Meet the only city on earth that straddles two continents: Istanbul. I’m sure you’ve met it before. In guide books. On rogue episodes of Anthony Bourdain. Thick photo spreads in National Geographic. The world’s abuzz with this suddenly-trending place. But don’t jet off quite yet. First, read up on all you need to know about the city, told by the very best source out there – a local. Here, Istanbul native and Northeastern University Master’s graduate, Gökçe Dündar, fills us in on everything to know about the city she loves most.
Must-see sites: Don’t miss European Side – especially hanging out under the Galata Bridge. The bridge itself forms a link between the two sides of European Istanbul, while its lower deck is home to restaurants, bars, and teahouses with ringside waterfront seating for boat watching. Before you leave, visit Topkapı Palace, too – the oldest and largest palace in the world since 1465. At least half a day is needed to explore it. It’s giant. During 400 hundred years of reign, each sultan added a different section or hall to the palace, depending on his taste or on the needs of the time.
Street food: Want authentic? Try kumpir – a baked-potato dish and one of the city’s most beloved street foods. The baked potato gets married with fresh butter and kashar (traditional Turkish cheese), and then you point out your choice of toppings to be added next: hotdog slices, corn, pickles, olives, and kisir (a Bulgur dish). Last touch is a spicy red-pepper sauce. It is known by everyone that the best baked potato of Istanbul can be found in Ortaköy.