Surely one of Istanbul’s loveliest seaside suburbs, Ortakoy, with its narrow cobbled streets, fine food and spectacular location under the Bosphorus Bridge- the first bridge to connect the European side of Istanbul to Asia- makes for a lovely day trip.
Ortakoy was once a small village; now, it’s a chic suburb of Istanbul, where the young and pretty head to hang out at the many bars, restaurants, cafes and galleries of Ortakoy. Perhaps the best known of these is Hüsrev Kethüda Hamam, a 16th century Hamam built by the legendary Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, which has now been converted into a restaurant, bar and cultural centre.
Each Sunday, a large open air arts and craft market takes place. People come from all over Istanbul to buy and sell jewellery, trinkets, souvenirs, books, antiques and more.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of Ortakoy’s famous and delicious Kumpir (baked potato) or Gozleme (Turkish pancake) stands or at the entrance to Iskele Meydani (Ortakoy Square). For the sweet tooth, check out the extensive ice cream selection at Ortakoy’s Mado branch.
For a more upmarket dining experience, try one of the fish restaurants on the quay. Although far from cheap, most of these boast a wide selection of fresh and delicious seafood with a wonderful view of the Bosphorus Strait.
Buyuk Mecidiye Camii (Ortakoy Mosque) is one of the most iconic landmarks of Ortakoy. Built on a pier on the edge of the Bosphorus, it’s highly visible by boat on the Bosphorus Cruise and from the Bosphorus bridge. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition between the old and new in Turkey.