Istanbul

Best City Secret

Eyup, Fener, Balat

Experience Istanbul’s diversity in these neighborhoods where the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Greek Fener High School, Ottoman-style houses and the Bulgarian cast-iron church pay homage to the city’s historic past.

Best Restaurant for a Celebration
Frankie Istanbul
Owned by Sezen Aksu, the most famous singer in Turkey, Frankie Istanbul offers an elegant and vibrant ambiance in Nişantaşı, the city’s fashion and art district. Live music performances during dinner are the norm. (+90-212) 230-6666; www.frankieistanbul.com.
Reading Suggestion
"Yes, I Would Have Another Glass of Tea: An American Woman’s Letters To Turkey," by Katherine Branning
Art historian Branning describes her experiences in Turkey, which were inspired by the letters of Lady Mary Montagu whose husband was the city’s ambassador from 1716 through 1718.
Top Day Trip
Bosphorus Cruise
The public ferries offer two different cruise options: a five-hour Bosphorus Cruise you can disembark and board at will, and a two-hour Sunset Cruise on Saturdays. www.sehirhatlari.com.tr.
Three Top Sights
Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque & Haghia Sophia
These iconic sites have kept Istanbul on the travelers map, and are essential to any first-timer’s visit to the city.
Top Architecture Find
Dolmabahce Palace
Built in the 19th century, this is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world. It was the administrative center of the late Ottoman Empire and housed the last of the Ottoman Sultans. www.dolmabahce.gov.tr.
Best Restaurant Classic
Matbah
This one-of-a-kind restaurant specializing in Ottoman Palace cuisine serves dishes adapted from the once-secret recipes of the Ottoman imperial kitchens. 6 Caferiye Sokak; (90-212) 513-6151; www.matbahrestaurant.com.
Best One-Stop Shop
Armaggan
This local store combines original design with traditional craftsmanship to create unique jewelry, textiles, leather goods and home décor, all handmade in Turkey. 8 Bostan St., bri Ipecki Rd.; (90-212) 291-6292; www.armaggan.com.

Hotels

Çirağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey

The numerous royals and heads of state staying at the Çırağan Palace are continuing a long tradition: in a previous life, this grandiose property on the European side of the Bosphorus was a residence for sultans. The regal feeling is most pronounced in the Palace suites, whose vaulted ceilings, elegant antiques and textiles evoke the opulence of the Ottoman Era. Guest rooms overlook either the Bosphorus or Yıldız Park, formerly a hunting forest for the sultans. On-site dining options include Tug˘ra, whose classic Turkish cuisine is considered among Istanbul’s finest (the terrace is a favorite spot for romantic meals). All restaurants and many rooms have sweeping views of the Turkish metropolis and stretch out across the Straits toward Asia.

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Leading Spa Swissôtel The Bosphorus, Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey

This sanctuary-like hotel is nestled in 65 acres of gardens formerly attached to the Dolmabahçe Palace, the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans. Views across the water toward the Golden Horn encompass sights such as Topkapi Palace. Thanks to its elevated position above the city bustle, the property exudes serenity, a theme embodied in the Pürovel spa. The 4,000-square-meter center is dedicated to rejuvenation — its name derives from the Sanskrit word for elixir—and treatments range from hot stone massages and mud baths to unique Kneipp walks and traditional Hammams. Chic Istanbul locals and travelers mingle over the award-winning cuisine of Gaja Restaurant on the 14th floor, with views of the Bosphorus and shopping district of Nisantasi.

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The Grand Tarabya

Istanbul, Turkey

The Grand Tarabya, a true landmark of traditional Turkish hospitality, comes alive again on the European shores of the Bosphorus. Set along Tarabya Bay, with breathtaking views all the way to the entrance of the Black Sea, the hotel is ideal for business trips, weekend breaks, or spa retreats. Only 20 minutes by subway from Taksim Square, the center of the city, Tarabya is a unique neighborhood, with a picturesque harbor, lively fish restaurants, colorful scenery, a newly built marina and green landscapes. The spacious and tastefully decorated guest rooms and suites are designed to cater to the needs of discerning international travelers.

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