The spirit of spring has enveloped Istanbul. Its streets, parks and pavilions are full of Istanbulites enjoying the warm sun and pure blue skies. It is now a fact that spring has arrived with all its energy and vibrancy. We missed the sun and warm weather so much that we think nothing of walking for miles and miles around the city. But still, there are many outdoor spots around town where you can slow down the pace that accompanies the spring spirit. So, here we've picked some of the best outdoor cafes where you can take a deep, fresh breath while sipping your coffee.
Aşşk Kahve in Kuruçeşme
Aşşk Kahve (Love of Coffee) is where love meets a Bosporus view. Located on the way to Bebek from Ortaköy, Aşşk Kahve is one of the most popular spots during the spring and summer seasons. To watch the waves of the Bosporus while enjoying your drink is priceless, but bear in mind that you may need to wait a while to be seated next to the water. The main draw here is not only the view, but also its dessert buffet – a specialty of the cafe. You must taste the aşk-ı memnu (forbidden love) dessert if you visit. The outdoor design of the cafe also looks like a garden of a Mediterranean house, and cats walking under your seats turn the place into a perfect spot for a romantic outing.
Address: Muallim Naci Cad. No: 64/B, Kuruçeşme, Beşiktaş, Istanbul
Katmerler in Tophane
As an easily-accessible location for high quality shisha, Katmerler in Beyoğlu's Tophane is distinguished by being the most Turkish cafe unlike the others, which are influenced by more European styles. You can sit there for hours with a shisha and many Turkish teas – no need to request top-ups. Katmerler is directly opposite a huge mosque and next to the Bosporus, but with no sea view. There are not many food options in Tophane, as you can only try döner (sliced meat), kumpir (stuffed baked potatoes) and kebabs. However, if you visit Katmerler, I highly recommend the "Fındıklı Menengiç" coffee, which is made from a special, strong, domestic coffee mixed with ground pistachios and oil from the southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep. In this traditional Turkish coffee atmosphere, you should order a Turkish tea and play Batak, Okey or Backgammon to feel like a real Turk.
Address: Kılıçali Paşa Mahallesi, Amerikan Pazarı Sokak, No: 3/E, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Malta Köşk in Beşiktaş
The historic Malta Köşk was built during the Ottoman era and is currently used as a cafe by the Istanbul Municipality. Nestled among the trees of Yıldız Park on the road from Beşiktaş to Ortaköy on the European side, Malta Mansion, overlooking the Bosporus Strait, is where you can taste Turkish foods at affordable prices. The cafe has both a garden and a terrace, and is also suitable for wedding ceremonies in the spring and summer. For breakfast and brunch, you can also use the mansion with its easily-accessible location and prices that are very affordable compared to other cafes overlooking the Bosporus. To feel the old Ottoman times in today's Istanbul, Malta Mansion is a perfect place to visit.
Address: Yıldız Mahallesi, Beşiktaş – 34349, Istanbul
Dolmabahçe Teahouse in KabataşHere is another absolutely Turkish-style setting to slow down the pace of life. Located in Kabataş, the teahouse is where many Turks spend their time on spring and summer nights. It opens from early in the morning until late at night, and the teahouse's clientele does not diminish even after midnight. The teahouse does not serve as a cafe or a restaurant, but rather as a place where you can only order tea and Turkish coffee. So, the main draw here is not the taste of your drink, it is the socializing and sharing. Many people go there for hours to have conversation with friends and to use tea as a medium. That is actually what makes this humble destination with an incredible view so popular among Turks, as they know tea is just a primer for long hours spent conversing.
Address: Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. Dolmabahçe Meydanı, Beşiktaş, Istanbul
Dem Teahouse in Karaköy
Now is a perfect time to discover a simple fact if you haven't yet learned it: Turks adore tea – not only tea served Turkish style, but they also love to try other tea from around the world. Dem in Istanbul's cool district of Karaköy is where you can taste 60 different teas from numerous countries. While you are at Dem Cafe, you will be amazed by the spirit of the narrow Karaköy streets and enjoy sitting in the middle of the street with a tea in hand – a luxury that you cannot find easily in Istanbul. The interior decor will also grab your attention immediately, as you can sit there for hours reading a book, surfing the Internet and sampling different tea varieties. So, if you adore tea and are curious about tea cultures from around the world, Dem Karaköy is waiting for you.
Address: Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Hoca Tahsin Sk., No: 17, Karaköy – 34425, Istanbul
Fazıl Bey'in Türk Kahvesi
Now, it is time to enjoy a Turkish-style coffee. Located in the Kadıköy district on the Asian side, Fazıl Bey'in Türk Kahvesi (Mr. Fazıl's Turkish Coffee) is where many Turks visit for a wonderful Turkish coffee. Amid the rush of the day, it is a tradition for Turks to slow down the pace along with a Turkish coffee. In the historic Kadıköy Bazaar, you can find real, old-fashioned Turkish coffee since the coffee there is roasted and blended in an antique machine. To sip one of the best Turkish coffees on the Asian side during these energizing spring days, Fazıl Bey'in Türk Kahvesi calls you to learn more about Turkish culture. Since its name includes coffee, do not assume that the only thing you can find here is coffee. There are many other options with cold and hot beverages, especially fresh homemade lemonade.
Address: Caferağa Mahallesi, Serasker Caddesi, No 1/B, Kadıköy, Istanbul
Pierre Loti in Eyüp
For a cup of tea overlooking an amazing Istanbul view, Pierre Loti awaits. Named after the French writer who adored the city and lived here for many years, Pierre Loti is a hill overlooking the Golden Horn and a popular destination for lovers. You can sit at the cafe that bears the same name and order a traditional Turkish tea while watching the view and understanding once again why Loti loved this city so much. To reach the hill, you can either climb up or take a cable car. There are also restaurants around the hill for lunch or dinner. To feel love on the top of one of the hills of Istanbul, Pierre Loti is a perfect choice.
Address: İdris Köşkü Cad. Eyüp – 34050, Istanbul
Pembe Köşk in Fatih
Located in Fatih on the historic peninsula, Pembe Köşk (Pink Mansion) is one of the most historic spots in Kariye where you can feel as if you are living in Ottoman Istanbul. Looking through one of the most beautiful surviving examples from the Byzantine era, the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, which was later converted into the Kariye Mosque, Pembe Köşk has a spirit that immediately grabs you. Serving both as restaurant and cafe, the spot is where many locals and tourists spend their time from evenings until late at night, accompanied by shisha and a Turkish tea. What makes this such a popular destination is its historic and traditional ambience. To understand that Istanbul lives in both today and in the past, you must visit Pembe Köşk on one of these sunny spring days.
Address: Ayvansaray Mh., Fatih – 34087, Istanbul