With the beautiful Bosphorus and all the remnants of a rich history, Istanbul is a city where a romantic date can become pretty unforgettable, even on a budget. From Bosphorus cruises to checking out the best galleries, here are some suggestions for an excellent date without an excessive price tag.
The old Istanbul ferries are not only means of public transportation; they also offer a daily long Bosphorus cruise for only 25TL (US$7) per person for the ride there and back. The ferry takes off at 10:35 am at Eminönü and makes five stops before arriving at Anadolu Kavağı at 12:25 pm. Anadolu Kavağı is a lovely fishing village where the strait meets the Black Sea, so spend some time wandering on the shore, eating something at one of the many fish restaurants (you still have US$43 to spare!), and head back to the city at 3 pm.
The Chora Church is a medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox church adorned with absolutely stunning frescoes. Admission only costs 15TL per person (around US$4), which means you’ll have plenty to spare for the next stop right nearby: Istanbul’s most authentic Ottoman cuisine restaurant, Asitane. Order a few dishes to share so that you can try out as many delicacies as possible.
Asitane, Edirnekapı Mahallesi, Kariye Cami Sk. No:6, 34240, Fatih, Turkey, +90 212 635 79 97
One of Istanbul’s best seafood restaurants is also quite budget-friendly, making it a perfect place for a cheap but amazing date. Located right by the Bosphorus in Kandilli (on the Asian side), order some grilled sea bass, salad, and fried calamari, and watch the sunset over the Bosphorus and the European side.
The islands are an excellent choice for lovers who like to have a little peace and quiet on their date. Take the ferry to Büyükada (12.50TL per person, about US$3), rent a bike in the square (5TL [US$1] for the day) and explore the whole island. In the evening, you can spend the rest of your money on a delicious dinner at one of the seafront restaurants. Heybeliada and Burgazada are also two great islands that are not as crowded as Büyükada and are perfect for some romantic exploring and gazing at the beautiful view.
What better place to celebrate your love than at a café called Aşşk (Love)! Order their amazing mille-feuille with strawberries to share while you gaze over the Bosphorus and take in the fresh sea breeze.
Kuruçeşme Mahallesi, Muallim Naci Cd. 64/B, 34330 Beşiktaş/Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 265 47 34
If you’re one of those couples who love to cook together, then head to one of Istanbul’s many outdoor neighborhood markets where you’ll find the best ingredients at very reasonable prices. We can assure you that US$50 will be enough for a romantic feast at home. Don’t forget the candles!
One of the best date ideas for artsy couples is checking out all of Istanbul’s best galleries because admission is always free! We suggest the galleries on Istiklal Street, such as Arter, and the many galleries that occupy every floor of the Mısır Apartments. But the city, of course, has many more art stops, offering a great way to explore the area’s different neighborhoods while you check out some great exhibitions.