With all the recent unrest in Turkey, it seems strange to be sharing travel tips on Istanbul. However this magical city is like no other and I’m already looking forward to a second visit.
I’ll be writing about the vibrant Galata area & trendy Karaköy, old world Sultanahmet, the Princes’ Islands as well as general tips so look out for those posts coming up soon. Today I want to begin with what was my favourite day in Istanbul, exploring the greater Çukurcuma area. This area is a mix of residential and old abandoned buildings with interesting shops and cafes dotted in between.
Start at Tophane tram stop and walk up Bogazkesen Street. This street has some absolutely amazing interior shops as well as quirky little boutiques. Be sure to look out for: Hane 78 Turkish Modern / Tiftix / Hamm / Happily Ever Paper
Turn right into Çukurcuma Street and make your way upwards, this section is full of antique shops. You’ll find The Museum of Innocence along this road, which is apparently fantastic, especially if you’ve read the book by Orhan Pamuk. A bit further up the road, stop and rest your feet at Cuma and then carry on up the hill and explore the winding streets. Look out for A la Turca which is a fascinating 4 storey shop filled with antiques, art and artefacts from yesteryear. A real treasure trove. I also passed a shop called Som Interior which looked very cool but was sadly closed.
As you get further up the hill, the area gets more vibey with plenty of cool cafes and little shops. Cross over Siraselviler Street and you’ll be in Cihangir which is a diverse, arty area also full of cosmopolitan cafes and coffee shops.
From here if you carry on walking up the hill away from ocean you will reach Taksim Square which I don’t recommend! It’s so busy and ugly and doesn’t feel authentic. However from here you can walk down the famous Istiklal Avenue and hit all the main stream shops and shop to your heart’s content. I preferred the shops at the end of Istiklal Avenue near Galata Tower, a mix of local brands and tourist knick knack shops. Who needs Zara and H&M when we already have these at home.
From Cihangir, if you walk down towards the ocean, you’ll get to Karaköy. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on this hip neighbourhood, another favourite of mine.
All photography: Lana Kenney ©