What to do this weekend in Istanbul

What to do this weekend in Istanbul

Caner Kocamaz
May 18, 2017

May 18–21

A much-needed long weekend is coming up Istanbulites. May 19 is a public holiday in Turkey: the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day. Whether you are thinking of traveling or staying in the city, give our weekend guide a read for recommendations.

The European basketball EuroLeague finals are in Istanbul for the second time after five years. We asked three non-Turkish players on Istanbul-based teams about their Istanbul experiences to create a guide for EuroLeague fans who are first-timers to the city. Don’t forget to check out the EuroLeague FanZone events in the events section.

Running May 18–21, Cappadox is a good reason to travel to the fairyland of Cappadocia for music, arts, and nature aficionados. Check out the festival highlights, how to get to Cappadocia, and where to stay while there. Don't forget to check out The Guide Shop's Cappadox collection for items that will make you shine at the festival. If you are planning to stay in this magical land after Cappadox, take a look at our extensive travel guide.

Our May/June issue is out. Grab your copy from D&R, Remzi Kitabevi, and Macro Center branches around the city to get insight into what happening in the following two months. Too lazy to go out? Get a hard copy delivered to your door via The Guide Shop. If you would prefer to read it on your smart devices, here’s the digital edition of the magazine. You can also read the magazine on your mobile devices via Turkcell Dergilik (AppStore, Play Store.)

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get articles on the city, new openings, discounts, upcoming events and ticket sales all packed in one email, sent on Wednesdays. 

Summer is coming! Pre-order The Guide Bodrum to get the magazine before anyone else with a discounted price.

Where to have breakfast and brunch

Where to have breakfast in Istanbul

Arnavutköy’s stellar restaurant Hudson’s talented chef Kaan Karagöz’s cooking and the eatery’s casual-chic atmosphere make its Sunday brunch a gem. Don’t forget to check out Hudson’s new venture, Martinez, as well.

In the up-and-coming neighborhood of Reşitpaşa, Mikla-alumni Fatma Yıldırım’s restaurant Mittag is a good option for a blend of Turkish classics and international cuisines.

Woke up at 3pm and looking for a breakfast spot? Head to Pattis. Most ingredients the restaurant uses come from co-owner Tuğçe Arslan’s parents’ farm in Thrace in northwestern Turkey. Everything is prepared daily, and the breakfasts glow with natural, fresh ingredients.

If you want to light up your Sunday brunch with a live jazz performance, head to Tamirane. Ideal for families or large groups, the restaurant offers an international menu with Turkish specialities. 

Enjoy gorgeous Aegean produce, freshly-made breads and homemade preserves at Çeşme Bazlama Kahvaltı in Nişantaşı, now serving Thursday to Sunday. Previously only open on the weekends, you can avoid the big crowds by having a sneaky, leisurely weekend breakfast lead-up. Osman Fahir Seden Sokak, No 8/B, Nişantaşı; T: 0532 556 0135

Located on the terrace of a historic Bebek building, Mangerie’s Bosphorus view is so stunning that it can alone satisfy your hunger. However, Mangerie’s great choice of Turkish and western breakfast options is the reason the restaurant is the hotspot of the neighborhood.

Why wait until Sunday for brunch? Four Seasons Istanbul Sultanahmet’s Saturday brunch is our favorite place to dine on gözleme and to choose dainties the lavish open buffet. 

Doesn’t fit the bill? Here’s a roundup of best hotel brunches in the city.

Where to eat and drink

Where to eat and drink in Istanbul

Istanbul is home to terrific restaurants run by marvelous chefs. Here is our best chefs in Istanbul list, if you are looking for a true foodie experience in the city.

The guys behind bars are working wonders when it comes to crafting exceptional cocktails to get you through the night. Check out our list of best mixologists in Istanbul for lighting up weekend nights.

Looking for a historic spot to experience a Turkish meyhane? Here are our favorites.

With mouthwatering dishes, craft cocktails, and a respectable wine menu, Avlu Yeniköy seems to have the formula for a successful restaurant. If you want to be the trendsetter among your friends, kickstart the weekend nights in Yeniköy.

A new opening, Martinez Istanbul is determined to be the talk of the town with its delicious menu and stimulating cocktails. Take a look at our review to find out what you should try from the menu and the bar this weekend. 

The newly hip neighborhood of Reşitpaşa is still evolving, and Mittag is one of the coolest restaurants to emerge so far. In the kitchen, chef Fatma Yıldırım is making wonders with an MSA education and Mikla experience under her belt.

For a light lunch or dinner, all in a single bowl, head to Kase No. 16 this weekend. Select from 12 varieties and match them up with a cup of tea from Melez Tea. 

It was a love at first sight at the Long Bar for us and we are sure you’ll love the craft cocktails each with its own story on the menu. In addition to the talented bar crew, Jazz nights on Fridays and DJ performances on Saturdays are the reasons we keep going back there. 

Melding food you might find at a sports bar with an elevated cocktail concept, Socrates Bistro brings together two worlds and gives them both heft. Start the evening sipping cocktails like a powerful Aqua Vitae, a mingling of infused whiskey, elderflower, and barrel-aged bitters, or a pretty Meine, made of prosecco, aperol and pink fruits. Fuel the night with a delicious artichoke and spinach gratin (served with tortilla chips) and homemade currywurst with slim, crispy fries. Plan on reserving a table or you’ll feel the squeeze. Open daily, 10am-midnight. Fırın Sokak 6, Teşvikiye; T: (0212) 900 26 33

Events this weekend

Aside from the games this weekend, Euroleague FanZone is hosting a range of fun activities with DJ performances, a concert by Turkish rock band Manga, meet and greets with players, autograph sessions with previous Euroleague legends, and three-on-three tournaments. FanZone at Marmara Forum is open from 10am–10pm every day May 19–21. Check out the full schedule.

Los Angeles-based R&B duo Rhye is coming to perform at Babylon Bomonti.

US-based Kronos Quartet is coming to perform at Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall.

Paris-based Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan is performing at Babylon Bomonti.

Zorlu PSM will be screening EuroLeague games on May 19: 6:30pm for CSKA Moscow vs. Olympiacos, 9:30pm for Fenerbahçe vs. Real Madrid; May 21: 6pm for the game for the third place and the championship game at 9pm. After the second game on Friday night there will be a party with music from the ‘70s, to the ‘90s.

Istanbul's premier hotel and recreation center Kemer Country Club is hosting a Holistic Wellness Festival, under the guidance of modern guru from India Mickey Mehta. On May 20 from 10am–6pm, Mehta will introduce his concepts and practice to participants, marking a fresh wave of health.

The epic film adaption of J.R.R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings is coming to Zorlu PSM with a screening of The Two Towers and a live performance of Howard Shore's Academy Award-winning score by a symphony orchestra.

Hey! Douglas, a project started by the talented Turkish hip-hop artist Veyasin, reinterprets Turkish music through unique mixes and blends. He will be performing at Babylon Bomonti. 

Discovering the city… 

Discover Istanbul

Whether you’ve been living here for a while or you’re just a holidaymaker visiting for the weekend, here are some suggestions to get started on your Istanbul trip.

The Bosphorus looks amazing under early spring sunshine, get a table at one of these restaurants

A city this culturally-rich has loads of museums. If you don’t know where to start, check out this top 7 museums in Istanbul list to shape an idea.

Examine the Ottoman blanket over the city, and you’ll find Byzantine remnants everywhere. Here are 7 landmarks along the former main street of Constantinople.

Learn more about the Hagia Sophia with this detailed piece and discover its detailed beauty.

If you are in the mood for art…

Exhibitions in Istanbul

A range of Fernando Botero's sculptures, paintings, and drawings is now on display in Istanbul for the first time, brought from a private collection in Switzerland. Called Everyday's Poetry – Scenes from the Fullness of Life continues at Anna Laudel Contemporary until June 25.

No LaB’s new exhibition, Made in Türkiye, brings together local and foreign artists to highlight the distinctive features of life on Istanbul’s streets.

Artist Refik Anadol has turned artificial intelligence tools to the archives at SALT Galata in his installation Archive Dreaming, running until June 11.

The Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations' new exhibition The Characters of Yusuf Franko: an Ottoman Bureaucrat's Caricatures brings together colorful and comical portraits of Ottoman politics in the late 19th century, as seen through the eyes of diplomat Yusuf Franko. From Italian ambassadors to Ottoman pashas and French singers, Franko depicted the icons of his Istanbul world. Through his pictures we learn about an empire that had complicated relations with Europe while maintaining its Middle Eastern identity. See the exhibition until June 1. 

Artist Feyhaman Duran, now the subject of a large exhibition at the Sabancı Museum, is one of Turkey’s talented curiosities. Born in the Ottoman Empire, made in the Turkish Republic, master of Arabic calligraphy and Western painting, trained in Istanbul and Paris – Duran’s life combines many opposing aspects of Turkish culture. The exhibition Feyhaman Duran: Between Two Worlds continues at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum until July 30. Learn more about the artist’s life and the exhibition here.

One of the most influential photographers of the 21st century, Roger Ballen’s Retrospective is available for your eyes to see at Istanbul Modern.

Where to shop

Best shopping in Istanbul

Seasons & Stories

That crucial piece to elevate your style is waiting for you at Seasons & Stories. The has surprises such as YSL accessories with Laurent’s own handwriting on them, a Chanel backpack from the ‘90s, and chains that match with almost anything. Seasons & Stories is located on a quiet side street just off Nispetiye Caddesi—feel free to ring the bell and drop by.

Adidas Originals

Adidas Originals opened its first originals concept store in Istanbul in March, based on an aesthetic of street culture. The store is hosting events similar to Adidas’ pop-up store in Karaköy last year. Teşvikiye Caddesi No. 17, Nişantaşı.

Gizia Gate

This 1,500 square meter multi-brand store showcases 28 young Turkish designers, many of whom are making their first debut into a dedicated retail space. Whether you’re searching for accessories or a full outfit, you’re sure to find something unique here. Plus, Tuvanam's fashion week show will be available after March 24 at Gizia Gate! Abdi İpekçi Caddesi No.19/1, Nişantaşı. T: (0212) 234 63 74/75 or shop online www.gizia.com.


Swedish brand COS’ new location on Bağdat Caddesi is the biggest one in Turkey with 650 square meters of space. The brand offers timeless designs, clean silhouettes, and innovative techniques with functional details for the modern souls. Designs are inspired by art, architecture and technology rather than fashion trends. Bağdat Caddesi, No:468/1A, Kadıköy, (0216) 416 57 85 There are COS stores at Zorlu Center and İstinyePark shopping malls as well.


This is the store for the practical urban fashionista, seeking accessories that look good and will stand the test of time. Think water-repelling Kanken backpacks, impossibly chic Komono sunglasses, Stance socks and more. Serdar-ı Ekrem Sokak No. 9, Galata. T: (0212) 270 65 16


A purveyor of simple, modern basics for men, this shop stocks button-down shirts, sweaters, pants, and shoes, plus matching lifestyle accessories. With local brands ranging from Tox Atelier, Müz and Nyks to Happily Ever Paper, Niyo by Niyazi Erdoğan to Shoefill, Bey is not only a destination for shoppers seeking comfortable, affordable basics, but also a hub for emerging Turkish lifestyle and fashion labels that cater to the modern gentlemen of this bustling city. Kemankeş Karamustafapaşa Mahallesi, Mumhane Caddesi No.54/1 Karaköy; T: (0532) 700 59 55

Room + Rumours

The Istanbul fashion Mecca’s new location for the trend-savvy is not only for shopping, it is also an “it” crowd hang out. The showroom features fashion collections and accessories by well-known and up-and-coming creatives, along with home decor pieces, books and artworks. Perfect for finding that one-of-a-kind gift. Valikonağı Caddesi No.6/A, Nişantaşı. T: (0212) 259 88 90

Where to travel for a weekend getaway


If you are in the mood for to travel this weekend, we have a bunch of suggestions.

Planning a wedding? Tie the knot in Bodrum this summer. 

Tea harvesting season is coming up and Turkey’s Black Sea region boasts verdant tea fields, mesmerizing landscapes and authentic food, and Çamlıhemşin is one of its hidden treasures. 

Discover the old Ottoman capital of Bursa’s unique nature and good food — just a couple of hours from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul.

Discover the Thrace region with all the vineyards and greenery and local delicacies. Get to know the grapes of Thrace before you go and make sure to print out this itinerary before you hit the road.

Interested in Mimar Sinan’s work and up for a road trip to a former Ottoman Empire capital? Edirne awaits.

Before you discover another side of Cappadocia with our latest issue, get all the details that a few people know about this magical land.