Istanbul City Guide

Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a city that truly has it all – stunning architecture, a rich history, the best (and we really do mean the best) food, and an electric energy that's unmatched. A collision of old and new, there's always something new to discover in this vibrant city. But the true magic of the place resides in its people. The locals are friendly, welcoming, and always ready to show you the best of their city.

One of the most popular areas in Istanbul is Beyoğlu — home to art galleries, museums, theatres, a buzzing nightlife and trendy cafes. Beyoğlu has become popular in recent years thanks to the city's efforts to promote the area as an arts and culture hub. The government has invested heavily in the district, supporting local artists and cultural institutions. Pilot’s favourite spot is Cihangir, a bohemian neighbourhood located in Beyoğlu. Known for its narrow, winding streets, colourful buildings, and lively cafes and bars, Cihangir has long been a hub for artists, musicians, and writers. 

When we think of Istanbul, there’s one aspect that dominates all recommendations. And that’s food. From traditional Turkish cuisine — think succulent kebabs and mouth-watering mezze — to international flavours like Syrian, Armenian, and Greek, Istanbul's food scene is an endless journey of taste. Istanbul is famous for its street food culture, which includes popular snacks like simit (sesame-covered bread rings) and roasted chestnuts. The bakeries are other-worldly with our favourite being Cihangir Tarihi Simit Fırini. It’s tiny, busy and delicious. Another must-try is a Tantuni, a popular street food that’s made of thinly sliced marinated beef or lamb cooked with onions, peppers, and spices, and wrapped in a warm, thin flatbread called lavaş. Try these at Tantunici. Istanbul’s food scene isn’t just confined to street food. There are also a number of contemporary restaurants that put a modern spin on Turkish cuisine, our favourites of which are Aheste and Saloncuma.

Another must do is a traditional Turkish bath, also known as hammam. These are an integral part of Istanbul's cultural heritage, dating back to the Ottoman era. The bathhouses were originally designed as places for socialising, relaxation, and ritual cleansing, and continue to be popular among locals and visitors alike. 

The Pilot City Guide: Istanbul is a hand-picked collection of our favourites, including the best in food, drink, retail and fun.

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