Meet the author Feride Yalav in Istanbul

Feride Yalav author of the 500 Hidden Secrets of Istanbul
Feride Yalav

Feride Yalav is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Istanbul. A diplomat’s daughter who never settled anywhere for more than a few years, Feride fell in love with Istanbul in 2011 and decided to stay. Ever since then she’s been exploring and writing about her city, first as senior editor of The Guide Istanbul (the city’s oldest tourist and expat magazine) and then as a freelance writer for publications such as CNN Travel, A Book from Lind, The Culture Trip and Brownbook. After falling in love with a German architect (who is now her husband) she began to split her time between Istanbul and Berlin. She is the author of The 500 Hidden Secrets of Istanbul

What Feride loves most about Istanbul

 “Istanbul is a place of contradiction, which means that it always has the capacity to surprise you. Just when you’ve become exasperated with its horrible traffic and construction noise, you’ll walk into a quiet side street you’ve never been to before and discover a beautiful little café, shop or historic structure that you can’t help but adore. Istanbul is overcrowded and tiring but the Bosphorus is a different color every day and there’s no place in the world where you’ll find the architectural remnants of so many different cultures, religions and civilizations. There’s also no place in the world where I can meet up with a close friend at a meyhane (tavern) and just pour out my soul while eating meze and drinking rakı all night."

"Istanbul is a place of contradiction, which means that it always has the capacity to surprise you."

Feride’s perfect day in Istanbul might look like this

 “A perfect day would begin with coffee and something sweet (and homemade) at the very cool Kinfolk-inspired café, Cooklife Balat, followed by an exploration of the historic Balat and Fener neighborhoods. We’d admire such sights as the Bulgarian St. Stephen Church, a rare prefabricated cast iron church and one of the ‘5 hidden churches,’ and the Phanar Greek Orthodox High School, one of the ‘5 underappreciated Greek Orthodox structures,’ which rises above the neighborhood like a red castle. After that we’d rest our feet at Maison Balat, one of the ‘5 cafes where the locals hang out,’ and definitely rummage through their antiques collection, and we’d do some vintage shopping at Rag’n Roll Vintage, one of the ‘5 vintage boutiques for great finds.’

Istanbul - Smelt&Co

Gastro spot & kombucha bar Smelt&Co

When it’s time for lunch, we’d stroll to Smelt & Co, one of the ‘5 best places to enjoy non-Turkish food,’ and savor the homemade Kombucha and unique dishes created by a Turkish chef who previously worked at Copenhagen’s legendary Noma restaurant. Nicely satiated, we’d continue our walking tour through the labyrinthine streets up to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque, one of the ‘5 spots to take in the view,’ and look out over the city. From there we’d take a stroll through the nearby Zeyrek neighborhood to admire the UNESCO World Heritage listed Historic Timber Houses, one of the ‘5 very unique cultural experiences,’ and discover the grand Zeyrek Mosque, a former Byzantine monastery, and the nearby Social Security Administration building, one of the ‘5 works of modernist architecture,’ built by the famous Turkish architect Sedad Hakkı Eldem in the 60s.  

In the evening, we’d get dressed up and head to Yeni Lokanta for their exceptional tasting menu of traditional Turkish dishes gone modern, accompanied by excellent Turkish boutique wines (of course we’d have made reservations well in advance). And after dinner, we’d end the beautiful day with a few excellent cocktails at the secret bar Salon Cuma, one of the ‘5 very trendy cocktail bars.’”

bar interior of Salon Cuma
Secret speakeasy bar Salon Cuma