I cannot recommend one place only to enjoy the best cuisine that Turkey has to offer, solely because there are thousands of wonderful places to eat all over the country. I can however recommend that you head to any restaurant/cafe/street stall with the suffix "ci". Kofteci, cigerci, pideci ...
These are the places that specialise in one type of food, meatballs, liver, turkish pizza etc. They know their food, source locally and will serve you their dishes with great pride.
Every city, town and village in Turkey
For all the ageing hippies who headed east in search of enlightenment The Pudding Shop in Istanbul is still there, still acting as a meeting point and still serving good food at a reasonable price. Opened in 1957 the restaurant became a place to stop off for travellers in the 1960s who were heading out towards the cultural nirvana of India and Nepal. In a pre-electronic age its bulletin board acted as a communication hub passing on messages offering and asking for lifts. Today it is a self-service café offering decent Turkish food in Sultanahmet close by the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. Don’t go for a gourmet experience. Go for a nostalgic experience. Remember the days when travelling meant hitch hiking, VW vans and Citroen 2CVs not easyJet and Ryanair.
The name of the food is La Majune - i dont think its spelt like that but the food is amazing - there are so many of these take away and eat in places where its advertised clearly in front that they make and sell La Majunes. These are large circular flatbreads which are smothered in a lamb sauce ( not spicy at all ) and lettuce tomatoes and cucumber are added along with their fantastic houmous - you then roll it up and enjoy. It's a lovely filler as a light lunch to get you going on your shopping spree as the eastern side of Istanbul is bargain central!
If you are staying on the western side of Istanbul and fancy something more authentic - then catch a boat marked USKADAR at the port of the sea of Marmara and it will take you straight over.
Google map: bit.ly/GT1tAS
Istanbul's skyline is magical at night and one of the best places to enjoy it is from the restaurant on the rooftop of the Adamar Hotel in Sultanahmet. Just a stone's throw from the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia, the rooftop terrace has a 360 degree panoramic view, great food and a romantic atmosphere. The Bosphorus Bridge twinkles with ever-changing colours, the commercial district sparkles with modern skyscrapers, and the mosques and minarets glow with golden light. High above the rooftops, the sounds of the muezzins' evening calls to prayer echo and collide in the night sky around you.
And If the weather is less than kind, there is an indoor restaurant on the floor below with equally good views.
A local guide made all the difference on a fully packed guided walking tour of the Turkish Aegean. In seven days we visited 12 sites of antiquity, from the abandoned Alinda, part of Anatolia, once visited by Alexander the Great, to the bustling Ephesus. Ephesus has been restored to such an extent that as you walk towards the Library of Celsus, it is easy to imagine the crowds turning up to see Antony and Cleopatra. Other visits took us to ancient deity worship in temples of Apollo and Aphrodite, Ionian sites of Priene, Didyma, Miletus and the ‘frozen waterfall’ and Roman Spa of Pamukkale.
There are not many places in the world where you can be gliding down powder snow in the morning and gliding through turquoise waters in the afternoon, but Mount Davraz (8,652ft) in the Taurus mountain range of southern Turkey fits this bill. Turkish ski resorts are one of the country's best kept secrets, with a handful of them scattered around Turkey's vast interior. Davraz has the added advantage of being located just a couple of hours drive from the stunning Mediterranean coastline, enabling you to experience 'all four seasons in one day' as many locals will proudly tell you.
The resort itself is, unsurprisingly, a lot smaller and quieter than its alpine counterparts (although this is more than reflected in the price difference) yet still has a runs ranging from green to black in difficulty. For more accommodation options, stay in one of the many guest houses in the nearby lakeside town of Eğirdir. In fact the real beauty of a ski holiday here is that it can be combined with a city break (to nearby Antalya – where the nearest airport is also located), a visit to the ruined Roman city of Sagalassos, a chance for bit of seaside winter sun or simply a taste of rural Turkey in the afore-mentioned Eğirdir – all just a short drive away.
For Christmas 1991 I found myself high up in the Turkish Cappodocian mountians sitting down to a delicious meal at the Kose Pansion with my best friend, my two-year-old son and a group of backpackers from the four corners of the world.
We shared stories, sang songs and went on a group walk among the region’s magical snow covered faerie turrets. Later on, sitting round the fire drinking turkish tea, I realised one of our company knew a long lost friend of mine.
I can see from the website the Kose Pansion is now very different from when we visited. However, the reviews confirm that the lovely Kose family are still at the helm applying a friendly, family ethos to their hospitality and ensuring a comfortable home from which to explore this beautiful place.
My Turkish Christmas left me with a warm glow, a newly discovered address and a last minute buy, a present to myself, a kilim made by nomads depicting the tree of life.
Dating back to 1461, the Grand Bazaar in Beyazit, Istanbul is the world's oldest shopping mall. Enter via one of the impressive stone archways and you are whisked back in time to a bustling street lined with sparkling gold and jewels. The choice is flabbergasting, whatever you desire you will find. Dive into one of the narrower alleys to search for scarves, cotton or wool? silk or cashmere? Ceramics, hand painted tiles and bowls from Iznik, leather goods; bags to die for and jackets that can sometimes raise a smile with their Eastern appeal. Amber, coral or turquoise; necklaces or bracelets? Clothing; modern, or why not buy a fez and a belly dancing costume? Then there are the carpets! Hand knotted silk carpets at prices that once would have bought a starter home, woollen kilims of all sizes and designs. Watches, towels, embroidered items, beads, soap, sweets, toys, games, the shopping list is endless.
Let the traders entertain you with their banter. Barter to try and get the price down. Feeling weary? Try one of the cafes in the heart of the bazaar, for a snack or a perfect Turkish coffee. It is impossible to visit and not be stunned by the history, the colours and the life force of the Grand Bazaar ... and to leave without buying something perfect for you.
At the end of Divan Yolu from Sultanahmet Square. Beyazit/Grand Bazaar stop on the tramway.
Google map: bit.ly/s34H8V
Moonlight restaurant was found purely by chance: out of the centre of town, you could walk right by and not realise it was there. Entered at the side of the building, up steps, you climb to a tiny rooftop terrace with simply amazing views over Kalkan, probably the best. There is only space for 10 tables and all were full the night we ate. You will not get a table here without booking well in advance. The food can be chosen from a set menu or a la carte but, if the latter you must notify your choices at the time of booking. I recommend that you stick to the set menu: I defy you not to be able to find something you like and at under 35 TL it is staggeringly good value for money. The wine list is limited but contains good choices. The food is very much local in orientation and utterly delicious. This was definitely the best food we had tasted anywhere in Kalkan. So, what's the down-side? Not discovered until we came to pay, they do not accept credit cards! Fortunately, they are happy to take any currency; we paid in sterling - £40 for two, including wine and tip. Unbelievable.
Yali boyu mah. Hasan altan cad. No:17
Kalkan, Antalya, Turkey, 07960
+90 242 844 39 79
My favourite subterranean attraction is not actually a cave, or a mine, but the Basilica Cistern, or Yerebatan Sarnici, which is the largest of the myriad of cisterns beneath the streets of Istanbul. This 6th century Byzantine underground chamber can hold 80,000 cubic metres of water, although nowadays visitors walk on a raised platform above the shallow water, and watch carp swimming languidly below. The ceiling is supported by hundreds of soaring marble columns nine metres high, two of which have huge Roman blocks with the carved head of Medusa at their base. Eerie and magical, the cistern feels like an underground cathedral.
A great place to visit to escape the midday heat, and there's also a small cafe.
This is a 2 star hotel in a historical Ottoman building. It has air conditioning, pool and B&B plus wi-fi all for 30 Euros a night. Ibrahim the manager is very helpful and accommodating.
I've used the service of this company for my transportation in Istanbul and all was arranged in a perfect way.
Ogut Sokak No: 10,
Beyoglu 34437 Istanbul
Tel: +90 532 608 1470
Fax: +90 212 244 0649
Akbil is a prepaid travel token for use on buses, trams and ferries within Istanbul. An excellent idea if you plan to travel around the city. You can buy the Akbil at many places round the city and recharge it as necessary. It saves you having to keep on buying tickets or individual tokens to travel, and travel costs are slightly lower.
The best thing about Akbil is you can use one for the whole family/group. All you need do is bleep each person through the turnstile, or onto the bus.
All over the city at Akbil sales points (usually news kiosks as well as at bus and ferry terminals)
A hunting lodge built by Sultan AbdulMecid in the middle of the 19th century on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus close to the second bridge (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge) and to the village of Anadolu Hisarı. It is Dolmabahce Palace in miniature. The guided tour is only in Turkish but there is often someone around who will translate for you. Open daily except Monday and Thursday, entrance is only 4TL. After your visit, turn left and walk the five mintues to see the ruined castle at Anadolu Hisari. There you can find several cafes on Kucuksu stream where you can have a meal and enjoy watching the fishermen and pleasure boaters pottering around.
Take a ferry to Uskudar and then hop on a number 15 (to BEYKOZ) bus from in front of the mosque opposite the ferry terminal for the 30 minute (or so!) journey up the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, passing the summer palace of Baylerbeyi on the way.
If you don't have time for the full day Bosphorus cruise then IDO (Istanbul Deniz Otobus) also offer a two hour trips along one of the world's greatest waterways without the lengthy (nearly three hour) stop at the north end of the Bosphorus. It is also kinder on the pocket costing 10 TL instead of 25TL for the full day tour. See the beauty of the city for less money and less time!
The ferry departs from Eminonu at 1430 returning at 1630 (it also collects from Uskudar for those staying on the Asian shore)
Kadıköy is a bustling district on the Asian side of the city. There is a market and lots of small speciality shops, such as cheese, honey, herbal, gold, antiques and second hand books. This is the place to see the Istanbul of Istanbullus. After browsing for an hour or so sit down at one of the many small restaurants for some meze or fish. Try the "midye dolma", battered mussels. Çıya is a favourite restaurant of locals and visitors if you want to try unusual Turkish food. Keep an eye open for the fortune telling rabbits.
Take the ferry from Eminonu or Karakoy. Walk straight ahead, cross the road and dive into the side streets on your right.
Google map: bit.ly/n0pKUJ
Cirali is a picture perfect place to holiday - with stunning scenery, scrumptious food to suit all tastes, the best water I've swum in the Med. Almost want to keep it to myself, but that would be selfish.
The sort of holiday to suit all sorts of people. Lots of activities, whether you want to snorkel off a yacht, visit the fire breathing mountain at night or wander the beachside ruin complex at Olimpos by day.
A great range of accomodation too - we stayed in three places - the family friendly Hotel Canada with welcome pool, the more romantic cabins of Arcadia with private hammocks for all in orange groves on the beach serving breakfast any time you want. All pensions seem to offer bikes free to guests so you can cycle around the very very quiet roads stopping off for a fresh pomegranate juice from a roadside stall or some baklava or cakes from the bakery.
Food is delicious wherever you eat - fish, kebabs, Turkish pizza, amazing flatbreads and mezze. Places range from a string of bars and restaurants on the beach, to some more sheltered ones with cushioned seating in the village. And everyone should eat cheaply and very well at Lemon Restaurant or in a slightly more upmarket fashion at Oldeander Restaurant which also has some lovely pension rooms.
All in all I couldn't imagine a better spot to kick back and relax this summer.
Çıralı is hidden away far from the road, and is blessed with five kilometres of unspoiled beach between the ruins of Olympos and the fire-breathing mountain side called Yanartas. Go in August (if you can stand the heat) and see loggerhead turtles hatch first thing in the morning on the beach. The small pansiyons will look after you; the Bellerophon Hotel, with its cabins tucked away among the orange and pomegranate trees, certainly did for us.
Akif Kosk, Çıralı, Antalya, Turkey
+90 242 8257336
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