The Asian Side (Turkish: Asya Yakası, or, more usually, Anadolu Yakası, i.e. “Anatolian Side”) is the eastern half of the city of Istanbul, located east of Bosphorus and geographically on the Asian mainland.
"Land of the Blind"
Before setting sail to find a suitable place for a colony, Byzas, the legendary founder of Byzantium, was told by soothsayers that he was going to found new city across the water from the land of the blind. Then, one day, during his pursuit of the new land, he set foot on a beautiful, forested, and easily protectable peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides. On one side, there was a deep and long bay, too, where storms on the open sea had little effect, perfect for a harbor. Looking more carefully, he saw some fishermen inside the bay. After learning that they were from Khalkedon across the Bosphorus, he remembered the prophecy, and convinced that they were indeed ‘the Blind’, who couldn’t see the wonderful site he was standing on and preferred to build their city in a rather inconvenient location instead. Soon thereafter, Byzas laid the first stone of what has become the city of Istanbul, and Chalcedon (today’s Kadıköy) got the nickname ‘the Land of the Blind’.
Kadıköy (ancient Chalcedon) and Üsküdar (ancient Chrysopolis/Scutari) form the historical cores of this part of the city. Both started as cities independent of Istanbul (in fact Khalkedon was founded about 30–40 years earlier than Istanbul itself), and were only incorporated into the city of Istanbul in late 19th century. It’s no coincidence that the regular steamer services across the Bosphorus was started a few years earlier.
Today Kadıköy and Üsküdar are the main commercial zones on the Asian side. The rest of this part of the city contains many soulless suburbs full of high-rise apartment blocks and shopping malls, most of which date back no more than 30 years (which, again, is no coincidence given that the first inter-continental Bosphorus bridge had been constructed a few years before). Major exceptions are the Bosphorus coast, with its historical palaces, mansions, and neighborhoods with character; and the coast of the Sea of Marmara, all along which lies a lovely (and, unsurprisingly, long) park on the edge of which a number of impressive wooden mansion lie.
Known as the less crowded and more orderly half of the city, Asian Side nonetheless houses about 4.4 million people, or one of every three Istanbulites, out of which around 1.3 million commute daily to Europe.
From outside of Istanbul
Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW)  is located on Asiatic Side, about 20 km east of Kadıköy. To get to the centre from there, you can take public bus E10 which brings you to Kadıköy in 70 minutes (3 YTL). You can also alternatively take Havaş bus which connects this airport with Taksim in the European Side for 10 YTL. If you can, fly into Sabiha Gökçen rather than Atatürk International, because Sabiha Gökçen is much less busy and easier to navigate.
Haydarpaşa Station, Istanbul's main railway station for Asian destinations, is located about 10 min walk away from downtown Kadıköy. Drop by if you are nearby, even if you have no plan to take a train, since the station building, built by the Germans in 1908 in a distinctive Teutonic-castle style, is a sight in itself. It’s rumoured that the architectural style of the building was deliberately chosen, because, in the age of railways, it was the point where passengers from deep inland Asia have their first sight of Europe, located across the Bosphorus. Likewise, Sirkeci station—the main station on the European Side—which has a similar duty for passengers from Europe, has a distinctive Oriental style.
Due to a major project to upgrade the train system so that it can use high-speed trains, as of February 2012 all trains to/from Haydarpaşa have been stopped during construction, until 2014.
Harem is the name of the major otogar on this side, and the first place of call in Istanbul of many buses from Asian Turkey. It’s located at about the mid-way between Üsküdar and Kadıköy and has frequent ferry links with Eminönü/Sirkeci. There isn’t a great deal there in terms of amenities, so bring a deck of cards or a book if you’re going to need to wait there long.
Fast ferries from places on the southern coast of the Marmara Sea, such as Yalova or Bandirma are accessible from the pier at Bostancı. Some are direct, while others transfer to a smaller ferry after arriving at Yenikapı pier on the European side. The fast catamarans offer a uniquely smooth and pleasant ride—a great option for coming to or from Yalova, İznik or beyond.
From the rest of Istanbul
Taking a liner or a mid-sized boat is the most sensible way of getting to the Asian side from Europe, beating the usually congested traffic on Bosphorus bridges. Major liner piers are located in Kadıköy and Üsküdar. Major liner lines are as follows: (other boats also ply more or less the same routes)
- Kadıköy – Eminönü
- Kadıköy – Karaköy (also calls at Haydarpaşa station’s pier)
- Kadıköy – Beşiktaş
- Üsküdar - Eminönü
- Üsküdar - Beşiktaş
- Üsküdar - Eminönü and then on to Eyüp in Golden Horn
Fast ferries from places further away like Bakırköy are available to Kadıköy (separate from liner pier) or Bostancı pier. But they are much more expensive than liners.
It’s possible to take a public bus crossing one of Bosphorus bridges, though not advisable during rush hour (7-10AM heading towards Europe, 6-8PM coming back to Asia), when all traffic on the bridges, and especially on the roads leading to them slow to a crawl. Note that all public bus lines crossing the bridges require two tickets (or the equivalent cash) rather than one, with the sole exception of #129L (Levent-Kozyatağı line, which departs from next to 4. Levent metro station and terminates in Kozyatağı, the main business district of Asian Side), though it is of little interest to the average tourist. Numbers of the most useful inter-continental lines are as follows:
- 110 — Taksim and Beşiktaş to Kadıköy
- 120 — Mecidiyeköy to Kadıköy
- 112 — Taksim and Beşiktaş to Bostancı
- 128 — Mecidiyeköy to Bostancı
- 129T — Taksim and Beşiktaş to Bostancı, via the foot of Çamlıca Hill, useful to getting there direct from European Side
The metrobüs (#34A), which connects Edirnekapı just out of old city walls on the European side with Söğütlüçeşme just east of downtown Kadıköy (about 15-20 min away on foot) via Mecidiyeköy and a number of other stations on the way, is a very quick option thanks to its special lanes segregated from all other traffic, except a short section actually on the bridge itself. They are still much better than conventional buses, even on the bridge. Although metrobüs stations are usually a little off the usual tourist trail, they are easily accessible from more central locations by a variety of public transportation, including the metro from Taksim Square for Mecidiyeköy station. #34A is a single-ticket line despite crossing the Bosphorus.
Overland to Üsküdar
In late 19th century, Jules Verne wrote Kéraban-le-têtu (Keraban the Inflexible), in which he depicted a fictional Keraban Agha, a resident of Üsküdar, who was known for his stubbornness. According to the plot, one day when Keraban Agha wanted to take his two Dutch guests to his home from Galata, officials reminded him of a new tax levied by the government: From thenceforth anyone who wished to cross the Bosphorus had to pay a fee of 10 para. Keraban, as obstinate as ever, declined to pay the tax to the government he disapproved of. But still wanting to take his guests to his home across the Bosphorus, he led them there the wrong way: They encircled the whole (~4000 km) coastline of the Black Sea via the present-day Bulgaria, Romania, Crimea, Northern Caucasus, Abkhazia, and northern Turkey. The trio arrived at Keraban’s residence after a 45-day journey.
In December 2008, a group of Turkish artists “repeated” the journey, under the name “In the Footsteps of Jules Verne.” Being forced to arch around Moldova to avoid the conflict zone of Transnistria, and being unable to cross the Russian-Georgian border, as well as running into many other less significant problems at other border crossings, the artists, upon completing their 14-day journey, declared that it was even harder to follow the same route after 125 years.
There are dolmuş lines operating almost 24 hours a day between Taksim-Kadıköy, and Taksim-Bostancı. They depart from the street next to Atatürk Kültür Merkezi in Taksim Square (opposite edge of the square from Istiklal Street) and cost about TL 5.50/person.
Overland from the European side
See infobox to the right.
Kadıköy and Üsküdar are the main transport hubs of this part of the city. From both, it is possible to find a direct dolmuş, bus or minibus line to almost anywhere in Asian Istanbul, and also to a lot of places in the European Side. Bostancı on the coast of Marmara Sea is an important secondary hub.
Dolmuşes ply between Kadıköy-Üsküdar, Kadıköy-Bostancı and Bostancı-Kadıköy until late at night.There are also dolmuşes from Kadıköy to Acıbadem, Koşuyolu and various points.
Suburban trains with frequent departures from Haydarpaşa head to Gebze out of city borders (44 km to Kadıköy), following closely the Marmara sea-shore, calling at Bostancı and a number (well, actually more than 20) of other stations on the way, including Kartal, Pendik, and Tuzla among others. A ticket (jeton) is valid for once and costs about 2,00 TL.
Major roads on the Asian side mostly follow a west-east axis. These are the three major roads which connect Kadıköy with locations east (from south to north): The causeway (Sahil Yolu), which follows the coast of Marmara Sea, Bağdat Avenue (one-way, and that is east to west which means you cannot enter from Kadıköy), and the road colloquially known as Minibüs Yolu. From Üsküdar, the major road colloquially known with its former European road number E-5 lies to east towards depths of Asia, while another road also named Sahil Yolu (Causeway) connects the neighborhoods on the bank of Bosphorus in the north to Üsküdar.
There is a long (more than 20 km with some short interruptions) and marked bicycle lane along the park which lies along the coast of the Sea of Marmara, starting from a few km east of Kadıköy, passing by Bostancı and eventually reaching furthest parts of the city in the east. The bikepath is well-maintained but be careful anyway: Although it’s very unlikely that you’ll come across a motorized vehicle, pedestrians –who aren’t very used to seeing bikepaths in Turkish cities- have just begun to respect the rules of bicycle lanes.
Between Kadıköy and Moda, the one-way circular traditional tram route offers a pleasant short ride. However, you will likely use it for the experience, rather than as a useful transportation link.
- Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayı), Beylerbeyi (north of Üsküdar), ☎ , fax: +90 216 321-93-22. Tu-W F-Su 9:30AM-4PM (Oct-Feb); Tu-W F-Su 9:30AM-5PM (Mar-Sep). Lying under the legs of the Bosphorus Bridge, this beautiful palace located amidst an attractive garden was built between 1861-1865 by Sultan Abdulaziz. Strangely, one of the highligts of the palace is the restroom on its second floor, which has a large window with a full view of Bosphorus—it is possibly the restroom with the most beautiful view in the world! Joining guided tours in major spoken languages which starts every half an hour (or whenever there are enough people waiting) is the only way to visit the palace (no additional fee for tours other than the entry admission).
- Beylerbeyi port, just north of the palace, is a small port with a popular fishing dock and a number of restaurants and historic buildings like the large 18th century Hamid-i Evvel mosque. Some restaurants on the port-side serve alcohol and are moderately expensive, some others in the side-streets are cheaper.
- Çamlica Hill — One of the highest hills of Istanbul (268 metres high). Almost all major broadcasting antennas are located on this hill, since it dominates a great part of the city. On the top of the hill, a public park with cafes remind the visitors of an Ottoman atmosphere. Thıs public park is sponsored by the government, so expect lower prices on food and drink than usual. The cafe located in a building at the top of the hill is moderately expensive, don't worry about it though because you'll get excellent food and service.
- Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi), Salacak (south of Üsküdar, about 15 min on foot away), ☎ , fax: +90 216 495-28-85, e-mail: email@example.com. Maiden's Tower, also called Leander's Tower, is built on a small islet surrounded by waters of Bosphorus off the Üsküdar coast where you can have breakfast before noon (a standard breakfast costs 35 TL pp), have drinks during day or dine (mid-expensive) inside the tower itself. The Tower is accessible by boats both from Salacak (very frequent intervals four seasons) or from Kabataş in European Side, on the Bosphorus waterfront at the end of the funicular line from Taksim Square (about once every two hours, summers only). Story has it that a powerful emperor built the tower in the middle of the sea to protect his beloved daughter from death after hearing a prophecy told by a fortuneteller, but a snake had found its way to the tower (inside a basket of fruits) and, as you have already guessed, had bitten and killed the princess, although in reality it is far more likely that the place was built as a lighthouse to warn the ships entering the Bosphorus about the rocky islet the tower was built on. There is also a viewing area on the coast directly opposite the Tower where you can buy tea and sit down to enjoy the beauty of Bosphorus while listening to traditional Turkish music—much cheaper than the Tower itself. It is recommended to visit right at sunset, when the sun is reflecting off the water and the Tower's lights are turning on. Also at the viewing area, there are 2-person gondola rides.
- Bağdat Caddesi (Baghdad Avenue), lying parallel with (but a short dinstance away from) the Marmara coast between a few km east of Kadıköy and Bostancı to the east, has nothing to do with Baghdad, Iraq except that, during the Ottoman period, it was the beginning part of the road which connected the capital city, Istanbul with Baghdad, another important city of the empire then. This avenue got its name because an Ottoman Sultan, Murat IV, went to Baghdad on that avenue. In fact, with its sidewalk cafés and Western restaurants, Bağdat Caddesi is usually considered as one of Istanbul's most European-flavoured streets, ironically located in Asia. This street is not completely pedestrianized like the Istiklal Street of the European Side, but its broad sidewalks shaded with trees offer a pleasant walk. The restaurants and cafés on the avenue are mainly upscale, but there are also some quite affordable ones scattered around occasionally. Shopping opportunities also abound. From Kadıköy, take ‘Bostancı’ dolmuş (they depart from near that big yellow balloon) or public bus #4 (its stop is also near the balloon, but separate from dolmuş stop).
- Moda. A neighbourhood occupying the peninsula just south of Kadıköy, Moda features some neo-classical architecture and parks on the sides of the peninsula. It is a favourite place for people of Kadıköy of all ages to take a short stroll on a summer evening, and for the youth to enjoy a few beers against the minaret and dome-filled skyline of Old City. To get there, you can follow the waterfront promenade from that big yellow balloon, or take the vintage tram from downtown Kadıköy, though the circular tram line does not make it all the way to tip of the peninsula of Moda.
- As mentioned before, Haydarpaşa Station, built in a turn of 20th century in German style is well worth a look and can be easily walked to from Kadıköy. Further to the north of Haydarpaşa station and a little difficult to find (it is surrounded on three sides by Turkish military barracks) is the British cemetery with an obelisk commemorating the Crimean war and many Crimean war, Victorian era (and later) graves as well as a modern British and Commonwealth war graves cemetery. This is a beautiful, leafy oasis of calm, with views on the Bosphorus.
- Toy Museum (Oyuncak Müzesi), Ömerpaşa Caddesi, Dr. Zeki Zeren Sokağı 17, Göztepe (5 min walk away from 'Göztepe' station of suburban train line), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 9:30AM-6PM. Dedicated to toys, this is a museum which adults can enjoy as much as kids. Founded by poet Sunay Akın, the museum is housed in a historical mansion in Göztepe neighbourhood east of Kadıköy. Among the 2,000 pieces of toys from around the world that are in exhibition, the oldest ones are a violin made in France in 1817 and a doll made in the United States in 1820. 8 TL (5 TL for children).
- Anadolu Citadel (Anadolu Hisarı) (in the neighbourhood of Anadolu Hisarı, up on the Bosphorus bank). Interior of the citadel is not open to public. A medieval citadel a little older and much smaller than its European counterpart, situated on the meadow where tranquil Göksu River empties into the Bosphorus, surrounded by picturesque wooden traditional houses.
- Anadolu Kavağı, with its impressive citadel named Yoros Kalesi on the hill, is the northernmost part of Asian Istanbul. Ironically, it is easier to get to via a ferry from the European side. See Istanbul#Go next for more details.
- Yakacık Hill, located in a quite distant part of Asian Istanbul (approximately 20 km east of Bosphorus) in Kartal (ancient Kartalimen) district has a great view of the city. Water springs and the Aydos Hill (537 m), which is the highest point of Istanbul, are the other remarkable destinations in the region of Yakacik.
- İçmeler near Tuzla has the only hot spring in Istanbul.
- Kuzguncuk, a tiny neighborhood on the Bosphorus between Uskudar and Beylerbeyi (just south of the foot of the Bosphorus Bridge), was home to a large Christian and Jewish population until some decades ago and still has a number of sights like two synagogues, some churches among which the Armenian Surp Krikor Lusavoriç, dozens of wooden houses and a Jewish and Christian cemetery.
- Ride the balloon (Turk Balloon) in Kadıköy (easily recognizable by its yellow color on Kadıköy coast). Although it doesn’t stray much away from its base –since it is always tied to the ground by a rope- it offers a view of much of Istanbul –both European and Asian Sides- from a height of 200 meters.
- Istanbul leg of Formula One annually takes place in IstanbulPark, located about 20 km east of Kadıköy. City’s public transport authority (İETT) provides frequent buses from Kadıköy and Bostancı (and a number of locations in European Side as well) during the race days.
- Caddebostan Beach (Caddebostan Plajı) (at Caddebostan, west of Bostancı, about half an hour's walk from there). Recently opened on the site of a beach existed 40 years ago, before Istanbul became the behemoth it is today. Complete with a (re-created) sandy strand 450 metres long, and a kiosk offering snacks and soft drinks, the beach is run by the city council. Becomes very crowded in summer weekends, though. 10 TL, including the deckchair rent, restrooms, and shower.
- Tarihi Çinili Hamamı, Murat Reis Mahallesi, Çavuşdere Caddesi No. 204, ☎ 0 216 553 15 93 (men) 0 216 334 97 10 (women). Cheaper then in European side - about 40 liras for full massage and scrub.
- Catch a classical musical performance at the Süreyya Opera House. For a time a movie theatre, this turn-of-the-20th-century Beaux Arts building now houses performances of ballet, opera, and classical concerts once more, and good tickets are often extremely cheap.
- You can go shopping in Kadıköy, Üsküdar and Bağdat Street. The sale (prices 50% off) season for winter is after New Years Day and for summer after July.
- Smart locals do a lot of their shopping at the Salı Pazarı or Tuesday Bazaar, located in Hasanpaşa not far from the Fenerbahçe Stadium. You can get good deals here on everything from produce to clothes to housewares. This is a less touristy bazaar experience than what many see at the Grand Bazaar on the European side.
- The fish bazaar in the Kadıköy market area is where the locals go for fresh fish and seafood. Fish shops are open all week long; most of them will clean the fish for you (though not necessarily the hamsi, or delicious local anchovies). Keep an eye out for stray cats sneaking off with bits of abandoned fish.
- Kanaat Lokantası, Selmanipak Cad. no: 25, Üsküdar (in the street behind the sea dock), ☎ , fax: +90 216 341-68-55. Kanaat Lokantası, which dates back to 1933, is famous for its traditional Ottoman cuisine as well as a variety of fascinating desserts. The prices are reasonable but they accept nothing but cash.
- Şelale Restaurant, Mühürdar Cad. Güneşli Bahçe Sok. No:60, Kadıköy, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Kebabs and similar stuff. Kebab with yoghurt (İskender) there is tasty and slightly cheaper than elsewhere. From 10 TL.
- Balık-ekmek (literally “fish-bread”, a grilled fish sandwiched inside half a bread) is an increasingly popular low-budget meal in buffets in Kadıköy coast, which can be had for TL 3-3.50. The best balık ekmek can be bought from any of the stands just off the ferry dock. Some of the various fish restaurants in the market area a little inland also sell balık ekmek and mussel sandwiches with garlic sauce onto the street.
- Çiya Sofrası, Caferağa Mah. Güneşlibahçe Sk. 43, Kadıköy (in the 'Fish Market'), ☎ , fax: +90 216 349-19-02, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Regional tastes ranging from Balkans to Asia, Caucasus to Mesopotamia, with much delicious kebabs. From €10-15 pp.
- Hatay Restaurant, Bağdat Caddesi 526, Bostancı, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 1PM-midnight. A traditional restaurant for tasting Rakı with mezes. Famous amongst Turkish poets. From 20-30 TL.
- Tike Kebap Şaşkınbakkal, Kazım Özalp Caddesi 58, Kadıköy, ☎ , fax: +90 216 467-52-43, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 1PM-midnight. A luxury traditional restaurant for tasting Turkish kebab on the waterfront avenue (Sahil Yolu). From 30-40 TL/pp.
- Nakkaş Kebap, Gümüşyolu Cad. Eski Taş Ocağı Sokak No:27, Nakkaştepe, ☎ . A large restaurant with traditional Turkish kebap and "mezes" (appetizers).
Kadıköy has a nightlife scene of its own, smaller than Beyoğlu of European Side, but just as lively. From the quay where liners from Eminönü arrives (signed as Eminönü Karaköy İskelesi), first cross the main street, then turn right, from the corner where Starbucks is located, turn left. You’ll come across two churches facing each other; turn right there. On that street and the upper one parallel to it, you’ll find lots of bars (some of which offer live music), pubs, and Turkish taverns. A few blocks uphill from there is the street colloquially known as Barlar Sokağı (Turkish for “Street of Bars”), where there are more places for a drink. If you can’t manage to find that street, ask young people for directions to Rexx Sineması (pronounced rex cinema-suh). That cinema/movie theatre is very near that street, and is widely known.
- Karga, Kadife Sokak 16, Kadıköy (on 'Barlar Sokağı'), ☎ , fax: +90 216 346 5546, e-mail: email@example.com. A finely decorated bar situated in a three-storey old building with wooden ceilings and floors. Also has a small yard at the back. 7 TL for a pint (0.50 litre) of beer.
- Caddebostan Balans Brau, very nice place for beer (especially house-made Weisbier) and sausage. On the Bağdat Street.
- Coffee chains around the Anatolian side (Kadıköy and Bağdat Caddesi) are very popular. Starbucks, Gloria Jean's Coffee, and Kahve Dünyası (especially for Turkish Coffee). Kahve Dünyası is well worth a visit as a comparatively upscale, indigenously Turkish take on the Starbucks theme.
- Hush Hostel Lounge, İskele Sk No:46, (about 500m north-east of Kadiköy port), ☎ . While the hostel is located in close proximity to Kadiköy port which allows quickly getting to pretty much anywhere in Istanbul, it is located in a very calm side-street. Rooms are generously spacious, bright, clean & cosy. Bathrooms are typically shared, breakfast is included, Wifi is very slow. Dorms from 12 €, single from 25€, double from 30 € (check the website as prices vary from day to day).
- Hotel Deniz, Gn. Şahap Gürler Cad. No:2, Kadıköy (right across the street from Haydarpaşa Station), ☎ , fax: +90 216 347 68 67, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms with air-conditioner, TV, en-suite bathrooms. 24-hr room service provided. 130/150/165 YTL single/double/triple rooms.
- Hotel Zirve, Rıhtım Caddesi, Reşitefendi Sokak No:36, Kadıköy, ☎ . , , All rooms have cable tv, wireless internet and are comfortable lodgings at a good price. 55-120 YTL.
- A'jia Hotel, ☎ , fax: +90 216 413 9355, e-mail: email@example.com. Çubuklu Caddesi No:27, Kanlica. A unique boutique hotel located on the Asian side of the city facing the beautiful Bosphorus. Rooms include air-con, TV, safe, wi fi. Rooms range from €250-850.
- Hotel Suadiye, ☎ , fax: +90 216 445 20 02, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Plaj Yolu, 25, 34740 Suadiye. A 4 star hotel located on the Sahilyolu,very close to the Bağdat Avenue. Rooms include air-con, TV, safe, wi fi. Rooms range from €150 for 3 persons.
The area code of this half of the city is (+90) 216, which is different from the European Side.
- Cafeinn Internet Cafe, Caferağa Mah. Sarraf Ali Sokak 35/1, Kadıköy (just off Mühürdar Caddesi, the street one block inland from waterfront, parallel to it). Quite good computers though most software is a little outdated, so may not support latest additions, such as some kinds of alphabets/fonts. 2 TL/hr.