Taking the ferry from Kadıköy to Karaköy is one of the most therapeutic things. You are already excited that you are going to Beyoğlu; however, as you come near Karaköy, the slowly appearing view of the Galata Tower and everyone in the ferry taking their phones out to capture this amazing view—while you are trying to listen to “Istanbul” by Pamela and have a moment—is something that is specifically unique to this exact experience. You have arrived. You have a whole day in front of you in Karaköy, Beyoğlu, Pera, Jüstinyana, or whatever you want to call it. How should you spend your time here; in one of the oldest and most aesthetic places in Istanbul? Today, I am here to help you as a person who goes there as frequently as she can and is not so far away from being called a “local”. This is how you can spend a day in Beyoğlu: where to go and what to do, with the assistance of my photos, because my camera roll is full of photos of the Galata Tower from every single angle, which are now at your service.
You descend from the ferry and start to walk right and up. You will walk a lot today, so better to start from somewhere. As you walk up and up, you will eventually reach one of my favorite monuments in the whole world — the Galata Tower. It is like a ritual to just go and look at the Galata Tower when you visit Beyoğlu. Here are some pictures of Galata to appreciate its true beauty.
You are excited to stroll around but are in excessive need of caffeine. I feel like I am guiding my caffeine-addicted self through. Or tea? Maybe? For the first stop of the day, you head to the Pera Bakery, where I am sitting right now writing this.
Pera Bakery is located at the bottom of a building covered with greens and flowers. What sticks out about the bakery is that there are places to sit where normal windows would be, making you feel more connected to the view of the beautiful street and its history. On the same street, you may visit the Pera Palace, which has been a trending topic with the 2022 Netflix series, and see where Agatha Christie, Atatürk, First Lady Jacquelin Kennedy, and many more monumental names have stayed in their trips to our city. While you are still in Pera, don’t forget to visit the Pera Museum too, but note that it is closed on Mondays!
Now, you have gotten your caffeine intake and are ready for a bit more walking. While you go into every boutique you see and do your shopping, the next stop is determined as the Barnathan.
The Barnathan Apartment is one of the oldest apartments, 130 years old, in Istanbul. It is located on Şahkulu Street, and it serves as a museum and a rooftop dining place at top with the best view of the Galata Tower. You can go and walk through the rooms of this old building, feel the nostalgia, and take pictures.
You have realized that you have some work to do, and you luckily have your laptop with you. You just want to sit in silence and get some work done, concentrate, and move on with your day. If that is the case, our next spot is Salt Galata.
Salt Galata is kind of hard to describe but can best be described as an all-inclusive art center. It consists of a library and a modern art museum. While the building’s architecture is fascinating itself, the library is a really spacious and calm place where you can be productive with your work. If you are a person who complains about not being able to work from home, Salt Galata may be the right address for you.
With the happiness that came from being through with your work, you want to see more pretty places. Well you have to go to Serdar-ı Ekrem Street, which is by far the prettiest street I’ve ever seen.
Serdar-ı Ekrem Street
Even though the vibe of the street is enough by itself, it is one of the best spots in Istanbul to take a picture in front of “vintage” apartments, like the Doğan Apartment. You can shop at boutiques and vintage stores; go get yourself a sweater that looks like it is straight out of my grandma’s wardrobe but simultaneously really chique. Being surrounded by this extreme cloud of nostalgia, you commemorate the ancestors and say “bir fincan kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır”.
Coffee time, again, yay! Lattas Coffee is the place you will come across and fall in love with on this street. It is a relaxing, cute, and small coffee directly cornering the street, where you can have a Turkish coffee and continue embracing the atmosphere around you.
The time has passed quickly and you realize that everyone is hungry. You were too eager to see around so you left your friends suffering — just kidding. You have many choices, of course, but I am proposing two of them right away.
Pano Wine Bar
Pano, which I recently had the chance to go to, is a wine house that dates back to 1898 and has the most beautiful interior design that I have ever seen in any building. The inside of the place looks like it is straight out of a museum. The lighting, the paintings, the food… The red designs adding up to the wine are just the right place to have a nice conversation.
Or… You guys want to dance to the old tunes. Starting from the 70s till the beginning of the 2000s, all the Turkish songs that you can sing along, and the ones that you can’t as well, are waiting for you at Duble Meze.
Duble Meze is located near the ferries in Karaköy. As the name points out, with its amazing meze and two different amazing views of the sea and the Galata Tower, Duble Meze has earned its place on not only mine but many recommendation lists when it comes to the Beyoğlu region. From Tanju Okan’s “Öyle Sarhoş Olsam Ki” to Tarkan’s “Dudu”, you get the opportunity to both cry and then dance like there is no tomorrow in one sitting.
You are done! Congratulations! You have survived your day in Beyoğlu, and after this day, you probably will come here at every chance you get. I should have put a trigger warning at the start, right? You catch the ferry back to Kadıköy now. You sit outside — a bit chilly. While you guys sing along with your angelic (!) voices to the songs that stuck to your minds post-Duble Meze, you stare at the view of Galata Tower. The day has come to an end. It is dark, and the lights surrounding the tower catch your eye. You think to yourself about how beautiful this city is, this place is, and how it is possible to form this much of an emotional connection. Well, dear readers, I hope this will be the flame that will light your desire to visit and appreciate Beyoğlu, and Istanbul more. I hope one day your camera roll will be filled with photos of the tower, and people will ask you where to go while they are going there. I hope it will be a place you can call “my place”.