Despite not celebrating the Christmas holiday itself, there will be plenty of activities in Istanbul. Check out our guide for planning your next Christmas in Istanbul.
Traditional Experience of Christmas in Istanbul
For those who want a different Christmas experience, there are services at famous churches around the city. St. Antoine Church is the largest Roman Catholic church in the city where there is a big celebration in Christmas Day. Also, Aya Yorgi Klisesi (Church of St. George) can be preffered for an authentic celebration as well. Conrad Istanbul, Swissotel the Bosphorus and Mövenpick Hotel are famous for serving specially-themed meals in both Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Day Brunch. For people who prefer to stay at home but wants to skip the preparation process, there are restaurants where you can order a whole cooked turkey. In Divan Brasserie, you will find delicious turkey filled with rice and nuts. Since, there might be other orders, Delicatessen will prepare the turkey as quick as possible in an excellent way. In both ways, you will have the chance to celebrate the Christmas Eve in the best possible way.
Celebrating the Christmas Outside
For Turkish people, New Years Eve is the best time to have a big party in the city. Although it’s more of a Western celebration, New Years Eve is seen as a good excuse to have a party in the city. In the 31st of December, the whole city turns into a big Christmas Tree with decorations and lights all around the streets. In Beyoğlu, you can find clubs and bars to welcome the new year in the best way. Balkon Restaurant can be preferred for good food and music at the same time. Don’t forget to check out the Pub Crawl Istanbul Tour for better understanding the whole night experience. If you are lucky to see the snowy weather in Istanbul, you can walk along the Istiklal Street for some of the best views of Istanbul. For a more romantic dinner with your beloved one, Mikla Restaurant or Topaz Restaurant are best choices with the unique Bosphorus views. If you prefer to celebrate outside, a giant street party happen in Nişantaşı every year. Also, there are various street parties, shows, drinks and fireworks in Nişantaşı in the week leading up tp the New Years Eve. Therefore, you must totally visit the district.
Shopping for Christmas
Since you want to celebrate this special day in Istanbul, you will find different opportunities to buy gifts. For a last minute gift shopping, you may look at the Grand Bazaar for the finding traditional and unique gifts. Also, around the city you can find some vintage shops and antique markets for finding rare items that carry their memories throughout the time. Feriköy Antique Market and Horhor Antique Market can be preferred due to their location in the heart of the city. Crossing the Bosphorus, Baghdad Avenue is the best place for special gifts in the Asian Side of Istanbul. Among the shops, there are stores of top fashion labels and well-known restaurant chains. So, you can spend a quality time while looking for gifts for your friends and family.
Recovering After New Years Eve
After the big day, best way to recover yourself is to take a trip to Hamams, Turkish baths in Istanbul. Hamam can be defined as a place to clean up yourself and their history goes back to hundreds of years. Still, it’s very popular and most of the hotels have Hamams. The majority of them operate as both men’s and women’s sections in different spaces. But make sure you double-check in advance to avoid misunderstandings. For an authentic experience, visit Eminönü district where Cağaloğlu Hamam is located. It’s one of the biggest and oldest hamams of Istanbul. Also, you can go to Çemberlitaş Hamam which is close to the Grand Bazaar. When you make a reservation for their service, choose the one with bubble wash and scrubbing- you won’t regret it.