Istanbul is best for...
Traditional dishes: Try local cheeses, honeys and breads for breakfast and Turkish mezze, kebabs and mani in the evening
Street feasts: Many savoury and sweet dishes can be found for sale, from simit bagels to lokma dough balls
Food markets: Go to the busy Spice Market in Eminonu and the Kucuk Pazar stalls to sample and buy the fresh, local foods
Language: The language spoken in Istanbul is Turkish
Currency: The currency used in Istanbul is the Turkish Lira
Local time: Istanbul is 2 hours behind GMT/UK time
Fly to: Istanbul's main airport is Istanbul Atatürk Airport
Istanbul is where east meets west and where ancient cultures meet modern ideas. Istanbul food also fuses these contrasts, resulting in a delicious choice to suit every taste and budget. Sample the best local produce including fresh fish, meat, and vegetable dishes. Finish your meal with honeyed desserts that satisfy even the sweetest tooth.
In Istanbul, food makes the most of local produce, with traditional recipes dating back to the days of the Ottoman Empire. Balik ekmek (a delicious grilled-fish sandwich) is a lunchtime staple for locals and tourists alike. For the freshest, head down to the harbour to buy them straight from the boats moored along the Bosporus. If you have a sweet tooth, try the local baklava, a mix of filo pastry, nuts and honey. And don’t forget, Turkey is the birthplace of one of the world’s favourite fast-foods: the kebab. Try the country’s signature dish freshly prepared at restaurants, cafés and stalls across the city.
Some of the best restaurants in Istanbul, like Nicole Restaurant and Rana Meyhane, also enjoy sweeping view across the sea. Serving dishes worthy of international awards, they’ve brought traditional Turkish cuisine bang up to date with menus perfectly complemented by local Turkish wines.
However, you don’t need to splash the cash to discover the best restaurants in Istanbul. A stroll along the food stalls of the Kucuk Pazar can reward you with delicious local eats at a fraction of the cost.
Street food is also an ideal option if you’re travelling with children. Kids are welcomed at practically every restaurant in the city. But grabbing something to eat at a park or playground is affordable and will keep them happy too. Kadikoy’s bazaar area is another family-friendly place to have lunch. It’s pedestrian-only so you can relax without worrying about passing traffic.
If you like your nightlife lively, the Beyoglu district is the place to discover the best bars in Istanbul. The streets throng with party-goers on Friday and Saturday nights and you’ll find pubs and clubs catering to every preference. For a sophisticated night out, try Leb-i-Deriya. At this rooftop bar you can enjoy a cocktail with spectacular views of the Bosporus that ensure a memorable night out.
Wine buffs may already know that Turkey is responsible for producing some seriously good bottles. To discover this for yourself, head to Sensus, a cellar bar literally lined with hundreds of locally produced wines. Situated close to the Galata Tower, it’s easy to find. As it’s considered one of the best bars in Istanbul to take a date, it’s perfect if you’re holidaying in Istanbul with a loved one.
Istanbul food is renowned for its diversity, incorporating the many cultures that have influenced the city. From romantic meals for two with a view to family feasts, you’ll find something to keep everyone happy.