The 10 Best Ice Cream Shops in Istanbul
Summer in Turkey involves lots of time dipping in the seas and some delicious ice cream as a treat! In the bigger cities, in recent years you can also find some international brands such as Magnum, Haagen-Dazs, Cold Stone Creamery and also well-made Italian-style gelato as well. You can try the endless flavours that are unique to the country such as in-season fruits, berries, rose and pistachios, for instance.
Turkish ice cream called Dondurma in the Turkish language. Made from goat’s milk, mastic gum and salep, a powder of dried orchid tubers, the ice cream has a unique chewy texture. The mix of ingredients makes the ice cream thick and stretchy, and it’s usually cut into slabs with a knife.
Karamanmaraş, a city in the southeast of Turkey gives its name to the famous and traditional Turkish-style ice cream called Maraş Dondurma. This type of ice cream has protected status in Turkey in the culture/geography designated status. It is believed to have started as an off-shoot of a regional/local snow slushy called Karsambaç that’s unique to the geography, climate and ingredients available in the Ottoman empire. Salep or powdered orchid tubers were added to Karsambaç and the Maraş Dondurma was born. Moreover, the milk and cream used are from goats that have fed on thyme, hyacinth and crocus plants, and the ice cream, in turn, has a bright white colour.
A traditionally dressed ice-cream seller is a regular scene near Taksim, on Istiklal Avenue. Here, ice-cream sellers play trick or treat on their customers. The seller entertains you while serving you some delicious ice cream. In short, Turkey and Istanbul offer tons of options for the ice cream lover.
Let’s take a look at the best ice cream parlours available in the city! Do try them on your next visit!
1. Meşhur Dondurmacı Ali Usta
On hot summer days, there’s a long queue outside this famous ice cream shop with no other branches. Located in the quaint neighbourhood of Moda on the Asian side of Istanbul, the one of a kind shop has been in operation since 1969.
Top-notch ingredients, especially the fruit variety are sold at a premium here. One scoop can cost up to 7 liras last we heard and their shop is open until 3 am. Additionally, try the fruit varieties or the nuts including, chestnuts, walnuts and almonds. They’re not ‘meşhur‘ or popular for no reason — don’t miss out on this Moda institution!
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 10 AM AND 3 AM
ADDRESS: Caferağa, Moda Cd., 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul
METRO/TRAMWAY STOP: Kadıköy; Moda İlkokulu
2. MUÀ Gelatieri d’Italia
Offering a real gelato experience from Italy, MUÀ opened their first branch in Yeniköy/İstinye just past Emirgan Park in 2011. Only offering seasonal fruit flavours and 100% natural ingredients, the place uses Florentine ice cream making. Hence, the gelato is only made to last only 3-4 days. As a result of their emphasis on natural ingredients and traditional techniques, this gelateria has now gained a loyal following, even if each scoop is priced at 9 liras.
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 10 AM AND 1 aM
ADDRESS: Yeniköy, Köybaşı Cd. No:126 D:B, 34464 Sarıyer/İstanbul
ferry stop: İstinye
3. Dondurmacı Yaşar Usta
One of the most popular ice cream sellers in the city, Yaşar Usta started the business in 1962. He started from their first business in an unpretentious shop in Bostancı on the Asian side of Istanbul. Today, there are numerous other branches across the city and operate out of the ‘YUSDO’ company name.
What’s more, they have a loyal following of fans that love their products — both ice cream and sorbets, especially since Yaşar Usta’s story of success is so inspiring! The shops offer unique flavours out of a popular biscuit for babies called Cicibebe and fruits. Moreover, the flavours of the fruit ice creams are intensely delicious with no added additives and only natural ingredients!
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 12 PM AND 1 aM
ADDRESS: Bostancı, Prof. Dr. Ali Nihat Tarlan Cd No:33, 34744 Kadıköy/İstanbul; other branches
METRO/ferry station: KadıköY; Bostancı
4. Girandola Gelato
After opening its first branch in beautiful Arnavutköy, this artisan Italian gelato shop offering both sorbet and gelato has now a few branches across the city. Furthermore, they are in some prime locations such as Caddebostan near Bağdat Avenue and Yeniköy. The owner, Aslı Eraltan, got her training from Italian gelato makers in a university in Italy and brought them back to Turkey, opening the shop in 2008.
Moreover, what sets them apart are some unique flavours such as grapefruit, brandy, mojito, orange and kaymak, lemon balm, apple and cinnamon, among others.
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 10 AM AND 12 midnight
ADDRESS: Arnavutköy, Bebek Arnavutköy Cd No:109, 34345 Beşiktaş/İstanbull
ferry STOP: arnavutköy
5. Mini Dondurma
Mini is a tiny 4 square meters shop that offers amazing ice cream and is a Bebek classic since 1968.
Around 20 flavours are on offer, some that are classic but some are unique: rose and Lokum, bitter chocolate, tahini and walnut. Try them in their waffle cones or with wafers. Alternatively, you can grab a takeaway service to enjoy at home.
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 10 AM AND 8 PM
ADDRESS: Bebek, Cevdet Paşa Cd. 38/A, 34342 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
ferry/bus STOP: bebek/küçük bebek
6. Cremeria Milano
Combining gelato traditions from Italy, Cremeria Milano is extremely popular for their luxurious additive-free milk and cream gelato and real fruit sorbets. Brought from Italy to Istanbul by the Italian Benucci family, the company uses local Turkish ingredients and suppliers for their ingredients. As such, the high-quality ingredients means you’ll pay a bit more than other regular brands.
More Interestingly, delightful gelato flavours include ice cream with tiramisu, black mulberry, vanilla cookie Nutella, blackberry yoghurt, chocolate and sour cherry, milk and apple, hazelnuts, dates and so on. They have unusual sorbet flavours such as kiwi, mojito and pineapple. Lately, they’ve offered gluten-free options that are only offered in their tiramisu, other flour products and their wafers.
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 9 AM AND 9 PM
ADDRESS: Mecidiye, Vapur İskelesi Sk. No:11, 34347 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
ferry STOP: Beşiktaş
With a changing menu, Dondurmacci is a Turkish brand offering around 40 bizarre but tasty flavours. Their unique ingredients include chocolate and peppers, popcorn, orange cognac, salted caramel, green tea, lemon, mastic gum and so on. They also offer alternatives to refined sugar ice creams with stevia and their farm’s milk is without antibiotics.
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 11 AM AND 10 PM
ADDRESS: Teşvikiye, Şakayık Sk. 11/E, 34365 Şişli/İstanbul
Bus/furnicular STOP: Nişantaşı/maçka
8. Dondurmino Gelato
Operating out of two branches in hip locations — Karaköy and Alaçatı, Dondurmino is the brainchild of Turkish “Master Gelato Chef” Mehmet Ali Akbulut. A family-run boutique ice cream business that started in Alaçatı in Çeşme, a resort town popular in İzmir, it now offers 150 unique flavours of gelato.
Flavours such as orange and almonds, figs, lavender, rosemary and coconut offer something different than the classic varieties, for example. As such, not surprisingly, they have won awards for their artisan products.
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 10 AM AND 10 PM
ADDRESS: Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa, Mumhane Cd. Fransiz Geçidi İş Merk. No:108 D:B Block, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
METRO/ferry STOP: karaköy
Mado is a well-known Turkish brand that offers more than just Turkish ice cream. A leader in producing the regional Maraş-style ice cream, Mado offers high-quality products. It has been producing this type of ice cream from Anatolia with over 300 years of historical traditions.
It operates out of 300 or more branches in the country and has branched out in the Middle East recently. Above all, the brand offers many ice cream flavours, often in combination with baklava and great presentations. Grab a plate at their many branches around the city, and enjoy it with a knife and fork!
OPENING HOURS: YOU CAN VISIT BETWEEN 7 AM AND 2 AM
ADDRESS: Şehit Muhtar, Mahallesi, İstiklal Cd. no 38, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul; other branches
TRAMWAY STOP: GALATASARAY; TAKSIM
10. Ice Cream in Büyükada
It’s not just one particular place that’s worth trying on the biggest island of the Princes’ Islands, on Büyükada. You’ll easily find the street with rows of ice cream shops the minute you get off the ferry. After that, it’ll be difficult not to see visitors enjoying scoops of ice cream.
The best among them in the Tarihi Prinkipo Dondurmacisi shop and it is extremely popular. The shop also offers waffles and other treats in cones of many varieties: sprinkles and chocolate almonds, for example.
In the past, the island was known as Prinkipo and many exiled emperors, queens and politicians have taken refuge here. Moreover, you can also try the other ice cream sellers on the island too: Roma Dondurmacisi, Yunus and Sariyer are some other popular ones. After that, be sure to explore the island and its wonderful sights by either renting a bike or walking off the calories.