I went to Istanbul in the first week of April, at the start of Istanbul’s annual Tulip Festival. The mornings and evenings still clung to the remains of winter’s chill but the days were warm and full of sunshine. To prepare for my maiden voyage to Europe, I scoured the internet for the best travel recommendations for Istanbul and the best, by far, was Audrey Bergner’s 50 Ways to experience Istanbul.
Here are a few hidden gems I stumbled upon alongside sights that really shouldn’t be missing from your to-see list.
1. Privato Cafe by The Galata Tower
Order the continental breakfast– Europeans have perfect portions and use the best ingredients. Turkish yogurt and honey are downright sinful. Many thanks to my friends @thesamaras for the recommendation
2. Smell the flowers at the Topkapi Palace
The smell is absolutely heavenly. Fit for a king or queen. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been so fully immersed in the smell of flowers before–Bath Body Works so doesn’t do the trick anymore.
3. Discover Glowing quartz pottery at Firca Quarts and Ceramic by the Aya Sophia.
Ask them to take you to the basement and prepare to see something remarkable.
4. Feed your dreams at Alemdar Restaurant & Cafe
Ask for the Saç Kavurma. I kid you not, I am still dreaming about it! Bonus: get a free Whirling Dervish show.
5. Turkish Ice cream
Such a unique texture, unlike traditional ice cream we get in America. I loved the Blackberry flavor the most!
6. Stop in Hafiz Mustafa 1864 in Taksim Square for the most unique and delicious baklava and Turkish delights.
They have some delicious combinations and flavors that I couldn’t find anywhere else in all of Istanbul. I finished a whole box, y’all… I hit the gym real hard when I came back. lol.
But overall, have FUN and talk to strangers. The lives of those we meet, their stories are what make travelling to far off places both foreign and familiar. Have a good trip! Or as the Turks say, İyi yolculuklar! Güle, güle!