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A Perfect Day in Istanbul

3 minute read

Emel Kurhan, 33, accessories designer
I’d start the day with freshly squeezed carrot juice and a coffee at Cuppa, tel: (90-212) 249 5723, in Cihangir. Then I’d go to Divan Kurucesme, tel: (90-212) 257 7150, for a swim in the leafy, secluded pool overlooking the Bosphorus. Afterward, I’d grab a scoop of pistachio ice cream at Mini in Bebek, tel: (90-212) 257 1070, an Istanbul tradition and the best ice cream in town.

In the afternoon I might browse the antique and secondhand shops in Cukurcuma and stop by my favorite English-language bookstore, Pandora, tel: (90-212) 230 0962. I like reading in the tranquil gardens of the Archeology Museum, tel: (90-212) 520 7740, where you can enjoy a Turkish coffee amid the sound of ferry horns and friendly cats. For dinner I’d go to Simdi, tel: (90-212) 252 5443, in Asmalimescit, which serves good food in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. Try the grilled kofte.

(See Watch TIME’s video “Turkey’s Unconventional Muslim Minority.”)

Serra Yilmaz, 55, actress
A perfect day in Istanbul begins by looking out onto the Bosphorus. The city’s colors and the way they melt away ugliness never cease to surprise me. I like to wander down Istiklal Street in Beyoglu early in the day, while it’s still empty, toward Tunel, stopping off at Robinson Crusoe, tel: (90-212) 293 6968, for books; Lale Plak, tel: (90-212) 293 7739, for CDs; Umit Unal, tel: (90-212) 245 7886, and BNG, tel: (90-212) 251 9726, for funky, inspired clothes; and Takil, tel: (90-212) 292 1792 for artisanal jewelry.

I adore the food at Ece, tel: (90-212) 245 7628 — the vegetable-in-olive-oil dishes are delicious. From there, you can go down to the Spice Market and then hop onto a ferry to Uskudar to watch the sunset. Come back to the European side for dinner, at the inventive Abracadabra, tel: (90-212) 358 6087, in Arnavutkoy. Chat or dance the night away at any of the cafés in Cihangir or bars in Beyoglu. There’s no sleeping in Istanbul.

Kerimcan Guleryuz, 39, art-gallery owner and curator
I’d wake up early to catch the sunrise from Bebek Park and then go for a fantastic breakfast at Happily Ever After, tel: (90-212) 263 4138, where all the breads are homemade. I’d meet one of my artists for lunch at Vogue, tel: (90- 212) 227 4404, in Besiktas for the great view and fine food. I’d order something authentically Turkish, like veal kulbasti on a bed of smoked aubergine.

From there, I’d head to the historic Misir Apartment block in Beyoglu, home to some of the country’s best contemporary-art galleries. For a light aperitif overlooking Old Istanbul, I’d either go to 360, tel: (90-212) 251 1042, on the rooftop, or to nearby Leb-i Derya, tel: (90-212) 251 1008. For dinner I’d meet my wife at the Dragon, tel: (90-212) 231 6200, an Istanbul classic, for Chinese food, and then go to a jazz concert at the atmospheric open-air theater next door.

— reported by Pelin Turgut

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