How to Spend a Day in Istanbul's Galata Neighbourhood

Galata | © Dieter Titz/Flickr
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Prominently marked with the presence of the historic Galata Tower, Galata is one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Istanbul. From laid-back neighbourhood cafes to trendy fashion boutiques, Galata offers the perfect opportunity to mingle with the locals.

Eat breakfast at Privato Cafe

Definitely one of the best places in Istanbul to enjoy a full Turkish breakfast, Privato Cafe is tucked away on a side street right by the busy Galip Dede Street that is known for its many shops selling musical instruments and equipment. Cozy in summer and in winter, Privato’s village breakfast has all the classics, including various Turkish cheeses, jams and pastries, as well as clotted cream and honey, tomato and cucumber salad, eggs and plenty of freshly brewed Turkish tea.

Turkish Tea

Go shopping on Serdar-ı Ekrem Street

One of Galata’s coolest streets, you’ll find all the best shops on this cobblestoned street surrounded by beautiful neoclassic facades on both sides. Make sure to drop by Turkish designer, Arzu Kaprol’s boutique; Acquaverde and Atelier 55 for the best local fashion and accessory designers; Apparel for an eclectic mix of clothes and accessories; Sofa Arts and Archive for antiques, modern furniture and home decor objects; and Lunapark for great design objects and souvenirs.

Check out the view from the Galata Tower

A medieval stone tower that was built in 1348 by the Genoese and used in 1717 by the Ottomans to spot fires in the city, the Galata Tower is the neighbourhood’s most important historic site. Wait in line and walk up the many stairs to get to the top of the tower, where you’ll have a 360-degree view of Istanbul. Make sure to bring your camera!

Galata Tower

Explore the Crimea Memorial Church

After you walk all the way down Serdar-ı Ekrem Street, walk the incline and on your right side, you’ll reach the Crimea Memorial Church, which is almost hidden behind trees. Built between 1858 and 1868 to honour the British soldiers who lost their lives during the Crimean War, the church is a beautiful medieval structure with a quiet garden where turtles and ducks roam freely.

Crimea Memorial Church

Hang out at Mavra

Also located on Serdar-ı Ekrem Street is Mavra, one of the neighbourhood’s coolest cafes and design stores where you’ll always see the locals sitting outside conversing with the owners and enjoying a cup of coffee. Many wandering visitors also stop by this cafe, so you’ll probably end up talking to whoever is seated next to you and sharing your Istanbul stories. Make sure to grab lunch at Mavra, as their salads, pasta and grilled meat dishes are quite excellent.

Listen to some live jazz at Nardis

Located in one of the labyrinthine streets around the Galata Tower, Nardis is one of the city’s best jazz clubs. After a day of exploring the neighbourhood, you can order a drink at the bar and enjoy some great local jazz music from some of the country’s most talented musicians.

Nardis Jazz Club

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