Karakoy in Istanbul

A buzzing port at the confluence of the Bosporus and Golden Horn since the Byzantine Empire, Istanbul’s Karakoy neighborhood fell on hard times in the last century. But thanks to the arrival of cruise ships and young entrepreneurs, the dockside district’s narrow alleys have awoken, as boho boutiques and outdoor cafés with grapevine trellises vie for space among grimy electric parts shops. Ten years after the opening of Istanbul Modern, the city’s premier contemporary art museum, Karakoy is no longer up and coming – it has arrived.

Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami: After seven years of restoration, this 1580 Turkish bath has reopened as an upscale oasis amid Istanbul’s bustle. Soothe your muscles on a heated marble platform and gaze up at its soaring dome punctuated with star-shaped skylights. After a vigorous exfoliation, a therapist swathes you in a mound of hot, fluffy soapsuds. 

Mae Zae: Mae Zae stocks an eclectic hodgepodge of Turkish and European accessories both new and old. Shop for anything from antique mirrors and frames to Istanbul-designed jewelry lines such as Der-Liebling. 

Lokanta Maya: Trained in New York and seasoned at her father’s boutique hotel on the Aegean coast, chef Didem Senol Tiryakioglu serves bistro standouts such as fish cakes, potato croquettes, zucchini fritters with yogurt sauce, and caramelized sea bass with persimmon inside an elegantly simple, wood-floored dining room. Her cookbooks, one of which is available in English, are acclaimed by the city’s gourmets.

Istanbul Modern: Arguably the original force behind Karakoy’s renaissance, the cultural giant showcases a strong collection of paintings, photography, and sculptures by Turkish artists. Rotating exhibitions take place in the basement, known for its book-covered ceiling. The balcony café, with its waterfront panorama of Istanbul’s historic skyline, is worth a visit alone.

Share this blog