Winter in Istanbul brings freezing temperatures, gray skies, and sporadic snow, so a welcoming cafe is just the place to hunker down and keep warm. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite cozy Istanbul cafés, where you can enjoy hot food and drinks and maybe take along your laptop to do some work, while it snows outside.
Bakery, Cafe, Restaurant, Tea , $$$
The ultimate cozy café, Café Cuma is a reflection of its neighborhood, Çukurcuma where the city’s best vintage and antique dealers are located among old European style houses. Inside you’ll find vintage furniture and decoration that make you feel like you’re in a home rather than a café. You’ll also find a table by the kitchen that has the day’s freshly baked pastries, from deliciously moist chocolate cake to sweet blueberry muffins. Sit on the comfortable couches or the long communal table and watch the cold weather outside from the cozy Café Cuma interior.
There’s a very French vibe to this café that incorporates a beautiful vintage aesthetic. From the antique decorative objects on the shelves to the floral ceramics used for service, to the influence of its namesake artist (Rene Magritte) this café makes for a really cozy place to take in shelter from the cold. On the menu you’ll find delicious savory omelettes and quiches as well as sweet cakes and tarts, and since the kitchen is right behind the till, the waft of freshly made pastries is everywhere. Also make sure to take a look at Magritte’s small stand of antique objects for sale, to take a small memento home with you.
One of the most interesting neighborhoods in Istanbul, Fener-Balat used to house the city’s well-to-do Greek Orthodox families, and their beautiful homes continue to attract visitors. Here you can find up-and-coming establishments that have been attracted by low rents and beautiful old interiors. One of these is the very cozy café Cooklife Balat, which belongs to the Kinfolk inspired Cooklife Magazine. Inside you’ll find a beautiful space with lovely Scandinavian details that make it a standout in the neighborhood. Make sure to try one of their many amazing freshly made cakes, such as orange curd tart or apple pie. We’ve also tried their pancakes and they are divine.
Restaurant, Bakery, Cafe, Italian, American, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
Hidden away on a side street in the mostly residential Beşiktaş neighborhood, we love hanging out in Akali’s cozy interior while the smell of freshly baked bread fills up the room. Akali is always experimenting with different foods, it’s so much more than a simple café, serving amazing burgers, homemade pasta with different sauces, and tasty sandwiches with freshly made bread. Akali’s interior is very warm and welcoming with original tiled floors, a natural wood counter, a few marble top tables, and shelves filled with books and tins of tea or coffee. This is also a great place for a date, if you’re meeting that special someone.
One of the Asian side’s coziest cafes, Yer is a place you’d likely come across in a city like Berlin. Inside you’ll find mismatched vintage tables and chairs, framed art from local artists and a tiny bar. Open all day, Yer is a laid back spot where you can meet with friends for a Turkish breakfast, lunch, or a cocktail in the evening (when the lovely spot serves up drinks from its little bar). The menu has all the Turkish comfort food classics such as köfte (meatballs) as well as salads, wraps, and homemade pasta. Yer is also a great place to work, especially at one of the tables near the window where you can watch the people of the cool Moda neighborhood go about their business.
One of Beyoğlu’s most popular cafes, Şimdi is a café and restaurant that is one of the loveliest spots you can find, away from the crowds of Istiklal Street. Located on the ground floor of a beautiful European building, the couches on the right side of the entrance as well as the very back are some of Şimdi’s coziest spots, but you’ll have to come a little before or after lunch or dinner time to nab one. On the menu you can choose from many options ranging from delicious soups to pasta, grilled meats, and salads. Şimdi’s coffee is also among the best in the neighborhood, so make sure to get a cup when you’re there.