Lian & Ezgis Inside Guide to Istanbul: 15 Hotspots to Visit

The perfect combination of Europe and Asia – and with great shopping to boot. Come discover Luxuryshoppers’ exotic picks for an amazing Istanbul getaway!

Magical. That’s how Lian Kebudi and Ezgi Kiramer describe their hometown, Istanbul, the capital of Turkey. Famous for being the last stop on the well-known Orient Express. This city has had, quite rightly, an exotic shimmer for a long time.

“Istanbul is a magical and unexpected city, chaotic and cosmopolitan – yet tranquil and inspiring. You will find something amazing that you’ve never seen before in every corner. The town is so full of life and emotion,” says Ezgi and Lian.

The duo runs Luxuryshoppers, where they work as personal shoppers for select Turkish customers. They travel to fashion metropolises around world regularly, frequenting fashion shows and escaping for shopping trips; yet, they emphasize how important Istanbul is to them.

“We travel a lot, but coming back here is always amazing. When we moved back to Istanbul about ten years ago, after studying abroad, we noticed the ambience in this town is something that makes Istanbul unique. Geographically, Istanbul is a bridge between Asia and Europe. You can feel it on every street throughout the city. In one corner you are in the middle of Asia and in the next you’re in Europe partying and dancing on the Streets! Everybody respects one another.”

Why should we visit Istanbul? ”It is a wonderful city with mixed cultures. Istanbul is rich, modern and has an amazing history. And the shopping is great!”

CAFÉ: THE HOUSE CAFÉ
”This place has almost become our new home. We eat breakfast, lunch and drink coffee here. Good food and modern, yet cozy, interior makes you feel at home. ” 

FOOD: BEYMEN BRASSERIE
”We usually end up here when we want to eat light after shopping. Women who hang out here are always very chic and ready to run to the next posh event, dressed in Roland Mouret dresses carrying Chanel bags.”

LA BRISE
”A chic lunch spot where businessmen meet their beautiful wives or friends for happy hour. This place has very good French food. The decor is very dark; you can hardly see the food. But right now this is the place to go to!” 

DELICATESSEN
”A place that has a fantastic selection of freshly baked breads, cakes and homemade jams. Here you will run into the Istanbul fashion crowd. Editors and photographers have brunch, dinner or just sip on some champagne here.”

FLAMINGO
”Order the drink bubbles here. We often come here and have a drink at the bar or in the garden. It’s a fairly new restaurant with good food and music. The dress code in the evenings in Istanbul is very chic. You will see women in small dresses, wearing lots of makeup with big hair.” 

ZUMA
”It’s located next to the Bosphorus river, which is a real mood setter in Istanbul. Zuma has the best Asian-inspired food in the city. We spend most of our summer nights here. You should definitely try a variety of cocktails and dare to be adventurous and order something other than Sushi. Deep fried squid, spicy steak, duck and dumplings with pumpkin and grilled asparagus are some of our favorites.”

LUCCA
”If you’re looking for a more relaxed place this is perfect. Fantastic tapas are waiting! This place is always crowded, so you need to book a table. During the week, the bar is full and the music high. If you manage to get a table on a weekend you’re lucky. The crowd is young and hip and on Sundays you can eat brunch here, it’s very popular.”

NIGHTLIFE: KARAKÖY
”Located in Istanbul’s hippest neighborhood, you can eat dinner here and go out to party afterwards. We would never turn down a visit to Münferit, where they have really good Turkish meze dishes. The owner Ferit, plays amazing music.”

SHOPPING BEYMEN
This is the luxury mall where we usually shop. Here you will find everything you need. Well, actually more than you need to be honest. This place has almost all the designer brands, and the city’s best selection of shoes and handbags!”

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS
”An awesome concept store where you can find unusual accessories. This place also has a wide selection of bags from Mehry Mu – check them out!

NISANTASI DISTRICT
”There are several other shops than the two mentioned above, that are worth visiting in this area. Here you have almost all the designer shops. We like Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Prada. Look at Vakko, Polar Moda and V2K Designers. The area is full of fashion conscious women who love shopping!”

CULTURE: ISTANBUL MODERN
”A must if you like modern art. This place always has exciting exhibitions and installations. We actually take classes in art history here once a week. There is also a workshop for children that we take our girls to, which they love. The restaurant has a great view and this is usually where we meet up.”

HOTEL: LES OTTOMANS HOTEL
”This hotel is wonderful, and we go to their spa every now and then. If you are looking for an authentic Turkish hammam experience this is the place to go! All the rooms are different here. In addition, we also recommend the Four Seasons, Aija hotel, Mama Shelter and The House Hotel Nisantasi, located next to Prada. That can be good and bad depending on your travel funds.”

THINGS TO SEE: GRAND BAZAAR
”The shopping at this big market is like a dream. Here you will find fabrics out of this world and stunning jewelry. If you are looking for something truly special this is where you find it. If you are into vintage jewelry this is paradise! Other famous landmarks you must visit are of course Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. And Taksim Square – where you can people watch for hours. The people, the chaos, the sounds!”

AND A AS LITTLE BONUS…
”If you are visiting Grand Bazaar go for a coffee at Fes Cafe. Choose a simple panini with mozzarella and ask for Turkish coffee, this is where you get the best coffee in town.”

Photo JACQUELINE RODITI