Apple tea, backgammon, and chill. Named for the famous French novelist who is said to have come here for inspiration, it offers spectacular views across the Golden Horn and is a popular weekend destination for locals.
There won’t be too many times in your life when you’ll get the opportunity to have a Turkish bath in a building dating back to 1584, so now might well be the time to do it. After a steam, scrub, soak and hot oil massage, you'll feel reborn.
My favorite place (I have a thing for palaces). Take the harem tour for a fascinating glimpse into the libidinous sultans, ambitious courtiers, beautiful concubines & scheming eunuchs who lived & worked here. Came back here 2x in the same trip, so good.
Its curves are voluptuous, it has six minarets (more than any other mosque at the time it was built) and its courtyard is the biggest of all of the Ottoman mosques. The interior has a similarly grand scale, with blue iznik tiles in the tens of thousands.
The Hagia Sophia, whose name means “holy wisdom,” is an architectural beauty. In its 1400 year life span, it has served as a cathedral, a mosque, and now a museum. One of the most breathtaking buildings I have ever seen.
In Ortakoy, the modern, fancy neighborhood of Istanbul, you'll find loads of cute cafes and shops. House Cafe was by far our favorite, with a great waterfront location and veggie pizza with fresh feta.