Tips for experiencing Istanbul like a local

Blueground’s new brand ambassador Abigail Akinyemi shares some of the best things to see and do in Istanbul.

Kevin Crain

By Kevin Crain

exploring istanbul

One of the world’s most magical cities in the world, Istanbul is wonderful any time of year. Besides its attractive bazaars, monuments, and the Golden Horn, you’ll discover a dynamic city with loads of dining options, top-notch shopping, and so much more.

After Blueground’s new brand ambassador Abigail Akinyemi spent an entire month in Turkey’s most populated city, she shared some of her favorite Istanbul spots with us. Keep reading to discover advice on where to go and what to do! 

What to see and do in Istanbul

Not sure what the best ways are to get around Istanbul? Abigail shared a couple of insights into the city’s public transportation. “Try the ferry when going to the Asian side, the Istanbul pass covers it as well as the train and bus.”

If you’re planning a day trip or a quick afternoon out, she suggested that you “Go on a weekend to explore the Kadikoy market and its vintage shops.” Or you could stop by what Abigail calls the most Instagrammable spot in the city — the Balat neighborhood — and its gorgeous, vibrant buildings. 

Itching to go somewhere further afield? One of Abigail’s favorite places, where she was able to enjoy the outdoors and explore nature, was during her weekend trip to Bodrum. She especially loved the beaches there! 

Of course, if you want some fresh air while staying in the city, you can always check out Istanbul’s Yıldız Park. This tranquil 25-acre (just over 100,000 square-meter) green space overlooks the Bosphorus. It’s the ideal spot for a picnic lunch and casual stroll amongst various flowers, plants, and trees from around the world.

The best eats & drinks

Since her Blueground apartment came with a fully equipped kitchen, like each of our homes do, she needed to pick up groceries before cooking. Her go-to supermarket in Istanbul? “You can’t go wrong with Migros. They’re everywhere and convenient.” Abigail said. 

In addition to sampling classic street foods like kebab and Turkish delight, Abigail enjoyed exploring restaurants in the city as well. For Turkish cuisine, her top spot was Tatbak. And if you’re in the mood for Italian, visit Napoli Gourmet Nisantasi. “Get the crème brûlée,” she suggested.  

There are also plenty of cafes in Istanbul where remote workers can be productive. “I enjoyed Kahvely, by my apartment,” Abigail said. For those who need a snack while working (or have a sweet tooth), she recommended the lotus cheesecake. Ready for a night out after a long day? Abigail’s favorite bar was Remi, where they serve up signature cocktails and play great music. 

Insider tips for travelers

Abigail shared two more pieces of advice for those staying in Istanbul. First, download Google Translate offline, so you can easily translate text no matter where you are. Second, remember that there’s a strong smoking culture in this Turkish city. That’s something you’ll need to keep in mind when planning indoor or outdoor activities. 

Follow Abigail on Instagram to see get a firsthand look at her adventures as she continues her six-month trip around the world with Blueground.

Kevin Crain

Kevin Crain

Kevin Crain is a writer from Dallas, Texas. He’s dedicated to helping every Blueground guest live like a local and make their apartment feel like home. His favorite topics include active experiences, bucket list essentials, and hidden gems in cities around the world.