We had guests from Sweden last weekend. It was our last weekend for guests, November – Feb/March not being popular months for visitors. Despite the dismal forecast, the weather turned out to be lovely.
(Such is not the case now, so the gloomy weather did transpire, just later than expected. However, while Istanbul is not always sun and light, it is, whether in rain, snow or grey, always lovely.)
We didn’t join them in their tourist activities, which works for guests and hosts (who have seen the sights many, many times) since Istanbul is an easy and friendly place for newcomers to navigate.
We did, however, join them on all evening eating events (different from tourist sites, one can never get enough good food), including one in old town I wanted to mention for the record for any would-be visitors to Istanbul.
The restaurant is Hamdi, and it’s a famous kebab restaurant. You will likely read about it if you do plan a trip to Istanbul, but I wanted to give a shout out here. This is a good place to eat, especially when the weather is not great.
(And, it’s not always easy to know where to eat in tourist-oriented old town.)
The more casual eatery is on the ground floor – including an array of baked Turkish goodies spread out under a large glass counter. The restaurant is only slightly more formal (but I use that term very loosely, so feel free to wear jeans) and a kind of cozy, warm atmosphere. Both floors bustle with activity. The service is great, the waiters almost as plentiful as the guests. This is a great place to get, you guessed it, kebab (all different types so go crazy), a great selection of meze, and a good view of the harbour.
If the weather is beautiful and you want a balik (fish) restaurant, I would recommend as an alternative the Seven Hills Hotel’s rooftop restaurant. Great fish (although they also have non-fish items if not all in your party are fans of fins) and an absolutely stunning view of the water AND Hagia Sophia AND the Blue Mosque.
Or, go to lunch at Hamdi AND dinner at Seven Hills, or vice versa, and you have the best of both tasty worlds!