Taksim/Istiklal Avenue – A Local’s Guide


Istiklal Avenue with its old name ‘Pera’ is the most crowded shopping street in Istanbul with daily 3 million shoppers and tourists.

In this straight and long street, starting from Taksim metro station, towards Galata Tower and Şişhane metro, there are hundreds of shops, cafes, restaurants, churches, mosques, synagogues, embassies, culture centers, museums, exhibitions, libraries, bookshops, street musicians, and historical places that you will need at least a day to see everything, to visit the historical places, to do some shopping and eat in the best restaurants and finish the street.

It is very dynamic and stunning, too crowded every day and there are too many visuals that at first sight, you get lost and do not know what to see and what to do. Therefore, you will need a guide before visiting.

I tried to classify ‘the most important places to visit and the most interesting things to do’ for you to make your visit smooth, memorable, and well-organized as much as possible.

How To Get There

From Istanbul Airport to Taksim

The new airport – Istanbul Airport is in the far North part of the city and it is 41 km far from Taksim. You can either take a taxi or a shuttle bus.

  1. Taxi – getting a taxi for 41 km long way will cost you around 140-170 TL (25-30$)
  2. HAVAIST Airport Shuttle – it is the best alternative to a taxi, which is more budget-friendly. You take Line 19: Istanbul Airport- Beşiktaş – Taksim and its last stop is Taksim.
    The ticket costs 18 TL (4$) and luggage is included. It takes about 80 minutes to arrive in Taksim. You can pay with your credit card on board, or buy an “Istanbul Card” from machines which you can use it in all types of public transports in Istanbul: metro, bus, tram, cable cars, and ferries.

You can check the timetable of the buses from the website below.

https://www.hava.ist/sefer-saatleri

From Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Taksim

Istambul; Pendik; Aeroporto Sabiha Gokcen

Sabiha Gokcen Airport is a little bit farther than Istanbul Airport. It is about 58 km from Taksim since it is located on the Asian side.

  1. Taxi – naturally it will cost around 170-180 TL (30-35$).
  2. HAVABUS/HAVATAŞ – it will take around 90 minutes to arrive in Taksim Square, will cost 18 TL (5-6$) luggage included. It is the best alternative to take a taxi. You can check the bus hours from its website below.

https://www.havabus.com/yolcuservisi/kadikoy-sabihagokcenhavalimani.aspx

From Sultanahmet To Taksim

If you are living around Sultanahmet, the best way to get to Taksim is by metro. The nearest metro station to Sultanahmet is ‘Sirkeci’ which is in 12 minutes’ walking distance. From Sirkeci, you should take the line to ‘Yenikapi’ and get off there, after one stop. At Yenikapi, you need to change the green line to ‘Haciosman’ and ride five stops and get off at Taksim station. The metro is just in the Taksim Square and Taksim monument.

What To Eat and Drink

Starting from the Taksim Square toward Istiklal Avenue until Galata Tower, there are hundreds of cafes, brasseries, restaurants, fast food restaurants, casual dining and cuisines of different countries. I will classify the best places for breakfast and dinner separately and will group coffee shops where you can enjoy your coffee.

Some restaurants have gained popularity with their best breakfast that you cannot even find a place in the mornings. Especially, on Saturdays and Sundays, I would recommend reserving a table a day before. Similarly, some restaurants are famous for their lunch and dinner menu. So let’s discover the best places for each.

Coffee Shops

1. Coffeeshop Company Pera

If you wish to taste a little bit Viana coffee culture, then you are at the spot. With its 400 branches in 30 countries, Coffeeshop Company has got one of the most advanced coffee machines and professional staff and its location is a little bit in the middle of Istiklal Avenue so if you want to have a break, it is a perfect café.
Address: Hüseyinağa Mahallesi İstiklal Caddesi Grandpera Avm

2. EspressoLab Taksim

With its interesting trend ‘Last Generation Coffee’ EspressoLab that aims the existence of qualified coffee, EspressoLab serves good quality of the coffee. As a company, it takes the steps for sustainable and continuing coffee production for the next generations. For its quality and mission and vision, I think EspressoLab deserves a visit in its Istiklal branch.

Address: Katip Çelebi Mah, İstiklal Cd. No:15

3. Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee is the second largest coffee shop chain in the USA, and in Istanbul, you can find a branch inside Demiroren AVM with a sweet corner to have a break. It also serves delicious sweets and desserts, and I like its accessories and thermoses for gifts.

Address: Hüseyinağa, Demirören AVM, İstiklal Caddesi

4. Lavazza Best Coffee Shop

After a long walking from Taksim Square to Galata Tower, you will definitely need coffee and the best one with an amazing Galata Tower view just in front of it is Lavazza Coffee Shop. Its balcony and windows see Galata Tower, and its coffee quality is not debatable.

Address: Şahkulu, Büyük Hendek Cd. 2/A

5. Viyana Kahvesi (Viana Coffee)

Credit: www.zomato.com

Viyana Kahvesi is the most trending coffee shop with its incredibly delicious and unusual chocolate desserts in Istanbul, right now. Every time, you will see a very long queue in front of it. I have seen two branches of it, one is in Istiklal Avenue and the other near Galata Tower.

The one in Istiklal is located inside Narmanli Inn (Han), which I mentioned above that there is a Starbucks branch as well. They are neighbors in the Han with a great fountain between them. It can be difficult to make a selection between them, but I would say if you want some dessert with your coffee, definitely you should choose Viyana Kahvesi.

Address: İstiklal Caddesi, 180A

The second one is very near Galata Tower with a great view of it. Usually, there is a long queue, if you want to avoid it, I suggest to go to the other branch in Narmanli Han, because many people have not discovered that branch yet.

Address: Bereketzade, 34421 Beyoğlu

6. Türk Alman Kitabevi Kafe- Turkish German Bookshop Coffee

Credits: www.maviblau.com

It is a relatively calmer and peaceful coffee shop than other crowded spots. You can bring your computer and work here, and have some alcohol, as well.

Address: Şahkulu Mahallesi İstiklal Caddesi No:237

7. Hafiz Mustafa 1864

It is mostly famous for its delicious desserts. I would recommend to choose one of the desserts and try them with Turkish tea, not coffee. You can also buy some desserts such as baklava or lokum to take your home country. It is considered to be one of the best local café brands and is usually full of tourists.

The second branch is located in Sultanahmet, in a historical Cevri Kalfa Primary School building which is today Literature Foundation. There is a small book shop on the foundation, where you can pick up a book and sit in this café with a Sultanahmet view.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi 4-6

8.Starbucks

  • When you get out from Taksim Metro, just in front of Taksim Square, you will see Starbucks on the opposite road. You can get your take away coffee from there and start your tour. Starbucks has a new mobile application in Turkey with some attractive campaigns. If you download the app, your first coffee will be free.
    Address: Gümüşsuyu Mahallesi, Taki Zafer Caddesi 3, Taksim Meydan
  • The next Starbucks destination is inside Istiklal Avenue where you can have a stop and take a breath. It is in:
    Address: Istiklal Caddesi, 18
  • Third and the most exquisite Starbucks branch is in a historical Narmanli Inn which is almost 200 years old. Many famous writers and artists such as Aliye Berger, Osman Hamdi Tanpinar and Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu have lived there and after a recent renovation, Starbucks opened its branch inside it. There are still some objections from the public about it. Narmanli Han is in 50-60 meters from Şişhane metro station in İstiklal.
    Address: İstiklal Caddesi, 180A

Where to Eat

Actually, it is really difficult to choose the best ones, because only in Taksim, there are 620 restaurants and around Taksim there are more than 30.000 restaurants and cafes. But I will try to choose the best ones for a different group of people.

1. Kitchenette Restaurant

Credits: www.tripadvisor.com

Kitchenette has a good menu for lunch and coffee. It is just next to Starbucks and you can enjoy your coffee and lunch at the tables outside with a view to Taksim Monument. You can check the menu and prices from their website below.

Address: Gümüşsuyu, Tak-ı Zafer Caddesi 3, Taksim Meydan

2. Ficcin Restaurant

Credits: www.tripadvisor.com

It is famous for Circassian dishes on its menu, but you can find a range of other Turkish meals, as well. This restaurant is better for dinner if you want to taste some Turkish raki or wine or beer. Manti and all kinds of starters are fresh and the most recommended ones in the menu.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi, Kallavi St, 13/1

3. Patatos

Credits: www.tripadvisor.com

It is famous with kumpir. I recommend to taste it at least once during your stay. Kumpir is more a casual food type or fast food type, so you can think of it as your lunch. It is very easy to find just in the main walking district. 

Address: Istiklal Caddesi, 185A

4. Parole Restaurant

Credits: www.smartbeyoglu.com

Parole is one of the good quality restaurants and very close to Galata Tower. You can enjoy your dinner in an elegantly decorated place with reasonable prices. It is very clean, peaceful and the portions of the meals are good enough. You can have a range of vegetarian meals on the menu.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi, 166C

5. Guney Restaurant 1964

This spot is my favorite because of its delicious meals and location. As Lavazza Coffeeshop, Guney Restaurant also sees Galata Tower with a 20-30 meters distance. The portions of the meals are so big that we could not finish and the prices are average. Usually, there are people in the queue who want to sit outside with Galata Tower view, but the interior decoration of the restaurant is also good. If the weather is good and you find a table, definitely sit outside.

Address: Şahkapısı Street, 2B

6. Dilek Café and Restaurants

Dilek is famous as a cake house with a large selection of desserts and cakes, but I would recommend trying its food, as well. I have eaten some chicken meals, pizzas, and salads. They are all tasty and the prices are reasonable. It is located in the main walking district, very easy to find just next to Saint Antoine Church.

Address: İstiklal Caddesi, 179

7. Ada Istiklal

Credits: www.tripadvisor.com

It is like an ‘island’ inside Istiklal. The interior of it is very quiet and peaceful. The menu is very rich that you can have both lunch or dinner, or coffee with delicious deserts. Half of the restaurant is full of books – antique and modern which gives the restaurant a different air. Their pizzas, burgers, salads, and desserts are most recommended. You should definitely visit it even if you want just some refreshments.

Address: İstiklal Caddesi, 158

8. Otantik Anadolu Yemekleri (Authentic Anatolian Food)

Credits: www.tripadvisor.com

You can visit this place for Turkish style crepes, manti (dough with meat) and some starters. Ali Nazik traditional meal of Anatolia is strongly recommended. The restaurant is clean and relatively cheaper. It is very central to Istiklal Avenue.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi 80A

9. 360 Istanbul Restaurant

This restaurant is very famous for its terrace view of the Bosporus. Their meals and wine are also good quality, especially, dumplings, dolma, and kebab. You can enjoy Italian and Turkish wine, as well.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi 163A

10. Divan Brasserie

With a large group of restaurants, cafes, and hotels, Divan Brasserie is a famous Turkish Brand. Their branch in Istiklal is located on the top of Merkezhan with a great panoramic view, in which Koc University’s ANAMED (Anatolian Studies Research Center) is also housing there. They usually have interesting exhibitions on their first floor for free. You can have a walk in the exhibition and later on the upstairs enjoy your dinner and night view of Beyoglu.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi 181K

The Best Places for Breakfast

Turkish breakfast is like a special occasion for Turkish people, and this culture is reflected in many restaurants. It has become a feast and one of the most beautiful traditions. I would say, don’t leave Istanbul without having one of those famous Turkish breakfasts in a nice restaurant.

1. Van Kahvaltı Evi (Van Breakfast House)

Credits: www.neredekal.com

This café is famous for serving one of the best breakfasts in Beyoglu/Taksim. Their menemen (tomato and egg) and honey and cream are very delicious.

Address: Kılıçali Paşa, Defterdar Ykş. 52/A

2. Yigit Sofram Gözleme ve Kahvaltı (Turkish Crepe and Breakfast House)

As it is clear from its name, their Turkish style crepes and breakfast is delicious. You can especially taste egg with sausage, menemen and breakfast packages. There are some sweet souvenirs that you can buy as a memory.

Address: Turnacibasi Caddesi 44B, Istiklal

3. Saray Muhallebisici

Saray Muhallebicisi is a Turkish brand with lots of branches in Turkey and offers a lot of special desserts, meals and of course best breakfast in Istiklal. If you have not tasted ‘Mihlama’, I would particularly recommend to taste it along with ‘kol böreği’ and ‘su böreği’.

For dessert, their muhallebis and baklavas are delicious and freshly baked every day. 

Address: Istiklal Caddesi, 107

4. Mado

Mado is also a Turkish brand with a range of branches all over Turkey and abroad. It is usually famous for Maraş ice cream, but its breakfast is also rich, delicious and satisfying at a reasonable price. In the Istiklal branch, if the weather allows, I recommend to have your breakfast in the terrace and taste their böreks.

Address: Istiklal Caddesi, 38

5. Canteen Breakfast & Bistro

With its kind and professional staff, a good range of breakfast variety and offering breakfast all day long make this café an amazing experience to have breakfast at any time of the day. Some restaurants offer breakfast from 9.00 to 12.00 -13.00, but here you can order your breakfast at any time. It is worth to try.

Address: Başağa çeşmesi 1A, İstiklal Caddesi

Night Life in Istiklal

1. Club Lupe

Club Lupe is one of the most popular places in Istiklal for nightlife. Its cocktails are delicious and DJs perform until 4 a.m.

Address: Şehit Muhtar 65, İstiklal Caddesi

2. Beat Club

Credits: www.nerde.com

The entrance fee at weekends is 30TL (5$) and is free during the weekdays. They have a special area for smoking, wi-fi, good music, and drinks. They are open from 22.00 to 06.00.

Address: Yesilcam Street 9A, Istiklal Caddesi

3. Club IQ Taksim

If you want to hear some good music, then it is the club to go to. They are opening the club at 21.00 and open until 05.00 in the morning. Prices are average.

Address: Bahçeli Hamam Street, 3, Beyoğlu

4. Vernon Club

Good quality of music, dance, DJ, drinks, and entertainment until 8.00 am. İt is a safe place to go with your friends.

Address:  İstiklal Caddesi Büyükparmakkapı Street No:22/A

5. Ritim Club

They have Latin, Arabic, and Turkish rhytmic dances and open-air dances. İt is a little bit small place, therefore it can seem too crowded but their surprise treats and drinks are worth to spend some time. This club is also famous for its parties. It is open from 10.00 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Address: Hüseyinağa, Sahne Street. No:20, 34435 Beyoğlu

What to do

Broadly Taksim and specifically Istiklal Avenue is full of activities, events, shops, museums, exhibitions, workshops, and seminars that you can choose one according to your preferences. I tried to list the things that you can do or you would not like to miss in Istiklal.

Shopping

So, after eating and drinking, of course, the first thing is to do shopping. There are more than 300 hundred local and foreign brand shops in Istiklal street, some very big multi-storeyed and some small.

İf you visit during the discount period of the shops, you can have a good deal of shopping. But, if it is a non-discount season, and you visit local boutiques, then be careful with prices. Since it is a high touristic zone, the prices can be above average.

Do not forget bargaining with the shop keepers, especially if you are hunting for antique collections or authentic rare goods.

Bookshops

1.Yapikredi Kültür Yayınları

It is located near Galatasaray Lyceum, Police Station and Şişhane metro station. It is my favorite place for not only it is a big two-storied book shop, but also it is a culture center with lots of exhibitions, activities, seminars, workshops, lectures and storytelling activities for children. Since I have come to Istanbul, every month I check their website to get information about the dates of those activities and participate in some of them. You can also follow their website below.

http://www.ykykultur.com.tr/

2. Robinson Crusoe Bookshop

It is located inside SALT building, where you can see some exhibitions, a cafe, and a bookshop. They offer books in English and Turkish on many topics but be careful with the prices of books in English. As they are export, they can be very expensive. You can also check the available books from their website before going.

http://www.rob389.com/default.asp?PG=VITMTR

Address: SALT Beyoğlu, İstiklal Cd. 136/1

3. Türk Alman Kitabevi Cafe- Turkish German Bookshop Cafe

As we mentioned above, this cafe is one of the best coffee shops in Istiklal, but at the same time, it is a nice and rich book shop where you can pick up a book and have a closer look while you drink your coffee or tea.

Address: Şahkulu Mahallesi İstiklal Caddesi No:237

4. Insan Kitap

Insan Kitap is the opposite Yapikredi book shop, smaller than that but offers a good variety of books. There are some souvenirs, copybooks, and cups with Istanbul motives that you can purchase but still be cautious about prices. The prices can be exaggerated.

Address: Asmalı Mescit, İstiklal Cd. No:96

5. Mephisto

İt is in central Istiklal with a nice book shop and cafe on the second floor and a terrace. İn the bookshop, you can find a range of souvenirs, stationery, and magazines, if you want to buy some gifts.

Address: Kuloğlu, İstiklal Cd. No:125

Gift Shops

Istiklal Avenue is a perfect spot for the ones who look for gifts for their lovers, friends, and family members or just for themselves. You know it somestimes feels good to gift ourselves. Istiklal Avenue is full of gift shops from leather goods, luxury porcelain, souvenir shops, antique to bath and spa products.

1.Viapera

In Viapera gift shop, you will find a unique collection of world brands of pens, pencils and other office materials. Their designs are both classic and modern. You can have a look at this shop, especially if you are looking for some gifts for your colleagues or some serious gifts.

Address: Tomtom, İstiklal Cd. No:185

2. Artpera

In this souvenir shop, you can find all kinds of souvenirs, magnets, notebooks, pencils, cups, and towels with Istanbul motifs that you would like to buy for yourself or for family/friends.
Address: Kuloğlu, İstiklal Cd. No:131

3. Home Spa

I strongly recommend visiting Home Spa boutique to feel the Ottoman Turkish bath culture. The smell of different kinds of natural soaps can be smelled some meters far. It is very near Galata Tower when you go down towards Galata. There are Turkish style bathrobes, bathing gowns, virgin oils, home parfums, and some souvenirs. They can be perfect traits to spoil yourself and to buy as gifts to your friends. I love this shop so much that even if I do not buy something I just cannot stop entering the shop for the relaxing atmosphere in it.

Sightseeing

1.Galata Tower

Galata Tower – the eye of Istanbul is located at the end of Istiklal Avenue near Şişhane metro station. It is not exactly known when it has been built but is guessed to be in 500 BC. It is about 69 meters high and you can have the best Istanbul panoramic view from the top balcony. There is an elevator inside, but you will have to wait a little bit or you can walk up the stairs inside.

Romans, Venetians, Genevans and Ottoman Turks have used the tower for different purposes. Until the conquer of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, there was a big cross on top of the tower, after 1453 it has been taken down. During the period of Sultan Suleyman (1520-1566), the tower became a prison. In the late 1500s, an observatory was established to observe the stars. In 1700, it was used as a fire tower but ironically, the tower itself burnt down by the fire.

In the early Republic Era, the tower was renovated for the last time and today it is a museum.  The ticket price is 35TL (7$) and there is usually a long queue in front of it.  Museum Pass Card is not valid here.

2. Historical Tramway

The nostalgic red tramway has been opened in 1871 and attracts a lot of tourists today. It rides from Taksim Square to Galata Tower – the end of Istiklal Avenue. You can get on the tram at the stops every 20 minutes and can use your Istanbul Transport Card which costs less than 1$. But be careful from pickpockets, as the tram is small and full of people.

I usually walk the Istiklal from Taksim Square and usually is tired of walking at the end of the street. So I take the tram to come back to the square. You can do the same way.

Museums and Culture Centers

1.Madame Tussauds Museum

Today there are overall 21 Madame Tussauds was museums in the biggest cities of the world, such as Beijing, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, London, and Istanbul. The first Madame Tussauds was opened in 1835 and since then never lost its popularity. Marie Tussauds was an art tutor and was making wax models of famous authors, philosophers, and Royal family in France. In 1802, she opens her first exhibition in London and after that, she becomes more famous.

In Istanbul’s Madame Tussauds Museum, you will enter a very vital atmosphere of Turkish history with their historical leaders, architects, and politicians. There are was statues of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Mimar Sinan, Tansu Ciller, Fatih Sultan Mehmet. In another section, you will see Holywood stars such as Johnny Depp, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, and some famous Turkish film stars.

It has a very central location on Istiklal Avenue. Ticket prices are 75 TL (15$) for adults and 55TL (10$) for 3-17 years children if you buy online. Otherwise, in the ticket office, it is 94 TL (18$).

https://www.madametussauds.com/istanbul/en/tickets/

Address: Hüseyinağa, Grand Pera, İstiklal Cd. no: 56/58

2. Pera Museum

There are permanent and temporary exhibitions inside this historic building. “Intersecting Worlds”, “Osman Hamdi Bey” – painting collection of a famous Ottoman painter Osman Hamdi Bey is exhibited here, “Coffee Break” – you can learn history of coffee culture in the Ottomans, in the East and the World, “Anatolian Weights and Measures” – this exquisite collection exhibits weights and measures and scales from the most ancient times to the modern period, “Past Collection Exhibitions” are permanent and the most interesting ones to see.

There are collections that you can see: “Orientalist Painting Collection”, “Anatolian Weights and Measures Collection”, “Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics Collection” and “Photography Collection”.

Besides exhibitions and collections, there are events and activities for children and adults, sometimes there are concerts in Pera Café, as well. Pera Café is also a very cozy place where you can have your lunch, dinner or enjoy your coffee at reasonable prices after a tour at the museum.
You can follow cultural activities from their websites. https://www.peramuseum.org/Activity

Museum Ticket is 25 TL (5$) all collections and exhibitions included. Museum Pass Card is not valid here, but there is a 25% discount to card holders for both tickets and the prices at Pera Café.

Address: Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd. No:65, Beyoglu

3. Museum of Illusions Istanbul

I mentioned above about Narmanli Inn (Han) in Istiklal Avenue in which you can find Starbucks and Vyana Kahvesi branches. In the same building, one part of it is the Museum of Illusions. When you enter the courtyard of the Inn, you will see it on your left side. On your right side, there is a food court.

The museum is a unique experience for all age groups, both for children and adults. There is “Smart Play Room” for children where your kids can discover many new things, Rotated Room, The Vortex Tunnel, Infinity Room, Ames Room, Tricky Stick, Clone Table, Stereogram and many other illusion exhibitions will be one of the best memories you will have in Istanbul. Taking photos will be a side fun of this adventure.

Do not forget to visit the fairytale Hansel Gretel sweet shop which is next to the museum.

Tickets are 32TL (6$) for adults, 22TL (5$) for children (5-18 years old) and 22TL (5$) for students. The museum is open every day of the week from 10.00 to 22.00.

There are events and activities during the month at different times. You can follow them on their website and to avoid the queue, you can purchase your ticket online.

Address: Narmanlı, İstiklal Cd. No:180, 34421 Han/İstanbul

4. SALT Beyoglu

SALT with its several branches in Istanbul and Ankara holds many important exhibitions, organizations, workshops, lectures, publications, seminars and researches. It is one of my favorite spots in Istanbul with its interior peaceful decoration for researchers, intellectuals, students and artists. I gave information about its bookshop ‘Robinson Crusoe’ inside SALT.

The entrance is free, you can visit the exhibitions whenever you want. But for special events such as seminars, lectures, or some workshops, you better follow their websites. There are three branches in Istanbul, that you can follow the events of the other two if they are closer to you.

If you are going to stay in Istanbul for a long time, I recommend subscribing to their calendar that the weekly events will be sent to your email. So you do not have to check the website every week.

https://saltonline.org/en/agenda

Address: Asmalı Mescit, İstiklal Cd. No:136

5. Galata Mevlevihanesi Muzesi (Galata Mevlevi Lodge)

Mevlevi religious order has played an important role in the history of Islam and the Ottoman Empire. It has spread not only in the Ottomans but all over the Islamic World with its leader Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi. One of their main symbols was whirling dervishes and had a lot of lodges in the Ottomans.

One of them is Galata Mevlevi lodge which is located at the end of Istiklal Avenue. It was established in 1491 and during the Ottoman Era, this lodge would be called ‘Galip Dede Tekke’ or ‘Kulekapisi Mevlevi Lodge’. In it, you can see wax statues and scenes of the daily life of Mevlevi dervishes with information tables near them. I recommend to read them one by one if you are interested in sofism and sofis’ daily life and education.

On the ground floor, you will see Sema area where dervishes would perform their ‘sema’ (whirling). You can also go upstairs and see the rooms one by one. All of them show different exhibitions such as Marbling Exhibition, the Calligraphy Exhibition, the Hilye-i Sherif Sheets Exhibition, the Royal Lodge and the Ottoman Army Band and Musical Instruments Exhibition. There are 6 tombs of the lodge’s main sheiks outside which you can visit as well.

Whirling Dervishes Show

Remember, there are ‘Whirling Dervishes Show’ every day during summer and every Thursday, Tuesday, and Saturday in winter at 19.00. The ticket price is about 70-75 TL (20$) per person and the show lasts an hour.  

The museum is open every day from 9.00 to 19.00, except on Mondays. The entrance fee is 14 TL (3$), but if you have Museum Pass Card, you can enter for free.

Address: Şahkulu, Galip Dede Cd. No: 15

6. Masumiyet Muzesi (Museum of Innocence)

The Museum of Innocence is located in one of the back streets of Istiklal Avenue, about 5-7 minutes walking distance. It has been opened by Nobel-prized author Orhan Pamuk after writing his famous novel “Museum of Innocence”.  The novel was published in 2008 and the museum was opened in 2012.

I strongly recommend to read the novel even before you arrive in Istanbul, get some idea about city life between the periods of 1950-2000 and then when you come, visit the museum. If you visit the museum without reading the book, you will not understand much from the museum.

The novel is about a love story of Kemal and Fusun, and Kemal is so obsessed about Fusun that he collects every small thing that Fusun touches such as her spoons, forks, souvenirs, accessories, clothes, shoes, toothbrush, and many smallest things. On the first floor, you will see a large collection of cigarette logs that Kemal puts them in his pocket when Fusun finishes her cigarette.

Of course, all of these are author Orhan Pamuk’s creativity. They have not existed in reality but the mind of the author. When I was there after reading the book, my mind just objected to believe that they did not exist. I insisted to believe they were living in that house and using all those things. In the exit part, there is a small bookshop of Orhan Pamuk’s other books in English and Turkish that you can purchase.

The museum is open every day except Monday from 10.00 to 18.00. On Thursdays, it is open until 21.00.

The ticket price is 25TL (5$) for adults and 15TL (3$) for students.

Address: Çukurcuma Caddesi, Dalgıç Çk. No:2

Churches

1. Saint Antuan Church

The church has been built in 1724 in Pera area with a neogothic architectural style, but in 1904, because of the tramway project, the church had to be knocked down. In 1905, the monks found a new place for their church which we can see today. But because of the financial difficulties, the completion of the church had to wait until 1912.

In 1932, Pope promoted the church to the basilica and it has been renovated since then. Today you can visit this imposing building with perfect architectural features. I visited the church during New Year Eve when they decorated outside and inside of the church with New Year trees, souvenirs, lights, and church chants were heard everywhere. There is an open-air fair with different stands selling sweeties, accessories, warm knitwear, and souvenirs. It is a good idea to visit that period to feel the nature of the New Year.

Address: Tomtom, İstiklal Cd. No:171

2. Santa Maria Draperis Church

The Church has been opened in 1584 by Franciscans but has completely burnt down several times and last time when it burnt in 1871 fire, the church has been used by the Austria Hungary embassy until 1904. It is located next to the Russian Embassy on Istiklal Avenue.

Address: Tomtom, İstiklal Cd. No:215

Where to Stay

1.Villa Pera Suite Hotel

The hotel is located in a renovated historical building with just 500 meters to Istiklal Avenue and is very budget-friendly. As in many hotels, it has free wi-fi, TV Stand, central heating system and room service and so on.

2. Innpera Hotel

Innpera is located 100 meters walking distance to Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue. Like many hotels in historical buildings, the rooms are a little bit old, but very clean and the staff is helpful. If you want to reach Istiklal in a minute, then you can choose this hotel just for its central location.

3. Taksim Residence

It is located 300 meters to Taksim Square with its breathtaking sea view. There is free wi-fi, breakfast, and professional staff.

4. Green House Hostel

This budget hotel is preferred usually by the young and single tourists who do not travel with family. They have dorm rooms with 6 people but have got family rooms, as well. It is a small hostel but there is a family atmosphere. You can have your breakfast in the kitchen and meet a lot of people from different countries. There is wifi, air conditioner, heating system, and a shared bathroom.

So, for me Istiklal Avenue has got two identities, first is Pera and the second is Istiklal. Pera’s population was mostly Christians and Jews until the early 20th century and even during the Ottoman Era, Galata and Pera did not seem like a full part of Istanbul. It was like a small city inside Istanbul. I think Pera should be discovered as Pera with its churches and synagogues and Galata Tower and later as Istiklal Avenue with its mosques, Mevlevi lodge and whirling dervish show.