An Introvert's Guide to Istanbul

Istanbul | © Juraj Patekar/Wikimedia Commons
Istanbul | © Juraj Patekar/Wikimedia Commons

Istanbul can be quite the hectic city with its overcrowded streets and indomitably high energy. Fortunately for the introverted traveler the city has many quiet and hidden corners where a sense of serenity can still be found. Check out some of the best activities for the solitude-loving visitor.

Wander Around Balat

Once the main neighborhood for bourgeoisie Greek Orthodox families, the Fener and Balat neighborhoods may be in a dilapidated state, but the beautiful old houses still exude a certain charm and wandering among them is a peaceful endeavor. The Ecunemical Patriarchate of Constantinople (AKA Church of St. George), is also a great place for an introvert to light a candle and sit alone with his or her thoughts.

Balat-Fener, Istanbul 

Go Biking on Büyükada

For the more active introvert, biking around Büyükada is probably one of the most non-Istanbul experiences imaginable. Make it past the crowds in the main square and zoom off into the more remote corners of the island where the views are always spectacular.

Büyükada, Istanbul 

Do Some Reading at Salt Galata
Art Gallery, Museum
SALT Galata, Beyoğlu

SALT Galata, Beyoğlu | Courtesy of Salt Galata

If you’re looking for a quiet spot to do some reading or get some work done, Salt Galata’s research library is really the best place. Think former Ottoman bank decked out in beautiful marble with a modern library, bookstore (in case you need some extra reading material), an art gallery, café, and restaurant. You can spend hours here.

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See an Exhibition at Istanbul Modern

Istanbul’s main hub for contemporary art, Istanbul Modern has many quiet corners where you can just stand and stare at beautiful art. There’s also a bench facing a large window that looks over an amazing view of the Bosphorus and Sultanahmet. Sitting here is any introvert’s delight.

Kılıçali Paşa Mahallesi, Meclis-i Mebusan Cd., 34433 Beyoğlu, İstanbul

Courtesy of Istanbul Modern

Visit Four Letter Word Coffee on Burgazada

A Princes Island where you won’t be bothered by tourists, Burgazada is full of old churches hiding among the pine trees, fishing boats by the dock, and lots of old and beautiful houses. Four Letter Word Coffee fell in love with this island feel far removed from the urban chaos and established a lovely third wave coffee haven that’s only open on the weekends. Linger here for a while and then take a stroll around.

Burgazadası Mahallesi, 34975 Prince Islands, İstanbul

Check out The Museum of Innocence

Orhan Pamuk’s novel Museum of Innocence follows a tragic love story where a man collects small belongings of his beloved to keep her memory alive. In the actual museum of the same name, you can inspect actual displays of those very same trinkets mentioned in the book, which also hark back to an Istanbul of an entirely different era.

Firuzağa Mahallesi, Dalgıç Sk. No:2, 34425 Beyoğlu, İstanbul

Gaze at the View From Ruhban Okulu

Once the main school of theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Ruhban Okulu (Halki Seminary) was closed down in 1971 when the Turkish government passed a law that banned private higher education. Nowadays the beautiful school on Heybeliada still stands with its classrooms and small church, as well as a beautiful garden that has a spectacular view of the sea. Hike up to the school and sit on the garden bench to be alone with your thoughts while enjoying the view.

Heybeliada Mahallesi, Adalar, 34973 Adalar, İstanbul