10 of the Best Cafes in Istanbul
The streets of Istanbul are full of history and local culture and taking it all in for the first time can be overwhelming. This is where the city’s coffee culture and cafes come in handy; where people of all faiths and all walks of life share a drink, do people-watching and wind down.
In fact, cafes and restaurants are a dime a dozen in most commercial parts of the city and near major sightseeing sites. You can easily find fantastic coffee, mouth-watering desserts and food in a modern setting, with some chicly designed interiors. For coffee lovers especially we’ve put together an article with the 10 best coffee shops that this frenetic city offers.
Furthermore, some cafes offer a fantastic blend of international and local food and drinks and in unique settings — perched atop a hill, or in a secluded part of town or how about a cafe by a famous photographer or a mother/daughter? How about a modern teahouse with chic interiors, or a floral cafe? Here are a few more establishments that not only offer coffee in all its forms (Turkish, Italian, for example) but other options as well. Let’s check them out below!
1. Pierre Loti Hill Cafes
A hill named after a Frenchman naval officer who spent time in the East-meets-West city and author of Constantinople fin de siècle, Pierre Loti in one of those secretly charming places in the city overlooking the Golden Horn. Not many spots in the city offer this particular view of Haliç and Eyup and the opportunity to have a simple tea or coffee under canopies. It’s also not fully accessible and in a remote part of town, albeit served by buses or taxis. Nonetheless, a cable car makes it easier to go up so you spend your time gazing at the city below seated at one of the many cafes perched atop the hill.
When you get there, the offerings are few but have a coffee or a tea and on sunny and quiet days, enjoy some time here with a book. Alternatively, take a friend along as well and make it a trip to explore the neighbourhood. Take a peek inside the 15th century Eyüp mosque, its historical fountains and roam the streets of the historical and colourful Jewish neighbourhood of Fener-Balat as you head back into town.
OPENING HOURS: 9 am to 8 pm
ADDRESS: Eyüp Merkez, İdris Köşkü Cd., 34050 Eyüpsultan/İstanbul
cable car: Pierre Loti (bus or taxi from eyüp ferry station/eminönü)
2. Cafe Ara
Istanbul’s most celebrated and award-winning Armenian-Turkish photographer/photojournalist Ara Güler is the namesake for this charming cafe near the Galatasaray nostalgic tramway stop. Ara Güler is Turkey’s only internationally known photographer and a Magnum photographer known for his amazing photographs of Istanbul and hence took on the name — the Eye of Istanbul.
Take a break here from the hustle and bustle of Taksim and Istiklal Avenue, rest your legs or people-watch at the outdoor tables if you can’t find a spot inside and enjoy the atmosphere. With hundreds of amazing atmospheric photographs, of Istanbul especially, lining the walls, this is antiquely furnished cafe offering some good desserts such as Mexican-style chocolate pudding and pumpkin puree with cinnamon.
Above all, take a few extra minutes to stare at the historical black and white post-WW1 photographs and the corner with photos of the photographer himself! Before he died in 2018 aged 90, Ara Güler would often frequent his cafe! Just a few weeks before he died, Güler’s old home in Bomontiada was turned into a museum and can be visited free of charge! It highlights the journey of the photographer and his life, along with stories of his photographs, travels and literary works. A short 10-mins walk away from Osmanbey metro station will take you here.
OPENING HOURS: 9 am to 11.30 pm
ADDRESS: Tomtom, Ara Güler Sk No:2, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
TRAMWAY STOP: Galatasaray
With two great locations, Dem is actually a modern teahouse with numerous teas, both local and international. The word ‘Dem’ or ‘Demleme’ means brewing tea in Turkish. When they first started in 2013, they only offered teas but have now also added coffees to their menus.
Furthermore, they also offer tea tastings and tea pairings with complementing desserts, so give those a try! However, they’ve got some amazing cheesecake options and some fantastic simit platters — want to try a Simit Menemen or how about a Simit Bruschetta? Dem has it on the menu!
OPENING HOURS: 12 pM TO 11 PM
ADDRESS: Caferağa, Şair Nefi Sk. 9/A, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul
TRAMWAY STOP: Moda İlkokulu
4. Aşşk Kahve
Aşşk Kahve means “Love Coffee” in Turkish and that’s exactly what loyal patrons of this cafe will tell you when they describe why they love this establishment. Their Kuruçesme location overlooks the Bosphorus and it should or must be on your must-dos in Istanbul! This particular location is not exactly easy to get to, but you can take a bus or a taxi from either Beşiktaş or Ortaköy.
A few minutes away from the Ortaköy district, the place is beautifully decorated and you’ll be sitting in a garden and watching boats pass by — a welcome respite to relax with a drink in hand or go on a romantic date!
Another cosy branch caters to the posh neighbourhood in Nişantaşı, one of the best places to stay in the city. Both locations offer their own charms, but its the Kuruçesme location that’s better known as it overlooks the Bosphorus! Give them both a try!
OPENING HOURS: 9 AM TO 10.30 PM (CLOSED ON Mondays)
ADDRESS: Harbiye, Maçka Cd. No:53, 34365 Şişli/İstanbul
5. Kirpi Cafe
A favourite cafe of locals, Kirpi caters to its patrons in 5 different locations around the city, with two cafes located inside popular shopping malls.
Their tasty offerings are generous and they have both local Turkish dishes and international ones. For example, they have tacos, hummus, noodles, mac and cheese, savoury crepes, pizzas and local cheese platter. As for native dishes, they offer Bazlama toasts, Hatay-style bread with cheese as a starter, Turkish wraps, village-style chicken with thyme, zucchini hashbrowns, and scrambled eggs with sucuk or potatoes.
But what’s surprising is they offer some ‘spicier’ options from the Indian cuisine such as samosas, Orissa salad and curry chicken, and from the Far East they have teriyaki chicken, Chinese-style veggies with chicken. Do give their food a try along with any of their cocktails or other drinks if you’re nearby any of their 5 locations!
OPENING HOURS: 9 AM TO 2 aM
ADDRESS: Bağdat Caddesi No.325 A 1-2, 34728 Kadıköy/İstanbul + other locations
bus STOP: erenköy
6. Şirin Fırın | Bakery
Walking away from the Galata Tower, just a block away on the street leading left of Lavazza, you’ll find this sweet bakery shop/cafe. Painted sea green with an accompanying Vespa parked outside, this bright cafe is always overflowing with customers and is reminiscent of cafes in Europe.
The cafe is known for their amazing pastries, cakes, jams and quiches. They also offer weekend Turkish breakfast platters and Turkish snacks such as börek in many flavours and varieties.
OPENING HOURS: 6 AM TO 12 aM
ADDRESS: Şahkulu, Büyük Hendek Cd. No:16/A, 34420 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
TRAMWAY/metro/funicular STOP: karaköy/Şişhane/Beyoğlu
The Village cafe in Yeldeğirmeni is brightly decorated in orange and white interiors punctuated with plants, art and murals on the wall. Offering both indoors and outdoors seating and an inspiring motto of “a place of friendly faces which always values good food, fine drinks and decent music”, they’ve gained a loyal following! They also offer workshops on coffee!
A selection of good books line their walls as well, you can be sure that you’ll enjoy your day out here with friends or to work. Try their open sandwich spreads with avocado and scrambled eggs, for example, or their pink spaghetti made with beets, yoghurt and fresh basil, grilled halloumi salad, their zucchini dessert, macaroons or their “village” pudding, along with their coffee options (Ristretto, Lungo, Aeropress, v60, Chemex or Syphon).
OPENING HOURS: 10 AM TO 11 PM
ADDRESS: Rasimpaşa, Recaizade Sk. No:54/A, 34716 Kadıköy/İstanbul
ferry STOP: Kadıköy
Situated at the intersection of Duatepe and Karakolhane Avenues, Kuff at Yeldeğirmeni has quickly become a neighbourhood favourite. With its page-long vegan options and generous breakfast offerings, it sees a fair amount of foreigners as its patrons. For breakfast (i.e. Turkish breakfast, they offer Turkish-style village breakfast, street style breakfast (with simit and local cheeses). On the other hand, there’s also a vegan breakfast platter and an English breakfast platter. Lots and lots of breakfast options, you see!
On the vegan menu, there’s a vegan breakfast, mixed legume salad, quinoa salad, orange and avocado salad. Moreover, there are other unique dishes such as Fettucini with Tofu and a few wrap options with Mexican beans and white cabbage — some unique ingredients for sure!
Additionally, there are tons of other choices on the menu. Among them, the Mongolian-style spicy chicken, “grape” pizza, calzones, chimichurri sauce sausage, teriyaki chicken, tacos, zucchini and walnut pasta are a few dishes that stand out. Moreover, they also have another branch in lively Bahariye Street on the opposite side. Take your pick!
OPENING HOURS: 8 AM TO 1 AM
ADDRESS: Rasimpaşa, Karakolhane Cd. No:54, 34716 Kadıköy/İstanbul + other location
ferry/train STOP: KADIKÖY, Ayrılık Çeşmesi
9. Mum’s Cafe
Tucked in the side streets of Karaköy/Galata and its numerous establishments, Mum’s Cafe stands out for its cosiness, its jams and the influence of a mother’s — the owner and her mother run the place and they’re from Sweden where “Mums” means “flavour” and that’s probably why their menu has a prawn sandwich called Räksmörgås.
In general, the menu is full of unique dishes: zucchini hash “balls”, arancini, crostini varieties, Lebanese-style salad, mung bean salad, salmon Nicoise salad, a Nutella toast, peanut hummus and caramelized onions and sautéed spinach, both with poached eggs and many other great options. In short, when you’re in Karaköy next, go explore the French Passage, a historic galleria, alongside the many amazing dishes at this cute café.
OPENING HOURS: 9 AM TO 11 PM (closes 12 am on Fri-sat, 9.30 am to 10 pm on Sundays)
ADDRESS: Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa, Fransız Gç Sokağı 1/16 D:17, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
TRAMWAY STOP: karaköy
10. Misk Floral Cafe
Located in the secluded neighbourhood of Emirgan (where there’s also a beautiful green grove), you’ll need a taxi to get to this cafe. Operating as both a cafe and a florist, you’ll find fresh flowers, beautiful decor along with your tea, coffee, snacks or delicious food. They’ve also got both outdoor and indoor seating with a very chic international vibe.
On the menu, there are a few egg dishes, smoothie bowls, bagels and croissants, freshly squeezed fruit juice, lattes and coffees. Try their flower teas or bubble teas, especially lavender tea or the Rooibos latte along with the Eggs Benedict or the organic chicken croissant with avocado and their cortado. (They also serve bacon which isn’t that common in Istanbul FYI). You can take home some of the floral arrangements and unique bouquets on sale here.
In the summer, they operate out of Gaia Boutique Hotel’s garden in Alaçatı, an Aegean resort town an hour from Izmir, now extremely popular with Istanbullites. The same concept applies there keeping in mind seasonal ingredients. Try their breakfast here for a lazy brunch with pancakes, or their poached eggs with sourdough bread.