The Karakoy Waterfront

ISTANBUL, Turkey – It’s one of Istanbul’s real treats to sit on the waterfront of Karakoy sipping Turkish tea, Rika, or a cold beer and watching the sun setting over the striking silhouettes of the mosques across the other side of the Golden Horn.

Karakoy Restaurant on the Banks of the Golden Horn
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Filed Under: Turkiye

It’s one of Istanbul’s real treats to sit on the waterfront of Karakoy sipping Turkish tea, Rika, or a cold beer and watching the sun setting over the striking silhouettes of the mosques across the other side of the Golden Horn. Ferries dance around on the water, while the hundreds of fishermen along the Galata Bridge compete for the daily catch.

There’s also freshly cooked fish to be had at a series of makeshift fish cafes along the water’s edge. This isn’t luxury dining. In most cases, they’re simply wooden tables and chairs that have been set up outdoors. The “kitchens” are the grill carts set up along the walkway. It’s mostly outdoor seating, although a few are slightly more permanent and are set up under covered tents.

If you’re watching your pennies, you can get the same fish cooked the same way from one of the other grill carts for a fraction of the price. You’re definitely paying a premium for the location. But what a location it is!

Photos of Istanbul’s Karakoy Waterfront

Istanbul fishermen
Fishing, with the silhouette of Süleymaniye Mosque in the background across the Golden Horn. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Fish cart in Istanbul
Cooking fish to go. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy Restaurant on the Banks of the Golden Horn
The Galata Bridge in the background, with Yeni Cami (the New Mosque) behind it. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Turkish boy at the fish market
At the fish market. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Galata Skyline
The buildings of Karakoy, with the conical Galata Tower at right. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy Fish Market Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Fish restaurant on the banks of the Golden Horn
Dining with Süleymaniye Mosque in the background. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy Restaurant on the Banks of the Golden Horn
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy Restaurant on the Banks of the Golden Horn
With the Galata Bridge and Yeni Cami in the background. Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Fresh fish in Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Tower and Moon in Karakoy Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Customers at the Karakoy Fish Market in Istanbul Turkey
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy Fish Market Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy Fish Market Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy Fish Market Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Fish selection at the Karakoy Fish Market in Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy waterfront fishing boats in Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Fresh fish at the Karakoy Fish Market in Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Karakoy Fish Market in Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Istanbul's Karakoy Fish Market
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Selling fish at the market in Istanbul
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

What to Know Before You Go

  • Karakoy is on the northern bank of the Golden Horn adjacent to the Galata Bridge. The closest tram stop is Karaköy on the T1 line. It’s also an easy walk across the bridge from Eminönü stop.
  • To get to these from the Galata Bridge, walk through the fish market. To get to the tea houses, walk a little further past the fish restaurants. If you’re coming from the Galata Tower, head down the hill towards the bridge.
  • Most establishments are cash-only. It’s first come, first served. You might be able to reserve a specific table if you’re there earlier in the day by slipping the waiter a tip.
  • Be clear about what you’re getting and what you’re paying for. That bread, water, or salad might cost extra–some waiters push hard for add-on sales.

Where to Next?

David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »