The Top Hidden Gems in Istanbul
You'll discover numerous undiscovered treasures, stunning structures, historic nooks, and best-kept secrets of Istanbul right here that not even locals are aware of. You may find and experience a different side of Istanbul that doesn't appear on important tourist itineraries for Istanbul attractions, from lovely retreats from the city to secret gardens and historic locations.
With the nearby former Greek suburb of Fener, the old Jewish district Balat, located on the southern banks of the Golden Horn, has a highly rich historical legacy. Balat is renowned for its vibrant cafes and restaurants, vintage and antique shops, Jewish heritage remnants, and numerous synagogues and churches.
Jews who speak Greek have lived there since the Byzantine era. The expelled Sephardics from Spain, however, moved in Balat in the 15th century. Balat has a sizable Jewish population, thus there are numerous synagogues and other Jewish institutions there in addition to a few churches and mosques. Along with Balat, there is a UNESCO/EU effort in the area to restore the numerous buildings.
The Million Stone
The Million Stone, which dates to the fourth century AD, is one of Sultanahmet's lesser-known but yet significant historical structures. It is situated on a corner that faces the Divan route, which runs from Hagia Sophia to Beyazit. Roman Millarium Aureum or Golden Milestone are some names for it. The significance of the stone stems from the fact that throughout the Byzantine Empire time, it served as the reference point for calculating all distances. The Zero Point of the World was thought to be the Million Stone. Thus, this stone was once the origin of the phrase "all roads lead to Rome."
A bustling and genuine neighborhood called Cukurcuma can be found in Taksim's back streets as you descend from Siraselviler street. More than 100 antique shops can be found here, where you may find and enjoy items like street animals, nostalgic 1950s biscuit boxes, 19th-century Ottoman needlework, and antique paintings and prints. A selection of lovely eateries are also available for rest.
Buyuk Valide Inn
Istanbul's Mahmutpasa ramp, Fatih district, is home to a 17th-century inn with more than 300 stores that is close to the Grand Bazaar. The Inn's terrace has recently gained a lot of popularity among photographers. Only one TL is required to access the terrace. The terrace is temporarily closed till the completion of the restoration work due to a roof collapse.
Address: Büyük Valide Han Mercan, Çakmakçılar Ykş. no: 31, 34116 Fatih/Istanbul
Bozdogan (Valens) Aqueduct, Vefa Neighborhood
The Bozdogan Aqueduct, a kilometer-long aqueduct constructed by the Roman Emperor Valen in 375, contributes significantly to the area's stunning distinctive environment. Water was delivered to the city using it. Vefa Church Mosque and Ayin Biri (First of the Month) Church are two historic buildings located in the residential Zeyrek and Vefa districts. Vefa is renowned for its Vefa Bozacisi (Katip Celebi Str. No:102), which has been providing the fermented barley-based beverage known as boza since 1876. For locals, it is a well-liked winter beverage.
The Women's Bazaar, also known as the Siirt Bazaar, is a beautiful location where you can discover exceptionally high-quality regional cuisine from Turkey's southeast cities, including Siirt, Adiyaman, Mardin, Diyarbakir, Bitlis, and Mus.
Additionally, a variety of herbs are available that you may not have seen or heard of before. With the pastries created there with these herbs, you can taste them. Additionally nice are the honey stands. A popular aspect of cheese is its variety and associated goods.
Otagtepe (Fatih Grove)
The Fatih Grove Tema Vehbi Koc Nature Culture Center, formerly known as Otagtepe Park, is situated beside the Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge, along Kavacik, in the Beykoz neighborhood on the Asian side. It is sometimes referred to as faux heaven and offers breathtaking views over Istanbul. With a bird's eye view and the distinctive Bosphorus view, you can see the two bridges and the nicest panorama in the city. No restaurants or cafes.
Mihrabad Grove is a stunning grove with a view of the Bosphorus that spans 25 hectares and is situated in Kanlica, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, not far from the Black Sea. There are many different gardens, along with Judas and bay trees, towering cypresses, parasol pines, and other trees. It is also a favorite location for weekend diners who seek an open-air buffet breakfast and dinner.
Yoros Castle, also known as Genoese Castle, is a Byzantine castle that is 500 meters long and 60 to 130 meters broad. It is situated on the far end of the Bosphorus Asian shore through the Black Sea and was constructed to guard the entry to the Bosphorus. Locals often eat their breakfast and lunch in the Castle cafe on the weekends, which is another well-liked hangout spot. Spectacular views of the Black Sea and Bosphorus are available here.
Belgrad Forest, one of Istanbul's greenest areas, is situated in the northwest of the city in the Sariyer district. Its 55,000 hectares of protected woodland are home to oak, beech, and chestnut trees. Hiking, nature walks, mountain riding, and a fun day out with picnics and grilling are all options. There are several locations for picnics.
Sile is a charming town where you can spend a nice day out with its lovely landscape, beaches, and restaurants. It is situated on the Asian side, by the shores of the Black Sea, around 80 km. (1–1,5 hours' drive) from the city center. Locals swarm to this town in particular during the summer to enjoy the resort-like environment.
The top-notch hotels along the beach and in the woods are where many people stay. The ancient lighthouse from the Ottoman era is another reason for the town's fame. There are several vacation houses, resorts, hotels, and pensions, as well as long, sandy beaches, elegant bars and eateries with views of the ocean, charming harbors with fishing boats, beautiful natural areas with expansive woods, etc.
Kilyos is another lovely coastal town and resort, and it is also situated on the northern shores of Istanbul, by the Black Sea, in the Sariyer district, some 30 kilometers (45 minutes by car) from the city center. The community is well-known for its lovely sandy beaches, seaside cafes and restaurants, summertime entertainment events, music festivals at its top-notch beach clubs, and water sports opportunities.
In the village, there is also a 14th-century Genoese fortress that is worth visiting. Locals travel in droves to this area, especially during the summer, to enjoy a resort-style ambiance, swim, sunbathe, and eat at the well-known fish eateries.
Polonezkoy, formerly known as Adampol, is a charming Polish village that you should see while you're in Istanbul. It's situated in a natural park and protected region on the Asian side, around 25 kilometers (45 minutes by car) from the city. Interesting facts about Polonezkoy's past include the fact that it was founded after Poland was conquered by its neighbors Russia, Austria, and Prussia in 1775. The Polish immigrants came here with the aid of the Ottoman Empire.
This distinctive town developed a reputation for preserving the greenery and surroundings of Istanbul. Weekends see a large influx of locals visiting the hamlet to enjoy its top-notch hotels, pensions, restaurants, gardens, barbecues, village breakfasts, etc.
Istanbul is a city with a rich history and culture, and it is no surprise that it is full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. These hidden gems offer a glimpse into the city's past and provide a unique and authentic experience for visitors.