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What Amira says about Istanbul

Discover Istanbul, a magical city that has been the centre of empires and cultures for thousands of years.

What started off as a cheap flight off Skyscanner and free accommodation, courtesy of a family friend, turned into a long-term love affair for our foodie writer, Amira Arasteh. Having paid her first visit to Istanbul solo and prior to her work in food or travel journalism, her initial experience of and in the Turkish city was full of adventure, good food and, of course, plenty of photo opportunities.

Flash forward a press trip visit, as well as another solo jaunt of the city and our girl continues to seek any opportunity to travel back – as well as consistently telling everyone she meets that it’s her favourite city (high praise from a food and travel writer, folks).

From understanding the need to visit both the European and Asian side to exploring as both a novice tourist and a slightly more seasoned veteran, Istanbul is magical each and every time and Amira is here to make sure that if you visit, you have the best opportunity to fall in love with it, too.

Detailing the best places to eat (would you expect anything less?), making sure you don’t miss out on a single cultural moment, exploring day trips (should you be staying for longer) and sharing one of her favourite ‘happy places’ on the planet, discover Istanbul with Amira.

What's Trending in Istanbul

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    Cecconi’s Istanbul

    Cecconi’s Istanbul is an oasis of sophistication and elegance, situated in the grand courtyard of the 19th-century Palazzo Corpi Building. With a strong focus on Italian cuisine, Cecconi’s Istanbul is part of a global brand that has already established its reputation in other cities around the world such as London, Miami, LA, NYC, Berlin, Barcelona,

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    Sunset Grill & Bar

    For those of you seeking the ultimate fine dining experience in Istanbul, Sunset Grill & Bar is an absolute must-visit. Nestled in the picturesque Ulus Park, with panoramic views of the Bosphorus, this acclaimed restaurant has been a cornerstone of Istanbul’s culinary scene since 1994. Sunset Grill & Bar has been awarded numerous international and

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    Yeni Lokanta

    Take a stroll down the bustling street of Istikal Caddesi and you’ll stumble upon Yeni Lokanta, an enchanting Mediterranean heaven with a contemporary flair. Chef Civan Er is the mastermind behind the innovative dishes that draw on original ideas, local produce, and Turkish wines, resulting in fresh and light meals. And if you’re up for

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    Nobu Istanbul

    Experience the ultimate culinary indulgence in Istanbul with Nobu’s exceptional Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, crafted by the world-renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking views of the Bosphorus while savoring a variety of exclusive dishes only found in Istanbul. Located in The Ritz-Carlton, this luxurious restaurant boasts a separate entrance, an open-air terrace, a bar,

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    Nicole is housed in a historic building that dates back to 1901. After being lovingly restored to its former glory, the enchanting venue perfectly sets the stage for an unforgettable dining experience in Istanbul. Named after a former owner, nun Agnés Marthe Nicole, the restaurant invites guests to indulge in a unique interpretation of traditional

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    Mikla opened its doors in October 2005 with a vision to create a refined, contemporary “Istanbullu” dining experience. And let us tell you, they did it RIGHT! Chef-Owner Mehmet Gürs is a Turkish-Scandinavian mastermind who brought his unique background and culinary expertise to Istanbul in 1996, pioneering the city’s contemporary restaurant scene. Mikla’s outstanding food,

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    Shangri-La Bosphorus

    In the heart of the historic Beşiktaş district is the city’s Shangri-La hotel bringing with it all the brand’s signature style and luxury. With the exchange rate as it is you can enjoy the Shangri-La experience at half the price of London’s so what’s not to love? We hear that the hotel offers the world’s

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    Sub Karakoy

    As the antidote to all this luxury, Sub Karakoy makes its way into our top hotel list due to its quirky, industrial look. The perfect location to explore Karakoy’s local businesses, this rugged looking but incredibly comfy option gets you close to the locals in a way the luxury options may not. Start your day

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    Peninsula Hotel

    If it’s luxury that you are after, look no further than the Peninsula Hotel. This opulent, but still charming, option boasts an outdoor swimming pool overlooking the Bosphorus as well as an indoor option and full spa complete with couple’s treatment rooms. The hotel’s rooftop Turk-Asian restaurant Gallada (open from June 2023) looks set to

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    The Stay Nisantasi Boulevard & Spa

    Offering state-of-the-art spacious rooms, the Stay Nisantasi Boulevard which opened in January 2023 has a worthy place at the top of our list. As the first hotel group in Turkey to be awarded a carbon-neutral status, a stay here is a guilt free experience. Bedecked with a modern art collection, there’s plenty to see in

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    Kate Hotel

    Opened just this month (February 2023) is this gorgeous newcomer, offering 26 modern bedrooms. Here you are in the thick of it at only 400 metres from Basilica Cistern and 500 metres from Column of Constantine, but within its four walls you wouldn’t know the busy city that waits for you outside. The Kate Hotel

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    Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus

    Ain’t no hotel like the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus! This 19th-century Ottoman palace has been transformed into a luxurious, contemporary getaway that’s fit for royalty. Perched on the European side of the Bosphorus, the Four Seasons hotel boasts breathtaking views of the waterfront skyline that’ll leave you in awe. Whether you’re taking

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    Pera Palace

    Nestled on the cusp of Beyoğlu, Istanbul’s vibrant cultural hub, stands the Pera Palace – an enchanting and storied hotel that has borne witness to a century of history. As a living monument to Istanbul’s rich heritage, this architectural masterpiece has withstood the ravages of time, surviving the fall of the Ottoman Empire and two

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    The St Regis Istanbul

    Immerse yourself in a world of modern luxury and cultural sophistication at The St. Regis Istanbul. This 5-star gem is nestled in the heart of the fashionable Nişantaşı district, renowned for its designer boutiques, luxury fashion brands, and local eateries. Here, you’ll be surrounded by the breathtaking Art Deco and Art Nouveau architecture that Istanbul

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    Hipster Istanbul – what not to miss in Kuzguncuk

    Here at House of Coco we like getting off the beaten tourist path and exploring areas that we could dream of living in one day – Kuzguncuk is our latest neighbourhood obsession in Üsküdar, Istanbul along the Anatolian shore of the Bosphorus. This adorable area is holding off the ever approaching gentrification and offers a

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    Basilica Cistern

    Basilica Cistern is one of the most fascinating historical landmarks in Istanbul. Commissioned by Emperor Justinian I and built in 532, this underground marvel is an impressive feat of engineering and architecture, built to provide water to the city during times of drought. The cistern’s mystic and eerie atmosphere is what makes it so unique.

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    Miniaturk is a unique museum located in Istanbul that features over 100 miniature models of Turkey’s most famous landmarks, all on a scale of 1/25. From the Blue Mosque to the ancient city of Ephesus, Miniaturk brings together the rich architectural heritage of the civilizations that have left their mark on this ancient land. But

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    The Blue Mosque

    The Blue Mosque, also referred to as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is an iconic landmark situated in Istanbul, Turkey. It was constructed in the early 17th century, during the reign of Sultan Ahmed I, and has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city due to its remarkable architecture and intricate details.

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    Topkapi Palace

    Topkapi Palace served as the residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, from the 15th century until the mid-19th century. The palace is situated on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosphorus. Its grounds cover an area of approximately 700,000 square meters and include

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    Hagia Sophia

    Hagia Sophia, also known as Ayasofya, was originally built as a church in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian I and was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman era. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction that draws visitors from all over the world. The Hagia Sophia’s architecture is a beautiful blend of