A Day in Kadikoy: Scenes from Istanbul’s Asian Side

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“Go to the Asian side — it’s one of the best things to do in Istanbul.”

Nearly everyone told me this on my first trip to Turkey nearly two years ago. Yet for some reason, I spent my first trip firmly ensconced on the European side of the Bosphorus (journeys to Sabiha Gocken Airport notwithstanding).

Why didn’t I go? I was exhausted. I talked about it a bit at the time, but it was more than I let on. It was a hard time in my life for many reasons, and I was a mess.

This time, in a much better place mentally and physically, I resolved to visit Istanbul’s Asian side once and for all — and ended up with a fabulous day in the Asian neighborhood of Kadikoy.

A Foodie Welcome

Fellow blogger Katrinka invited me and Tom to visit her in Kadikoy, the neighborhood where she’s been living as an English teacher for the past several months. Katrinka, a film photographer and fellow Massachusetts girl, couldn’t stop visiting Istanbul — so she moved here!

Her goal for the day was to show us the best of Kadikoy and feed us everything in sight. Considering how much Tom and I love food, she definitely had the right people!

Olive Market

My first impression? Kadikoy is home to the neatest markets I’ve ever seen. I’m used to markets being a mess of produce and meat and fish jammed every which way, all for the sake of as many sales as possible, but that wasn’t the case in Kadikoy.


Our first food stop was for lamacun, a pizza-like concoction topped with lamb, at a place in the market called Halil. This is the best lamacun in Istanbul, Katrinka told us, and they only have two things on the menu: lamacun and pide, a boat-shaped pizza-like concoction.

How to eat a lamacun

How to eat a lamacun? Squeeze lemon on it, throw a good handful of parsley on it, and roll it up like a burrito!

Afternoon Cappuccino

And Turkish coffee — one of few beverages that I just don’t like. As much as I love coffee, I’m not a fan of the thick black substance that Turks drink. But I’ll gladly take a cappuccino!


Getting to Know Kadikoy

Kadikoy has a modern feel to it, even more so than the Taksim area. The streets around the Moda area are filled with cool bars, tattoo shops, and cafes filled to the brim with birdcages. The graffiti here is most definitely street art, reflecting the hippie community.

If I lived in Istanbul, this would definitely be the neighborhood.

Kadikoy Dog and Graffiti

And just when you think that this could be somewhere in America, maybe even a neighborhood in Brooklyn or San Francisco, and then you get a glimpse of something that is so uniquely Turkish.

Like three older ladies in long patterned dresses and headscarves.

Kadikoy Ladies

Or a market that doubles as an outdoor tea salon.

Kadikoy Market

In fact, it was in this market that I found the souvenir to outdo all souvenirs.

Mr. T Pants

Yes. That is a pair of Mr. T pajama pants that say I PITY THE FOOL!

At 10 lira ($5), I HAD to buy them. Where else are you going to find something like that?!

Kadikoy Kitty

The Local Wildlife

Istanbul is home to a significant stray cat population. In Kadikoy as well as the other parts of Istanbul, it’s common for locals to take care of them — so these cats look remarkably healthier and happier than most of the strays you’ve seen.

As you can imagine, some of these Istanbul kitties live like royalty.

Sleepy kitty

And that includes napping wherever they damn well please.

But as I nibbled on a cherry ice cream cone, one Kadikoy kitty darted across my line of vision and quickly took my breath away:

Gorgeous Stray Cat

Can you believe how gorgeous this cat is? She’s better-looking than most humans! I don’t even like pets, and I wanted to take her home…

Kadikoy Waterfront

At the Water’s Edge

Kadikoy’s best feature, however, is its waterfront. It snakes along the edge of the land for miles, taking in fantastic views of the Sultanahmet skyline.

We finished our afternoon with a lengthy summer stroll, warm ocean breezes blowing through our hair.

Kadikoy Bellyflops

It turns out that if you take pictures of guys doing jumps off the edge, they’ll start showing off! I don’t want to think about how red this guy’s chest must have been after his belly-flop…

Soon the four of us took a seat on the rocks along the edge and were joined by Katrinka’s friends as we watched the sun sink beneath the spires of Haghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Unbelievably, pods of dolphins leaped out of the Bosphorus, dancing for us.

Sunset in Kadikoy

It was pure magic — and a perfect end to a memorable day. Everyone knew what they were talking about — taking the ferry to the Asian side was one of the best things I did in Istanbul.


Solo Female Travel in Turkey — Is Turkey Safe?

Essential Info: Ferries to Kadikoy leave from spots on either side of the Galata Bridge: the Eminonu stop is closest to Sultanahmet, and the Karakoy stop is closest to Beyoglu. The fare costs 3 lira ($1.50) and the ride takes about 15 minutes.

I stayed with friends during my time Kadikoy. You can find Kadikoy hotels here.

I used World Nomads travel insurance on this trip. I never travel without it and recommend buying it before all trips. It will help protect you financially if something goes wrong.

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44 thoughts on “A Day in Kadikoy: Scenes from Istanbul’s Asian Side”

    1. Hi katrina im in Istanbul with my husband and am at a loose end as what to do next i would appreciate any help in guiding us around asian side if possible. Thank you

  1. When I was in Instanbul last May I only visited Ukudar on the Asian side. Nothing special there in terms of sightseeing, but I loved it anyway. I also took pictures of beautiful cats. Kadikoy next time, I promise!

  2. I have a trip to Turkey planned for early 2014 so this post is perfect timing to get me researching the Asia side of Istanbul. Loved your pictures and looking forward to trying lamacun.

  3. I would love to see turkey! Coincidentally, we were in sarajevo and now in Dubrovnik and I’ve seen quite a few stray dogs and cats. I’m kind of a bleeding heart so, umm, one of these is going to end up going home with me. 😀

  4. I visited Istanbul a number of times before getting myself over to the Asian side, and I only did that on my last trip a few months ago. What was I waiting for?! Much as I love the European side there’s something attractive, magnetic even about the Asian side. It feels more local but still cosmopolitan. And the food, oh, the food. In fact I ate so well on my first visit that a couple of days later I went back for seconds. Literally. You’ve captured it beautifully!

  5. Lovely shots, Kate. I didn’t make it to this part of Istanbul during my one and only visit, either. I, too, was exhausted at the time, and since I only had 2 days there, there was SO MUCH I wanted to see! Next time, for sure.

  6. I grew up in Germany which has a lot of Turkish restaurants and lamacun is definitely my favourite. Can’t wait to have one when I am back in Germany later on this year. I wonder if they taste different in Turkey though. I was surprised by how different Beijing duck tastes in China compared to the UK for example.

  7. I agree that visiting the Asian side of Istanbul is a must. Everyone we met in Turkey was extremely nice, and those on the Asian side were without exception. Plus, when we were riding in a public bus along the water, I felt like I was back home in SoCal. The Asian side just offers a totally different perspective of Istanbul!

  8. Ack, more cats! That’s too funny with the Mr. T pants, you need to do a fashion shoot in Japan with the Harajuku girls by the bridge….go on a Sunday when it’s a real see and be seen kinda place and you’ll fit right in with your Mr. T pants – oh yeah!

  9. Agh I LOVED that first day that we hung out in Istanbul and went over to Kadikoy – it was amaaazing. Mainly for the food. I mean, THE FOOD. Katrinka sure knows her stuff! I even went back to the lahmacun place on my last day in the city. Watching the sunset over the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya was probably one of my favourite moments of the entire trip, too. Yay for Kadikoy!

  10. Thank you for another terrific article. Exactly where else could anyone get that type of data in such a ideal way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m to the look for this kind of details.

  11. Hi Kate,

    Thanks for an enjoyable read. I, too, didn’t visit Kadikoy on my first visit to Istanbul last year and was thinking to perhaps visit it this yr…and I am definitely convinced now 🙂

    Thanks again,

  12. I’m in Ankara now and planning to come to kadikoy for the first time on August 29th , that’s two days from now, anyone interested to show me around, thanks in advance.

  13. I ‘m living near Kadıköy. Normally tourist who come to İstanbul don’t know anything about İstanbul asia side. I saw your header about Kadıköy and start to read your idea about Kadıköy. There a lot of place tourist must visit in asia side. For example Bağdat Caddesi(street). İn my Turkish blog http://www.gezipartisi.com lots of article about visit place asia side. ı hope you read and next time visit more asia side places.

  14. Love the pics and narrative… amazed to see our Beloved “Aum” adorning a wall……

    Will certainly visit here when I visit Istanbul next month on my first holiday there…

  15. I loved your photos. I am from Turkey but I had a question for you. Yes You can see lots of scarves ladies in Istanbul but It is maximum %20. Is it interesting to take photos with scarves ? It looks weird for us. 🙂 You should show our modern side 🙂 It is better for us.

    1. I don’t see anything wrong with the old ladies in scarves or taking their picture which was really ver nice.wearing the scarf doesnt make them less modern or less local..it is a part of the culture that many die to know about as modern life is just all around everyday..

  16. Great post about Kadikoy. Unfortunately many people miss this excellent place since they have a limited time and so many attractions to see in the European side of Istanbul. To get a ferry from Historic Istanbul and come to Kadikoy is just so easy. I posted the maps and directions in my blog if anybody need it. Thank you for the great post and thanks for caring about cats.

  17. I am planning a trip to Istanbul with family and 2 kids and am planning to stay in kadikoy. Am so glad there are good reviews. would love if anyone wants to bring my family around.

  18. Md. Shahadat Hossain Khan

    Dear Kate
    Thank you very much for your travel life. You have already visited 83 countries ! I really appreciate it. Just take me as your helper. Why don’t you visit my country, Bangladesh it is a very nice country. I will be your guide. Well Asian part of Istanbul is very quite and peaceful area. Hope your advice will help me a lot.

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