Istanbul Favourites of Helen

Favourite Attraction:
The Basilica Cistern... one of the most peaceful places on earth
Favourite District:
Çukurcuma in Beyoğlu... full of rambling old Ottoman mansions, eccentric boutiques and antiques Istanbul in one sentence: A true city of life.
Favourite place to go:
The seaside in Moda (Asian side) or wandering around until I stumble on something new.
Favoutite Museum:
Hagia Sophia
Favourite Restaurant:
It's hard to pick just one. Kanaat in Uskudar for homestyle Turkish food; Mohti Laz Meyhanesi in Taksim for real Black Sea cuisine; Sur Ocakbaşı in Fatih for the best kebab!
Favourite Food:
Midye Dolma (stuffed mussels) and Kokoreç... the best street food in Istanbul.
Favourite Cafe / Bar:
Piraye Cafe (Nazım Hikmet Centre) in Kadıköy
Favourite Drink:
Turkish tea! Or, in winter, Sahlep.

Wizard profile of Helen

Helen loves Crazy cities and weird & wonderful street food
Helen has been in 30+ countries
Mostly travels for culture, history, food
Helen travels usually solo, meeting friends along the way
Favourite Music:
Classic rock, old punk ala Patti Smith
Favourite Movie:
101 Reykjavik; In My Father's Den
Favourite Book:
Holidays in Hell by PJ O'Rourke
Favourite TV Show:
Extras, The Office (UK), The In Betweeners, Six Feet Under

I’m continuously asked – by my friends back home, by other travellers, and by Turks themselves – why Istanbul? Why I visited, why I stayed and why I continue to stay here are all questions I ask myself. But when it comes down to it, it’s the small things- the hole-in-the-wall eateries still serving with a smile at 3am; the late afternoon ferry rides across the Bosphorus; the baskets being lowered from windows by weathered old men with food for the street cats; the gentle kindnesses I witness everyday; and the kind of freedom one can only really get from what might look from the outside to be anarchy.

As editor of Istanbul travel guide, My Destination Istanbul ( and with some freelance stuff on the go, I’m living, breathing and devouring this crazy city each day.

Istanbul’s a mysterious, magical city. Love it or hate it, it’s got me hooked!