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A local’s guide to Istanbul: mosques, slow-cooked kebabs and the magnificent Bosphorus | Istanbul holidays

Lisa Morrow has lived in the metropolis since 2010 and blogs at Inside Out In Istanbul


The varieties of meals obtainable in Istanbul mirror its various inhabitants. Ficcin Erra Goppa, in the backstreets of the busy Taksim district, serves notably good ficcin, a flat pastry meat pie from the Circassian territory – in northern Turkey on the different facet of the Caspian Sea.

For a heartier meal I normally head over to Siirt Şeref Büryan Kebap Salonu, close to the Valens Aqueduct, throughout Haliç, (the Golden Horn) in Fatih. Named after Siirt, a metropolis in south-east Turkey, it specialises in buryan kebab, mouth-watering lamb slow-cooked in a tandir (tandoor) oven. I’ll mix that with a plate of mumbar, lamb intestines full of rice, parsley, onion and pepper.

The Golden Horn metro bridgeThe Golden Horn metro bridge. Photograph: Yilmaz Savas Kandag/Alamy



I like Istanbul’s waterways. I repeatedly catch the ferry up the Bosphorus to Emirgan to absorb the air and artwork at Sakip Sabanci Museum. Turkish businessman Sabanci’s former household house now places on quite a lot of native and worldwide exhibitions. The massive terrace overlooking the water is a superb place to daydream. Or I’ll take a ferry alongside the Golden Horn to Eyüp. There I stare upon the stunningly stunning tiles in the Eyüp Sultan mosque complicated, sit for some time below centuries-old aircraft timber and then meander via elaborate Ottoman graveyards fascinated with what I’m going to write subsequent.

The terrace of the Sabanci Museum art galleryThe terrace of the Sabanci Museum artwork gallery. Photograph: Tim E White/Alamy


The phrases Üsküdar and conservative typically go hand-in-hand, however this mosque-filled neighbourhood presents much more. I marvel at the extraordinary glass dome roof in Nevmekan Sahil, a former registry workplace turned library. Lunch is at close by Filizler Köftecisi.

Its handmade köfte are extraordinarily good, and the view from the first-floor tables is fabulous. Kiz Kulesi (the Maiden’s Tower) is straight reverse, and some days you see individuals swimming previous. Afterwards, I’m going to Kadim Kahve for the thrill of ingesting a espresso in a former hamam, then to Tabi Tasarım Dükkan to see if they’ve a brand new scarf to add to my assortment.


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Green house

Outdoor house is treasured in Istanbul, and a lot of it vertiginous. Yildiz Park, not removed from Dolmabahçe Palace, cascades down the banks of the Bosphorus, providing a leafy retreat from the visitors. I get pleasure from Turkish breakfast right here with buddies in Malta Köşkü – which was constructed for Sultan Abdülaziz as a searching pavilion – or pack a picnic to eat on one in every of the grassy terraces.

Tiles in the Eyüp Sultan mosque complex.Tiles in the Eyüp Sultan mosque complicated. Illustration: Hennie Haworth/The Guardian

Recently I’ve taken to strolling the paths alongside Haliç. Broad tracts of flat land have been created on both facet of the estuary utilizing the sludge faraway from the waterway. The gardens are a piece in progress however it’s nice to see them take form.



Evenings out in Istanbul normally revolve round assembly up with buddies for dinner, to eat and speak over a glass of wine or two. For that I like to go to Viktor Levi Şarap Evi, a long-established wine home in Kadiköy. It produces its personal wine, with bottles labelled by the quantity. The inside is sort of a gents’s membership, with cosy banquettes, and there’s alfresco eating in the backyard.

When I would like to dance, I’m going to Babylon. It’s a membership the place everybody focuses on the music and having a great time so it’s like being at a celebration filled with buddies. They have reside acts in addition to DJs from round the world.


The charming and quirky Hotel Empress Zoe (doubles from £42 B&B) has a labyrinth-like format that mirrors the complexity of the metropolis’s historical past. The reception space is down a brief set of stairs and incorporates a part of the wall of a Byzantine Palace. From there, a spiral staircase winds up to rooms ornamented with timber detailing and handwoven rugs, and a backyard lush with palm timber and different unique vegetation. It’s inside straightforward strolling distance of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

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