Your ultimate guide to life in Istanbul

Your round-the-clock guide to the city – delivered by local experts

Istanbul’s top 10 cafés
Restaurants

Istanbul’s top 10 cafés

If you’re in search of a hearty salad or just a cup of coffee the solution lies in a café. We have complied a list of the best cafes in Istanbul. 

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The best burgers in the city
Restaurants

The best burgers in the city

Calorie bombs they might be, but the burger is one of those indulgences we can’t seem to give up, no matter the time of year. Check out our list of the top 10 burgers in the city so you’ll know exactly where to go the next time you get a craving

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Interview with Simon Pegg, the writer of Star Trek Beyond
Cinemas

Interview with Simon Pegg, the writer of Star Trek Beyond

It's been like losing a friend, seeing Simon Pegg go Hollywood over the years. Or like seeing an ex with a richer, more attractive new partner. Pegg has given up drinking, he’s slim and fit, he’s BFFs with Tom Cruise, he hangs out with Chris Martin. He’s got nice teeth, he drinks sparkling water, he probably has a weekly chia-seed-and-kale enema. It used to be so different. He was the quintessential English everyman in the 2000s. He was the one holing up in a pub in Shaun of the Dead, the guy smoking weed on his couch instead of getting a job in Spaced. He was one of us. A mate. And now he’s changed.             Before meeting him, I expect the Hollywood to shine through, the arrogance to prevail. But it turns out he’s lovely. Infuriatingly lovely.             Pegg rose from playing independent British comedy bit parts to writing one of the defining sitcoms of the past 20 years. A few years later, he was writing and starring in Shaun of the Dead before making the leap to Hollywood stardom. And if that wasn’t enough, he then went on to get cast as Scotty in Star Trek and got to feature in the latest Star Wars – both the stuff of bucket lists for any self-respecting nerd. Now, he’s only gone and co-written a Star Trek movie. That’s some serious dream-come-true shit, right there. Yet Pegg is in reflective mood when we meet, unsure of his next steps, nervous about the future, worried about reactions to his nerdy baby. He may have gone all Hollywood, but he’s still got a proper

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Black Sea guide
Travel

Black Sea guide

The eastern shore of the Black Sea is full of wooden cabins, lush valleys and invigorating highlands where you can enjoy the most eco-friendly vacations in Turkey. Check out our tips on where to stay, eat and visit before you head off on the road

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Fugitive Shadow
Art

Fugitive Shadow

The 2016 edition of Elgiz Museum’s Terrace Exhibition series features outdoor sculptures by Levent Ayata, Arif Çekderi, Hande Şekerciler and many others.

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Latest restaurant reviews

Dirty Hands
Restaurants

Dirty Hands

Opened by the owners of popular Arnavutköy hangout Any, Dirty Hands serves fare that’s inspired by street food from different countries. The menu also bears influences from Cihan Kıpçak and Üryan Doğmuş, whom you might recognize as the chefs of Akaretler eatery Gile Restaurant. In addition to shareable snacks like fried kokoreç bites, you’ll find sandwiches like the one made with Chinese bao buns, beef cheeks and cabbage salad. Those looking to get the most bang for their buck should look no further than the caramelized onion and jalapeño sandwich. The menu also features breakfast finds like toast with pork and muhammara or poached eggs with potato patties, both perfect for those mornings when you’re just a tad too hungover. While we’re on the subject, Dirty Hands is also a great option for when you want to grab a drink and share a few bites with friends after work. After 23.00, the tables are put away and the music gets turned up as the venue transforms into a mini club.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Palms
Restaurants

Palms

Admit it: even if you’re not a fan of working out, there are times when you can’t resist the appeal of sports clubs – after all, most of them come with laid-back dining sections where everyone’s walking around in T-shirts and shorts. The newly opened Palms inside Hillside City Club in Etiler is precisely that kind of place, one that’s thankfully open to everyone. This terrace overlooking the tennis courts gets its name from Palm Springs, and the Californian influence is evident in the pastel hues and wooden furniture that make up the eatery’s décor. The daily lunch menu offers familiar finds like whole-wheat penne or beğendili köfte (meat patties with eggplant puree). You can also order salads with ingredients like roast beef and oven-baked salmon. Those looking to build muscle can opt for the muscle omelet with goat’s milk lor cheese, smoked turkey and plenty of egg whites or the avocado toast with fried egg. Last but not least, Palms also offers fresh juices, which have already proven popular with members looking to cool down after a sweat sesh next door. 

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Midye Mi?
Restaurants

Midye Mi?

You might have noticed that for the average Istanbulite who’s guided more by taste than a concern for health, midye dolma (rice-stuffed mussels on the half shell) are a dietary staple. Even as we’re surrounded by seas that aren’t decontaminated adequately, we still keep the tradition alive of hovering over the carts as we try to stuff as many of these tasty morsels as we can into our mouths. Still, we can hardly claim to be imaginative when it comes to how we serve mussels: we can’t seem to let go of our midye tavas (fried mussels) and dolmas, while steamed mussels and stews continue to be dishes we try on our trips to Europe. But now there’s a restaurant that seeks to change all that. Midye Mi? is the newest restaurant to pop up in Caddebostan, and it deserves some respect, if for no other reason than for its menu featuring both local tava and dolma recipes as well as the popular Belgian dish moules et fries.             Even though it’s illegal to harvest or collect mussels from the Sea of Marmara, unfortunately there are still poachers around the city, which means there’s always the risk that the mussels you eat in Istanbul come from questionable sources. According to the owners, Midye Mi? has managed to draw in the people who won’t eat mussels even at fish restaurants. The mussels used in stews and casserole-type dishes come from the Çanakkale Province, while those used in dolmas are brought from the Black Sea shore. You’ll find classics like balık-ekmek (fish sandwiches

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Moleküler Barbekü
Restaurants

Moleküler Barbekü

Upon deciding to say goodbye to corporate life to pursue his passion, Kaynak combined his education in chemistry with his love of cooking to open Moleküler Barbekü. Don’t expect molecular gastronomy feats here, however – all you’ll find are two main courses on the menu: roast and entrecôte, the latter of which is more akin to a plate of meat patties, albeit those made with ground entrecôte beef and only a hint of salt and pepper. Similarly, the roast is unlike any you’ve had in Istanbul: after dry aging the meat for a whole day and smoking it with cherry, chestnut or oak wood, Kaynak cuts it into medium-thick slices, drizzled with gravy made from the beef’s own juices. At Moleküler Barbekü, you can order your main courses with side dishes like creamy mushroom, einkorn wheat pilaf or creamy spinach. If you’re ordering the entrecôte, we highly recommend the mushrooms (which might be a bit of an overkill if you’re ordering the roast). Another commendable policy at Moleküler Barbekü is that you pay what you wish in a price range. Though given the authenticity of your meal, we’re pretty sure you’ll opt for the higher end of that range.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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This month’s must-see art exhibitions

Round-the-Clock
Art

Round-the-Clock

An artist who’s a familiar figure for Istanbul Biennial visitors, Ahmet Öğüt explores the themes of injustice and resistance via sculpture, installation and video works. We recommend visiting before the month’s end to see Öğüt’s installation While Others Attack before it’s replaced in September with the two-channel animation United, which will be screened concurrently at the 11th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea and on the YAMA screen atop The Marmara Pera Hotel in Istanbul.

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Unmissable events of the month

From Crafts to Design at Istanbul Modern
Things to do

From Crafts to Design at Istanbul Modern

The first project by the Istanbul Modern Platform for Crafts, Art and Design, 'From Crafts to Design' focuses on five materials: bone, copper, wood, glass and mother of pearl. This new initiative highlights nearly forgotten handicraft customs by bringing together craftspeople with artists and designers to put a modern spin on materials that have been shaped using traditional methods thus far. What makes the project even more fascinating is that the artists used materials they hadn’t worked with before. In theory, furniture designer Adnan Serbest teaming up with master woodcarver Sezgin Yalçın makes sense, but the result of their collaboration is far from predictable: the wooden bowl designed by the duo, 'Fraxinus', is an impressive piece for a designer with no prior experience creating decorative objects. Perhaps the most notable member of 'From Crafts to Design' is Fatma Ayran, the only female mother of pearl crafter in Turkey. Despite her young age, Ayran has already mastered the art of working with both mother of pearl and bone. Her contributions to the project include the mother of pearl cufflinks created with painter Ekrem Yalçındağ as well as the bone shaving brush named 'Blackcrow' created with fashion designer Hatice Gökçe. Other must-see works include the glass napkin rings created by Camekan Glassworks cofounder Gamze Araz Eskinazi and sculptor Seyhun Topuz as well as the copper tray crafted by designer Atilla Kuzu and coppersmith Battal Yakut. These items will rem

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