Topkapi Palace is a spectacular remnant of the Ottoman Empire and the home to sultans for almost 400 years. Beautifully perched on the Bosphorus, you’ll see artifacts unlike anything you’ve ever seen. With an impressive museum collection and tons of Hungarian swords, you can cap off your visit with a pic outside the Sultan’s harem like Megan and Ann!
The Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia are spots that absolutely cannot be missed with impressive architecture and beauty.
Visiting a hammam (Turkish bath) was such a cool experience Megan would 10/10 recommend to everyone. At Kiliç Ali Pasa Hamami, Megan and Ann came to the conclusion they would like to go every month.
The Curcurkema antique shops in the Beyoglu neighborhood are filled with idyllic and fabulous pieces of furniture and finery. It feels like you’re in another world, and the shops are full of new things to discover. Megan and Ann also went to the Grand Bazaar (obvi), which was more like a shopping mall than they were anticipating. They did a few laps and made their way to the Spice Market and Egyptian Bazaar which felt very authentic and reminiscent of the old world.
Shopping moments:The Lab Store supplies locally made and designed art with a fun POV.
Vitruta Karaköy is a beautifully curated concept store.
Turkish Modern has colorful and enchanting housewares, perfect to take home to your own abode and furnish with sweet memories.
Sweet place to stay:Tomtom Suites was the cutie hotel in the Beyoglu. This chic hotel with 10-star service had a phenomenal restaurant on the roof where breakfast was served overlooking the Bosphorus and old city every morning. There are a zillion fabulous hotels in Istanbul, so you truly cannot go wrong. Megan also considered staying at the Bank Hotel or Soho House. The city of Istanbul itself is very cosmopolitan and surprisingly European to Megan. The staff at Tomtom Suites were so nice and knowledgeable about the neighborhood which is home to tons of European consulates making the community feel like a true melting pot.
For a cool side trip: BODRUM!
Bodrum is a phenomenal coastal region where Megan and Ann took a short flight and stayed for a relaxing few days. The Macakizi pronounced “matchakuzee” was the absolute best place to eat exquisite food, drink amazing drinks, relax, ogle wildly large boats aka yachts in the bay or docking for lunch. Basically, the vibes were immaculate, as cringe-y as Megan feels saying that. Additionally, Megan adored the serene and beautiful scene at Amanruya, referring to it as a “serene temple of relaxation.”
She and Ann also had a blast renting a gulet and sailing on the Aegean. There are loads of boats for charter for everything from a half day to weeks-long vacations. Megan and Ann took a smaller boat, and it was so delightful. They also took a day trip and hopped over to the Greek isle of Kos. It’s only a 45-minute ferry or boat from downtown Bodrum!
Murver is the perfect scenic dinner spot overlooking the Bosphorus. The experience was incredible.
Yeni Lokanta fulfills the craving for more delicious Turkish food. Head on over for a great tasting menu and have your mind blown.
Napoli Gourmet is serving an Italian moment with the friendliest service. Megan and Ann only once deviated from Turkish cuisine, and it was here. The food was so fresh, and the best pizza Megan HAS EVER HAD, which is really saying something.
Note: There is an obscene amount of delicious dining options with lots of Michelin stars. Megan and Ann went the Turkish route for almost every meal, which is the way to go, of course! Also, another important thing, their favorite beer was Efes, a crisp pilsner brewed with their unique, Mediterranean slow brew.
Finally, we owe Megan and Ann a huge thanks for their detailed recaps and imagery. We don’t know about you, but we are absolutely dying to go to Turkey. Let’s start saving for a flight in 2025! We’d also like to wish all our fabulous turkeys a joyful and safe Thanksgiving. Cheers to more colorful adventures ahead!