Istanbul not only bridges the cultural and geographical gap between Europe and Asia, but also blends its culinary offerings. Eating out in Istanbul restaurants gives diners a taste of the splendid fusion that can be created by combining the traditional cuisine of the two continents. Dining options abound in Istanbul. If in doubt, travellers should head for the Sultanahmet area, which has the most restaurants. Traditional Turkish fare such as turbot with saffron and raspberry, or cinnamon flavoured chicken kebabs, can be enjoyed at restaurants in the Edirnekapi and Ortakoy areas, while the best seafood is in Kanlyca. Istanbul restaurants serving a fusion of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisine are found in Beyoglu and Sisli, while Taksim and Ortakoy are home to some excellent cafes. With so many restaurants in and around the city, diners will find somewhere to eat any time of any day. Menu prices are generally quite fair and, generally, guests get what they pay for. A tip of at least 10 percent is customary. At most Istanbul restaurants reservations are either required or strongly recommended.
Shopping in Istanbul is a mixture of old, new, antique, exotic, and unadulterated kitsch. Souvenirs, spices, leather goods, carpets, kilims, and earthenware are all popular buys with tourists, but the experience is more about wandering through the winding streets and markets, taking everything in, and hunting for bargains.
The most notable market is the Grand Bazaar, which boasts over 4,000 shops and, just in case that's not enough, the entire market is surrounded by a maze of streets lined with even more shops! Just about everything and anything can be found at the Grand Bazaar and haggling is an essential skill. If travellers are looking to for more market experiences, they should check out the Egyptian market, and the flea market in Beyazit Square are also worth a visit.
Outside the Grand Bazaar, to the east, Nuruosmaniye Caddesi is the place to buy jewellery, and fine art boutiques can be found nestled down the side streets. Aditionally, a shopping trip in Istanbul is not complete without buying a box of Turkish delights, which can be found all over the city in souks (markets) and specialist shops.
Most shops in Istanbul are open from 8am until roughly 9pm, and religious shopkeepers will close for an hour on Friday at lunchtime for prayers at the Mosque. In many areas shops are closed on Sundays.
For those in the know, Istanbul only comes to life once the sun sets. There is certainly an astounding range of nightlife in the city, from cutting edge techno to belly-dancing. The best place to start is Beyoglu, which is home to plenty of wine bars, jazz joints, and hip rooftop bars. In contrast, the tourist area of Sultanahmet has few venues worth mentioning. Travellers can start their evening off at one of the many which is a type of Turkish tavern famous for raki and mezze platters. Some of the best nightclubs are in Ortakoy, overlooking the Bosphorous. The most popular is Sortie, famous for supermodels, millionaires, and the effortlessly cool. For jazz music, visitors can head to enduring classic, Nardis Jazz Club. Clubs and bars stay open very late and drinks are affordable in comparison to European cities. It's best to be careful of visiting adult entertainment clubs, as these are notorious for ripping off tourists. A smart policy is to always establish prices before ordering anything.