A Design Lover's Travel Guide to Istanbul in a Day

Courtesy of Salt Galata
Courtesy of Salt Galata

A city capable of containing both its historic effulgence and the rapid growth of modernism, Istanbul is one of the most unique destinations when it comes to art and design. Even though the city is still rife with opportunity and at the beginning of the road, there’s plenty of beautiful architecture and design projects to behold. Here are the best places to visit for a design-focused day in the city.

Stay at Sumahan On the Water

Certainly one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Istanbul, Sumahan On The Water is located right by the Bosphorus strait, a waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, on the Asian side of the city. Perfect for those who like a little peace and quiet, this former distillery’s transformation into a sleek and modern hotel is sure to impress even the most avid design lover. Make sure to tuck into breakfast at the Waterfront restaurant for a beautiful view of the European side of Istanbul from afar.

Courtesy of Sumahan

Lunch at Karaköy Lokantası

Once you take the ferry from the Asian side of Istanbul to Karaköy, make sure to have lunch at this modern tradesmen restaurant. Updated on a regular basis, the lunch menu at Karaköy Lokantası features classic Turkish home-made dishes, made with the best of ingredients. Design aficionados will undoubtedly appreciate the restaurant’s blue-tiled interior inspired by classic tradesmen restaurants – with a palpably modern twist. Also, take a look at the art installation in the window, which changes periodically and features the work of artist Pınar Akkurt.

Visit SALT Galata

A little further away on Bankalar Street, the former financial headquarters of the Ottoman Empire, a stunningly renovated former bank houses the multi-purpose SALT Galata. Serving as a library, research center, art gallery, restaurant, bookstore, museum, and much more, SALT Galata’s thick marble stairs, glass partitions, and high columns give off a regal air all around. A real standout are the sinks in the bathrooms on the ground floor, so make sure to check them out.

Courtesy of Salt Galata

Shop at Autoban

Autoban is one of Turkey’s most renowned design studios, with a signature style that has transformed some of Istanbul’s most popular venues into a feast for the eyes. To get better acquainted with its particular aesthetic, drop by the showroom to see the innovative products that have put Autoban on the design map not just in Turkey, but abroad as well. To see the studio’s latest project, head to the Kilimanjaro restaurant and bar within historic brewery Bomontiada for a drink and a long gaze.

Exhibitions at Istanbul Modern

You can’t visit Istanbul without going to the city’s most important hub for contemporary art, Istanbul Modern. Established in 2004, the giant museum has hosted some of the most important local and international names from the modern art scene. Check out its programme of current exhibitions and events to see what’s on when you visit.

Courtesy of Istanbul Modern

Dinner at Alancha

It wouldn’t be wrong to call Alancha Istanbul’s answer to Noma in Copenhagen. Set in a gorgeous, two-floor space, Alancha is sleek and cool all round, with a glass elevator that takes guests to the main tasting-menu restaurant. As for the menu, researched and created by an excellent test kitchen, a culinary journey takes diners through the history of Anatolia, traversing all its ingredients and civilizations – with a thoroughly modern conviction.

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