To experience the daily life of Istanbul locals, hop on a ferry and head to Kadıköy on the Asian side. Here are the top 10 reasons why you will fall in love with this lively, lovely neighborhood.
For tourists visiting Istanbul, the term “Asian side” often stands for an exciting mystery that they expect to unfold before their eyes the moment they hop on one of connecting ferries. Locals, on the other hand, know very well that Kadıköy is not some exotic land. On the contrary, it is probably one of the most ‘westernized’ neighborhoods of the city that is known for its laidback lifestyle, fascinating history, as well as little quirks that make it one of the most sought after residential areas of Istanbul.
Kadıköy’s history dates back to the seventh century BCE, when ancient Phoenicians settled in the area, back then referred to as Khalkedon, taking up their residence around today’s Moda, and choosing Fikirtepe as their commercial center. Writing in the first century BCE, geographer and historian Strabo describes locals who would feed little crocodiles living in the nearby stream—a detail which is acknowledged by the small crocodile statue in the center of Kadıköy Çarşı.
Having served as a recreational area for centuries, it wasn’t until the eighteenth century that Khalkedon welcomed the first large wave of settlers. With Armenians and Greeks came the building of churches in the center, as well as the emergence of Moda’s chic and colorful architecture. German engineers, who were brought in to build the Haydarpaşa train station, founded and populated the area of Yeldeğirmeni. Wealthy citizens and politicians settled along the coast. Descendants of all those communities represent the diverse population in Kadıköy today.
Being such a vast and varied area, modern Kadıköy is a mixture of unique experiences that we would like to present over the following pages in order to meet people, visit places, and live the moments, just like the locals do. This unique perspective is the key to falling in love with the area. Are you ready for Kadıköy to steal your heart?
1. Easy like Sunday morning
Breakfast in Moda is a weekend institution. Besides locals, who flock to nearby cafés and bakeries every Saturday and Sunday morning, there are also random visitors who prefer to start their day there. There are plenty of options available for everyone, and if you aren’t lucky enough to get a table, grab breakfast to go and enjoy it at the waterfront park. Our favorite breakfasts in Moda are:
- Naan Bakeshop – Moda Caddesi 113/B; @naanbakeshop
- Dün – Lütfü Bey Sokak No.42/6; @dun_moda
- 180º Coffee Bakery –Dr. Esat Işık Caddesi No.36/A; @180coffeebakery
- Yer – Ferit Tek Sokağı No.25/A; @yer_moda
- Naga Putrika – Moda Caddesi No 161/A; @naga_putrika
2. Coffee break
Moda’s laidback lifestyle is reflected in the opening hours of the local coffee joints. There are a few early birds here, and they tend to refuel at Çekirdek—not only one of the first new wave coffee shops in Moda, but also the only one that opens its doors before 7am. Quality coffee, delicious desserts, and Instagram-ready interiors can be also found at:
- Rafine Espresso Bar – Sarraf Ali Sokak No.15; @rafineespressobar
- Coffee Manifesto – Moda Caddesi No.22B; Duatepe Sokak No.15; @askstupidquestions
- Story Coffee – Dalga Sk. No.2; Halitağa Caddesi No.61; @storycoffeeroasters
- Montag Coffee Roasters – Muvakkıthane Caddesi No.16; @mantagcoffee
3. Local flavors
Eating and food shopping in Kadıköy Çarşı is an experience on its own terms, with many local gems that cannot be found anywhere else in Istanbul. Click on the link to see the must eats in the neighborhood.
4. The neighborhood’s pets
It’s public knowledge that Istanbul has a soft spot for stray cats and dogs, but in Kadıköy that weakness seems to reach a whole new level with statues dedicated to pet characters of the area. After becoming a media sensation, Tombili the cat from Ziverbey was permanently placed in the spot he loved so much. Tommy the dog used to give the locals the best example of love without borders, having always surrounding himself with cats, and that’s exactly how he’s remembered in Fenerbahçe. Tarçın the dog, Moda’s mascot, rests in his favorite place in front of a real estate agent’s office, where he spent most of his 18 years long life.
5. Everyday art
The cultural life of the area is a source of pride for Kadıköy locals. From historically significant places such as Süreyya Opera House, to the famous residence of the Turkish rock legend Barış Manço, the entire area embraces the broadest definition of culture, and is dotted with alternative galleries, live music venues, and theaters—including private ones, such as actor Şevket Çoruh’s Baba Sahne. The area is also known as a creative hub for the alternative music scene, with places like Bina and arkaoda supporting niche projects. Rasimpaşa and Osmanğa districts host Kadıköy Mural Festival, which provides an excellent opportunity for local and international artists to present their work in the largest format imaginable. One dares to think that the spirit of Kadıköy’s first mayor, the famous painter Osman Hamdi, lives on through the artistic initiatives in the area.
6. Summer vibes
In the late Ottoman era, Kadıköy’s shores became a popular summertime base for government officials, and wealthy Levantine merchants who built some of the finest examples of wooden architecture in Göztepe and Erenköy. The foundation of the Turkish Republic led to a more modern approach to leisure, with hundreds of locals flocking to the beaches during the summer, and spending their summer nights in waterfront restaurants to enjoy music and dancing until dawn.
7. Where the grass is greener
Given the lack of green areas in the city, Kadıköy residents appreciate their coastline. The most popular waterfront hangouts—in Moda and Caddebostan—attract hundreds if not thousands of people on a daily basis. One can observe families strolling around, runners and cyclists on designated recreational paths, fearless swimmers, and in the evening—a whole variety of young locals simply savoring the moment when the sun goes down.
8. Yellow and navy
The famous slogan chanted at football matches of the local , Fenerbahçe, “Burası Kadıköy, buradan çıkış yok! (This is Kadıköy: there is no way out!) pretty much sums up the unbreakable bond between the area and its much supported club. When there is a football match in Kadıköy, everything from traffic to local shops supply gets affected by it, painting all corners in yellow and navy.
9. Children of Atatürk
Each year tens of thousands of Kadıköy locals meet in Suadiye and march on Bağdat Caddesi to celebrate the Republic Day. Although it is not the only commemoration of the date taking place in Istanbul, Kadıköy’s October 29 march is a long-standing tradition, an emotional experience, and is often considered a patriotic duty among residents of the area.
10. End of the day
Istanbul sunsets are famous, but the truly spectacular ones are only seen from a few places around Istanbul. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch one from a ferry against the beautiful Istanbul skyline. Otherwise, try waterfront locations in Moda or Kalamış Marina. The view will make you forget that you are in one of the most crowded cities in the world. It is almost therapeutic.
How to get there
By ferry – A ferry ride is the quickest and probably the most enjoyable way of crossing the continents. Istanbul ferries depart to Kadıköy from Beşiktaş (opposite the Shangri-La hotel), Karaköy, and Eminönü, and their schedules are available online. Smaller motorboats are often designated for less popular routes, as well as on those operated by private companies such as Dentur or Mavi Marmara. Travel times and ticket prices remain within the same range, no matter which operator you decide to go for.
By taxi – A taxi ride between continents includes the bridge toll fee, which will be added on top of the ride fee shown by the taxi meter. The prices are decided by the General Directorate of Highways and can be found online at www.kgm.gov.tr.
By metrobüs – If you’re looking to see the view over the Bosphorus from the connecting bridge, buses and the metrobüs are inexpensive alternatives to a taxi. Keep in mind that the latter gets extremely crowded during peak hours (8–9am and 6–8pm).
Getting around: dolmuş for beginners
The dolmuş, or shared taxi, is the most popular way of exploring the areas between Kadıköy and Bostancı along the coastline and Bağdat Caddesi. If you’re new to this local prototype of Uber Pool, here are a few tips that will help you easily navigate through the entire network.
- Although you can hop on and off of a dolmuş pretty much anywhere along its route, there are also initial stops at the beginning and end of the route where it’s customary to wait until the car fills up with passengers.
- The fee depends on your destination. As this issue went to print, the price per person between Kadıköy and Bostancı was 3.75 TL.
- If you sit in the middle row of the van, you’ll be required to help the passengers from the back seat pass the cash to the driver, and any change the driver might be passing back.
- If you don’t know Turkish very well, the easiest way to ask the driver to stop is by saying “Müsait bir yerde,” which means “at a convenient spot.