A Brief History of Bebek
Bebek’s history under its current name dates back to the time just before the conquest of Istanbul. Fatih the Conqueror assigned a section commander named Bebek Çelebi to the area where the Rumeli Fortress was being built in order to maintain the order. It is said that Bebek Çelebi built a mansion and a garden there and after his death, the district started being called Bebek.
During the 18th century, Bebek started finding approval amongst the people after many schools, Turkish baths, mills, fountains and stores were built. Thanks to its location on the European shore of Bosphorus, which gives Bebek its stunning view of the coast, Ottoman aristocrats along with many other wealthy Jews, Armenians, Greeks and Georgians have built their mansions and pavilions either in or near Bebek, and this affluence of the neighborhood continues to this day.
As the time went on, transportation to Bebek got easier and towards the mid-19th century, Bebek started to become a district where regular life became common rather than only being home to summer houses, especially after the ferries and the tramway. Today, Bebek is still a favorite place among many Istanbulites for its gorgeous view of the Bosphorus and elegant cafes and stores to visit.
Where is Bebek and How to Get There
It is a common occurrence for natives near Bebek to hear the question “Where is Bebek in Istanbul?” a lot since getting to Bebek is a bit harder than most other major neighborhoods in Istanbul. Bebek doesn’t have a metro stop, and neither does Besiktas, so you are left with 3 options: take a taxi there, use a bus or hop on a ferry to Bebek. Since just one main road gets you to Bebek, you can get stuck on traffic pretty easily, especially during rush hour. So if you are not in a rush, we recommend getting on a bus rather than a taxi. But remember, IETT’s big yellow buses don’t accept cash, so you will need an IstanbulKart to use one. If not, you can take one of the smaller minibuses which do accept cash.
If you are near Eminonu, you can hop on an Eminonu to Bebek ferry for a faster travel option. There are also ferries from Emirgan to Bebek as well.
What to Do in Bebek Istanbul
Bebek isn’t that big, so you can experience everything it has to offer in 1-2 days. But that doesn’t mean our to-do list is short. It is one of Istanbul’s wealthiest places, hosting many luxurious cafés, restaurants and stores. Plus, its coast that stretches from Arnavutkoy to Rumeli Fortress is one of the most magnificent sights you can witness in Istanbul.
Walk along the seaside
All of its other features aside, Bebek’s most prominent feature is its beautiful waterfront in Bosphorus. Take a walk alongside the waterfront and watch the beautiful sea and blue skies. Visit the many stores you encounter. Pet the dogs and cats you see. Take a photo against the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. To do it justice, we recommend that you visit Bebek’s seaside during a sunny day so you can appreciate the view to its fullest.
Eat a Turkish Breakfast on the Seaside
After you start your day with a walk on the gorgeous Bebek coast, you may get hungry. There are many great cafes and restaurants along the waterfront that serve excellent Turkish breakfast. Rumeli Kale Kafe is a bit outside of Bebek, but they serve one of the most delicious Turkish breakfast in Istanbul. It is near Rumeli Hisarı, so it is a good choice if you want to eat breakfast before or after you visit there. Mangerie is another excellent place to eat, near the Kucuk Bebek bus stop. The place is so well known for its breakfast and brunch that you sometimes may have to wait for a table on the balcony. If you want a humbler place to eat, Bebek Kahve near the Bebek ferry station serves simple but delicious breakfasts along with a great view of the coast.
Visit the Great Local Cafes and Stores
Of course, above-mentioned cafes and restaurants are only a few of the places that you can sit and enjoy yourself in. If you want to try out other places, you have more than enough options in Bebek.
Lucca: An all-around excellent bistro-bar to hang out in. Great food, excellent cocktails and beautiful interior design.
Bebek Waffle: A small, humble waffle shop that also serves great kumpir.
Divan Patissiere Bebek: Craving sweets? Visit Divan Patissiere in Bebek to try out endless varieties of excellent options.
Chilai: An elegant and luxurious restaurant by the seaside. Excellent place to take your significant other to.
The Upper Crust Pizzeria Bebek: A great place to eat fresh and delicious pizza.
Taps Bebek: One of the few breweries in Istanbul. If you want a glass of fresh brewed beer, don’t miss this one.
Meşhur Bebek Badem Ezmesi: Want to try out one of Turkey’s most famous desserts? Visit this place and taste some of the best almond paste in Turkey.
Visit Rumeli Fortress
Just a little north of Bebek, you can find one of the most amazing and important historical places in all Istanbul: Rumeli Fortress. It was built in 1452 on the orders of Mehmet the Conqueror and it still stands to this day. After the restoration work between 1955 and 1958, it became a museum in 1960 and has been ever since. It is open to public, so if you are interested in history, visiting Rumeli Fortress will be one of the most fun things to do in Bebek for you. You can visit Rumeli Fortress’ dungeons, towers and walls every day except for Wednesday from 9 to 16.30. It also serves as an open-air theater for various concerts.
Join the Vibrant Night Life
Since Bebek is one of the Istanbul’s wealthiest neighborhoods, it is no surprise that it has a very active night life. Plus, you have a good chance of seeing a couple of famous people. Some of the great pubs and bars to visit during night are Backbar, Kulis Gastro Pub, Arnavutköy Any Cafe & Bar, Bar-Restaurant Curtis and Taps Bebek.