Transit can be a b***h – especially if you shopped a little too much from the last Duty Free and are on your own. But if you know how to navigate through an airport, where to shop and what restaurants offer local treats, it can be quiet an experience. There are Duty Free shops with the usual culprits and Starbucks at almost every airport, how about you we something local for a change?
I flew via Turkish Airline (so good, and so reasonably priced!) and had a layover at Istanbul Airport while going to and fro Karachi to Köln. I had enough time to explore the place, shop some, eat some, and report back to you. So, now if you ever have a stopover at Istanbul Atatürk Havalimanı, here are my recommended top 5 spots to eat and shop at for an authentic Turkish experience:
5 GREAT SPOTS TO SHOP AT:
- D&R Music And Book Store – I love picking up books and magazines from airports as the variety is usually something that you don’t easily find at local bookstores. D&R also has a section for headphones and luggage, if you fancy some.
- The Old Bazaar – it’s a compact version of the infamous bazaars of Istanbul. I saw aisles of Turkish delight (sweet), and was thinking that it’d make a great souvenir if you were returning from Turkey. Then came some of the most gorgeous pottery I have ever seen – handmade, with bright colours and patterns. I wanted every single piece! There are a few bags and scarves as well, along with an extensive collection of evil eye accessories – I got a couple of tasbihs for my mom as she had been looking for one for a while.
- Haribo – If you are wondering, ‘what is so special about a Haribo kiosk? You get it everywhere in Germany – even at kiosks!’ Well, the special bit is that it was halal. I was a kid in a candy story – literally. Oh, and Haribo is the best when it comes to gummy bears!
- Vakko Boutique – a selection of cashmere and silk shawls, in vibrant and softer colours, made in Turkey. They are sold at €80 and up, and would make for fancy head-gear, or gifts.
- SpaXpres – it’s shopping for hair, hands and feet. I love the idea of getting a blow dry, massage or pedicure while you are on the go. I was at the airport for about three hours, and by the time I found the place, it was too late – there was a waiting for about an hour (no surprise there!). Blowdry is for €20 and pedicure is for €25.
5 PLACES TO EAT LOCAL:
- Always Tickerdaze (Sports Pub) – fancy a cold beer or hearty American fare? This is the place to be at. Open space with wooden panels, open roof and vintage frames. It’s the kind of place boys love hanging out at. Just don’t order tea. It was very disappointing.
- Plus Kitchen – This place is all about organic ingredients and healthy food options. A bistro style eatery, you can have soup, salad, sandwich, mezze, etc.
- Selamlique Istanbul – Turkish coffee, decadent selection of sweets and pastries and an indulgent experience.You can also buy coffee from Selamlique if you have a taste for Turkish coffee.
- Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar – I thought I had seen it all but caviar at an airport bar? Hell yes! Seafood galore with salmon, shrimps, lobster and more – with a scrumptious dose of C-A-V-I-A-R!
- Simit Saray – Simit (a circular bread, typically encrusted with sesame seeds or, less commonly, poppy, flax or sunflower seeds) is a Turkish staple food. This café does it in a handful of different ways, and serves with coffee, sandwiches and other light bites.
Your next layover is now sorted – happy travels xx