There’s a whole story that connects me with the spirit of Istanbul, but beyond any story stay the people that I met there. They helped me see Istanbul completely different than a regular tourist. They took me through Istanbul, showed me charming places and told me local stories that revealed a spirit that I could hardly find elsewhere. Now that I’m preparing for a new short visit to Istanbul, I thought it’s a good time to recall and to share with you the hidden gems of this city, so that you can experience it in a similar way, if you ever plan to go (back) there.
This time, I’ll take you through a couple of experiences and places recommended by some locals (aka friends of mine who live in Istanbul since… forever). These are places they enjoy going to and are a ‘must visit’ for someone who wants to feel the local spirit, away from tourist traps. Some of them are in touristic places or nearby them. Others may be in neighborhoods where you wouldn’t expect a lot of tourists to wander the streets. But trust me, these are places that will give you chills and will make you come back for more.
So let’s start with 3 places where to find a good Turkish coffee depending on which type of coffee-drinker you are:
The coffee drinker in love with history
The local shops around the Spice Bazaar are a very good place to feel the vibe of the city and its history. You can find here the truly authentic Turkish coffee and you can experience the art behind its manufacturing. You can consider this neighborhood of Istanbul the city’s coffee center. Almost five centuries ago, the first coffeehouses were opened here. They were cosmopolitan places for the Ottoman Empire’s guests.
Nowadays, here is where the imported coffee is brought to, so it’s the place where you will find here fresh coffee beans. In some places, you can get your coffee roasted, ground and packaged or prepared in front of you. Go to Mehmet Efendi coffee shop from Eminönü to buy Turkish coffee to take back home. From 1871, since when Mehmet Efendi took over the family business, the rich aroma of roasted coffee invaluie covers the small streets of the Spice Bazaar. So why not take home that taste that will make you return to Istanbul every single morning? 🙂
The one who drinks coffee with a view
Eminönü area is pretty crowded in high season, so if you want a coffee with a view and you have the time for a detour from the regular tourist paths, then you should go to Pierre Loti Coffee House. It is a little off the beaten track, but having a coffee while admiring the charming panoramic view over the Golden Horn bridge is totally worth the walk to this place.
The Urban Coffee Drinker
If you’re more like a Starbucks fan, then Bebek Starbucks is among the chain’s coffee houses with most spectacular views. You can take a bus from Taksim square that will take you to the modern village of Bebek. This is a quiet place in the heart of busy Istanbul. Even if you may not usually go to Starbucks when travelling, would you be able to refuse a coffee by the waterfront and to enjoy the breeze? 🙂
I guess the coffee lover inside of you will just want another coffee after trying these. So, I’ll get back in a future article with some other tips on where to experience the authentic lifestyle of Istanbul and feed the gourmand inside 🙂 Stay tuned and subscribe to my feed to get my new articles directly in your inbox!