A laid-back and artsy suburb on İstanbul’s Asian side, Kadıköy is far less touristy than Beyoğlu or Sultanahmet. Jammed full of shops, restaurants, and bars, many İstanbulites will tell you that Kadıköy is their favorite part of the city.
Take the ferry to get here from the European side; frequent services depart from all the docks, notably Karaköy, Beşiktaş, and Eminönü. Browse the lively fish market located at the waterfront, where stall owners shout out prices and enticements for their wares and you can find many a local searching for the best deal in town. Of course, everything is fresher than fresh. If a restaurant is more up your alley, Çiya Sofrası in Caferağa Mahallesi is a good choice- they have great local dishes as well as more international fare.
In accordance with the more chilled out pace of the Asian side, you can start your visit with a walk along the Bosphorus in the cosmopolitan neighborhood of Moda. It’s one of the most pleasant walks in İstanbul- the area is upscale and pretty, with nice views across the water and numerous parks and restaurants scattered along the promenade.
Kadıköy’s nightlife has a different feel to it than the wilder and more international crowd you’ll find near İstiklal. Still, this side of the Bosphorus is vastly popular with locals, and you’ll find a number of the city’s insider bars and clubs here, most with a much more “Turkish” feel to them than the expat-populated haunts across the water. Start your night at Kadife Sokak in central Kadıköy- colloquially known as “Bar Street,” Kadife is bustling with innumerable bars, most of which feature outdoor seating as well as indoor tables. In particular, look for Arka Oda, which is sure to come up in just about any conversation with an İstanbul-dweller when you broach the topic of their favorite bars. There are frequent concerts, so check out their schedule of upcoming shows at www.arkaoda.com.
While in Kadıköy, plan a stop at Sahaf 26A (Caferağa Mah. Sakız Sok. No:3/1). Run by the same collective which manages Cafe 26A in Beyoğlu, Sahaf is a secondhand bookstore where profit is irrelevant next to community, cooperation, art, and the organic spread of knowledge. 20 volunteers take care of the administrative duties of the store, including producing and circulating photocopied publications as well as holding workshops in the garden.