Local Things To Do in Istanbul

If you don’t want to feel like a tourist, there are many local things to do in Istanbul. Here are some tips if you want to join the people of Istanbul and feel part of the city during your stay.

1. Play Backgammon in a Local Tea Shop

Backgammon is a pleasant game that promotes friendship and community. It’s one of the oldest games in the world and is popular in Istanbul with people of all ages. If you prefer, you can just sit and watch old people playing backgammon. If one of them turns their backgammon board to you, they’re inviting you to play. But beware, they might ‘Mars’ you. ‘Mars’ means to convincingly beat you.


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2. Listen to Your Turkish Coffee Fortune

After drinking Turkish coffee fortune-telling is a must. Turkish coffee is a great way to end a beautiful meal you’ll find fortune tellers in many cafes.

3. Fish at Bosphorus

From September to June you’ll see fishermen on the Istanbul shore. To fish, you’ll need a fishing rod, a deck chair, and a bucket. If you don’t know how to cast a line or how to fish, don’t worry; just ask one of the fishermen for help. “Rastgele!” (Good Luck!)

4. Feed Street Cats

There are cats almost everywhere in Istanbul. In Cihangir, Balat, Kadıköy, and Moda, you’ll find huge numbers of street cats. If you want to feed them, you can buy cat food at the big markets and in places selling animal food. You just leave it out for them in cat food containers you’ll see around the city.

5. Negotiate with Sellers

Think before you shake hands! Could you get it cheaper? Bartering with street vendors is quite normal in Istanbul. Try bartering when buying tomatoes from local markets or carpets from the Grand Bazaar.

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6. Join Turkish Paper Marbling (Ebru) Class in Istanbul

You can learn the art of ebru, which has an important place among Turkish crafts. You can create your own artwork by attending a traditional craft course. There are many places to learn about the art of marbling.

7. Chill Out on Caddebostan Shore

A relaxing place to visit at any time of the day. You’ll see people walking in the first light of the morning or sitting on the grass until late at night drinking tea and having snacks. Caddebostan Shore, on the Anatolian side, is an ideal place to chill out. You can just spend the day chatting with people around you.

8. Go For a Tripe-Soup

For locals, many evenings end at the tripe soup offal restaurant. You’ll come across all kinds of people in these places, which are open until the first light of the morning. To get rid of the tiredness, you can eat tripe soup with plenty of vinegar and garlic.

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