What to do in autumn in Istanbul
From late September to late December, it is autumn in Istanbul. Life returns to normal, the institutions having been closed during summer re-open their doors. From the end of September the central districts of the city re-fill and the real lively and bustling istanbul’s life reappears. Fall is also the ideal season to visit Istanbul because it is neither too hot nor too cold. In addition a large number of events take place throughout the city.
Here are the activities we advise you not to miss if you come to Istanbul this fall:
Get off the beaten track: apart from the usual tourist activities such as visiting monuments, fall is the perfect season to gad in the city and get lost in the charming little streets of Istanbul.
- Walk around : go in areas not mentioned in conventional guides. The banks of the Bosphorus for example are not very visited by tourists despite being the most charming of the city. The districts of Bebek, Arnavutköy, Yeniköy or Emirgan are worth visiting. For more information you can inspire you from our daily ideas: visit on your own
- Discover the street art through the city : Istanbul is also a rising city in the street art’s world, some neighborhoods are completely covered with graffiti, like Karaköy, a very nice central area full of small cafes, designer workshops and conceptual stores. Also on the heights of the district of Kadikoy in Yeldegirmeni, there is an entire area dedicated to frescoes where international artists were invited by the city to express themselves on the walls of the neighbourhood. Most of the artworks deliver a message, often against the Turkish government. Finally, some artists like JR or TwoOne left their footprints on the walls of our city. Search for it, and if you want some clues contact us by email!
Get some fresh air: Istanbul is also a city bordered by two seas, mountains and forests. The ecosystem is very diverse, and although the city can be suffocating, you are always a 30 minutes away from a good bowl of fresh air.
- Walking through the forest Belgrade’s forest : the Belgrade Forest was once a forest that extended from the European side of Bosphorus to Belgrade. Today, although threatened by uncontrolled urbanization and major projects proposed by the government (third airport in Istanbul, a parallel channel to the Bosphorus, the construction of the third bridge over the Strait …) the North of Istanbul is a heavily wooded area and it is possible to walk in the forest. Jogging, biking or walking, it’s a a very pleasant and revitalizing space. Directions: Located about 15 kilometers northwest of Istanbul, the best way to reach the rest of Belgrade Forest is to rent a car. You can also take a taxi from the terminus of the metro M2 : Haciosman, it will cost 25 lira (8 euros). If you prefer to go by public transport, you can take the bus 42T from Taksim or bus 153 from Sariyer to Bahkecoy and walk from there.
- Istanbul Marathon: it is the only marathon taking place on two continents, itself a little complicated because Istanbul is not a flat city, so there are several climbs. The race is scheduled for Sunday, November 13 at 9 am, if you want to know more you can visit the official website of the marathon: www.istanbulmarathon.org. To practice, nothing better than going for a run on the banks of the Bosphorus, and especially between Sariyer and Emirgan.
- Discover the small village of Anadolu Kavagi on the Bosphorus: Anadolu Kavagi is the northernmost village on the Bosphorus, it can be accessed almost only by boat as it is located in a military zone. Once there you can climb to the top of the hill to the ruins of the Byzantine castle of Yorgos, which offers a fantastic 360 degree panorama of the city and the mouth of the Black Sea where it faces the construction of the third bridge. The village is located in the forest, and there are many charming fish restaurants along the water. We won’t lie to you, it’s a bit touristic, but it’s worth. To get there, the most practical way is to take the tourist boats from Kabatas or Besiktas, they are more or less comfortable boats, and they stop 3:30 in the village which is a bit long, but it’s still the most affordable option (20 liras per person).
- Also note that activities such as quad biking, karting and paintballing are particablent everywhere, for more info contact us.
Discover Istanbul’s gastronomy: the Autumn’s climate is perfect to discover some Turkish dishes more serenely than in the summer heat. Again we advise you to get off the beaten tracks and get out the döner kebab’s cliché !!
- Discover the Ottoman cuisine: since 5-6 years the Turkish chefs revisit the imperial cuisine of the court of the Sultan, here are some good adresses to eat imperial Ottoman food in addition to our restaurants & cuisine section:
- Asitane: specialized in the Palace’s cuisine, the chef of Asitane has prepared its menu based on “the book of feasts” a document dating from 1539. It offers specialties such as chestnut soup, stuffed calamari with shrimps, sea bass biryani and many other tasty dishes. The restaurant is located on the right side of the Chora church, a church dating from the 5th century converted into a mosque and now a museum offering the finest mosaics in Istanbul. www.asitanerestaurant.com
- Matbah: Matbah (printing in Turkish) offers Ottoman delicacies, just behind the Hagia Sophia, the restaurant offers stunning views of the minarets of the old city. The menu is interesting and authentic. Indeed, only old regional ingredients are used there, so you will not find product dating after the conquest of the new world! www.matbahrestaurant.com
- Fall is also the fish season in Istanbul, you can eat fresh fish from the Black Sea or the Marmara Sea as the Lüfer (temnodon jumper), the Palamut (bonito), swordfish (kılıçbalık) of mercan (sea bream), and in November some Uskumru (mackerel) in fresh sandwich (balıkekmek). Do not forget to order some Rakı and enjoy! For some address ideas, visit our page: The best fish restaurants in Istanbul.
- Taste Turkish wine: in recent years the Turks have made a huge effort and now produce very decent wines. Among the best places where you can taste the Turkish wine with local products you can find the Sensus Wine House Galata (www.sensuswine.com) but also Viktor Levi Kadıköy (www.viktorlevimoda.com) of the Incirli Şaraphane Kuruçeşme (www.incirlisaraphane.com), or Corvus Wine & Bite (corvuswineandbite) in Akaretler close to the nice neighborhood of Beşiktaş.
In autumn in Istanbul, there are also some festivals that are worth a look, enjoy the many cultural events in the city !
This fall in Istanbul has much to offer culturally, between the Akbank Jazz Festival, the many exhibitions, shows and festivals (such as the film festival, the coffee festival and many others …) and sporting events you won’t have time to get bored. You can find most of these events in our monthly column on current events in our category: concerts & exhibitions in Istanbul.
Istanbul is also a shopping destination, in addition to all the major international luxury or prêt a porter brands (around the many shopping centers or areas of the city), the local fashion industry is booming!
- Discover the Turkish designers: in the past several years the textile sector in Turkey has made considerable progress, the country went from a simple producer of large foreign retailers to an exporting country. During your stay in Istanbul it is also an opportunity to discover new Turkish designers located in the districts of Nisantasi and Bebek or the Serdar-i Ekrem-street as The Benjamins, Dice Kayek, Arzu Kaprol or Atıl Kutoglu.
- Or the new Turkish industry of prêt a porter : Turks now have their equivalents of H&M, Zara, Mango. You will find in the city the Koton, Vakko, Tween, Sarar or Mavi Jeans stores worth a look. We will soon write an article on fashion in Turkey.
There are still plenty of other things to do during your stay like to smoke a hookah, getting lost in the great museums of the city, visit a local hammam … We invite you to share with us in comments your experiences! Do not hesitate either to contact us if you have questions and want advice for your stay in Istanbul.