Kadikoy Moda is a fascinating and underrated suburb of Istanbul. Like many tourists, perhaps, we were drawn to the big attractions of Istanbul: Sofia, the Blue Temple, the Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower. They were simply must-dos and became our first priority. But after the first week came and went, it dawned on us that we wanted to escape from the hustle and bustle and try to get a small insight into what life in Istanbul is like for locals. After some online research, we decided that Kadikoy Moda was the destination we were looking for. Not too touristy but not out in the sticks.
Frequented by locals, vibrant and with plenty of places of interest. If you haven’t been to Istanbul, you might not know that the city is huge. Really bloody huge. The kind of huge that takes you on a 30-minute ferry ride from the gigantic old center to the other side of the city only to discover a second gigantic center.
For those of you from larger cities, this might seem quite a mundane fact of city life. But for me, a country girl who used to walk wide-eyed through Brisbane’s CBD wondering how so much life fit into one small space, Istanbul is massive. And it’s not just that the city expands so far and wide geographically. It’s that the vibrancy, the flair, the feeling of stumbling onto a new side street full of restaurants or a new lane filled with grocers at every turn follows you wherever you go.
Kadikoy Ferry – How To Get To Kadikoy Moda
The ferry ride to Kadikoy Moda was smooth and enjoyable. One absolutely fantastic thing about Istanbul is that local teenagers, wearing bright blue shirts with “Ask Me” written on them, walk around the most touristy areas of the city assisting tourists with questions about where to go, how to get around, how to pay for your transport etc. These guys speak English and are more than happy to talk you through the process of buying a travel card, advising how much to put on the card and how to use it correctly.
Two such teenagers helped us purchase a travel card to Kadikoy Moda and we were really thankful that they were around. Even though signs are often shown in English and Turkish, it can be hard to navigate your way around.
We cruised happily along the glistening sea for a quick 30-minutes. The ferry left exactly on time, the seats were clean and comfortable and the whole experience was thoroughly enjoyable. Wind gently blowing your hair while the waves slowly lull you into a light relaxation kind of enjoyable. We arrived, ready to explore!
Kadikoy Restaurants and Shops
When you get off the ferry in Kadikoy Moda, you might be a little underwhelmed. There is a small esplanade with not much happening – a few food vendors, and further on some small flower stalls surrounded by rubbish and busy roads with lots of honking. But do not fear. Once you cross these roads, you will step into a maze of Kadikoy restaurants, cafés, souvenir shops and fruit stalls decorating the sides of cobblestone streets.
This part of Istanbul is no less fascinating or tourist-friendly than the old center. In fact, it is even more appealing because there are fewer tourists, fewer hawkers and a more authentic feel. You can wind your way along the gorgeous streets, gaping at the old antique shops where knick-knacks and treasures are sold, grinning at the pillars on the side of the road that have been painted in different colours or admiring the majestic Turkish flag which can be found almost everywhere in the city.
This part is also home to many stray cats and dogs who feel so at home that we even saw one snoozing under a table in a café, making it impossible for any clients to sit down. But neither the owners no the waiters cared. It was heartwarming.
Kadikoy market (The Kadikoy Balik Pazari) is an absolute must-see in Kadikoy Moda. And don’t be put off if you’re not a fish lover. This market has so much more than just that. It is a display of the finest delicacies Istanbul has to offer – cheese, olives, coffee, nuts, honey and Turkish desserts. There is also fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruits, pickle juice and the famous restaurant Çiya where you can try regional Turkish cuisine. This enormous variety is why the market is often referred to as the Produce Market. Make sure you don’t miss it.
We strolled around this little pocket of paradise until we reached a rather well-known statue in this area – The Bull. This part of the city thrives with existence and boasts a great selection of cafes, stores and supermarkets. It is also where we came across an old-school tram that does a free loop around Kadikoy Moda. We decided to follow the tram tracks and came across a secluded little street on the left, dedicated to Nazim Hikmet, a famous Turkish poet.
It was at this point that we realized this part of Istanbul was much greener than the Old Centre. The amount of shrubbery grew as we continued uphill and we soon reached the edge of the city where the road ends on a small cliff. We could have walked down to the beach and continued our journey on the esplanade, but we were both a little knocked up from so much walking.
Being a tourist can be a tough gig. So, we decided to head back to the center using a new road. There are several cafes in this part of Kadikoy Moda with gorgeous views of the sea that are shaded by shrubs and plants and it’s no wonder why. This was a suburb of holiday makers, not tourists, but locals. We passed by tens of hotels and ourselves were passed by tens of Turks with towels draped over their shoulders as they headed down to the beach for a dip in the sea.
Kadikoy Moda Street Art
Now, this side of Istanbul has a lot of interesting street art but the one piece that took the cake for me was that of a portly street dog sprawled out on a cushion. The dog’s name was Tarçın (Turkish for cinnamon) and was so well-known and loved by locals (like most street dogs in Istanbul), that a statue in his honour was created after his death.
In this area a touching tribute to Malala Yousafzai can also be found.
After this, we headed back to the ferry. We were tired, our feet were aching and we were in need of a cold glass of beer. We would have loved to stay longer and will definitely consider staying in a hotel in Kadikoy Moda next time we are in Turkey. The vibe is chilled and there is so much to see and try. For more information about this wonderful spot, check out HERE.
Don’t forget to check out our fine art prints depicting Istanbul’s magic atmosphere.
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