Istanbul Winter Holidays – Local Food and Experience

During our 2 days and 10 hours stopover, we get to try their local food and experiences such as Hamami (Turkish Bath). For those who are heading to Istanbul, this blog entry may be useful to you. πŸ™‚

We did some research and found this rooftop restaurant that offers a splendid view of both Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. Their buffet spread is also incredible!

Seven Hills Restaurant

We saw an influencer there with her friends and they took photos for 1.5 hours! Salute them for their professionalism and it’s not easy doing in the cold. I have no idea what happened to the food though. Well, I can only say I’m no influencer and not at her level of professionalism haha!

We tried roadside stall selling gozleme, a tradition savour Turkish flatbread. We ordered potatoes filling and it’s such a comfort food to eat that in the cold!

Four Seasons Hotel

We then headed to Four Seasons Hotel for afternoon tea while discussing some details with our photographer team. It’s located at Sultanahmet area and I like how everywhere is so accessible within the same area. Some couples actually do take their wedding shoot here due to its pretty garden so you may want to consider this location if you are planning one too.

Erhan Restaurant Cafe and Terrace

For dinner, we were recommended by our hotel concierge (Arcadia Blue Hotel) to eat a local eatery nearby. The restaurant waiter actually came over and walked us there – Erhan Restaurant Cafe and Terrace. For a change, we had tzatziki instead of hummus! They gave complimentary Turkish tea at the end of the dinner. Good food, good service.

Our Photographer Friend Senay took us to a local eatery and we tried sandwich and yogurt drink Aryan for dinner. I noticed a lot of the locals drink Aryan with their meals.

Thereafter, we went for desserts and she recommended us to try this winter drink named Sahlep. Omg this is totally my drink! Well I would say this is an acquired taste. Either you love it or hate it. I’m the former while he’s the latter! Haha

This comforting hot milky drink is popular among the Turkish during winter, as it keeps them warm and cozy.

Galata Tower

Before that, we took their public transport (train) to Galata Tower for coffee. Their train stations are modern and clean, easy to navigate.

Galata Tower area is a hipster place with quaint cafes around and throngs of tourists taking the IG shot with the tower. I would love to explore the cafe options but due to time constraint, we settled for a quiet cafe for discussion with Senay.

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the oldest and largest one. It felt like a maze as we manoeuvred our way around.

Sultanahmet Area

During our 10-hour stopover, we took a cab to Sultanahmet area to catch the last sunset and also to hunt for hamami.

It was getting cold after the sun has set, and we bought their famous street food – Simit (Turkish Pretzel).

Hamami (Turkish Bath)

I would highly recommend to try Hamami if you have time in Istanbul. And to book them in advance! We didn’t make any reservations and went to search for available ones. We went to Cagaloglu Hamam but was full. Thereafter, we headed to Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam, it was full as well. So we googled the last option nearby, which was Cemberlitas Hamami. Thank goodness walk-ins were possible!!!

We opted the last option with massage and it was soooooooo good. As it was my first time there, I was so intimidated. After some guidance, I was led to the changing room. You don’t need to bring any bikini or anything but if you want, it should be fine. You will be provided with an underwear. Expect some nudity when you enter the marble slab room where everyone lies down to be scrub and bathe. Note, guys and girls have different section if you are freaking out by now haha.

You get to lay down on the marble slab to let the heat warm you up. Then the scrub began and all your dead skin cells will be scrubbed off clean. I love the bubble bath as it made me so refreshed and relaxed; so prepared for my Long flight home. If you have a Long stopover and want a good bath, Hamami is the way to go!

They didn’t ask for any tips but only need to pay a nominal fee for the Turkish tea I had after the entire experience. FiancΓ© and I slept like a baby for 8 hours, on our 12-hour flight home.

The Han Restaurant

We walked past the entire stretch of Ottoman Empire style traditional restaurant. Thus, we shortlisted this area for dinner after our Turkish bath. We sat on a Turkish couch to feel like true sultans haha. Some food items were overpriced but it was still awesome. Last meal of Istanbul and we were ready to savour the last taste of Turkish food.

So that sums up our adventures in Istanbul! We wished we had more time and I can’t wait to be back soon. πŸ™‚