A Short Guide to Istanbul for Inter Fans, Presented by a Local

Welcome to Istanbul, beloved Interisti!

As an Istanbulite member of The Cult of Calcio, I wanted to prepare this guide for you. In this guide, I aim at helping you experience a pleasant trip as you brace for the Champions League Final with Manchester City. 

Where to Stay in Istabul?

As you know, Istanbul connects Asia and Europe to each other. The Ataturk Olympic Stadium is located on the European side of the city, so it would be a better choice to stay on that side. However, some districts can be crowded and noisy 24/7. Taksim and Besiktas are two popular districts for hanging out and having a drink. I know it might sound cool, but there is a high possibility that you will wake up at four in the morning because of horns or people screaming. Considering all these, I can advise you to stay in the Şişli district. Şişli has a big shopping mall named Cevahir that you can spend time in. The district also has an interesting connection to Italian heritage since an Italian-Jewish cemetery is located here. If you still want to stay in Taksim and don’t mind the noise, I can recommend Hotel Marble. It is a hotel that I had accommodated with pleasure.

Transportation in Istanbul

Istanbul is a metropolis with 16 million people. Actually, it is believed that the population is even higher than that. Consequently, there might be traffic at any hour, on any day. When you arrive in the city, you might use the buses named HavaIst (for those landing at Istanbul Airport) and HavaBus (for those landing at Sabiha Gokcen Airport). You can either pay in cash or with credit card for the ticket. Also, HavaIst has its own application, where you can buy your ticket online. You can find your ticket in the ‘’wallet – my profile’’ section once you buy it. Prices depend on where you are going. You can get more information on the websites below:



By the way, here is a friendly tip: Istanbul Airport ensures free Wi-Fi connection, while Sabiha Gokcen Airport doesn’t.

Our system is a bit different than Europe for public transportation. In Istanbul, we use ‘’Istanbulkart’’. You have to top-up money in the card and swipe it every time you are using a public transportation vehicle. It is easy to have this card. All you need to do is to find these machines named ‘’biletmatik’’ and that’s it. The card costs 50 Turkish Lira and you can also decide how much money you want to top up. Paying with a credit card is also an option. You can find these machines in the airports and in any subway (metro) station, in case you take HavaIst or HavaBus. If you want to learn about Istanbulkart, here is another source for you: 


Fortunately, it is possible to go to the stadium by subway, and trust me, this is the best way. 

There are also some public transportation vehicles that can be paid with cash. They are called ‘’dolmuş’’ (yellow) and ‘’minibüs’’ (blue). During your stay, they can be a life-saver according to your destination. Dolmuş only moves when all the seats are taken in the vehicle. Credit cards are only valid on taxis, however, there is still a chance you might run into the ones that are using only cash. 

What to Eat in Istanbul

I am sure this is another reason why you Interisti are excited for your trip to Istanbul. I definitely recommend you mantı, i.e., Turkish dumplings. With garlic yogurt, sumac, mint and paprika, it is such a delicious dish. The second dish I can recommend is lahmacun, also known as Turkish pizza by foreigners. Kokorec, döner and ıslak hamburger (wet hamburger, as it is translated, has very dense sauce) are among the most popular street foods. If you ever visit the Sultanahmet district, köfte (meatballs) is also highly recommended.

As Turks, we care about breakfast so much, so we have a variety on the table when we start the day, especially on weekends. Beşiktaş is a perfect district to enjoy some Turkish breakfast. Additionally, we claim to have the best desserts, especially baklava.

For the ones who might feel homesick, of course there are also choices for you. The local  branch of the famed Eataly market + restaurant is located in a shopping center named Zorlu Center. Il Cortile in the Galata district is also recommended. For dessert, you can go to Chocca in the Kadikoy district. Being located in the Anatolian (Asian) side is the only disadvantage of this place.

Hanging Out in Istanbul

Istanbul is also famous for its nightlife. There are many bars and nightclubs and mainly, they are present in Besiktas, Taksim and Kadikoy districts. Therefore, you can find yourself a place to drink before heading to Ataturk Olympic Stadium on the matchday. Considering the tight schedule, you might consider Besiktas and Taksim since they are also on the European side.

Tourism Attractions

Istanbul’s historical peninsula is a must see. On this peninsula, you will get to see traces from both the Byzantine and Turkish heritage of the city. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, Basilica Cistern, Sultanahmet Square are all located here. An early warning: To enjoy these places to the fullest, you have to spare a day other than the matchday. The Topkapı Palace alone can take three or four hours to be seen completely.

Istiklal Avenue is another popular place in Istanbul. The architecture of the buildings, bars and cafes are the reason, but one of the important attractions here is the Sant’Antonio da Padova Church. The church was built by the Italian community in Venetian neo-gothic style. By walking through the avenue, you can reach the Galata district and the Galata Tower. Back in the Byzantine era, a Genoese colony was established in this neighborhood, and the tower was built by them. You can go to the top and watch the city, but if you ask my opinion, there are better places to do that. The Galata district is also famous for its Turkish bath places, so I would recommend saving the money for it. For the best panorama of the city, the Pierre Loti Hill (named after a French novelist who lived in Istanbul for years)  and Çamlıca Hill (this one is on the Anatolian side) are the most indicated. However, my favorite way to watch the historical peninsula is to sit on the rocks by the seaside in the Moda district. In Istanbul, it is possible to see every historical site present in Turkey. How? Miniatürk is a miniature park with models of more than 100 historical structures. It is actually a fun way to get to know the country.

This city is also home to the first shopping mall ever, the Grand Bazaar or Kapalıçarşı. It was constructed shortly after the conquest of Istanbul. The Bazaar is a place where you can easily find gifts for your beloved ones in Italy. However, I should warn you that the shopkeepers may be a bit loud, just like they believed that, the louder they are, the more they get to sell. Tip number two is, always remember to haggle to get the best deal. 

Now you are ready to enjoy this city. Hope this experience will get even sweeter with a Champions League victory for Inter. See you in Istanbul, ragazzi!

This is the exact location of all these places I mentioned in this guide: https://goo.gl/maps/kg2FEeLVeFoA61Ni8?coh=178572&entry=tt


Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football