- Culinary walks
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Our favorite Istanbul experiences include exploring the eateries in local markets and crossing the Bosphorus on the public ferry. The “Two Markets, Two Continents” route draws from our best-of list in the European side’s Karaköy neighborhood and the Asian side’s Kadıköy, tied together by a Bosphorus crossing.
The historic Perşembe Pazarı of Karaköy, where this walk begins, might look like a place to buy springs, ship anchors, hardware and paint supplies, but we’ll go there for breakfast at a lovely little esnaf lokantası run by a husband-and-wife team, followed by a stroll through the atmospheric mariner market streets, where we’ll stop into an Ottoman-era caravanserai for tea. Then we’ll hop the boat to Kadıköy on the Asian side and eat our way through that neighborhood’s market, which holds the highest concentration of traditional food shops and eateries in the city. There, we will perk up with one of the best cups of Turkish coffee in town before sampling regional specialties such as Mersin’s famous tantuni, the flatbread, lahmacun, of Southeastern Turkey and Aegean-style meze. We’ll continue on toward the lesser-explored culinary hotspots around the Moda area at the market’s edge, where an infectious neighbourhood vibe and a sweet finish await us.
What is the difference between the Two Markets walk that starts at 9:30am and the one that starts at 9am or 10am?
We offer two Two Markets walks during busy times to accommodate more guests. There are few differences between the two walks, although the sequence of stops is different.
What is included in the fee?
In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – almost a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price.
Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?
Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.
We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
What is the payment process?
We require a $50 per person deposit to complete the online booking. Then, we accept the remaining $75 per person in cash (USD, Euro, or Turkish lira) on the day of the walk. If at any time you want to pay for your balance electronically, please just click ‘view booking’ on your confirmation email and there is an option to ‘pay balance’.
What is your cancellation policy?
100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?
Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?
Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at email@example.com if you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?
This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation before booking.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians and pescetarians?
This walk can be enjoyed by vegetarians,however there are some stops that may need to opt out of.
Is alcohol served on the walks?
Is the food offered on the walks halal?
This is difficult to answer. In Turkey the halal certification process is relatively new, so though many butchers are halal they may not be certified and though many restaurants use halal products they may not advertise or even recognize it. Because of this, we cannot confidently say that all of the food is halal.
How physically demanding are the walks?
The walks are all about 2KM (1.25 miles) of fairly flat terrain. The streets and sidewalks of Istanbul can be a bit unpredictable so we recommend good walking shoes. All our walks include numerous breaks along the way.
Can children join the walks?
Of course! But please note that Istanbul’s streets – narrow, uneven and often lacking a sidewalk – can be challenging with a stroller.
We offer a 50% discount to children 12 years old and younger. We do not charge for children 6 and under.
Do you offer walks during Ramazan?
We do offer this walk during the month of Ramazan and some local holidays, although our schedule is more limited during that time.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?
Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.
Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
How much food will I get to try?
This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.
Still have questions? Please email us at email@example.com.
It’s not just that they have a keen eye for what’s delicious—they do—but that we share a sense of what’s worth discovering. Food unique to a place, with a story in that place. Food made by people who care about it, about their craft; food worth talking about, worth traveling for. Read more
After stopping everywhere from fruit carts (for, say, green almonds and sour plums) to an Ottoman-era caravanserai for tea in Karaköy, on the northern side of historic Galata Bridge, you’ll be whisked by ferry to Kadıköy market, in Asian Istanbul, to sample regional treats like lahmacun (flatbread with spiced, minced meat). Read more
The historic seat of empires and the gateway to the spice trade, the city boasts a food scene that reflects its neighbors in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, as well as towns and provinces throughout Turkey. Walking through the streets, you’ll see spit-roasting meats, tart and fresh juices squeezed to order, and salty, savory snacks — from pickles and olives to a local variety of bagel. Read more
Last year, we toured the Istanbul produce markets withMegan, an American cook who has lived in Istanbul for many years and who is a guide with Culinary Backstreets, which specialises in local food experiences. While the Spice Market is an essential stop on most tourist itineraries, Megan took us on a ferry across to Kadikoy, to the lesser-known market on the cosmopolitan, Asian side of the city. There, we sampled the best kebab in the city, and tasted meltingly sublime baklava from Bilgeoglu, one of Istanbul’s best pastry makers. Read more