Is the Asian Side of Istanbul Worth Visiting – Part 1

The quay and it's famous yellow balloon in Kadıköy, Istanbul.

by Erlend Geerts

in Sightseeing

Yes, it is. But only if you’re in Istanbul for 4 days or more, or visiting this gorgeous Turkish metropolitan for the second time. Let’s not beat around the bush, with the huge concentration of (historical) sightseeing spots on the European side of Istanbul, the Asian shore is playing second fiddle to its European counterpart.

If you already have this ‘been there, done that’ feeling, then the Asian part offers a view of Istanbul and its inhabitants not found in Sultanahmet or Taksim. The best way to start exploring the Asian side of Istanbul is by taking a ferry to Kadıköy. Here are my favorite spots worth paying a visit in the different Istanbul!

Kadıköy Tuesday Market

Market in Kadıköy, Istanbul.

Market in Kadıköy, Istanbul.

If you happen to be in town on a Tuesday or Friday, the famous Tuesday market is a remarkable spot for an adventure in the local market. Starting from 1969 the market place in Kadıköy was the sanctuary of the local shoppers. Naturally it grew with the city and the population. Finally in 2008 it moved from its traditional place in Altıyol to a modern forty thousand square meters area, with four thousand stalls and a car park in Fikirtepe.

Some of the locals still miss the historic market despite the chaos it created, mostly traffic wise. And they say the new one does not have the same ambience. Yet some are really happy with the spacious new spot.

You simply can take a taxi to the market place which is about 3 km away from the ferry dock. Walking would be overkill since you will have to climb up mostly. Alternatively you can take a bus from Kadıköy, 8A and get off at Mandıra Caddesi or Ş.Er Bülent Altınsoy station.

Kadıköy Daily Market

The nostalgic Kadıköy-Moda tram in Istanbul, Turkey.

The nostalgic Kadıköy-Moda tram.

If you can’t make it on a Tuesday, you can always visit the daily Kadıköy market. It’s a different experience, but not less enjoyable — and much closer to the pier. Cross the main street after leaving the ferry dock and make a right and then turn left. If you find yourself in car-free streets filled with shops, you’re there. It is a really laid-back place to walk or shop around in. There are also plenty of nice pastry shops, bookstores and cafés (with terraces) to recharge your batteries.


The famous cafe on the Moda quay in Kadıköy, Istanbul.

The famous cafe on the Moda quay.

I seem to have a love-hate relationship with this part of the Asian side. Unlike other people, I don’t think it’s that spectacular, but when on the Asian side (and after visiting the market) I can’t seem to skip having a tea or coffee in Moda while overlooking the Sea of Marmara. You can walk all the way to Moda, but taking the nostalgic tram is more convenient — get off at the Moda stop.

The place I always go to is a café/restaurant at the Moda pier (Moda İskele). You can tell that the venue has had more glorious times in the past, but it remains a cool place to relax and enjoy the sea view (see picture).

Continue reading the second part of our favorite spots on Istanbul’s Asian side.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

A. Khan February 20, 2013 at 5:50 pm

The Asian side of Istanbul. The author did not mention the fact that there are more Churches than Mosques on the Asian side than the European side. The government has launched a program of repairing these historical structures.


Richard April 30, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I used your article as the basis for whether to go to the Asian side, as it was a Tuesday I decided to. I got into a Taksi and asked for Fikirtepe, he drove me there, no market, I then mentioned Mandira Cadessi, he told me we were on it. We stopped, talked to people on the street, all in search of this Tuesday market. Finally we got it, Sali Pazari. The driver said it’s not in Fikirtepe. I think it would be useful to mention the name of the name of the market in the article above. Very useful site.


hany May 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm

hi Erlend
We planning our trip to Istanbul and I bumped into a blur about Turkbalon on Kadikoy. The balloon only goes up and down, but it doesn’t cost alot of money for the experience. Is this attraction still operational? Can you provide more info on it. Maybe a website address?


Erlend Geerts May 19, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Hi Hany,

I’ve never taken it myself. I did sit in the cafe next to it several times though. Maybe it’s worth it, maybe it’s not, but I guess you get similar high point views from the Galata Tower or various rooftop restaurants and bars across town.

Kind regards,


Can June 6, 2014 at 11:52 am


The baloon is not there anymore. It wasn’t operational for a while, and now they removed it.


sevillone June 27, 2014 at 10:42 pm

I have just returned from Turkey. I spent a lot of time in Asian side such as Kadikoy-barlar sokagi, rihtim; Moda and also Bagdat caddesi. I spent a lot of time sitting in one of the bars or cafes in Kadikoy around one of the very old churches listening gypsies dancing & singing in the street and other street performers playing all sorts of music from tango to rock. Fikirtepe! Never heard of it.


Rudolph.A.Furtado August 5, 2015 at 9:26 am

Should be visiting Turkey in September 2015 and thanks for your informative blog.


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