The Asian Side (Turkish: Asya Yakası) or the Anatolian Side (Anadolu Yakası, which is the more common designation for the area in Turkish) is the half of Istanbul that is on the Asian mainland, east of the Bosphorus.
"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), 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 beyond Istanbul
And see main Istanbul page for details of these links.
By train, from Ankara and other eastern cities you arrive by high speed train at 1 Pendik railway station, 30 km east of city centre. Transfers by metro and bus take around 90 mins. Trains no longer run to Haydarpaşa station on the Bosphorus shore.
By bus, Harem is the main bus station, with buses arriving from all over Asian Turkey. It’s mid-way between Üsküdar and Kadıköy and has frequent ferry links with Eminönü/Sirkeci. There aren't many amenities, so bring a book or commune with your i-phone if you’re going to be there long.
By boat: Fast ferries from towns along the southern coast of the Marmara Sea, such as Yalova or Bandirma, land at 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 smooth and pleasant ride - a great option for reaching İznik or beyond.
- 2 Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW IATA) (20 km (12 mi) east of Kadıköy). This airport is much more convenient for this side of the city, and less congested; use bus E10 to connect between airport and city. The metro while planned to eventually reach SAW does not as of 2018 reach it and there is unfortunately no straightforward or even timed connection between the airport and the metro. There are buses running from Pendik metro station to the airport, but this option takes longer than the E10 mentioned earlier
From European Istanbul
Metro: specifically the Marmaray line, rushes between continents in a very few minutes.
By boat across the Bosphorus is the most pleasant method, and always quicker than trying to cross the congested bridges. The main ferry lines are:
- Kadıköy - Eminönü
- Kadıköy - Karaköy via Haydarpaşa
- Kadıköy - Beşiktaş
- Üsküdar - Eminönü
- Üsküdar - Beşiktaş
- Üsküdar - Eminönü and then on to Eyüp in Golden Horn
Ferries from the western suburbs eg Bakırköy also run to Kadıköy and Bostancı, but they are much more expensive than local ferries.
Buses across the bridges are slow at any time, and tediously slow in rush hour (7-10AM going west into Europe, 6-8PM coming east into Asia). Buses across the bridges require two tickets (or the equivalent cash) rather than one (one exception is #129L Levent-Kozyatağı which visitors are unlikely to use). The most useful inter-continental buses are:
- 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
However the metrobüs (#34A) is quicker, as it has a dedicated bus lane, and only needs one ticket. It runs from Edirnekapı just outside the old city to Söğütlüçeşme just east of downtown Kadıköy, via Mecidiyeköy. Metrobüs stations are usually a little off the usual tourist trail, but easily reached by a variety of public transportation, including the metro from Taksim Square for Mecidiyeköy station.
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.” They had to arch around Moldova to avoid the conflict zone of Transnistria, were unable to cross the Russian-Georgian border, and ran into many other smaller 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.
Dolmuş routes run 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 5.50 TL/person.
Or go overland, the wrong way round just to prove you can: see the infobox.
Around the district
The main transport hubs here are Kadıköy and Üsküdar, with dolmuş, bus and minibus routes across the district. Bostancı on the Marmara coast is a secondary hub. Dolmuşes ply between Kadıköy-Üsküdar, Kadıköy-Bostancı and Bostancı-Kadıköy until late at night, and also run from Kadıköy to Acıbadem, Koşuyolu and various points.
Metro M4 runs from Kadiköy east as far as Kartal, Pendik and Tavşantepe. It might be extended to Sabiha Gökçen Airport by 2019 / 2020.
By car: the 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.
By bicycle: there's some 20 km of marked bicycle lane along the park which lies along the sea coast, starting from a few km east of Kadıköy, passing by Bostancı and eventually reaching the eastern edge of the city. The bike lane is well-maintained but watch out for pedestrians who haven't quite grasped the concept.
A tram runs between Kadıköy and Moda, but it's more a nostalgia trip than practical transport.
- 1 Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayı), Beylerbeyi (north of Üsküdar), ☎ , fax: . Oct-Feb: Tu-W, F-Su 09:30-16:00; Mar-Sep: Tu-W, F-Su 09:30-17:00. 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 highlights 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-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).
- 2 Beylerbeyi port. Just north of the palace, 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.
- 3 Çengelköy. About 15 minutes walking north of Beylerbeyi lies the historical fishing village Çengelköy. Its long history is attested by a 800-year old sycamore tree on one of the two main terraced squares, and the Byzantine Aya Yorgi church. The restaurants and piers of Çengelköy offer some of the best panoramas along the Bosphorus, including a view on the old city under the first bridge. The neighborhood was popular amongst TV directors during the 1970s and in recent decades it has become a (possibly the most) popular location to have lunch or dinner on the eastern side of Istanbul. In recent years many historic mansions have been restored and multiple boutique chocolatiers were opened. Most restaurants in Çengelköy don't offer alcoholic beverages. Exceptions include the restaurant at the main pier (Iskele), and Tapasuma, the restaurant of hotel 'Sumahan on the Water', located in a former Ottoman Raki distillery. You can get there by taking bus 15 or 15F from Üsküdar, it is just a few stops further than Beylerbeyi. Going to Çengelköy by car is not advised; traffic can be very intense on the narrow road along this side of the Bosphorus.
- 4 Çamlica Hill. One of the highest hills of Istanbul (268 m 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.
- 5 Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi), Salacak (south of Üsküdar, about 15 min on foot away), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 fortune-teller, 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. 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.
- 6 Bağdat Caddesi (Baghdad Avenue) (lying parallel with (but a short dinstance away from) the Marmara coast between a few kilometres 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).
- 7 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.
- 8 Haydarpaşa Station (10 min walk from downtown Kadıköy). Istanbul's former Asia-side railway station nowadays has no trains, but is worth a look. It was built by the Germans in 1908 in a distinctive Teutonic-castle style - to make an impact on travellers from Asia about to step into Europe, and a counterpoint to Sirkeci station (also closed) on the European side which is modelled in Oriental style. It's intended eventually to make this the terminus for the high speed rail network.
- Just 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.
- 9 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: email@example.com. Tu-Su 09:30-18:00. 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).
- 10 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.
- 11 Anadolu Kavağı. With its impressive citadel named Yoros Kalesi on the hill, is the northernmost part of Asian Istanbul. It is easier to get to via a ferry from the European side. See Istanbul#Go next for more details.
- 12 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.
- 13 İçmeler (near Tuzla). The only hot spring in Istanbul.
- 14 Kuzguncuk (a tiny neighborhood on the Bosphorus between Uskudar and Beylerbeyi (just south of the foot of the Bosphorus Bridge)). 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.
- 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 m 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, ☎ (men), (women). Cheaper then in European side - about 40 TL 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.
- 1 Üsküdar Musical Society (Üsküdar Musıkî Cemiyeti), Halk Cd. Emin Ongan Sk. 10, Üsküdar, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Founded in 1918, the society is often considered the most respected of the social clubs offering classes in the classical Ottoman music, and catching up with their frequent public concerts is certainly a good way of entering the vast world of this genre.
- 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: . 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 3-3.50 TL. 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.
- [dead link] Ada Pastanesi, Mehmet Şevki Paşa Caddesi 7/A Bostanci Kadikoy Istanbul, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A patisserie and pastry shop with some hot Turkish dishes in the menu. A good choice to eat baklava and also kadayif.
- Beylerbeyi Lokantasi, Beylerbeyi Mahallesi, 34676 / İstanbul, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Serving traditional food including lahmacun, kebabs and also Turkish home-style items. Average prices for good food.
- 1 Çiya Sofrası, Caferağa Mah. Güneşlibahçe Sk. 43, Kadıköy (in the 'Fish Market'), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Regional tastes ranging from Balkans to Asia, Caucasus to Mesopotamia, with much delicious kebabs. €10-15 pp.
- Hatay Restaurant, Bağdat Caddesi 526, Bostancı, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 13:00-24:00. A traditional restaurant for tasting Rakı with mezes. Famous amongst Turkish poets. 20-30 TL.
- Tike Kebap Şaşkınbakkal, Kazım Özalp Caddesi 58, Kadıköy, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 13:00-24:00. A luxury traditional restaurant for tasting Turkish kebab on the waterfront avenue (Sahil Yolu). 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'), ☎ , 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.
- Q Bar, Caferağa Mahallesi, Osmancık Sokak, No 13 Kadikoy, ☎ . Trendy cocktail bar close to Kadikoy centre with a dark atmosphere. 20 TL for cocktails.
- 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.
There's a slew of inexpensive places between Kadıköy ferry pier and the old railway terminus.
- Hush Hostel, Lounge: İskele Sk No:46, Moda: Caferağa Mah. Güneşli Bahçe Sok. 50/B (500m north-east of Kadiköy ferry pier), ☎ . Rooms are generously spacious, bright, clean & cosy. Bathrooms are typically shared, Wifi is very slow.
They also run Hush Moda nearby. B&B doubles from €20.
- Hotel Zirve, Rıhtım Caddesi, Reşitefendi Sokak No:36, Kadıköy (200 m inland from Kadıköy ferry pier), ☎ . 2-star, all rooms have cable tv, wireless internet and are comfortable lodgings at a good price. B&B doubles from €30.
- Hotel Suadiye Asia, Bağdat caddesi, Plaj Yolu Sokak No:25, 34740 Kadıköy (Near Bostancı ferry pier and rwy station), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 4-star hotel, rooms include air-con, TV, safe, wi fi. B&B doubles from €70.
- Ajia Hotel, Çubuklu Cad. Ahmet Rasim Paşa Yalısı No:27, 34810 Beykoz (200 m N of Kanlica ferry pier), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Boutique waterfront hotel. Rooms include air-con, TV, safe, wi fi. B&B double from €200.
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.