The Diverse Lifestyle of Istanbul
As one of the largest cities in the world, naturally Istanbul offers intense diversity for lifestyles, accommodating everyone, regardless of their nationality or personal preferences. Whether living on a budget or a hefty income, fulfilling their needs and wants is easy therefore highlighting the vast range of facilities and amenities for foreigners and local Turks. From shopping to eating out and nightlife pleasure, Istanbul provides it all.
Shop until you Drop
While the large Ottoman Grand Bazaar is often highlighted as the first place for tourists to visit, it is just a small fraction of the shopping choices on offer because as well as the busiest street in Turkey called Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul also prides itself on shopping malls.
Generally, open from 10 am to 10 pm, one of the favourites for locals is Akmerkez with more than 200 brand name stores covering a massive 180,000 square meters. Concierge services, a cinema and its own award-winning restaurant called Papermoon, are also available making the mall a cool place to socialise as well as shop. Another favourite is Kanyon located in the Levant neighbourhood or Istinye Park that is wheelchair friendly and offers free services such as baby prams.
It is a guarantee that most International cuisines are sold in Istanbul. With a historical timeline that has incorporated many cultures, the diversity of cuisine includes Sushi, Thai, Indian, and Italian to name a few.
Of course, Turkish food is popular and certain areas are famous for their dishes. Ortakoy is a master of the street food kumpir (jacket potato) while the Eminonu side of Galata Bridge, Kumpkapi, and Karakoy districts sell cheap fish sandwiches to go or seasonal seafood in sit down restaurants.
Naturally as a melting pot where various cuisines fused together, some restaurants gained esteemed reputations for their chefs, dishes, and décor. Kebabs are the focal point of the menu at the well-known Siirt Şeref Büryan Kebap Salonu while the regional cuisine of southeastern Hatay is in high demand at Antiocha.
Despite being a favourite haunt for budget travellers, Istanbul also has its fair share of high-end restaurants that occupy rooftop buildings with an all-encompassing stunning view over the Bosphorus.
The former La Moutte restaurant, now called Nicole changes their dynamic menu every six weeks but private VIP dining is always available, with sumptuous dishes cooked by chefs trained in Paris. The 360 restaurant, bar and club in the Beyoglu district also offers fine cuisine with choices such as lamb confit, lobster and bottles of the high reputation Dom Perignon.
A Vibrant Nightlife Scene
Istanbul is bustling night and day and the vast range of evening entertainments venues are proof of this. In the Beyoglu and Taksim districts, bars lining the main strip or side streets often host live musicians playing a variety of modern punk, rock and pop music, both western and Turkish. As
popular haunts for youngsters, older generations instead visit the traditional nargile cafes or Turkish venues featuring guitar players.
Known as “meyhanes,” they serve a variety of Turkish mezes and alcohol. Possibly the most well-known among foreigners is Cicek Pasaj lying off Istiklal Avenue. Otherwise, nightclubs are big business in Istanbul such as Anjelique in the Ortakoy district. The nightclub on the third floor of their venue hosts many famous DJs from around Turkey whereas prestigious Reina has hosted some of the world's most esteemed celebrities including Uma Thurman and Bon Jovi.
Neighbourhood and Cultural Love
Naturally as Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul has many neighbourhoods and districts of which some are more prestigious than others, or known for quirky attributes. The Sultanahmet district is the heart of the old city attracting tourists, so shops and restaurants reflect this with their excellent command of English, German, Russian, and other languages.
Although Istikal Avenue is awash with modern stores, the back streets and their districts of Galata, or Beyoglu host small antique shops, cultural centres, and museums such as the Modern Art and the Museum of Innocence belonging to Turkey’s most famous male author Orhan Pamuk. Kafa Ara belongs to Turkey’s most celebrated photographer Ara Guler who hosts many of his pictures showcasing Istanbul over the years on his walls.
Karakoy district attracts many artists while Yeldeğirmeni is famous for large street art murals adorning the exterior walls of old buildings. Lastly, Nisanti has risen to become an affluent neighbourhood with many street cafes and expensive shopping neighbourhoods. As home to Turks who have extensively travelled, along with Cihanger, it is also popular with foreign expats who have relocated to live in one of the best cities of the world.