We would only have 2 nights and days in Istanbul. To optimize our time in the city, and to find the best Istanbul eateries, we did as much planning as we could before leaving home.
After sorting out our transfers, our next priorities were accommodation and food. Following a good deal of online research, we’d decided that the best area to base ourselves for such a short stay was Sultanahmet. There we would be close to most of the attractions and restaurants, and wouldn’t need much use of any local transport.
Finding a Good Place to Stay
From our shortlist of around a dozen hotels, we settled on the [eafl id=5577 name=”Angel’s Home Hotel, Istanbul” text=”Angel’s Home Hotel”], close to the Blue Mosque on Amiral Tafdil Sokak.
The Angel’s Home Hotel turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.
They gave us a beautifully decorated room on the 2nd floor. Attached to the room was a fully-equipped marble bathroom with heated floor. In the bedroom we had slippers, personal dressing gowns, minibar and complimentary tea, coffee, water and sweets.
Best of all, there was a large and very comfortable bed.
On the ground floor, next to the reception area, is a large inviting sitting room equipped with chesterfields and complimentary tea and cakes. There is also a computer for guests to use at no charge.
It will be worth revisiting Istanbul just to stay in this hotel again.
Breakfast is served upstairs on the terrace (where there are inside and outside seating areas). There is a large selection of fresh hot and cold food for all tastes. All this you can enjoy with a fabulous view over the Bosphorus.
There are regular shuttle services to the airports which the hotel can book for you. Our shuttle to Ataturk airport cost just €5 per person.
The hotel is located just behind the Blue Mosque, in a pleasant area full of restaurants and hotels, and close to the Arasta bazaar.
Istanbul Eateries – Alaturka Teras Restaurant
The Alaturka Teras Restaurant gave us our first taste of Turkish food following our late arrival in Istanbul.
In fact, the manager was earlier helpful in directing us to our hotel, so we felt we could return the compliment by dining there. There were dozens of other restaurants in the area striving hard to get our custom (on Arbiyik Caddesi street), but we headed back to the Alaturka restaurant.
On arrival we were ushered inside, then upstairs by lift to a pleasant but empty restaurant. We ordered wine and some appetizers to share: tzatziki and hummus with some crusty bread.
After that we ordered a couple of dishes from the menu: A lamb stew “sizzler” and a lamb chop dish with salad and french fries.
Our total bill came to 127 TL (approximately €43), which seemed a little steep for what we’d eaten. The food was good, but nothing special. It seems the bill had been grossly inflated with a steep service tax which we weren’t expecting.
Lunch and Snacks
The following day, we had lunch at a street-front snack bar in the Gulhane area of central Istanbul. This was much more to our taste, with a deliciously varied Turkish mixed starter followed by lamb kebabs in crusty bread and wraps.
Together with a bottle of local red wine, this came to a more reasonable 84 TL.
After a long morning’s sight-seeing, this was just the type of food we needed before heading out again to explore further into the city.
Around lunchtime on the following day we found ourselves close to the entrance to the Grand Bazaar.
And yes, we were hungry again for more Turkish food.
This time we chose the Pehlivan snack bar, located on the small square in front of the Bazaar entrance. Here they offer a variety of reasonably priced tasty snacks.
After shopping for leather on the high street, this is a great location for taking the weight off your feet, and people-watching.
Istanbul Eateries – Le Safran Kebab
For our second (and final) evening in Istanbul, we had ear-marked a number of restaurants during our pre-trip preparations: We’d even marked them on our offline Google map.
However, actually finding these places in the city was proving to be more difficult than we’d anticipated. In the end, we managed to locate just one of our short-listed Istanbul eateries (more by luck than actual navigation).
Le Safran Kebab is a well-placed restaurant just behind the outer walls of the Gulhane Park. We ate a good meal here for around 100 TL for two. As the evening progressed, we sat on their large terrace and watched the trams chug by.
The food was good, but no better than the other places we visited. There are so many places to eat in Istanbul, that it’s really not necessary to plan much in advance.
In the area around the Blue Mosque you can find plenty of food carts selling roasted corn on the cob for 2 lira a piece. As ever in the mood for a quick snack, we decided to try one.
Unfortunately, it was pretty disgusting: It tasted like it was well past it’s sell-by date (which it undoubtedly was).
Better stick to the kebabs 😉
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