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Oct 24, 2009 11:30 AM

Whirlwind Visit to Istanbul

I wish we had more time in Istanbul, but for this visit we will arrive around 1:30 p.m. and leave the next day at 2. I plan to spend the first afternoon (Friday) in the Sultanahmet area where we will probably want a quick and inexpensive lunch. The evening is wide open, but I'd love to
take my group of friends to Ciya Sofrasi, if this is still the best foodie destination or else visit a fish place with excellent mezes and maybe even a view. Saturday morning we'll head over to the Bazaar and Spice Market and grab an early lunch before heading back to the ship. I don't think we have time for a Bosporus cruise (although if the 90 minute one is running in November, that's a possibility, so perhaps a ferry ride will have to suffice. (Does anyone know if the yuryol 90 minute cruise runs at sunset?)

As you can see, I'm trying to take my friends on a whirlwind tour of the major tourist sites and manage to eat well in the process. I've read through all the posts, but it's sometimes difficult to tell where the places are in relation to our itinerary or how to get there from wherever the Celebrity Solstice will be docked. Any recommendations would be great and specific tips or advice on how to find the places you are recommending would be very helpful since we won't have much time to wander around and get lost.

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  1. In general, try not to eat anywhere near a historic monument or other tourist attraction. Istanbul has perfected the art of tourist traps. However, you'll be near many neighborhoods filled with good local places to eat.
    You will probably be docking at Karakoy. In which case, on day one, you could eat in Karakoy before setting out for Sultanahmet. Karakoy is filled with great inexpensive restaurants very close to the boat dock. My favorite is Karakoy Lokantasi where they serve an excellent hunkar begendi (roast over mashed eggplent).
    Here is a review of the place with a link to a google map.
    Ciya is still great but more a lunch place (in my mind) than dinner. If you decide on fish with a view I really like Grifin. Also in Karakoy this is really top notch fish in a great atmosphere. not cheap though.
    For a cheap outdoors fish place (also in Karakoy) try Akin. Its a great simple little place. Grilled fish and canned beer.
    In the Grand Bazaar we've found a couple of places to eat too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: antman

      Thank you, Antman, for your helpful response. Everything you recommend sounds wonderful, but given our limited time and the lack of culinary adventure genes in my traveling companions, we'll play it by ear. I have voluminous notes on Ciya and on
      a variety of other recommended spots, which we'll bring along and consult as we go.
      I especially appreciate the recommendation for Karakoy Lokantasi since it's fairly close to the ship and sounds wonderful.

      I hope we'll get back to Istanbul soon and get a chance to try some of the others including Grifin.

      We'll let you know where we end up eating and provide a report on our return.