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48HRS in Istanbul
Thanks to its unique geographical position, Turkey’s hybrid capital, where old-world eastern architecture meets contemporary European trends, has fascinated travellers for centuries. But few would imagine Istanbul to have a thriving nightlife; from decadent, riverside cocktail bars to raucous, raki-fuelled meyhanes.
8am: Street food and sightseeing
Follow the scent of the sesame-encrusted bread rings - simits - and you’re sure to find the traditional snack nearby. Fuelled and ready-to-go, visit the must-sees of iznik-tiled Sultanahmet - the Blue Mosque - with its six striking minarets, and the overwhelmingly beautiful Hagia Sophia.
11.30am: Relaxation at Ayasofya Hamam
Get scrubbed, massaged and embalmed with fragrant lotions at these magnificent Turkish baths.
2pm: Lunch at Cezayir
Join the boho-chic set for a fresh take on Turkish classics in the glass-fronted lounge overlooking the elegant garden.
3.30pm: Shopping in Cuckurcuma
Get lost amidst the steep winding paths of this hipster neighbourhood with its Parisian-style cafes and Brooklyn-esque free vibes, positively bursting with vintage boutiques and antique stores.
7pm: Cocktails at 360 Istanbul
Dress up in your finest and watch the sun fade over Beyoğlu’s church steeples with an expertly-crafted tipple alongside Istanbul’s beautiful people.
8pm: Dinner at Changa
The voyeur in you will love this glass-floored global fusion restaurant where you can observe the chefs at work below your feet, not to mention the fantastic food.
10pm: Get a taste of traditional Turkish nightlife
Just behind 19th-century arcade Çiçek Pasaji is Nevizade Sokak; a maze of narrow streets with throngs of drinkers spilling from the many raucous meyhanes - taverns. Knock back some rocket-fuel raki with the locals to get into the party spirit.
12midnight: Party at Baraka
With a house party atmosphere, see the real side of Istanbul nightlife with DJs playing to an unpretentious and cool crowd.
3.30am: Istanbul’s favourite late-night snack
Ward off those midnight munchies with the infamous sticky Wet Burger at Kizilkayalar. Must be eaten to be understood.
10am: Istanbul Modern
With no time for a hangover, feed your body and soul with breakfast overlooking the old city from the gallery’s waterside terrace followed by time exploring the multi-faceted art exhibitions.
1pm: Lunch at Karaköy fish market
Sample the best of Istanbul street food at this small no-frills fish market beside Galata Bridge. The deep-fried Black Sea anchovies with a squeeze of lemon are delicious.
3pm: Get lost in the Grand Bazaar
Submerge yourself in the waves of bargainers that come to the world’s oldest souk. The numerous stalls sell everything from carpets to ceramics and spices to leather.
7pm: Dinner in the garden at Asitane
Inspired by recipes from Ottoman era texts, the complex flavoured dishes like slow-roasted goose kebab on a bed of almond pilaf make this restaurant one-of-a-kind.
10pm: Decadent Bosphorus boudoir 5.Kat
This lavishly decorated rooftop bar hidden down a backstreet does some seriously good cocktails and boasts romantic rooftop vistas.
11pm: Dance beneath the stars at Anjelique
Experience the Istanbul high-life by mingling with the rich and beautiful revellers in this futuristic waterfront mansion club.
For more insider tips, check out our
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We’ve honed in on the key trends, best new venues and essential destinations for savvy travellers in May.
Explore the nightlife of historic Istanbul with its booming club culture and bustling old-world taverns.
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