Bebek-Arnavutköy Waterfront: The Pearl of the Bosphorus


No matter who you ask—whether they know Istanbul like the back of their hand or have only visited a few times—most people are likely to list the Bebek-Arnavutköy strip as one of the most enchanting of the city’s Bosphorus waterside districts. And they wouldn’t be wrong, because Bebek-Arnavutköy waterfront has it all: great restaurants and taverns serving some of the city’s best food, trendy cafes, and a host of culture and arts venues.

With its variety of places to go, it really is worth taking a trip to the Bebek-Arnavutköy waterfront on a Sunday morning to spend a few hours—or even a whole day. And to make sure you make the best of it, here’s a little guide.

You start with a laid-back breakfast as you enjoy the incredible views and deep blue waters of the Bosphorus, then take a peak at what the area has to offer for arts and culture. You then stop off for an afternoon coffee in one of the upmarket cafes, and finally, a meal in one of Bebek-Arnavutköy’s famous seafood restaurants or taverns to cap off what’s sure to be a perfect day.

With the spectacular setting of the Bosphorus laid out in front of you, enjoying a casual breakfast in Bebek-Arnavutköy couldn’t be more charming, and there are many popular places to choose from. There’s the pancake house Mangerie, the cafe formerly known as Kızlar Kahvesi, that now goes by the name Bebek Kahve, and Happily Ever After, which offers more of a healthy option. In each of these you can treat yourself to a delicious breakfast and take advantage of offers only available to Mastercard holders. Beware though, you might just run into the paparazzi as these spots are often frequented by Turkish stars.

Walk off your breakfast by taking a stroll along the Bebek-Arnavutköy waterfront. You’ll see fishermen trying to get a bite, locals out for their morning jogs, and you’ll have the chance to breathe in the refreshing sea air. Keep on walking and you’ll reach Arnavutköy Art Gallery, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a poetry reading, a book signing, or an artist’s talk.

While Bebek-Arnavutköy may well be the most beautiful of all the waterfront neighborhoods, the strip is full of superb venues like Lucca—the perfect place to enjoy a lazy afternoon cocktail. If you stay around, you’ll find that not only do they serve fantastic sushi, they also throw a great party. You’re likely to be rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous here too.

But if you’d prefer something a little more low-key, La Sirene Bebek will be much more to your taste. You can sit and listen to the water lapping at the shore while you dig in to one of their delicious pizzas, or you could treat yourself to some of their fantastic ice cream.

The name Arnavutköy literally means “Albanian Village,” and the tradition of fishing here has been around for centuries. As you walk through the neighborhood you find places serving fish for just a few lira, as well as some of the most exclusive seafood restaurants in the city.

Take Sur Balık or Arnavutköy Balıkçısı, just two of the excellent seafood restaurants in the area. Eftelya is also a favorite, particularly for its curried sea bass, while Fishmekan will introduce you to traditional fasıl (classical Ottoman) music along with your meal. Bebek Meyhane is one of the most popular taverns in the area, bringing together the flavors of Greek, Turkish, and Armenian cuisines. There’s also Rum Meyhanesi where you’ll hear the sounds of the Greek bouzouki, and Arnavutköy Meyhanesi.

And with that, you’ve brought an end to a fantastic day on the Bebek-Arnavutköy waterfront. You’ll be planning your next visit before you know it.

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