15 years ago, there were barely any food tours in Istanbul but things surely change. The culinary tour industry in Istanbul has grown significantly over the last decade, with many tour providers now offering a wide variety of food tours. This growth can be attributed to several factors, including the increasing popularity of culinary tourism, the city’s rich culinary heritage, and the rise of social media platforms that enable food tour operators to promote their services to a wider audience.
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As Istanbul has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, more and more travelers are seeking out authentic culinary experiences that allow them to immerse themselves in the local culture. This has led to a surge in demand for food tours that offer visitors the opportunity to taste traditional Turkish foods and explore the city’s diverse culinary scene.
In response to this demand, many new food tour operators have entered the market, offering a wide range of tours that cater to different tastes and preferences. Some operators focus on specific neighborhoods or cuisines, while others offer more general tours that cover a broad range of culinary experiences.
Looking ahead, it seems likely that the culinary tour industry in Istanbul will continue to grow in popularity, as more and more travelers seek out authentic food experiences as part of their travels. As the industry matures, we can also expect to see a greater emphasis on sustainability and responsible tourism, as operators seek to balance the needs of visitors with the preservation of Istanbul’s rich culinary heritage.
What’s special about culinary tours?
Booking a culinary tour in Istanbul adds value in several ways. First and foremost, these tours offer a unique experience that goes beyond simply trying different dishes at restaurants. A culinary tour can provide visitors with insights into the local culture, history, and customs surrounding food. For example, a knowledgeable guide can explain the significance of traditional dishes and the ingredients used, as well as share interesting stories and anecdotes related to the food.
Additionally, a culinary tour can introduce visitors to hidden culinary gems that may not be easily discoverable through online research. Many of these tours take visitors to local markets and shops, where they can sample fresh ingredients and regional specialties that they may not have otherwise encountered.
Another benefit of booking a culinary tour is the convenience it provides. Rather than spending time researching and choosing individual restaurants, visitors can leave the planning and logistics to the tour provider. This can be particularly helpful for first-time visitors to Istanbul who may not be familiar with the city’s food scene or local customs.
Overall, a culinary tour can offer a fun and educational experience that adds depth and richness to a visit to Istanbul, while also providing an opportunity to meet and connect with other travelers who share a love of food and travel.
Istanbul Food Tours
If you’re planning a trip to Istanbul, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the city’s diverse culinary scene. The landscape of culinary tours in Istanbul is vast, and there are many food tours available to visitors. These tours offer a chance to taste traditional Turkish foods, learn about the city’s history and culture, and explore the hidden culinary gems of Istanbul.
These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide a unique perspective on the city and its cuisine. Some tours are private, while others are group tours. Here are our top 5 recommended food tours in Istanbul:
Yummy Istanbul is a culinary tour company that offers a variety of food tours in Istanbul, including walking tours in neighborhoods like Kadikoy and Karakoy. The company was founded by Tuba Satana and Kemal Ozkan, who are both food enthusiasts and experts in Turkish cuisine.
Their tours offer a unique and immersive experience, taking visitors to local markets, family-run shops, and traditional restaurants to taste a variety of dishes, from street food to gourmet cuisine.
Yummy Istanbul also offers cooking classes, where visitors can learn to make traditional Turkish dishes like manti (Turkish dumplings) and baklava. The company is known for its personalized service and attention to detail, ensuring that visitors have an unforgettable culinary experience in Istanbul.
Culinary Backstreets-Tours is another popular provider of culinary tours in Istanbul. They offer various tours that take visitors off the beaten path to explore Istanbul’s lesser-known neighborhoods and hidden culinary gems.
With a focus on local cuisine and authentic food experiences, Culinary Backstreets-Tours provides a unique opportunity to learn about the city’s history and culture through its food. Their knowledgeable guides share stories and insights about the food, the people who make it, and the places where it is served. From street food tours to meze tours, their tours cater to all tastes and preferences.
This is a 6-hour culinary adventure that takes visitors on a journey through both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. Led by expert local guides, the tour includes stops at traditional markets and food stalls, as well as visits to hidden gems in the city’s vibrant neighborhoods.
The tour also includes tastings of authentic Turkish dishes, such as meze, baklava, and kebabs, along with plenty of opportunities to learn about the history and culture behind each dish. With its focus on local food, culture, and history, the Devour Istanbul Food Lovers Tour is a great option for anyone looking to experience the true essence of Istanbul.
This one by Withlocals is a unique and personalized culinary tour that takes visitors on a journey through the diverse flavors and aromas of Istanbul. Led by a knowledgeable local guide, the tour allows guests to explore the hidden gems of the city’s food scene, from traditional street vendors to modern gourmet eateries.
With the opportunity to try 10 different tastings of local cuisine, guests can indulge in a variety of Turkish dishes and learn about the history and cultural significance behind each one. The tour also offers insights into local food customs and traditions, making it a truly immersive experience for food lovers visiting Istanbul.
This one is also a wonderful culinary tour that takes visitors to the less explored Asian side of Istanbul, particularly the Kadikoy district, which is known for its vibrant food scene. The tour provides a chance to sample a wide variety of delicious Turkish dishes and beverages, including street food, traditional meze, and local desserts.
The experienced guides share fascinating insights into the local culture and history, making the experience not just a food tour, but a cultural immersion as well. What sets Secret Food Tours apart is their focus on small, intimate groups, allowing for a more personalized experience and a chance to connect with fellow food lovers.
The tour is perfect for those who want to discover hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path eateries, away from the tourist crowds.
Popular dishes to try
During your Istanbul food tour, make sure to try some of the city’s most popular dishes, such as:
Kebabs, such as doner kebab and shish kebab
Meze, which are small dishes served as appetizers
Baklava, a sweet pastry made with layers of phyllo dough and honey
Turkish delight, a sweet confection made with sugar and starch
Borek, a savory pastry filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables
Lahmacun, a thin, crispy flatbread topped with minced meat and vegetables
Pide, a Turkish-style pizza topped with cheese, meat, or vegetables
Not everyone wants to be guided around for food. First of all, we highly recommend the wonderful restaurants over at tasteatlas.com, an amazing website that offers a comprehensive database of traditional foods, drinks, and ingredients from around the world, along with information on their origin, history, and culinary uses. The website also includes recipes, restaurant recommendations, and food-related articles.
Here are three self-guided food tours you can follow in Istanbul:
Have lunch at Çiğköftem, where you can try the popular raw meat dish made with bulgur and spices.
For dessert, stop by Karaköy Güllüoğlu and indulge in some baklava.
Kadıköy Food Tour
Take a ferry from the European side to Kadıköy, a bustling neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul.
Start your tour at Çiya Sofrası, a restaurant serving traditional Turkish dishes.
Visit the Kadıköy Fish Market and try some of the fresh seafood dishes.
Walk along Bahariye Street and stop by Baylan Pastanesi, a historic patisserie known for its cakes and pastries.
For lunch, head to Çiya Kebap and try some delicious lamb kebab.
Finish your tour with a cup of Turkish tea at Çınaraltı Çay Bahçesi, a tea garden with a beautiful view of the Bosphorus.
Ortaköy Food Tour
Start your tour at Ortaköy Square, which is known for its street food vendors.
Try some delicious kumpir (baked potatoes) with various toppings from Kumpiristan.
Visit the Ortaköy Mosque and enjoy the view of the Bosphorus.
Walk to the Büyük Mecidiye Camii (Çırağan Palace Mosque) and have a cup of Turkish coffee at the nearby Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul.
For lunch, try some traditional Turkish meze (small dishes) at Zuma.
Finish your tour with a dessert at Ortaköy Meydanı (Ortaköy Square), where you can try some künefe, a sweet pastry made with cheese and syrup.
I hope these food tours give you a taste of Istanbul’s rich culinary culture. Enjoy your trip!
Booking a culinary tour in Istanbul offers unique experiences that go beyond simply trying different dishes at restaurants. These tours provide visitors with insights into local culture, history, and customs surrounding food, as well as hidden culinary gems that may not be easily discoverable through online research.
Istanbul offers a vast landscape of culinary tours, and our top five recommended food tours are Yummy Istanbul, Culinary Backstreets-Tours, The Devour Istanbul Food Lovers Tour, The 10 Tastings of Istanbul, and Secret Food Tours.
Overall, a food tour is a great way to enrich a visit to Istanbul, offering a fun and delicious experience that adds depth and flavor to your trip. while providing an opportunity to meet and connect with other travelers who share a love of food and travel.