While Istanbul’s hustle and bustle may make the city appear at first glance the opposite of a mindful traveler’s dream destination, there are many accessible quick respites to help one regain balance in no time.
At the top of every Istanbulite’s list of escapes is a ferry ride, with soothing qualities known to work wonders on everyone. There is no greater pleasure than sitting outside on a ferry on a sunny day, watching the seagulls playing in the wind and the city fly by.
Early in the morning, before rush hour begins, a calming and tranquil quiet is found in Istanbul’s streets. If you are an early bird, try a sunrise walk by the Bosphorus, or combine our top two suggestions for mindful moments—a ferry ride and a walk—by taking the morning ferry from Kadıköy to İstınye to enjoy the peaceful side of the city.
Istanbulites have adopted the tradition of drinking tea to the modern city, stirring away their breaks whenever possible. Do not be surprised to see the oddest spaces turned into tea gardens and vendors selling the beverage off portable thermoses. Sit back and enjoy your cup and your quick moment of idleness. Read Tea: a big deal in Turkey.
Traditional meyhanes offer an ideal setting to stop time: long tables accommodate as many friends as you please, plates of shared mezze establish intimacy between diners, and flowing rakı ensures words flow with ease. Read Classic Turkish night: Istanbul’s meyhane culture and where to experience it.
There are many places around town with a story. A workshop you pass by on a daily basis may practice centuries-old traditions of craftsmanship, or an object picked up from a pile of second-hand accessories may have been owned by a sultan (A guide to Istanbul’s antique shopping). Be a curious explorer by taking the time to ask the right questions and, more importantly, listen to the answers.
Sunrises and sunsets
In Istanbul, the sun sets the mood. Picturesque sunrises set the tone for the day, while dramatic sunsets make you reflect upon the moments that passed. Although the residents of world’s largest cities always claim to have the best sun shows, we assure you that none of them compare to the breathtaking views you see from Istanbul’s rooftops and skyscrapers.
Against the view
Climbing the hills of the city may be exhausting, but once you know that a wonderful prize awaits at the top, the tiring incline quickly becomes a mere memory. The hills of Cihangir, Etiler, and Beykoz serve not only as the ultimate backdrops for photos, but first and foremost beautiful spots where one’s mind simply cannot be occupied with anything but the beauty at hand.