You’d think this restaurant—located right next to the touristy Galata Tower—would be packed with travelers, yet it seems like only Turks eat here. Snag an outdoor table and sample some of the menu’s traditional Anatolian foods such as fellah köfte, meatless bulgur dumplings steeped in a spicy tomato broth.
Uncovering authentic local finds and having experiences that make you feel like you’ve really connected with a place are important elements in ensuring an extraordinary vacation. We’re taking advantage of our partnership with Travel + Leisure to get their editors’ recommendations and insider tips on the places you will want to visit. Here are their picks for just one of the 150 destinations they covered.
Intricately patterned blue-and-white Iznik ceramic tiles depicting cypress trees, fruit, tulips, and calligraphy from the Koran adorn the interior walls, columns, arches, and domes of this early-17th-century house of worship. Built by Sultan Ahmed I with the goal of exceeding the beauty of Hagia Sophia (which was at that time a Christian church), the Blue Mosque remains one of the few sacred sites in the world with six minarets.
The cacophonous covered market features hundreds of stalls offering every imaginable trinket: elaborate silver jewelry, glass tea sets, silks, spangled cushions, ceramics glazed in azure and crimson, hookahs, candleholders, and carpets that look like they truly might fly. It's not just for tourists, and you won't necessarily get ripped off-there are some genuine treasures here. But you need to be patient and cunning to find them.
The greatest surviving example of Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia reigned as the greatest church in Christendom from the fourth century to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Once Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror took power, he converted the church into a mosque, plastering over the mosaics. It was only in the 1930's, when the site was turned into a museum, that these dazzling original artworks were uncovered and refurbished. You can see them today-along with the site's spectacularly ornate marble interiors, carved stone arches, and jaw-dropping (almost 183-foot-high) central dome.
Be sure to visit our Shore Excursions page or speak with our onboard Destination Concierge for arrangements to any of these must-sees.