Istanbul, Turkey: Beyoglu

by jenjenk on December 11, 2011

7 Hills. That’s what Petek, our landlady told us. There are 7 hills in Istanbul, Turkey.  That explains why we were walking uphill both ways wherever we went, all we were missing was the snow to make our treks complete. We were situated in a charming 2 bedroom apartment in Beyoglu, which is in the “new town” or Pera, meaning “across”, from the Old City.

Despite my laziness and being incredibly out of shape, I loved the location of where we were staying. It was the perfect place for us to start and end our day.  It was close to everything we needed and convenient to everywhere we needed to be. And it had a view.  It had a gorgeous view that I loved staring at regardless of how miserable it became in the torrential downpours that we were experiencing.  It didn’t matter – I was finally in ISTANBUL!!

Petek was a great hostess and was kind enough to provide us with maps, suggestions on places to eat, drink, have our laundry done, and where we can pick up common necessities.  She also arranged for our transportation to and from the apartment, which turned out to be the best thing since the apartment was tucked away – I don’t know if I’ll ever find it again!

I have to admit that when I first arrived at our apartment building the neighborhood had me a little nervous…Ok, it actually had me a lot nervous.  I really wasn’t sure if it was safe or not.

As we walked around our neighborhood, we began to realize the magic that was Beyoglu.  It was a neighborhood that could really only be explored by walking up and down the streets & alleys aimlessly, and sometimes [many times in our case] getting lost in order to discover some new gem.  Our neighborhood was incredibly family friendly with a host of antique shops.  I must have picked out a dozen couches, carpets, and tables that I wanted to stuff into my 22″ suitcase.

One of the first things we discovered in our neighborhood were the breathtaking views.  We made our way to the Galata Tower [after a fun uphill climb], up the elevator and onto the deck when our dry weather respite gave out to a torrential downpour.  Apparently, people weren’t as inclined to enjoy the view in gusty winds while cold rain lashed out at you.  It was amazing to be able to walk around the circumference of Galata Tower and see all of Istanbul without having to climb over too many people. I recommend coming to this site just to get a stunning overview of the city.  I can only imagine how far you can see on a clear day.

View of Eminonu in the Old City

One of the best things about coming home to an apartment after an exhausting day of walking around seeing the sights, was being able to unwind in the living room, or the family room, or if we needed, our respective rooms. A few hours later when we I finally unearthed myself from my cocoon, we found the close proximity of a lot of great restaurants, cafe and bars made it more bearable than having to trek across the river to the Old town for a bite to eat.  If we had to do that, we probably would’ve starved to death.  Luckily, Beyoglu was the nightlife central so everything was open late…every night we were there!

After the sun went down, Istiklal, a main shopping thoroughfare, became the hub for thousands of locals and tourists alike.  It was easy to get swept up into the flow of traffic, which we struggled against to search the side streets for the perfect place to eat.  We found a little cafe called Hayvore which had the best Bean Stew and Hamsi [anchovies] and Rice.  That place earned itself a repeat visit from us.

We also tried wonderful desserts in the form of baklava, quince and Turkish Ice cream called Dordurma.  Just when I thought I couldn’t possible stuff myself any more, I always seemed to find more room.  I loved how the Turks managed to elevate desserts to an art form and how readily available all these luscious desserts were!!

One of the places that we had wanted to visit was Pera Palace.  It had the first elevator in Turkey, the 2nd in all of Europe.  Earnest Hemingway, Agatha Christie and a host of other dignitaries were guests of the hotel.  I wanted to have a drink at the bar that Hemingway frequented.  Carrie wanted to see the inspiration for Christie’s books.

I loved how dark & sexy this bar was.  They had ridiculously overpriced mediocre drinks.  There was a hodge podge of the very young hipsters to the elderly who looked like they’d been in the bar since it’s inception.  And us…somewhere in between the young and the old.  I looked around the bar and imagined it as a place of international intrigue.  What a rich and gorgeous backdrop it was.

We liked the look and feel of Pera Palace so much that we came back on another day just so that we could get in a tour of the Pera Palace Museum and hitch a ride up in that old elevator!  We even enjoyed an afternoon high tea at Pera, although in retrospect, I think we would’ve rather have eaten our way through the dessert shops in Beyoglu while sipping some tea.  I don’t think I could ever get tired of eating my way through this town.

After all of our touring, shopping, eating, and drinking it was always great to come home.  Every day we had this wonderful view to look forward to…

Galata Tower
Map location:
Turnacibasi Sokak 4,
Beyoglu, Istanbul Turkey
Telephone: 212-245-7501
Pera Palace
Meşrutiyet Caddesi No:52
Tepebaşı Beyoğlu 34430 Istanbul – Turkey
Telephone : +90 212 377 40 00
*Be sure to visit the onsite Pera Palace museum. Carries some interesting artifacts and they’ll take you up in the original elevator as well!  I enjoyed the tableware they had displayed near the spa, as well.
Petek’s Place
Home Away Reservations:
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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Turkey's For Life December 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Beyoğlu is just the best isn’t it – and it keeps you fit at the same time. :) Most of the bars have hefty prices for the drinks but you can compensate for that with all the cheap street food. Hmmm, want to be there again now.
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jenjenk December 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm

loved that area!! i’m so glad i found out about it!!! Now i’ll never stay in another location! :) Good point about the cheap street food! i never made it over to the chicken/rice halal cart in old town. :( next time I am committed to going! :)


Andrea December 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm

This was my favourite part of Istanbul! We stayed not far from here and loved walking around the area
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jenjenk December 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm

It really is such a great area, especially at night!!! it’s never a dull moment…great cafes and restaurants!


HeatherChristo December 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I just love to hear all about your adventures! Each post from this trip makes me more excited about the possibilities of visiting Turkey!
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jenjenk December 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm

When’s your trip to GREECE?!! I can’t wait to hear about THAT! :) seriously, if you guys can do a private cruise, there was these girls that were RAVING about it…[private chef and all!!]


Abby December 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I really, really want to return to Turkey and spend more time both in Istanbul and new places. Someday!


jenjenk December 12, 2011 at 10:40 pm

seriously! istanbul is so wonderful…i can’t wait to go back!


Red Nomad OZ December 13, 2011 at 12:33 am

Hahaha! What is it about places with hills?!?! At least all that uphill walking meant you enjoyed all those Turkish sweet treats guilt free, right? RIGHT??!!
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jenjenk December 15, 2011 at 7:55 am

That’s my story and i’m stickin’ to it. :) [of course, i really would’ve had to run a marathon [twice] in order to justify the amount I consumed…


Christy @ Technosyncratic December 13, 2011 at 6:19 am

We’ve definitely discovered that nothing beats staying at well-located, short-term apartments while traveling. Awesome views, great restaurants nearby, quirky neighborhoods, a comfy sofa and kitchen to make tea when you come home…. it’s awesome!! :)
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jenjenk December 15, 2011 at 7:56 am

I always thought it’d be more expensive than a hotel but it was so fantastic!! I definitely prefer this over a hotel any day!


Cathy Sweeney December 14, 2011 at 1:01 am

Loved reading the narrative of your time in Istanbul. I can see why you may have initially been afraid of your apartment location, but so glad that you found how wonderful the area is. I’d like to go there myself and see some of those fabulous views. Great photos, too.
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jenjenk December 15, 2011 at 7:56 am

I really was so nervous seeing the neighborhood…and so relieved once I stepped in & walked around a bit.


Angela (@letsgotravelKE) December 14, 2011 at 1:09 am

I am set to visit Istanbul next year and with these article looks like i am in for an adventure! Great post. :)
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jenjenk December 15, 2011 at 7:57 am

have a GREAT time while you’re there. it’s wonderful!!!


mivvy December 15, 2011 at 2:35 am

I couldn’t agree more. Beyoglu is a very interesting district of Istanbul. Pera Palace is a must-go place for Hemmingway fans, or simpley to have a drink and soak uo the atmosphere. Like you I loved Dondurma ice-cream. It is nothing like ordinary ice-cream, it’s sweet and chewy. I love the way the ice-cream vendors sell it. They churn the mixture with a long-handled spoon which looks like a stick and rotate it around before serving the customer. The ice-cream is stickyand chewy because one of the ingredients is mastic


Sophie December 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

Love the photos of the steep streets and alleys.
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jenjenk December 15, 2011 at 7:59 am

thanks…i really wish I could’ve taken photos of steeper areas but I thought i was dying from oxygen deprivation…i just couldn’t get my camera out if I tried… 😉


Jillian December 15, 2011 at 6:52 am

Short term apartments are the way to go. We usually couchsurf in big cities – its an apartment and tourguide all in one, but sometimes I miss having privacy or the ability to just flop on the couch and do nothing. Love reading about Istanbul, it is one of my favorite cities!
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jenjenk December 15, 2011 at 7:58 am

i’m a total disaster in a hotel room…i’d feel terrible about inflicting that on a gracious host… 😉


Andrew Graeme Gould December 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Looks like a fascinating neighbourhood, and one that I’d love to explore round with my camera. A very interesting post, then.
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Courtney Mroch December 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Hey Jen! It’s SO awesome to see your photos after just having gotten back from there. I’m looking at them saying, “OMG! I saw that! I know where she was and what she’s talking about!”

Although, we sadly did not see the Pera Palace Museum. We wandered around the hotel and found Agatha Christie’s room, but if I’d known we could ride in that elevator and there was a museum I would’ve done that too! We did go up in the Galata Tower, though. That was neat. And we hustled along Istiklal street. That was like Times Square though. Too many people for me. I preferred the more sedate side of Sultanahmet, where we stayed. It was perfect for us. Although anyone we talked to younger than us who didn’t crash out at 9 or 10 like we did LOVED Beyoglu. Locals and tourists alike RAVED about it. We pooped ourselves out touring stuff during the day. We had no energy to experience the fun nightlife we kept hearing about over there. Maybe next time we’ll try it. We both want to go back.

SO GLAD I started following you. It was because of you that I agreed to go. I was NOT disappointed. In fact, after being there and experiencing how awesome the people were and how amazing it is over there? I’m ashamed I was ever worried at all!!!!
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Annie - FootTracker December 23, 2011 at 8:02 am

I think the uphill climb is worth for the view! (Though I am not sure if I can hike uphill everyday >.<).


Will - My Spanish Adventure January 17, 2012 at 12:50 am

From the basis of this post Istanbul seems like a perfect place to put myself in shape for marathon training. I’ve got to get on it in regards to straddling the whole Asia and Europe thing too.

Plus I love gozleme. Thanks for the inspiring post!
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Andrea January 22, 2012 at 3:17 am

I always love looking at photos of Istanbul. Can’t wait to go!
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Kristina January 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

Arrgh. Reading this has me completely torn about where to stay. The apartment you rented is only available at the beginning of our trip, not the end. Hmmmm….
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TheWorldOrBust February 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Beyogeezie is the place to beezie. I first stayed in Sultanahmet and was beginning to feel a bit discouraged, but then I crossed over to the “European” side of Istanbul and was so happily relieved and inspired.
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Marisol@tTravelingSolemates May 15, 2012 at 5:23 am

Hi Jenny, just stumbled into your blog today via FutherAbound blog. I’m newbie to blogging world and love to explore and connect more with other travel blogs. I enjoy this post. Reminds me of my visit to Turkey 12 years ago. I remember the spectacular from view the Galata Tower. Pera Palace sounds interesting. Why did I miss it? Well, gives me something more to look forward to when I return. Thanks for writing about it. Turkey was one of my favorite travel experiences and I plan to go back soon. Nice meeting you!


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