When planning your trip to Istanbul , you’ll undoubtedly spend a good chunk of your time visiting the sites in Sultanahmet. For those looking to explore Istanbul a little deeper, crossing the Golden Horn into the Beyoğlu district is an excellent choice, with Galata Tower and Taksim Square as key attractions and Istiklal offering an assortment of dining and nightlight options. The next step in acquainting yourself with the city spread across two continents? Crossing over to the Asian side, with the Kadiköy district being the perfect destination.
If you’re staying on the European side of Istanbul and fancy a day trip to Kadiköy, the fastest and easiest way to get there is taking advantage of the public ferry system that crisscrosses the Bosphorus. It is possible to cross via land transport, but it’s a long way to the Bosphorus Bridge and traffic tends to get congested there, leading to a likely 2-3 hour trip, whereas a ferry can get you there in 20 minutes or less. You can reach Kadiköy from the Yenikapi ferry point on the southern side of the Sultanahmet peninsula, or from Eminönü from the northern side. If you’re across the Golden Horn in Beyoğlu, ferry stations at Karaköy, Kabataş, and Beşiktaş have direct routes to Kadiköy. Fares cost just a few lira and can be paid with the same Istanbulkart that also gives you access to the city’s trams and buses, or purchased individually per trip at the docks.
Kadiköy is a very walkable neighborhood, which is a large part of the appeal. The relaxed vibe of the area invites you to leisurely explore the crisscrossing streets, peruse the fresh fish market, sample delicious Turkish cuisine, and unwind at numerous cafes. Directly off the ferry you can jump on a bus or metro to hit a destination further inland, or head south and start exploring the streets. Moda Cadessi and Bağdat Cadessi serve as two of the main thoroughfares in the area, so look for them to help orient yourself.
What to Do
You’re not here to visit any specific attraction, rather to enjoy a slice of Turkish life away from the tourist crowds in Sultanahmet. Head over to the market and watch the locals as they haggle over fresh fish straight from the Bosphorus and mounds of olives piled sky high. I love hanging out in markets like this, and wish shopping at home offered a similar experience. One day on a longer trip, we’ll definitely make time to pick up dinner here to cook in our room.
There are numerous tea houses and coffee shops in the area, perfect for a relaxing stop to people watch. One we particularly enjoyed was Walter’s Coffee Roastery, themed after the hit TV show Breaking Bad and realized via a Kickstarter campaign. As fans of the show, it was a fun place to stop in for a few minutes to rest up while taking advantage of the free wifi to catch up on what was going on back home.
If you’re getting hungry, you have ample choices for lunch or dinner. Çiya Sofrasi is famed for its authentic Ottoman dishes, and is verifiably delicious. A mezze bar lets you load up a plate with your favorites and pay by weight. Although it’s tempting to fill up on that alone, be careful not to overdo it, or else you’ll miss out on the amazing entrees with enough variety to suit any taste. I opted for kebabs atop grilled aubergine and Iylana chose a black carrot stuffed with lamb. Both were excellent. This is a highly rated restaurant, and during Ramadan reservations are required because it’s so popular with the locals.
If you’re looking to satiate your sweet tooth, head over to Baylan, inventor of the Kup Griye which subsequently proliferated all across Europe. Head all the way to the back for a seat in the intimate courtyard setting. If raki and nargile sound more appealing than something sweet, seek out any of the numerous meyhanes (Turkish taverns) in the area.
Istanbul is a megalopolis with an immense number of corners to explore. If your trip to Istanbul gives you enough time to move outside the standard tourist stops, then a trip across the Bosphorus to Kadiköy is the perfect way to go a little deeper.
Ready to plan your trip to Istanbul? Start here:
Istanbul for Beginners
Itinerary and Price Breakdown: Two Weeks in Turkey