What to do on Valentine’s Day

  • Make a reservation for a romantic dinner or enjoy luxurious couple spa at some of the best restaurants and hotels in Istanbul. Check out our recommended restaurants, suite spa and hotel specials.
  • Plan a little getaway to Beykoz for a movie night. Kundura Cinema presents Valentine’s Day Anthology from February 14-17, screening Roman Holiday (1953), An Affair To Remember (1957), and Casablanca (1942).
  • Attend an alternative masquerade at Babylon at 9pm. Organized and designed by Pub Story, The Unknown is a social event where you can open your heart and meet new people under your mask in the dark.

Event highlights of the month

  • Istanbul Modern is screening a series of movies by Turkish filmmaker Yeşim Ustaoğlu from February 14-28.
  • Pera Museum‘s current exhibition, Parajanov with Sarkis and The Time Needs Changing, are open to visitors until March 17. The parallel screening program presents 13 films related to the renewed director Sergey Parajanov; admissions are free .
  • Moroccan artist Soufiane Ababri’s first solo exhibition in Turkey, Memories of a solitary cruisem, is held in The Pill gallery in Balat until February 23.
  • SALT Beyoğlu‘s current exhibition, Prisoners of Correct History by artist and historian Naeem Mohaiemen will open until April 28, questioning the Third World internationalism through Bangladesh’s postcolonial history.
  • Jewish Museum of Turkey will present Yusuf Tolga Ünker’s colored photographs of the Holocaust from January 24 to March 30.
Pera Film: Arabesques on the Pirosmani Theme

For more events, check out some of Istanbul’s main arts and cultural venues:

City life

  • With the Istanbulkart app, you can now manage the transportation card through your smartphone. With a near-field communication (NFC) supported phone, you can transfer money to your Istanbulkart with debit cards, check your balance and transaction history, and find the nearest top-up point on the map. The service is provided in Turkish and English.
  • Plastic disposable bags, which have been handed out generously in supermarkets, groceries, pharmacies, and even farmers’ markets all over the country will be banned from free circulation in Turkey as of January 1, 2019. Shops will be obliged to charge an additional fee for any plastic bag requested by the customer.

Food and drinks

  • The big news for the city’s culinary scene: Pandeli reopened recently. To fully appreciate this iconic restaurant of Istanbul, click here to learn about the historical context before visiting. Egyptian Bazaar, Balık Pazarı Kapısı Sokağı 1/2, Eminönü; T: 0212 527 39 09
  • Grandma has arrived in Suadiye. It is the first location on the Asian side of the Bosphorus for the popular Istanbul bakery and café, which quickly grew from a single location to become a small chain.  Bağdat Caddesi No.396, Suadiye; T: 0216 747 10 40
  • One of the best sushi and Omakase restaurants in town, Inari is now open in Vadistanbul. After a successful couple of years in Kuruçeşme, the second location aims to maintain its trademark high quality food and service. To place an order call T: 0212 299 05 05. Vadistanbul shopping mall, Cendere Caddesi No.4G, Ayazağa
  • Bebek’s new favorite people-watching spot, Sophie, has only been in business for a couple of months, yet the unique setup facing the main street has turned the place into the second (after Lucca, of course) most popular location in the area. Cevdetpaşa Caddesi No.24A, Bebek
  • Arda Türkmen’s Mükellef Ocakbaşı has taken over a new venue in the business district of Levent. The new space is at least three times bigger than what you might have seen in Karaköy, everything else remains unchanged; a delicious menu, excellent service, and an ambience that is ideal for any evening of the week. Lilyum Sokak No.2, Levent; T: o212 252 48 48
  • Click here to see the new restaurant and bar openings.

Arts and culture

Istanbul Fringe Festival
  • Held once a year in many cities of the world, Fringe Festival is coming to Istanbul for the first time on September 18-22, 2019. The first edition of Istanbul Fringe Festival is looking for new and experimental works of theater, dance and performance. The application deadline of the open call is March 31. For more info visit fringeistanbul.com
  • The former shoe factory which is now an arts and culture venue, Beykoz Kundura opens its cinema to the public with regular screenings throughout the year, including masterpieces never previously screened in Turkey. Kundura Cinemas February program presents movies themed on cities, including Roman Holiday, An Affair To Remember, Casablanca, Taxi Driver, and more. Follow @kundurasinema for more information.
  • French curator Nicolas Bourriaud announced the 16th Istanbul Biennial’s title as The Seventh Continent, referring to the huge mass of floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean produced by human activities. The biennial will explore this new geological era and examine the anthropology of an off-centered world. Organized by the Istanbul Foundation of Culture and Arts (İKSV), the event will take place from September 14 to November 19, 2019.
  • Founded by Vehbi Koç Vakfı Foundation in 2010, Arter art space plans to open a new venue in Dolapdere in September 2019, along with the reopening of its current location on İstiklal Caddesi. Designed by British firm Grimshaw Architects, the 18,000 square meter building includes exhibition halls, event areas, a library, a research studio, and a bookstore featuring art and food-related publications.


  • Launched by two New York-based Turkish friends, Cuddoll is a handmade heirloom toy brand and a social responsibility project. Aiming to help craftswomen in Turkey, the project supports their financial independence by fairly compensating their labor. Cuddolls can be purchased online at www.cuddoll.com. Worldwide shipping available.
  • Room+Rumours has left its dual location on Vali Konağı Caddesi to focus entirely on what the owners, Başak Dizer Tatlıtuğ and Deniz Marşan, know best—fashion and design—in a new showroom at Mim Kemal Öke Caddesi No.17 in Nişantaşı. For those missing the restaurant extension, there is a coffee corner that provides a great excuse to take a break and catch up. Browse through the collection online at www.roomandrumours.com.
  • A new address for urban fashion, Vitruta boutique is now open in Tophane. Featuring well-known local and international brands, such as North Fox, Fjallraven, Cheap Monday, and Sandqvist, as well as lifestyle brands Melez and Coffee Department, the place is already on the radar of Istanbul fashionistas. Boğazkesen No. 30, Tophane
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