Someone quoted recently that when it comes to Valentine’s Day, romance and Paris; “it is not a brain teaser” to assess the relevance. The same happens to apply for Istanbul as well.
Imagine yourself sitting on a dock, in your loved one’s arms and wrapped into a thick polo scarf or blanket, sipping a glass of champagne or wine. Between the dock and the water there are not boundaries, you could bend over and touch the water. The sun is about to set, and the color of the sky is changing very slowly from blue to pinkish purple. Then, a tiny fisherman’s boat starts to move slowly across, pulling behind a dog’s hut! Funny as it may sound, these types of extraordinary things may happen in Istanbul; and if you are lucky you will see one as it happens. Even if not, you will still have that blanket, that glass and the beautiful Bosphorus…
Some of you may not be easily moved by this magnificent view… You may rather get cozy in a multi-cultural hub such as Beyoglu with a mosque and a church not too far away from one another. You may rather sink in a comfy sofa and face the fire in the chimney, maybe smoke a pipe or listen to live music. That too is available in the city of Istanbul.
You could also climb up a terrace and conqueer the city from above whilst drinking a cool Daiquiri or a spicy Bloody Mary.
So, I hope these made you fancy a Valentine’s Day in Istanbul. And, if I was right, check out our recommendations for different types of romance below.
Romance and elegance that comes at a price… Restaurant picks below should satiate your appetite for lux, for romance and for taste.
Mimolett – a nice mismatch of modern and nostalgic, set in an ambiance that is relatively upcoming when compared to other picks below. Terrace view available, but in winters you will have to be seated inside. Large tables, good service, running up for Michelin stars…
Sunset – sometimes a little bit slacky service, but the extraordinary view offsets this minor drawback. Be sure to get some aperitifs as well.
Topaz – Ottoman delight against a beautiful and vast view of Bosphorus.
A place that gushes romantic vibes. Could be a tucked-away tiny bistro off the grid? A candle-lit back-alley establishment like on the Cezayir Street? A table in a friendly Italian restaurant with or without a view… Might be a little expensive, but could also be quite affordable… The following restaurants are simply just charming.
La Brise – French Bistro as you turn into the popular Asmalimescit. Popular too, but not overwhelming with a lousy or noisy crowd. Might end up paying 100 Try per person for starter – main course – glass of wine.
Da Vittorio – charming Italian… Also around Asmalimescit / Şişhane… Not cheap… But, Vittorio’s smile and food will make you forget about the price.
Aşşk – there is nothing like “Aşk” (love) in the winter and at Aşşk. You might be all alone, just you and your loved one or surrounded by a few other loyal cientele. Aşşk takes it all by its location right over the Sea in Kuruçeşme… Food is good, but nothing extraordinary. You might even go for a simple cheese plate and wine. This is your typical loved one, warm blanket, nice view place.
Spend a little money to get a lot of romantic ambiance… Simple, fun and romantic…
Karaköy fish market – Now the restaurant here is nameless.. You go to the Karaköy fish market next to Haliç. You either buy your fish at the market and arrive at this nameless restaurant or arrive at the restaurant and eat whatever is the daily catch there. The restaurant is simple wooden tables and plastic chairs. It is open air… You will get a lighter under the table to heat you under cold weather. It will always be open… Rainy weather will mean you will have an umberalla up on your table… It is romantic in its own unique way.
Havuzlu Restaurant inside Grand Bazaar – Food is mediocre, but the ambiance is magnificent. You are literally inside an old bank of the Ottoman era, now a great and large shopping bazaar… Lively. Might not be open for dinners.
Doğa Tepe above Rumeli Fortress – The food is not necessarily amazing at Doga Tepe, but is is decent food with a magnificent view. The food offer ranges from BBQ beef steak to Turkish kebab with yogurt. Breakfast also available.
A place to take your loved one to, again and again… A place that a local couple might eventually refer to as “our place”…
Agatha inside Pera Palace – not just charming but also seducing. As if you replay a dedective scenario each time you dine here. It is the restaurant of Pera Palace –named after Agatha Christie due to the fact Ms. Christie wrote one of her renown books here at Pera Palace.
La Mouette – Applauded especially a lot by Murat Bozok, gives me a feel like that it is one of “his” special places and that it cannot be bad… Murak Bozok is the talented and renown chef of Mimolett (see above). La Mouette serves fusion Turkish cuisine, dishes prepared by two Turkish chefs who have studied abroad in the States and Switzerland.
Ninja – for sushi lovers. Ninja is an interesting place. You may love it or hate it. It all depends on who you go with and how you spend your first time. The nice thing about it is that it has a lot of ambiance and authenticity. The downside is they often tend to lack lot of things off the menu – such as eel and some wines from the wine list. If you can bear with these minor drawbacks, you may want to go back again and again.
Karaköy fish market – see above
La Brise – see above
Have a Cheap Date
For very very low budgets…
Karaköy fish market – see above
Büyükada Aya Yorgi Mount – This is not a dinner idea, but a budget alternative for some romance in the afternoon and during sunset. Buy two ferry tickets for Büyükada. Once on the island, climb the killer hill to Aya Yorgi Church. Here you will find a nice cozy cafe servine cheap wine and beer and a meatball restaurant –where you can eat some of the best meatballs.
Pierre Loti – Take your loved one to the hilltop of Pierre Loti… You will not pay no more than a ferry ride and she or he will be amazed by the view…