Istanbul Bound – Suggestions?

October 4, 2010

Hello friends! I’m flying to Istanbul with my husband and dear friend Esra in November and I can’t wait! Istanbul has long been a destination on my “dream vacation” list so now that I’m only 2 hours and 40 minutes by plane, non-stop, then I figured I’d seize the moment and just do it! I’m extremely excited to be flying to this exotic destination in four weeks. Have you visited before? Oh if so, please fill me in on what awaits us there! My friend is Turkish so we can easily get around the city thanks to her – plus she knows my taste and promises to take Thorsten and I to places that we’ll love. But, you know, I always like to hear what suggestions YOU have because whenever I post about an upcoming vacation you always give me the best tips! Plus, for others going to Istanbul soon (like my blog friend Alina) your tips can really help us all so please, share, share and share some more!

Istanbul Bound - Suggestions?

Istanbul Bound - Suggestions?

Istanbul Bound - Suggestions?

I can’t wait to go to Dhoku (for a patchwork rug!), Abdulla for bath things, and definitely Tulu (for pillows and fabric). In fact, I plan to take a billion photos so I’ll share my trip with you on decor8 upon my return. I’ll be there during the first week of November so you can expect my trip posts shortly thereafter. I leave for Marrakesh, Morocco in 10 days as well… and I’ll share highlights from Morocco on decor8 too. You have lots of exotic destinations to enjoy through my eyes over the next few months. Yay!

But first, Instanbul and places to go, things to see… What are some must-see locations there?

(images: tulu)


  • Reply Leonie October 4, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Dear Holly, I’m so happy for you for going to Istanbul! For me it’s one of my favourite cities and I’ll be visiting next week…
    I don’t have any interiour decoration oriented tips for you though, sorry.
    But for food, be sure to cross over to the Asiatic side and go to Ciya in Kadiköy, it’s probably the bes food in the world! ( has a great blog post on it)
    For börek and sweets check out the absolutely non-trendy but delicous Gölloglu in Karaköy, no visit is complete without it.
    Have a great time, and I’m looking forward to hearing all about your trip in November!

  • Reply laura trevey October 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Gorgeous Gorgeous pillows!!

  • Reply juliette October 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    no, but I’m totally looking forward to your photos! Have a ball!! (I know you will!)

  • Reply Elcin October 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    If you are going this week be sure to check Istanbul Design Week ( and if you are not visit pukka living ( for places to visit, also take a look at TimeOut istanbul’s website ( Enjoy Istanbul…

  • Reply Mariana October 4, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Grand Bazaar! Huge market with lots of beautiful things! Have a nice trip!

  • Reply Graciel @ Evenstar Art October 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    i’ve been to istanbul twice in the past year. you are going to LOVE it! the gypsy flower market is worth a visit, hopefully they will still be displaying their blooms outside in november. eat dinner under the galata bridge and watch the sunset dip behind the blue mosque. drink turkish tea (chai) on a rooftop cafe overlooking the bosphorus. the spice market is glorious for scarves and fresh turkish delight candies. and for a visual feast while dining, dress up and head to the tugra restaurant in the ciragan palace. the restored architecture, the palace steps and the water, along with fabulous food, will make you feel like a queen for a night.

    xo, graciel

    p.s. fair warning: i could never put my camera down. ;)

  • Reply Sarah October 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Perfect timing! I am going to Istanbul for the first time as well at the end of Nov/begin. of Dec. I can’t wait to hear what other people’s suggestions are. I’ve looked at chowhound for suggestions for food here:;topic-734044

  • Reply petra October 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I love Istanbul. it’s one of my favourite cities. last time I was there (way too long ago) I didn’t know about them but if I’d go now I would check out Autoban:

    the design furniture, and also have an interior design department. so their gallery is probably worth a look. on their website they also list restaurants and hotels for which they did the interiors, most of them located in Istanbul.

  • Reply Tina October 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I haven´t been to Istanbul but wante dto say how envious I am! It will be an adventure for sure! :-)

    Wonderful pillows!

  • Reply Krystal Webb October 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I just got back from Istanbul and LOVED it! I want to go back right now. I wanted to buy a tile set but was nervous about getting it back home, that was my biggest regret of the whole trip. I still think about those tiles. Taksin is so fun to go to at night and of course the famous Blue Mosque, Haggia Sophia and the Sultan’s Palace. I went crazy inside those places!!! I’m so jealous! Safe travels!

  • Reply notabilia October 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Holly –

    What a wonderful vacation you have planned! I’ve also always wanted to go to Istanbul and I look forward to hearing your take when you are back in Germany in November!

    Quick question: what do *you* mean when you use the adjective ‘exotic’ to describe places, things, etc.? I see that word all over many design blogs and often it is used to describe things that are not ‘Western.’ This makes me very uncomfortable. What are your thoughts?


    • Reply decor8 October 4, 2010 at 10:48 pm

      @Notabilia: The word exotic has several definitions from foreign locations to strippers! ha ha! But it also can mean, “strikingly unusual” and “unique” and this is exactly how I imagine both Istanbul and Marrakesh – striking, unusual and unique.

  • Reply Veronica October 4, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I just love those pillowsssss!!!!!! Please come back with some as gifts for your fans!! hahaha
    Those pillows are just fab!

  • Reply ezgix October 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Dear Holly, I live in Istanbul for 12 years now and for some time I’ve been following your blog. My suggestion for fabric would be Grand Bazaar, you can find a wide range of fabric (both traditional and modern) there. If you would like shop for clothes/accessories I suggest you check out small boutiques near Galata Tower and around Galatasaray/Algerian Street (both in Beyoglu district). For food, completely agree with Leonie there, Ciya is a heavenly place and Gulluoglu/Karakoy is the best for traditional desserts. It’s all I can think of right now. Hope I could help. Have a great time in my city!

  • Reply asli October 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    i’ll recommend u to go to Galata Konak Cafe, such a vintage decorated beautiful viewed place where u can see topkapi palace, hagia sophia, bosphorus bridge, girl tower, galata tower… all together…; here’s their website;

    and it’s istanbul fashion week is this week,ur friend probably knows about it.. if u need anything feel free to send me an e-mail=)

  • Reply Julie October 4, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    You’ll absolutely love it!! in my mid twenties I lived in Istanbul for a couple of years, and it was incredible. I agree with the previosu comment about going over to Ciya in Kadikoy- there are also some amazing cafes along the far side of Kadikoy which overlook the water, and the views are amazing and very ‘local’.

    My favourite thing to do in Istanbul is to take the ferry to Buyuk Ada, the big island. the ferry ride is amazing (definitely have some Turkish tea en route) and then rent some bicycles and cycle around the island. it’s a gorgeous slice of old Istanbul, and there are no cars except for maintenance vehicles- so its really lovely to cycle around and take in the gorgeous views. One time on the ferry ride there, I even saw dolphins.

    A couple warnings: The Grand Bazaar is not open on Sundays, and you really have to haggle long and hard to get some good deals, so be prepared. Also, I found it really tough to see so many sad-looking street cats and dogs when I was there- I often kept dry cat food in my purse to give to some I came across because at least it made me feel like I was doing something for them.

  • Reply Rachel October 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm


    You are so lucky to be traveling to Istanbul. It is by far one of my most favorite cities. I got the pleasure of traveling there for a class I took while studying abroad.

    A lot of the main attractions are in the old city-Sultanahamet. Obviously you will want to go to the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. Also visit the Hippodrome and Grand Bazaar. You are going to go NUTS at the Grand Bazaar, it is absolutely amazing and I still have dreams about it. Get some Turkish jewelry while you are there. Plenty of textiles, amazing ceramics and lighting as well. Topkapi Palace is beautiful, I wonder if the tulips will be in bloom. If you can find a guide, I think it is worth it. There is so much history there, it truly is where east meets west. There are some great museums too. The mosaic museum and the Kariye Museum (Church of Holy Savior in Chora) has by far the best Byzantium mosaics ever (at least that I saw.) This church was saved from destruction when the Muslims took over, so the mosaics have been preserved. There are some really picturesque towns along the Bosporus and Black Sea. I would read up as much as you can, maybe contact some bloggers or sellers on Etsy that would be willing to show you around. The city is huge and set up in districts or sections-there is a hardware district, a textile district, a wedding district and etc. Oh and EAT a lot while you are there! The food is amazing and I thought the people were very hospitable and funny! Have a blast!

  • Reply Rachel October 4, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Ha, I just read the whole post and realized you are going to Morocco. One of my other favorites too! Definitely post lots of pictures and give tips on where to go, I will use them in case I ever get to go back!

  • Reply shereen October 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Oooo I am so excited for you! I’ve been reading your blog for ages and always comment when you talk about Turkey ;) I am sure your friends will take you to all the must see places. BUT since Turkey is one of my all time favourites places in the world, my must sees for Istanbul are as follows (most of which are no brainers):

    1) Topkapi Palace – so beautiful, I LOVE this place. It’s where the “crown jewels” are
    as well as the Sultan’s harem. My fave is a suit of armour on display
    made of rubies and emeralds….wow! I find it such an inspiring place.

    2) Bosphorous (the body of water that separates the European side from the Asian side) take a boat ride on the bosphorous, it’s touristy BUT so worth it, especially at dusk

    3) The Blue Mosque – beautiful inside…breath taking.

    4) Aya Sofia – also beautiful inside, in a very different way from the Blue Mosque

    5) Ortakoy mosque (it’s along the bosphorus, close to where you catch
    the ferries to go on tours) – it’s stunning from the outside (I’ve
    never gone in). I think it’s one of the only baroque style mosques out
    there…very interesting looking compared to all the other more
    traditional style mosques.

    Have an amazing time! I am looking forward to seeing all your posts and pics on your trip :)

  • Reply Anna of green gable October 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Looking forward to your posts from Morocco and Istanbul! Love the pillows, too!

  • Reply Laura October 4, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Dear Holly,

    I’ve just been to Istanbul and had dinner in a restaurant with a stunning view.
    I can really recommend you to go for dinner, or for a cocktail to Leb-i Derya Kumbaraci. (www.
    It is located in Kumbaraci Yokusu 57/6 Tünel, Beyoglu.

    It is very close to the main shopping street that runs from taksim to tünel. Better reserve a table if you go on a weekend and to get one at the window. (0090- 212-293 49 89). Coming from the main shopping street you go to kumbaraci y. street and soon on your right you find a small sign with the name. Then up to the seventh floor. you wouldn’t expect it from the outside, but it is very romantic and really nice. Have a nice time in Istanbul,

  • Reply Margot October 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Dear Holly,
    How lucky are you! Istanbul is an incredible city. I just went for the first time in January with my family and it was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I have put together some information on my photography, with some inspiration photographs to get you excited for your trip! Have a wonderful time :)

    Some photographs:

    Travel Tips (including restaurant addresses and places you have to see!)

  • Reply Nicky Haslam October 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I wrote for the Telegraph about Istanbul. It’s my favourite place on earth – you will love it. Here’s the full article:

  • Reply callie grayson October 4, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    I am so jealous!
    You will have the best time! My best friend went earlier this year and I was not able to go. It is on my list too.
    Can’t wait to see you photos!!

  • Reply PercentBlog October 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Oooooh, I am so jealous! Turkey (and particularly Istanbul) have been at the top of my travel list since I was little (what 8 year old do you know who wants to go to Turkey? This one.) I came close to planning a trip about a year ago but have had to put it off. Someday!

  • Reply Nuit October 4, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    SO exciting!!! can’t wait to see the virtual tour on decor8 ;)


  • Reply European Chic October 4, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I am a big fan of Istanbul, too, and I`ve visited twice this year already (and planning on a 3rd trip soon). The hamman is a must. My favourite one is this one which is over 300 years old.
    Enjoy your trip!

  • Reply Frida at October 4, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Love your blog. Sadly I can’t be much helpful with ideas for Istanbul but I do hope that you will share your best picks later on.

  • Reply ana October 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    must see the spice market and
    the house hotel, for inspiration

  • Reply mamichan October 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    i LOVED istanbul!
    my fave historical/tourist site was the ancient cisterns (shown in from russia with love).
    grand bazaar and spice market for shopping. pandelli restaurant on the second floor or grand bazaar is great for a traditional turkish meal.
    istanbul modern is a great museum, right on the bosphorus. cute cafe.
    restaurant-wise i really liked 360 restaurant and konyali. konyali is in the kanyon shopping mall – kind of a cool mall, actually. there’s also a wagamama (ramen) chain in there too.
    istikal cad neighborbood is really pretty – there’s cicek passage, which is a flower-covered indoor/outdoor passage. it’s also close to the cukurcuma neighborhood – kinda like the SoHo of istanbul – there’s a beautiful felt clothing design studio/shop there called art i choke that i absolutely loved. a la turca antique shop, nahide buyukkaymakci (lighting design) and apel art gallery are also in that neighborhood.

  • Reply bussbuss October 4, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    That is so exciting! My one major regret is not going to Turkey when we were off traveling last year so can’t wait to see all of your pics. Might you have a chance to also visit Cappadocia? Martha just did a special on it and it looks insane. It’s now at the top of my life list!

  • Reply gunes October 4, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Dear,
    please take a look from Galata Tower to Historical Peninsula, where Topkapi Sarayi, Sultan Ahmet, Hagia Sophia etc. the wiev is lovely. But also ask for “Cihangir Camii”(Cihangir Mosque). It is little bit hard to find but a taxi driver would be helpful. When you see the view from the garden, then you will understand why people are in love with this city.
    You may find small nice shops around the city but you may love “Cukur Cuma” where you can find very very old furnitures and personal stuff, like parfume bottles and pumps, shaving sets, clocks, medicine carriers etc. lots of nice small stuff.
    You may visit Macka, Nisantasi. There you may find nice coffe shops, stores etc. But mainly the buildings around are Art Nouveau samples and beautiful!
    Please also take a walk from Arnavutkoy to Bebek and so on! If you find some time, you can get in the small streets of Arnavutkoy, nice around.
    So, for now i can tell those :) i live in Izmir, another city but i lived there for years and missed so much. So please also take a deep breath for me as well :)
    Waiting for your great photos on your blog!

  • Reply gunes October 4, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Hey, one more thing,
    I think you might like the link below. A pillow store from a Turkish fashion designer:
    byes for now!

  • Reply NESTEREN October 4, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Dear Holly, I would love to see you in here, when you are in ?stanbul I will be in Germany for the first time. Ciya is great for traditional food, but for much more traditional food you should visit Kanaat Lokantasi in Usküdar, you will not believe but you have to pay cash in Kanaat; no credit card is acceptable. For good textile, you must see Koza Han (Koza means “Silk Cocoon”) in Bursa. It is a historical city which takes 2,5 hours to ?stanbul by car, it is famous for its silk! You can see inspiration of Ottoman Empire on Bursa’s textile. I am sure your friend Esra had already suggested, but again you must see Iznik (of Bursa) for its beatiful and precious china, they are also much more affordable than Istanbul.

  • Reply Monica Burke October 4, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    If you have time before you go I highly recommend that you read Orhan Pamuk’s memoir, “Istanbul” – it provides poignant insight into the melancholy that is so embedded in the Turkish people and all the facets their culture – including the decorative arts.


  • Reply Borghildur Ína October 4, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Make sure you get to see the inside of the Blue Mosque. It’s beautiful. I can also recommend staying there for a service, it’s an unique experience for people that are not muslims.

  • Reply janis - pine cone camp October 4, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    How’s the move going? I really enjoyed BYW, but have to admit, I missed all of last week. Plan to make up for it, hugely, this week!
    Can’t wait to see your pics from Istanbul and Marrakesh!
    Have a lovely day.

  • Reply Alison October 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I just spent 6 weeks in Istanbul this summer.

    There are so many fabulous things to see and do…
    Some of my faves:

    1. Dolmabahce Palace: On the banks of the Bospherous, this palace is particularly beautiful. Especially the architecture & outside of the building, including the back. Don’t miss the gates behind the palace that back up to the Bospherous… it looks like you’re entering heaven. Oh, and Ataturk, the beloved founder of the modern repulic of Turkey died in this palace, so its extra special to the Turks.

    2. I love love love the Bospherous. I would definitely recommend a Bospherous cruise. The short cruise is enough (in my opinion), and it provides you with a great view of the Ortakoy mosque, my favorite (I didn’t go inside — visited the inside of plenty of other mosques), but the outside is GORGEOUS.

    3. If you can make it to Miniaturk I would highly recommend it. Its an outdoor museum (the grounds sort of remind me of a miniature golf course, with mini buildings and perfectly manicured lawns) with “miniature” (knee high or bigger) reproductions of famous architecture around Turkey. The little buildings are beautiful, and built completely to scale (including the surrounding trees and shrubbery!!!).

    4. There are lots of really happening clubs and lounges in Turkey, one in particular is Reina, also along the shores of the Bospherous.

    5. If you like water and boats, as well as pretty architecture (and walking) a boat trip to the Island of Buyukada. The landscaping is gorgeous, the houses are lovely, and you can rent a phaeton (horse drawn carriage) for relatively inexpensive.

    6. Going to the top of Galata tower will give you a great 360 degree view of the city.

    7. For good food, drinks, and pretty views check out Lebi Derya (there are two locations, one with a rooftop bar and another that is indoor).

    8. Istiklal Street, off of Taksim square, has plenty of cafe’s, bars, and shops, and lots of people. There are street musicians, side streets with bars, at night there are tons of live bands playing, and if you can find it, you should definitely check out French Street, day or night, for cafes galore.

    I could probably go on, but I’ll keep it “short”. If you have any more questions I’ll try to answer them, I’m no expert but spent the entire summer in Turkey this year!

    Enjoy! Istanbul is a lovely city.

  • Reply Alison October 4, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Sorry… more!
    Be sure to try Manti (pronounced Mantuh), Its a “turkish dumpling”, but is more along the lines of tortellini stuffed with meat, but served with yogurt and tomato as opposed to traditional Italian tomato sauce.

    Another thing you should be sure to try is a traditional turkish breakfast, which is really lovely if you enjoy a mediterannean style diet — vegatables (fresh cucumber and tomato, namely), cheese (an incredible spread!), olives, and bread. Yum.

    Kofte (meatballs) and Doner Kebap are really good too, if you enjoy meat.

    One of the best things about Turkey is the abundance of fresh seasonal vegetable dishes, especially if you enjoy stewed vegetables (Turkish cooks like their vegetables soft!!).

    Yum for fresh fish caught in any of their many surrounding bodies of water.

    Tea tea tea. :)

  • Reply eileen October 4, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I’m going to read all of these carefully and your posts, Holly. A friend asked me if I wanted to go in the Spring. Still contemplating it. I’ve always wanted to go especially after my first course in Islamic architecture.

  • Reply Anna Caroline {Design Studio 210} October 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Oh, your trip sounds like a dream trip to me. I have been longing to go to Istanbul for sometime now myself: and I will shortly I hope.

    Loved reading all the comments from other people who are familiar with the city :D Tips, tips, tips…

    I can’t wait to see your perception of the city!

  • Reply shellie October 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    How fun….never been….however mary ann moss from one of my favorite blog dispatchfromla just got back and made some amazing journals about her trip….you should take a look!

  • Reply Ebru Goktan October 5, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Hmmm, where to start…as an Istanbulian / Istanbuller (?) or Istanbullu (as we Turks say) and a big Istanbul fan, I can only give you a glimpse of this huge, chaotic, alive and very very beautiful city… and my invitation to take you (and your husband and Esra) to have some great food and sightseeing or window shopping (or real shopping of course :)) is still on…hope to hear from you on that. But now back to the question…Here is my 2 cents, but before reviewing all of the suggestions I would recommend getting an Istanbul map so that you will get an idea of terms like Old town, bosphorus, asian side etc…this city is huge and you don’t want to be stuck in traffic, believe me :)…so here goes:

    The classics / must do’s:
    1) Grand Bazaar – near the old town – half a day or more…shops I like are Ethnicon (sister of Dhoku you mentioned, patchwork kilims), Dervish, Abdulla (these two both have hammam / bathroom stuff like soaps, towels etc), classic copper shops, Fes Cafe (sip a Turkish coffee), Deli Kizin Yeri (American lady doing felt art, dolls etc)… I will send you a more extensive list soon…
    2) Sightseeing in the old town – visiting Hagia Sophia, Suleymaniye and Blue Mosques, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern – half a day at least
    3) Bosphorus Boat Tour -I live by the Bosphorus but still love to take this tour which gives you a glimpse of both the Asian and European sides of the straight and also the entrance to the Black Sea…I recommend a 2.5 hour (short tour) by IDO which takes off at Eminonu…This is where you will see the beautiful architecture of century-old Ottoman mansions…I have hundreds of pics of them…speaking of the Bosphorus you also have to walk between Ortakoy and Rumelihisari (passing Arnavutkoy and Bebek in between)…These are beautiful sea-side neighborhoods with great cafes / restaurants / bars and small shops….more on that later

    Wining / Dining: The Turkish cuisine is incredible, very rich and varied and definitely much much more than doner kebaps. I recommend a diet before coming here because you will definitely gain weight :) Aside from the places mentioned in previous comments (which I agree with fully) I recommend the following:

    Fish restaurants: Eftalya, Lacivert, Iskele…
    Turkish / Ottoman: Ulus 29 (magnificent view, great food ), Hunkar, Konyali, Tugra, Ciya, Pandeli
    Meat / kebap: Tike, Kosebasi, Hamdi
    you have thousands of choices lterally…the smaller restaurants in Asmalimescit (like otto, sofyali, nupera) are also great…

    Clubs / bars / lounges / rock bars: Babylon, Reina, Balans, Ulus 29 Lounge etc…you will be able to find all kinds of places in Taksim / Beyoglu especially now that we are entering winter…in the summer, I would recommed places by the European side of the Bosphorus…let me know what kind of music you like and I will provide specific names…

    Shopping: Grand bazaar for authentic, traditional stuff… Nisantasi district for modern boutiques…Kanyon and Istinye Park for hip malls, the Galata and Cihangir districts for new designers / small hip boutiques and designers, Cukurcuma for antiques…I will send you a list of specific names but these are the parts of town you have to see…also if you have time to cross to the Asian side (which I definitely recommend), then the famous Bagdat street is a must see for shopping…

    I will be back :)

  • Reply Ebru Goktan October 5, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Ok as for designers, a couple of more suggestions. The Istanbul design Week ( ended yesterday but still, the designers that really stood out and that you can see separately are as follows…Autoban was already mentioned above and they are very popular here. Other participants that I think were worth mentioning are: (these guys are also very popular internationally as well)
    – ilio
    – Ayda Pekin (jewellery)
    -Erdem Akan (again quite popular from maybe design)
    – Dice kayek (very well known fashion desingers which had a collection called Istanbul contrast, which you can probably see at the Istanbul modern Museum as well)…

  • Reply Danica October 5, 2010 at 2:15 am

    I second Buyuk Ada. Walk to the left along the water when you leave the ferry building and eat at Ali Baba. Ask for Aydin and tell him Danica sent you.
    Have a fabulous time! I was just there last month and miss it already.

  • Reply Fiona October 5, 2010 at 2:29 am


    There is a great article in Vogue Living Australia Sept/Oct 2010 about Christopher Hall (NZ born interior designer as well as furniture pieces, ceramics & textiles) he lives in Istanbul for almost a decade and has a showroom which has been open for over 5 years – looks fabulous and interesting. Just found a website

    Anyway in the article he provides his Istanbul List – which covers Eat, Shop, Explore….perhaps more of the not so well known places to visit. Happy to scan whole article if you are interested?

    Enjoy your trip….

  • Reply Maria October 5, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Istanbul is a great city! Full of colour, noise and culture. I spent some time in Istanbul and although I don’t remember the names of specific shops a definite must visit is the Grand Bazaar. You will find anything and everything you need here! Rugs, pillows, spices, jewellery, backgammon boards (backgammon is big in Turkey!) and lots more. Have fun Holly!

  • Reply Molly Jean October 5, 2010 at 2:43 am

    sounds like so much fun! am sooo looking forward to seeing posts about your trip! best!

  • Reply Shannon Fricke October 5, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Absolutely gorgeous pillows!

  • Reply ASTACK October 5, 2010 at 4:49 am

    Here is a link to a blog I stumbled across recently. First part has some beautiful photos of Istanbul and then the second part is all about the food. I was in Istanbul in the mid-80’s as an exchange student and can still taste the wonderful tea.


  • Reply Diana L October 5, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Beautiful pillow! Have a lovely trip.

  • Reply Jacqui October 5, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Did you get the latest Australian Vogue Living (Sept/Oct)? In it has a few suggestions on where to eat, shop and explore in Istanbul. My sister is moving there at the end of the year with her family. My mum has already got her flights booked to go next year. Hopefully I will get there too. Looking forward to reading about your trip.

  • Reply Trine October 5, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Check out this blog: She had just returned from a trip to istanbul!

    xoxo Trine

  • Reply Rambles with Reese October 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

    The trip sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to see all the pretty photos of things you’ll bring back!

  • Reply Tiffanys Small World October 5, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Never been to Istanbul. have a safe trip and looking forward to your next post

  • Reply La Colour Junkie October 5, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    The antique area (Beyoglu) has great stuff, also a great place to have lunch: Cezayir restaurant It’s building was constructed as a school in 1901. Beautiful place and great midday menu.
    Another must is going to one of the turkish baths after a busy day. I tried Cemberlitas Hamami and it was a great experience.
    What a beautiful city!

  • Reply diana strinati baur October 5, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Hi, Holly. Just want to add my “Buon Viaggio” to the list – one of the wonderful things about living in Germany is making Turkish friends. It is through one of my dearest friends that I met in Hamburg that I visited Istanbul several times over the years. It is a city to be discovered for sure. Not an easy place at first glance, but one with so many layers – certainly you will come back inspired to no end. I think, between Marrakesh and Istanbul (two of my favorite places that I have visited so far) you will be on sensory overload! Both are very intense, steeped in history and color and fragrance and food and mystique. Enjoy yourself…. I am sure you will… and I hope you can relax as well!!

  • Reply Nell October 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    That first picture is just so lovely. I adore everything about it! x

  • Reply Camille October 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    comments 37 and 43 are right on! I was in Turkey studying abroad this summer taking an interior design studio and loved it! I wasn’t in Istanbul the entire time because we traveled through all of Turkey but Istanbul is a ton of fun. Definitely go to the grand bazaar and egyptian bazaar. Galata Tower and boat tour are good sight seeing! Tons of shopping to do and beautiful architecture. Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Sultan’s Palace are only a few! Have a blast, can’t wait to hear about it!

  • Reply Sandra Kuwartowski October 5, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Dear Holly, I visited Istanbul twice – my best friend moved to Istanbul. Unfortunately I simply can`t remember all the name of the places we went (turkish is so difficult) but I would like to suggest one place. It is a cafe with the most delicious deserts: They serve mainly puddings made out of rice flour… yummeee!!!!
    I wrote to my friend – if I find out more adresses I will post again. Have a nice time in this exciting city. The cushions of Tulu are most beautiful!

  • Reply Tanya October 5, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Hey! hope you have a wonderful trip! You should check out Mary Ann Moss’ blog. She just got back and documented her trip every step of the way, and did a fantastic travel journal of it.

  • Reply Amanda October 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I can’t wait to see the pictures from your travels. I have never been to Istanbul so I have no suggestions to offer. But I just love the pictures and had to check out the Tulu site. I am excited to check out some of the shops near me that carry the brand. I love finding new places to visit through your posts.

  • Reply Keighley@thebellalife October 5, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I want every single one of those pillows.

    All of them.


    I hope your trip is everything you want it to be


  • Reply py October 6, 2010 at 12:37 am

    best mezes: karakoy lokantasi (food is excellent and prices very reasonable, the decoration is done by Autoban, very nice and chic). you should definately try. the location is very close to the istanbul modern museum (dont miss the hussein chalayan exhibit, on till 24th)…

    and please stroll down the Serdar-i Ekrem street. it is very close to the galata tower in the historic district. it is where all the small independent designers are opening their little boutiques. you’ll see that it is istanbul
    ‘s answer to NYC’s SOHO…

    have fun!

    i am loving your blog and it is very exciting to know that you will be in our city :)

  • Reply Mona Kay at Home October 6, 2010 at 1:19 am

    Look for “turkish mirrors” also called “Harem mirrors”, with beautiful ornate silver backs, made to face out (with the mirror facing the wall) on “bad hair days”. They are absolutely gorgeous!!

    Have a fabulous time…I’ve always wanted to go to Istanbul!!

  • Reply Patricia October 6, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Be careful of what you eat — I got terribly sick in Turkey, but that was further inland on an archeological tour.. Cost of medical care incredibly reasonable.

  • Reply Nihal October 6, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Hi there!

    I live in Ankara but wanted to give a quick tip. We have a chain of shop called Dösim (Dosim) run by Ministry of Culture.

    I love it here in Ankara. May be it would have poor variety after seeing Kapal?çar?? but the pricing is very good there.

    I also want to go this tile manufacturer some day;

    For vintage I heard Çukurcuma ( Cukurcuma ) has many shops.

    Whatever you do keep eating! I think this what we are best at!!

    If you pay a visit to Ankara too le tme know if you need any help.

    Have a nice trip!

  • Reply Sydney October 6, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Not a tip necessarily, but I do know that Frances Mayes’ wonderful book A Year in the World has a fascinating chapter on her visit to Istanbul. I don’t know if it has any practical information, but it’s nice for an atmospheric glimpse into the city.

  • Reply Kimberly October 6, 2010 at 6:05 am

    How amazing! Seeing as I probably won’t ever get the chance to visit these places it’s very nice to have the opportunity to see them through your eyes. :) Love those pillows!!!

  • Reply tuten October 6, 2010 at 8:01 am

    It is nice to hear that you will be here in Istanbul :) Enjoy and have lots of fun. Exicted and cannot wait so long to see your posts. The shops you will see are really good places. Remember to spare 1 day for Sultanahmet, Kapalicarsi

    Have a good travel!

  • Reply Eliza October 6, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I am SO envious. I LOVE Istanbul and so wish I was going back. While it can be busy and noisy …. it’s just so beautiful it doesn’t matter. I hope you are taking empty suitcases as choosing what to buy will be very hard. Enjoy!!

  • Reply Tracey Chalk October 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Those Tulu pillows are to die for !

  • Reply Raina Kattelson October 6, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    You are going to have an amazing time. You will want to buy everything in Tula. When you are in the Grand BAzaar eat at Fes Cafe, and stop in next door at Abdulla and Hamam. One of the best meals we had was at Muzedechanga at the Sakip Sabanci Museum. Amazing interiors and food and quite good museum. It’s a bit out of the way, but we took a bus ride up the Bosphorus and then enjoyed a leisurely walk back. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip.

  • Reply Kate@MagnoliaRouge October 6, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Wow, I don’t need to give you any advise on where to go as you could publish your own travel guide with all the above comments, but I will say you’ll going to absolutely love it!!! I was there years back and it’s such a visual feast, and a photographers dream! Jealous!!

  • Reply Renate October 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I definitely second Autoban, fabulous design!
    Don’t miss Pasabahce either ( for lovely quality traditional turkish teaglasses, beatiful glass and ceramics and other home accessories. The one in Nisantasi was particularly nice and is surrounded by many other lovely departmentstores and boutiques.
    A shopping center that was recommended to me but I didn’t manage to drag my DH to is Address.
    The alley opposite the Tunel exit is full of great little restaurants and cafes.

  • Reply may October 7, 2010 at 2:55 am

    I love Istanbul!!!
    Totally agree that you should check out Autoban.

    Food – I loved the creative dishes at Abracadra (it’s super cute inside too, very casual)

    Not sure if you need a hotel this time (maybe for next time?) but if you do I cannot recommend these two anymore:
    WITT ISTANBUL SUITES – stylish studio rooms with a glorious shower fitted with Autoban
    (They also have a really useful online magazine)

    converted from an old building, they have a beautiful boat that ferries you across the harbour – really romantic

    have fun!
    p.s. really loved your blogging your way workshop

  • Reply GeCe October 7, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Hi Holy, I have scanned the all comments but they mostly suggested you historical places. These places are amazing of course but I want to remind you there are also other great places to see. In my suggestions you should visit Asian side, Caddebostan, Kalamis, Kadikoy as well, then it must be seen the sunset from Uskudar. In the European side you should walk on shore from Bebek to Sariyer. They all have great sight with pleassure.

  • Reply Ashira October 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Istanbul is not a small place at the first glance. There are many places to visit. The major and one of the most popular nightlife areas is around Beyoglu Taksim. Many of the historical places can be reached easily and are all well worth.
    I also strongly advise people to go to Galata. There are many fascinating design shops. One of my favorite one was Studio Nommo, a customized wallpaper studio. They have fantastic wallpaper designs. You should go and have a look. here is the address.

  • Reply Melissa October 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I LOVED Istanbul when I went over a year ago. Grand Bazaar for sure, cruising down the Bosphorus is very pretty and provides great city views (just a few hours), the mosques are amazing, drink apple tea, Rakki, and eat at local vendors. I thought the fish market was fun as well. I have attached a few blog posts. Jealous!

  • Reply elizabeth hewitt October 8, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    hello there, we are so happy to be on your list! stop by early on in your trip and we will give you a lot of cool/slightly secret tips on food and shops etc….
    make sure you let us know who you are when you come! for food the site is great. go to HALL in cukurcuma.(shop). safe travels. see you here!

  • Reply Elif October 8, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Dear Holly,
    I’m also from Istanbul and so happy to hear that you will be in here. I will write my suggestions but I would like offer you a small organization with a group of your followers if you like.
    – Districts: Cihangir, Galata, Bagdat Street, Bebek, Ortaköy, Istiklal Street, Nisantasi, Prince Islands, Sultanahmet, Beyaz?t, Bosphorus
    – City Tours: Istanbul City Tours –, Tours in Istanbul – ,
    – Malls: Grand Bazaar ( Traditional ) - , Istinye Park – , Kanyon – , Address Istanbul ( Design/Decoration ) –
    – Museums/Historical Places: The Blue Mosque – , Hagia Sophia – , Topkap? Palace – , Egyptian Bazaar – , Istanbul Modern – , Sakip Sabanci Museum – , Pera Palace Hotel –
    – Pasabahce ( Glassware ) –
    – Hamam – , Chakra – ( Towel / Bath Accesories )
    – Remzi ( Bookstore ) –
    – Aida Pekin – , Simay Bulbul – , Elif C?g?zoglu – , Cassette –!/cassettebutik2 , art.i.choke – ,
    – Continuum – , Maybe Design - , Koleksiyon –
    – Taze ( Gourmet Products ) – ,
    What Else…
    – Cooking Courses: Mutfak Sanatlar? Akademisi –
    – Entertainment Tickets: Biletix –

  • Reply rebecca October 9, 2010 at 1:31 am

    I adore Istanbul. One of the things I didn’t do (franky because I was chicken to go by myself) was go to a turkish bath. Someone else had mentioned Cagaloglu Hamami and I was looking up prices and found a big batch of bad reviews:

    So… just passing that on. If I went back I would certainly go to a turkish bath.

    The food is amazing. Eat!!! :) Also the Choriye Mosque/Museum mentioned is a gem. Most of the restaurant names have completely left my head, but other people seem to have covered that. :) Definitely the see the cisterns too – try to go on a day when the dervishes are dancing – something I will never forget.

    Have a wonderful time.

  • Reply asli October 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    looking at above suggestions, i am 100% sure that you will visit Grand Bazaar :). Apart from Abdulla or Dervish, you would not miss to stop by “Pasha” for brand new bath textile, original silk scarfs, etc.

    Address: Ressam Basmac?lar St. No: 34-36

    I wish to recommend Hazal Yilmaz’s blog; anlam arama ( but it is totally in Turkish :(.

    have a tremendously joyfull trip…

  • Reply Anna October 14, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Oooo! I’ve never been, but I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to see what pictures and stories you bring back with you! Have a wonderful trip!
    From Bali With Love,

  • Reply Mine Oran October 28, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Dear Holly,

    You must visit below fabric stores….Thay are at the Grand Bazaar on the same street ; YAGLIKCILAR CADDESI……especially ; Sivasl? ?stanbul Yazmac?s? . The owner is very famous among world-known designers.

    1 Bir-Haz Tekstil
    Ya?l?kç?lar Cad. No: 20 Ya?l?kç?lar Cad. Küçüksafran Han No:18/2 Tel: (212) 511 21 45.

    2. E?in Tekstil
    Ya?l?kç?lar Cad., No: 1 Tel: (212) 528 26 18.

    3. Çimen Ticaret
    Ya?l?kç?lar Cad., No: 30 Tel: (212) 511 90 57.

    4. Sivasl? ?stanbul Yazmac?s?
    Ya?l?kç?lar Cad., No: 57 Tel: (212) 526 77 48.

    5. Ad?yaman Pazar?
    Ya?l?kç?lar Cad., No: 74-76 Tel: (212) 526 97 59.

    6. Ramazan Deregözü
    Ya?l?kç?lar Cad. Cebeci Han Giri?i No: 1 Tel: (212) 511 83 36

  • Reply Mine Oran October 28, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I am very sorry for the letters :

    1 Bir-Haz Tekstil
    Yagl?kcilar Cad. No: 20 Yagl?kcilar Cad. Küçüksafran Han No:18/2 Tel: (212) 511 21 45.

    2. Egin Tekstil
    Yagl?kcilar Cad., No: 1 Tel: (212) 528 26 18.

    3. Çimen Ticaret
    Yagl?kcilar Cad., No: 30 Tel: (212) 511 90 57.

    4. Sivasli Istanbul Yazmacisi
    Yagl?kcilar Cad., No: 57 Tel: (212) 526 77 48.

    5. Adiyaman Pazari
    Yagl?kcilar Cad., No: 74-76 Tel: (212) 526 97 59.

    6. Ramazan Deregözü
    Yagl?kcilar Cad. Cebeci Han Girisi No: 1 Tel: (212) 511 83 36

  • Reply Mine Oran October 29, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Dear Holly,

    If you are interested in jewellery, you can visit GULEC STONE TASCILIK , at the Grand Bazaar, address :


    Cevahir Bedesten is in the centre of Grand Bazaar. It is a high domed hall where the most valuable items and antiques are to be found including furniture, copperware, amber prayer beads, inlaid weapons, icons, mother-of-pearl mirrors, water pipes, watches and clocks, candlesticks, old coins, and silver and gold jewellery set with coral and turquoise.

  • Reply Kate November 2, 2010 at 12:55 am

    As many others have said, Taksim is great for some cool bars and tasty food. We went to bar otto and loved it! Their motto is ‘good food, good music’ and it is so true!,+Turkey&view=map&cid=7451463919444004248&iwloc=A&ved=0CHYQpQY&sa=X&ei=sFHPTI-9LonhjgeSz5C3Aw

  • Reply frau p. hat heimweh. November 3, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Dear Holly,

    Unfortunately, I’m too late posting links for Istanbul, huh? But maybe you’re checking the site while there, so I’ll leave some of my favourites here (I LOVE Istanbul and frequently fly there as I am part-time Interior Design Consultant and full-time flight attendant).

    Some of the suggestions might have been mentioned above, I haven’t read all of the comments, all of them are great places:

    – CEZAYIR for lunch, for dinner, wonderful building and very nicely decorated; food is very tasty

    – 5. KAT CAFE BAR RESTAURANT I’ve been there for lunch and had wonderful moments on the terrace

    – THE HOUSE CAFÉ they have several branches now but I found the one in Tesvikiye the best because of its unique atmosphere (here they started their story of success); very cozy and well designed casual-flea market- industrial-cum shabby but not overloaded design :),351,1,1/house_cafe_eng/subeler/subeler/tesvikiye

    – Best fish in town: BALIKCI SABAHATTIN in Sultanahmet

    Have a great stay and enjoy enjoy enjoy!!!

    frau p. hat heimweh.

  • Reply marialena November 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    check this out:
    i’ve never been there but I’ve read really good comments and the view looks magical!

  • Reply Marci November 6, 2010 at 3:24 am

    The Princes Islands. Tour of Bosphorus. Ortakoy. And people might tell you not to eat in Sultanahmet, too touristy, but if you’re visiting Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, the rooftop terrace at the nearby Seven Hills restaurant has probably the best view of both of these at once, as well as the whole area, and the Sea of Marmara. Can’t be beat. Hopefully it’s not too cold then, but they do provide shawls if you are chilly.

  • Reply Bombala November 7, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Hey, there is a very facinating street between the Grand bazaar and the spice bazaar where they sell all things related to weddings. From meringue cake ball dresses to henna ceremony gear. Very facinating

  • Reply elyse November 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Hi Holly,
    I’m a Textile Designer specializing in wovens. I love your blog. I’ve been to Istanbul a few times to work with mills. It’s a magical place. Here are a few treasures. It’s been a few years, I’d make sure they’re open before you go. Enjoy! Enjoy!

    (0212) 638 64 50
    Arasta Bazaar No.93 , 34400
    Cocoon was established in 1996 by Seref Ozen and Mustafa Gokhan Demir. Located in the historic Arasta Bazaar, in the shadows of the Blue Mosque of the Sultan Ahmet district of Istanbul, Cocoon specializes in rugs, flatweaves and textiles from Central Asia as well as Persia and Anatolia.
    Seref Ozen who is considered to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on Central Asian textiles. He has exhibited at all the major tribal art shows around the world including the HALI fair in London and is a regular participant in ACOR and San Francisco at the Caskey Lees Tribal Art show every February. I buy from him in Turkey and in New York.

    Keseciler Caddesi No. 33
    Grand Bazaar
    (0212) 514 4525
    Home goods, Antique Kaftans, and vintage textiles

    Iznik Classics – in Grand Bazaar for Iznik style tiles and pottery
    Kapalicarsi Ic Bedesten
    Serifaga Sok No. 188 – (old Bazaar)
    011-90-212 520 2568

    Sultanamet has a collective of shops and a “high style” arcade (walkway) with beautiful things for the up market. This shop is nearby & around the corner – it is one of my favorite places to visit, inspiring, well curated, and so informative. The are recommended by Holi magazine and will get you to the right address & area for more exploration after on your own

    Sisko Osman
    Zincirli Han No. 15
    Grand Bazaar
    (0212) 528 3548
    Traditional ethnic carpets & Kilims (the best rug dealer in Istanbul – pretty hard to find website has a good map)
    He has a “museum” in part of the Souk that contains his personal collections of textiles ask to see – lots of fun!

  • Reply ilaria lotti November 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    but what about your impression of your trip in Istanbul?? I am living On Dec 7 and I am waiting for your comments but you wrote only one post for This exitoc Town???? Please let us know something more, Thank you

    • Reply decor8 November 16, 2010 at 8:50 pm

      @ilaria – I will be posting about Istanbul this week!

  • Reply Istanbul Guide March 16, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Well, you should definitely try some old Ottoman recipes of Asitane restaurand in Edirnekapi district. They have some recipes from 1500s..


  • Reply Istanbuller May 17, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Another option for Bosphorus that’s not mentioned is to hire a private boat if you’d like a bit more comfort than the ferries etc. For example if you’re a couple or family you can rent a small boat for a few hours just for yourselves, such as the Zoe Yacht for up to 12 people. This way you can do a private cruise on the Bosphorus, to Black Sea or even Prince’s Islands whenever you like in the way you like. Great if you’re looking for comfort and flexibility.

  • Reply Karboojeh October 21, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Istanbul is the most fascinating city I’ve ever been to, there is a spiritual vibe to it that I never experienced anywhere else.
    Shopping-wise, there is a shopping district called ‘Prince Ahmet Square’ near Aya Sofia Mosque/Church. When Aya Sofia’s main gate is to your left, keep walking up the street (the tram is two ways I guess on that street). There is a boutique somewhere up, it sells vintage silk Kaftans, a staple of Turkey and beyond (Daghestan, Samarqand, etc). This place also sells current fashion, but in a room far inside the boutique you will find tens of salvaged silk Kaftans that come in striped colors, and they are for 70$, and they are soooo stylish. If you buy one plz do drop me a line.
    I think this boutique is right opposite the Istanbul Bookstore, if it’s still there.
    And I hope you don’t miss out on the Aya Sofia experience, it’s the only place in the world where it is a Christian Church and a Muslim Mosque at the same time. On Fridays they hold Friday Muslim Prayers, and on Sunday it’s for Christian Mass. I was shaken to my core when I entered it, which reminded me that God is One, no matter what religion we follow.

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