with sesame. However, simit is one of the indispensable flavors of Turkish culture. Believe that a crispy, hot simit with some kaşar cheese or white cheese according to your taste accompanied by a well-steeped hot tea will be more delicious than lots of other meals. This trio is a perfect snack for breakfast in the morning, for five o’clock tea in the evening or when you feel hungry.


Türk Kahvesi (Turkish Coffee)

When you want to have a coffee, a question follows this order. Plain black coffee, coffee with a little sugar or coffee with sugar? Your coffee is served with the exact taste according to your answer. It is served in its special cup with a glass of water; and in some places with Turkish delight and liquor. There are lots of kinds of coffee but what makes Turkish coffee different is the way it is prepared and presented. It is the only kind served with its grounds. If you are in İstanbul now, choose a seat with view, lean back and take a sip of your foamy coffee. If you think the ceremony is over with last sip of your coffee, you are wrong. Turn your cup upside down, wait until it gets cool and if you have someone who can tell your fortune with you, let him/her say what will happen in the near future. You can pick up the best Turkish coffee at Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi.  


A frothy blend of yogurt , salt and water that is mostly served with grilled meat dishes.


Traditionally served on chilly winter evenings, boza is a creamy, slightly sweet yet acidic drink made from fermented wheat. It is best enjoyed at Vefa Bozacısı.


Find a seat for yourself at a waterside place towards the sun set and be sure it is as close to the sea as it can be to make you hear the waves hitting the shore. First order your side dishes and icy rakı with a salad which is especially rich in rockets. If you have a friend with you to hit your glasses with and say "Şerefe!", nothing can be compared to this unique moment. While enjoying your rakı, do not forget to order your fish which should be selected according to the season.

Şarap (Wine)

Home to hundreds of indigenous varieties of Vitis vinifera (the European grapevine), Türkiye played a pivotal role in the early history of wine and has been one of the earliest wine producing regions of the world. Turkish wines, produced with the grapes of vineyards all over Anatolia, from the coastal plains of Aegean and the Mediterranean to the high plateaus of Eastern Anatolia, have always maintained their place at the Turkish dining table. Red, white, rose and fruit wines, as well as traditional homemade wines from villages, have won many awards at international competitions. Some of the native Turkish varieties include the Yapıncak and Papazkarası grown in Thrace; the Sultaniye of the Aegean coast; Öküzgözü and Boğazkere of Eastern Anatolia and Çalkarası of Denizli Province in Western Anatolia.

Çay (Black Tea)

Turkish tea from the Black Sea region is by far the most popular drink in the country and is best enjoyed at Bebek Kahve with simit. Bebek Kahve: near Bebek Mosque


A sweet and comforting Turkish classic, salep is a rice pudding-flavored drink that is served hot. It is produced from the ground root of wild orchid of the same name, mixed with milk and cinnamon.


A sweet, cold, fruit-flavored drink, şerbet comes in a variety of unique flavors, such as pomegranate and tamarind, and is best enjoyed at


Turkish Delight (Lokum)

Turkish Delight (Lokum) which is a worldwide famous flavor, is a part of Turkish hospitality, offered to guests visiting our houses to make the conversation sweeter. Main ingredients are starch and sugar. Delight has lots of alternatives with nut, peanut, walnut, cream, rose, fruit and gum. It is also possible to find Turkish delight with mint, vanilla and ginger. Best locations to buy Turkish Delight are:

  • Ali Muhiddin Hacı BekirThis historic shop has been run by the same family since 1777 and is one of the best places to try Turkish Delights in a range of flavors.
  • Cafer Erol has been producing all kinds of Turkish candy for more than 200 years. The display of hard candies and marzipan fruit is so mouthwatering, you’ ll have a hard time deciding what to buy.
  • Divan Pastanesi is well-known for their excellent Turkish Delights, with the roasted pistachio and Turkish coffee flavors, highly recommended. Go anr try the chocolate covered ones.
  • Selamlıque offers luxurious and unusual flavors of Turkish Delights, such as their authentic almond Turkish Delight covered in rose-flavored white chocolate and sprinkled with gold dust.


Aşure is a traditional Turkish pudding made with a blend of grains, legumes and dried fruits. It is best enjoyed at Hünkar Lokantası.


An almond-based milk pudding, keşkül is usually sprinkled with coconut shaving or crushed pistachio.

Limonlu Helva

This dense, sweet dessert is made from sesame helva that is oven-melted and topped with lemon juice. It is best enjoyed at Balıkçı Sabahattin.

Vişneli Ekmek Tatlısı

Vişneli Ekmek Tatlısı is a bread pudding dessert that is soaked in sour cherry syrup and covered with Turkish clotted cream.


The most famous of Turkish desserts, baklava is made of thin layers of flaky pastry layered with nuts and soaked in syrup. The best place to enjoy this Turkish delights is at Güllüoğlu Baklavacısı, where many of the dozens of baklava varieties are served. The company, which sells approximately 2 tons of baklava, has no other store than the one in Karaköy, which is located on the first floor of the multi-storey car park.

Badem Ezmesi (Marzipan)

Badem Ezmesi /Marzipan (a kind of almond paste) is one of the delightful confections made famous by the Ottoman Palace.

  • Bebek Badem Ezmecisi is the best place in İstanbul to buy marzipan.
  • Cemilzade is another very well-known purveyor of Turkish Delight, marzipan and candy.

Chestnut Candy

Chestnut Candy is one the delicious specialities of Bursa. Kafkas Bursa, which has many locations throughout the city, is the original producer of this candy that is made of chestnuts from Uludağ



You should also try other milk-based desserts such as sütlaç, kazandibi and tavuk göğsü. Of course, if you still have some space in your stomach! :)


Asitane specializes in “Ottoman Court” cuisine and is an established favorite with in-the-know İstanbulites. After meticulous study, the chefs at Asitane have resurrected long-forgotten recipes from the kitchens of sultans’ palaces to create delicious and unusual dishes.

Borsa has been serving top-quality Turkish cuisine since 1927, and features elegant décor and excellent service.

Cercis Murat Konağı offers traditional cuisine from the southeastern city of Mardin, which is well-known for its multi-ethnic population. The cuisine is a reflection of this diversity, blending a range of ingredients and spices to create unique flavors.

Çiya offers some of the most unique Turkish food in the city in a casual and traditional setting. Using seasonal ingredients sourced from all over the country, Çiya makes mouth-watering dishes that even many locals have never heard of.

Hünkar is an upscale version of a classic tradesmen’s restaurant. Opened in 1950, this restaurant is specialized in home-style Turkish and Ottoman cuisine.

Nar Lokanta specializes in traditional Turkish cuisine using all-natural, regional products from throughout Anatolia and the best quality olive oil. The menu covers everything from Ottoman palace dishes to humble village fare.


Beyti has been open since 1945, and remains as one of the oldest and most popular meat restaurants in İstanbul. A family restaurant that says the secret is in their marinating technique.

Günaydın Et Lokantası This kebap restaurant offers mouth-watering classic Turkish meat dishes along with mezes and noteworthy desserts.

Hamdi is one of İstanbul’ s premier kebap restaurants, with a menu of 17 different varieties of kebap in addition to various mezes and desserts. It also benefits from sweeping views of the old city.


Bebek Balıkçısı is a classic, upscale fish restaurant with a formal setting and a fantastic view over the water.

Balıkçı Sabahattin is a family-run restaurant that is housed in a wonderfully restored Ottoman mansion on a quiet side street in the Old Town.

Sur Balık specializes in fresh seafood and original dishes. Here you can enjoy Turkish seafood and meze classics, as well as a number of unusual items that you won’ t likely find anywhere else, such as seabass in fresh pesto sauce.


Beymen Whether it’ s their Beymen Club or Blender line, you’ re sure to look cool when wearing their gear. They also carry an excellent selection of international, high-end brands. Stores can be found in upmarket shopping areas, such as Nişantaşı, as well as Akmerkez and İstinye Park shopping malls.

Machka Designed by the same team behind the lauded Dice Kayek label, Machka is known for its playful designs, feminine silhouettes and modern-romantic style. Stores can be found in upmarket malls such as Kanyon and İstinye Park.

Mavi Jeans Specializing in denim, Mavi was one of the first Turkish labels to become a global hit. Stores can be found in many shopping malls in the city.

Yargıcı is a popular women’ s wear store known for its classic and preppy clothes, which come in tasteful, neutral tones.Stores can be found in           well-known malls and shopping districts in the city.

Vakko Synonymous with high fashion since 1934, Vakko continues to impress with its chic design and international brands. Stores can be found in upmarket shopping areas such as Nişantaşı, as well as Akmerkez, Kanyon and İstinye Park shopping malls.


Arzu Kaprol Kaprol’ s designs are very fashion-forward, using textures and pleating to create highly sculptured pieces, which come in both couture and ready-to-wear

Hakan Yıldırım With his sleek, modern and sexy designs, Yıldırım has long been a favorite with Turkish high society and has recently been receiving considerable attention abroad.

Özlem Süer Süer’ s ready-to-wear line is feminine and romantic, while the pieces she designs for her couture line are more avantgarde.

Simay Bülbül’ s unique designs and edgy clothes take leather beyond biker chic and elevate it to high style.

Ümit Ünal One of Türkiye’ s best known and most avantgarde designers, Ünal draws inspiration from diverse cultures and his many travels.
His cutting-edge use natural fabrics to create modern clothing for both men and


Armaggan This store carries exquisite designs that include jewellery, decorative objects, naturally dyded textiles and more. All produced in limited numbers and inspired by Anatolia.

Dört Mevsim/Simple Life This homeware store carries extensive collections of high-quality peştemals (traditional light-wight towels), soaps, vases, glass sets, ceramics and more.

Hiref carries a selection of luxury home accessories and textiles that combine traditional production techniques and contemporary designs.

Paşabahçe This Turkish retailer has been making high-quality traditional glassware for years. You can find everything from vases and bowls adorned with traditional Ottoman motifs and Byzantine mosaics to modern cut glass and ceramics.

Tesbihçi Cemil ve Kadir Karateke Tesbih is Turkish prayer or worry beads and in this tiny, traditional shop you will find an incredible selection made from a range of semi-precious materials both new and antique.


Abdullah Natural Products carry a range of all-natural, traditional Turkish bath products such as hand-loomed towels, olive oil soaps, and thick bathrobes.

Ela Cindoruk-Nazan Pak This is a jewellery studio and store that features the work of Cindoruk and Pak as well as pieces by other young designers. The designs are clean-cut and modern, and made using precious stones as well as unusual materials such as resin and paper.

IKSV Shop The design shop of the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) carries an excellent collection of jewellery, stationery, t-shirts, books and decorative objects, all designed by local and international artists.

Sevan Bıçakçı With his elaborate designs, Sevan Bıçakçı has built up a cult following. Using the “micromosaic” technique, he creates remarkably intricate and highly original designs.


Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı This is a new luxury hamam located in a historical building. Catering to the needs of discerning travelers, this spotless bath offers both luxury and basic services, including massages and full-body clay masques.

Cağaloğlu Hamamı This stunning 300-year-old hamam has separate men’ s and women’ s facilities and is very popular with tourists.

Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa at Hotel Les Ottomans encompasses 2,400 square meters, offering outstanding luxury and comfort to its valued guests. Here, you may experience lounging in a relaxation room on heated ceramic benches beneath a sparkling dome, then discover the beautifully appointed sea water pool & Jacuzzi, adventure showers, luxury Hammam, salt inhalation Laconium, Finnish sauna, ice fountain, meditation oasis, Kneipp basins and Dead Sea Water Floating Pool – the first only Dead Sea water floating pool in the world.

Çemberlitaş Hamamı This hamam was built by the great architect Sinan in 1584 and is one the most beautiful hamams in the city. A bath here is both a cleansing and a historical experience.

Galatasaray Hamamı Take time for stress relief and spoil yourself. You can feel the hamam culture in separate baths for men and women at Galatasaray Hamamı’ s mystical ambiance. Cleaning with special bath gloves (scrub), cellulite massage, aromatic oil massage are applied by experienced staff.

Laveder Spa at the Ritz-Carlton offers a full range of sophisticated beauty and wellness treatments in addition to its special signature therapies. Guests can relax in the indoor pool, complete with bar providing light snacks and healthy drinks, and there’s a sauna, steam room, and whirlpool. The spa is also equipped with a state-of-the-art fitness center offering a wide range of personal training options.

NUSPA part of Mars Athletic Club (MAC), has been welcoming members and visitors since 2007 with its unique concept in spa therapy. With black, tranquil interiors, NUSPA has a calming yet urban atmosphere, and has become famous for its Far Eastern massages and stress-relieving therapies. NUSPA therapies use natural products to ease tense muscles and soothe the aches of daily life, with highlights including the Nu Signature Therapy, Ayurveda Therapy, Hot Stone Therapy and Thai Therapy.


Anjelique is one the waterfront clubs in Ortaköy that is as famous for its impressive location as for its high-society atmosphere. A good place to spot celebrities and dance the night away.

Babylon is, without a doubt, one of the top live music venues in the city. Whether it’ s a local band, an international act or one of their themed music nights hosted by local DJs, you’ re guaranteed to have a night to remember.

Bird This small but stylish restaurant turns into a cool club after dinner, when the DJ starts spinning.

Nupera During winter, this club is a group of three distinct restaurants that transform into nightclubs after midnight. During summer, the entertainment moves up to the rooftop restaurant/club Nu Teras, which is famous for its exceptional views.

Reina opened its doors in 2003 and is located by the Bosphorus. In a spacious elegant design, Reina offers several bars, restaurants and dance floors. You can find different exclusive tastes of world cuisine in Reina thanks to their 5 restaurants. Reina is the pearl of the entertainment world. It hosted world wide famous stars like Bon Jovi, Kylie Minoque, U2, Uma Thurman, Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts with its exclusive entertainment concept.

Sortie An elite ambience, with a picturesque view of İstanbul located by the Bosphorus with a combination of six restaurants and 3 bars, open between 6p.m. and 4a.m. Sortie is one of the best escape places to relax and have

SuAda This night club actually plays in a league of their own, since SuAda is not located by the Bosphorus … but on an island in it! Located 165 meters away from the European shore in Kuruçeşme, the island was a present for Serkis Kalfa, the head architect of the Ottoman palace, by Sultan Abdülaziz in 1872. Serkis Kalfa built a three-storey mansion on the island and lived there until he died in 1899. After World War I the island was rented and used as a coal storehouse. In 1957 Galatasaray Sports Club bought the island and transformed it into a social facility. Today, Suada is one of the top gear venues in İstanbul for glamorous events. Suada has a pool, a night club and six restaurants offering refined tastes ranging from sea food to Cretan, and from kebap to

360 The venue is located in a penthouse of a 19th century apartment building with 360 degrees fascinating landscape views of the Bosphorus, Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. The place expresses itself with four elements: cuisine, design, entertainment and atmosphere. The club comes alive in the weekends, offering DJs and vocalists with live dancers and performances, and non-stop partying until the early morning