Locals Share Their Istanbul Experiences – Orkun Özbay

Picture of Kilyos beach by the Black Sea located on the European shore of Istanbul, Turkey.

by Erlend Geerts

in Locals Share

Every month we ask an Istanbul local the same ten questions. This way you can hear firsthand what they love and hate about the city, and learn about the best places to wine, dine and shop in town. Today Orkun Özbay, aged between 26-35, and active in trading (spare parts) sector, shares his Istanbul secrets.

1. Where do you live, and what makes your neighborhood special?

I live in Göktürk, which is easily reachable from the heart of the city, yet very close to the city’s main forests and the shores of the Black Sea.

2. What does a perfect day in Istanbul look like for you?

It should of course be a sunny day. My favorite waste of time is a boat trip between the two continents.

3. Where would you take first time Istanbul visitors to?

I’d take them for a tour on the Bosphorus, of course.

4. Do you have any shopping preferences and/or secrets?

I actually don’t. There is such a huge variety of quality international and local brand shops, shopping centers and outlets available in Istanbul. It all depends on what you need.

5. What is according to you the best souvenir people should take back home?

For me, souvenirs with the crescent and star figures (white on a red background) are the best ones.

6. What is your favorite restaurant, and why?

Hamdi Restaurant in Eminönü, Istanbul-Turkey.

Hamdi Restaurant in Eminönü.

It depends on what you want to eat,

  • for local cuisine — Kanaat Lokantası in Süleymaniye
  • for chicken wings — Kanatçı Haydar in Bahçelievler
  • for meat and kebap — Hamdi Restaurant in Eminönü
  • for fish — Adem Baba in Arnavutköy (alcohol is not available)

7. What Turkish dish should visitors really try out?

One of my favorites is haricot beans with rice (kuru fasulye). I know, it doesn’t sound sophisticated, but when made well it’s really delicious.

8. What is your favorite drink, and the best place to order it?

I think rakı is the best alcoholic drink available in Turkey, which you can have both with fish and meat. But take my advice, and only drink it while having food, at least with some snacks. It goes perfect with a selection of mezes for instance.

As a non-alcoholic drink, you may enjoy ayran, a drink based on yoghurt. Another option is şalgam, turnip juice. You can have it as spicy, too.

9. What is your favorite bar or night club?

Again a difficult one. The Beyoğlu – Tünel – Galata region has so many good Istanbul nightlife venues to offer. For live music, I recommend Babylon.

10. What do you love and/or hate about Istanbul?

I love the unique life style of Istanbul’s locals. Every day you run into another surprise. But I hate the traffic jams and the unorganized constructions in town.

Photo Sources [1] [2]

What's Next

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Barry Carver October 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

I hope this is the right place for this question – or that it can be transplanted to the right place – or that someone can direct me to a recent/dependable answer.

What I’ve read here so far is just terrific but I need to get something straight:

I’m in the Washington DC area and have read the Turkish embassy and the US State department website and they don’t seem to agree.

The Consulate says I need to show up in person and pay $60. for a visa for a week-long visit I’m planning in January.

The State department says I can get a “sticker visa” upon arrival (and that it is all I’ll need) for just $20. in cash at the airport in Istanbul.

Who is right?


Erlend Geerts October 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Hi Barry,

Well this wasn’t the correct thread to post it under, but anyway. The State department seems to be right, as you can learn from this article: Visa Requirements and Procedures for Istanbul, Turkey. Do follow the links in the article to learn the details.

Have a nice trip,


Anaïs November 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Hi Erlend,
The tips are amazing, I’m having a field day browsing through the website!
I am planning a very special trip this NYE but am having a hard time finding a place to celebreate the new year.
I read your post about where NOT to celebrate it, but if YOU had to choose a place to bask in 2013, a wow-filled, heart-warming, you-better-believe-you’ll-never-forget-this-new-year restaurant/bar, what would it be? Do you mind sharing?
Thank you!



Erlend Geerts November 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Hi Anaïs,

Thanks a lot for your kind remarks.

Have you checked out this post on celebrating New Year in Istanbul already? Please also do read through the comments and my answers.

Kind regards,


Robert Reach August 23, 2014 at 1:27 am

Actually two questions.
What is the situation with drinking water in Istanbul?
Two- best way to navigate the Grand Bazaar without being intimidated by the shop keepers, and how to know a reasonable price for a small souvenir?
thank you


Erlend Geerts August 23, 2014 at 2:02 am

Hi Robert,

If you’re here now, drink as much water as possible because it’s sizzling hot! But I think you meant about drinking from the tab: don’t! It’s safe to brush your teeth and stuff, but stick to bottles water (found everywhere very cheap) for drinking purposes. Ice cubes in restaurants and bars are safe, too.

Have you read my Grand Bazaar bargaining post?

Kind regards,


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