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. The price of coffee can be more expensive than usual in places advertising fortune-telling.
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. Some fishermen enjoy raki or beer while they’re fishing. 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 cheap 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.
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. Here is one of them:
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7. Chill Out in 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 beer or tea and having a snack. 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. After Leaving The Tavern, 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 effects of alcohol, you can drink tripe soup with plenty of vinegar and garlic. Below is information for just one of the tripe soup offal restaurants that you can easily find all over Istanbul:
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I am eager to leave my comfort zone and push myself to try new things. The best way to do it is by traveling. So I keep exploring the world and myself.