As much as I enjoyed my day visiting the sights of Istanbul; it was not the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofya, or even the Basilica Cistern that was my favourite part of Istanbul.
No, by far the thing I most enjoyed about Istanbul was hanging out in the lovely district of Ortoköy—a district located in the shadow of the First Bosphorus Bridge.
Ortoköy goes about its daily business in the shadows of the imposing columns of the Bridge: huge towering structures which my friend referred to as the ‘Mines of Moria’. A constant stream of cars, trucks, and buses rumble endlessly overhead, seemingly blind to the busy scurrying of the inhabitants far below.
It is a world within a world, and a fascinating one at that.
Due to its location far from a tramline (albeit a cheap bus or taxi ride from the nearest tram), or close to any of Istanbul’s attractions, Ortoköy is an area of the city far away from the tourists who clamour to Sultanahmet. This meant that I could walk the streets and browse the shops and stalls without being called at or hassled, and I liked the feeling of getting to know a real Istanbul suburb—a place where locals hang out and go about their daily business.
Ortoköy was a busy and interesting district with plenty to see and do.
I spent most of my evenings wandering alongside the banks of the river, watching rich residents attending the posh clubs, men selling tea from the back of tiny boats, and young lovers holding hands whilst watching the river.
Only a short walk away from Ortoköy is a harbour where you can take a ferry across to the Asian side of the city, or you can visit 360 Istanbul Suada Club on a luxurious man-made island in the middle of the Bosphorus and drink a cocktail, eat a fancy meal, or lounge by the pool.
This surely must be the only place in the world where you can dine between two continents!
At the end of a busy day, you can head to Ortoköy Pier Square where there is a number of bars and restaurants to help you unwind as the sun sets over the city. There is also a beautiful mosque by the river, but sadly it was covered up for renovation when I visited.
Returning to Ortoköy after tourist-ridden Sultanahmet was the perfect way to unwind after a busy day sightseeing in the city!
Do you prefer to stay in the centre of a city, or do you like quieter, more local, suburbs? I like a bit of both, but Ortoköy was the perfect respite in a city the size of Istanbul. What do you think? As ever, I would love to hear your comments below!