Lonely Planet Local Jennifer Hattam has been enchanted with Istanbul since her first visit to the Turkish megalopolis in 2001. After nine years living and working as a journalist in the city, its combination of rich history and kinetic energy continue to captivate her, making up for the challenges of living cheek-by-jowl with 15 million-plus other İstanbullus.
When I have friends in town… visiting the top-tier historic sights such as the Aya Sofya and Topkapı Palace is a must, of course. However, I also like to take guests on walks through Istanbul’s varied, vibrant neighbourhoods. From the chic boutiques of Nişantaşı, to the bustling market and nightlife of Kadıköy, to the families thronging the holy sites of Eyüp on weekends; Istanbul is veritably many cities, rather than just one.
For a great view of the city… you can’t beat the rooftop of the towering Marmara Pera hotel, where there’s a swanky bar and incredible cityscape panoramas. It’s sure to impress visitors, but when I’m with local friends, we head to nearby, more laid-back terrace bars. The Adahan Hotel, or the charmingly shabby Büyük Londra Hotel, are fantastic for a low-key sundowner. I’m also very partial to the surprising, delightful glimpses of the sparkling Bosphorus and Marmara Sea as I wind through my hilly Beyoğlu neighbourhood.