Istanbul: Shopping & Rooftop Dining

Straddling two continents and dissected by the Bosphurus, Istanbul is a fascinating cultural and ethnic melting pot. Often referred to as the gateway to the orient, Istanbul has long been a crucial access point between the east and west and as such, is an important destination for seafarers. Today, an increasing number of charter yachts are heading along the Bosphorus River to experience the unique atmosphere of this fabulous, oriental-occidental mishmash.

In the Golden Horn harbour, moored between the many extravagant villas whose private jetties line the Bosporus, you will find yourself in the middle of the city. At dusk, as you sip your cocktail at the rooftop bar at Mikla, you will hear the call to prayer and watch migratory birds skirt the domes and minarets of mosques, synagogues and churches which pepper the hillsides on both sides of the river. Among Istanbul’s iconic attractions are Topkapi palace, the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. As an ancient trading post, the Grand Bazaar is the biggest covered market in the world. With more than 3000 retailers, there is little you can’t buy, but focus on the best regional products: leather goods, jewellery and ceramics. If you are looking for a more contemporary shopping experience, Horhor Bit Pazari is the place for Istanbul (?I may be wrong?)arts and crafts, while the Nisantasi district is for international luxury brands and Bagdat Caddesi has high-end boutiques and opulent department stores. In Beyoglu, the young and beautiful sashay between the glamorous stores, and drink coffee at pavement cafés. Istanbul is renowned for its innovative fish restaurants as well as high-end establishments that blend influences from the many cultures that exist here. Book a table at Hakan at Boterra Restaurant with the added bonus of stunning views of the Bosphorus, the Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque – an almost 360 degree view of the skyline.

When to go:

April – October

High season:

July – August



Visit the fascinating Basilica Cistern – fish flit around the 336 columns supporting the ceiling. Don’t miss the upside down head of Medusa


Topkapi Palace, home to generations of sultans and their harems is full of ornate courtyards, and views that take your breath away


Have a hamman at the spectacular 16th century Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam in Sultanahmet Square, enveloped in acres of marble where you can indulge in the best massage in Istanbul


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