Located at the edge of one continent looking out into another, Ortaköy is quite possibly the most literal interpretation of 'east meets west' you're likely to find. This Istanbul district has been popular with locals and visitors since the early days of the Ottoman Empire, thanks to its idyllic location on the shores of the Bosphorus. Navigate your way through Ortaköy’s winding, narrow alleyways to discover waterside markets, art galleries, and religious buildings devoted to Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths.
Breakfast by the sea
For a tasty way to start your adventure, visit local favorite Kahvaltı Evi, who are justly famous for their breakfasts and just a five-minute drive from the Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel. Try a traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs with melted cheese, fresh tomatoes and peppers, or fill up on Turkish tea and freshly baked bread served with honey, cream and cheese. If you've got your heart set on spending as much time as possible right on the waterfront, head to The House Café Ortaköy, which offers waterside seating on shady terraces. Their breakfast menu is filled with Turkish favorites, including egg white omelettes, menemen and platters of fresh cheeses, olives, tomatoes, butter, and jams. Be sure to visit during the summer months when the phytoplankton - microscopic organisms that make their own food from sunlight and dissolved nutrients - in the Bosphourus, are the most active, leading to the brightest turquoise waters in Turkey!
An iconic focal point along the Bosphorus, the Büyük Mecidiye Camii, also known as the Ortaköy Mosque, is one of the most visited in Istanbul. Although you can admire this architectural landmark from one of the boat tours along the strait, it's worth heading down on foot to get a closer look. The white walls of its neo-Baroque design set against the backdrop of the Bosphorus Bridge make it a hopelessly tempting photo opportunity. During the weekends, the surrounding square turns into a hive of activity as stallholders descend to sell their wares, with original artworks, trinkets and books all available. If you've arrived at a quieter time during the week, take a walk along the Bridge to enjoy enchanting views of both Ortaköy on the European side and Beylerbeyi on the Asian side of the water.
Once you've worked up an appetite again, it's time to try a delicacy almost exclusively associated with Ortaköy: kumpir. Although the uninitiated could be forgiven for thinking that this is merely a humble baked potato, they're one of the most famous street food snacks in Istanbul for a reason. Once baked, the potatoes are cut in half so that the insides can be mixed up with unsalted butter, kaşar cheese and a mind-boggling choice of fillings ranging from olives and sweetcorn to sausage and Russian salad. Kumpir Sokak, a.k.a. Baked Potato Street, runs all along the waterfront and has plenty of cafes and stalls offering this hearty snack.
Ortaköy’s restaurants and nightlife are notoriously eclectic, offering everything from rock to Latin American. To make sure your holiday ends in style, head to Ruby, a nightclub that offers one of the best views in Istanbul - over the Bosphorus waterfront, of course! If you're looking for a more authentic nightlife experience, head here to catch move to some Turkish music well into the early hours of the morning.