Things to do Turkey > Istanbul - Marmara Region > Istanbul

What To Eat In Istanbul: 5 Iconic Eats

Samantha
Published Sep 13, 2018

Istanbul is a city of foodies and has been for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In fact, the deeply rooted desire to replicate recipes exactly the same way is part of what has preserved this legendary food culture. Whether you are vegetarian, pescatarian, or flexitarian, Istanbul offers up something for every palate. Here are a few classic eats that cannot be missed.

Turkish breakfast: kahvalti

Kahvalti

Breakfast in Turkey is like no other. Not just a quick eat-and-run, this meal sets the pace for the day and is all encompassing of every taste from salty to sweet. Traditional kahvalti starts with black tea served in small, tulip-shaped tea cups with one’s liking as to how much sugar. Then, sliced fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, white cheese, olives, white bread, halva (tahini fudge), thick cream, butter, jam, and eggs (boiled or an omelet) take center stage. It’s a meal worth remembering—and replicating—every single morning.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Istanbul and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Istanbul

Kunefe and baklava

Dessert, much like breakfast, is a staple that should never be missed. Kunefe, a traditional pastry made with cheese layered between vermicelli-like noodles, is soaked in honey and topped with crushed pistachios. It’s quite the experience, although I personally prefer good old baklava, which is buttery layers of phyllo dough with crushed walnuts or pistachios in between, oozing with honey. One of the most famous places in Istanbul to find baklava is at Karaköy Güllüoğlu, where they have been making baklava for over a hundred years!

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Istanbul and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Istanbul

Simit (bagel ring with sesame seeds)

Another snack or breakfast item not to be missed while in Istanbul is the classic simit, a bagel-like bread covered in sesame seeds. One of the best things about these little simits are their marketing; men and boys hock these each morning by walking around with a plateful balanced on their head. Simits can be eaten plain, or sliced open with Nutella or cheese on the inside. You cannot miss eating a simit at least once, but at about 1 TRY (less than 0.25 USD), why not spring for it every day?

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Istanbul and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Istanbul

Dondurma (stretchy Turkish ice cream)

This ice cream is known for its ability to stretch, yes, literally stretch, due to the mastic resin and salep (orchid flour) used. This ice cream is not only amazing, but delicious and can be found around every street corner in Istanbul. Often, the ice cream vendors serve the ice cream from a long utensil, as pictured above. The performance adds to the culinary experience! Be prepared for a different, more chewy texture when you dig into this unique dessert.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Istanbul and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Istanbul

Turkish coffee and tea

Turkish coffee and tea are symbols of the culture. Though tea is drank here with greater regularity (at breakfast, at break, after lunch, in the afternoon… you get the picture), Turkish coffee is served with more formality. Turkish coffee is black with the amount of sugar one likes (although this is done during the preparation not after served), and is generally accompanied by a small glass of water and something sweet. Coffee is served during important conversation and formal meetings, or during celebratory times. Reading the bottom of the coffee cup for one’s fortune is also a fun pastime to partake in while in Istanbul.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Istanbul and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Istanbul

Ayfit olsen!

It’s clear that Istanbul knows how to eat. This short list is far from exhaustive. Expect consistent, fresh flavors wherever you go in Turkey. Ayfit olsen, may what you eat bring health!

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

1
Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

Raised in the woods of Northern Wisconsin, adventure pulses through Samantha's veins. Her most notable trips have been a tandem bicycle ride 1,000 miles to New Orleans, surviving malaria in Kenya,...Read more

Top 3 activities to book in Istanbul

Have a question? Ask fellow travellers and travel experts here.
Good things are meant to be shared!