The Design Lover's Dream Turkey Trip

Turkey Travel Tips for the Design Lover

Turkey is a dream for design lovers.  See our tips for sights, shopping, side trips and more!

We travel to Turkey every year to source kilims and carpets, sparkling lanterns, and antique pots.  It is the perfect place to visit for the design lover.  Come along as we share our tips with our favorite places to shop, dine, and stay in Istanbul and beyond!   

Most years I travel to Istanbul and Konya in the winter, which is still fabulous - but it's freaking cold!  We get snow and wind and not a lot of sun - for these desert dwellers that is a challenge!  But last year we got a real treat..  I took my family of five to Turkey for three weeks last summer and we had an incredible time!  
Our kids are all teens now so we tailored the trip to not only get our TDL work done, but to have fun as a family.  That meant lots of great food, plenty of time on the Mediterranean Sea, hiking in Cappadocia, and trinket shopping in Istanbul, mixed with the store shopping.  Sightseeing we did as add ons to work - and made sure to stop for famous treats, like joyfully tricky ice cream vendors, and lots of doner kebabs!
Our three teens at the Topkapi Palace

Our favorite sights and shopping in Istanbul 

We always start off our trips to Turkey in Istanbul, of course.  Teeming with life, this city of 20 million-plus is inspiration overload everywhere you look.  We always stay in the Beyoğlu neighborhood with easy access to the tram station at Findiklı.  We love being in a real neighborhood with easy access to a million great shops and restaurants in the Çukurcuma neighborhood.  And when it's time to head over to Sultanahmet for work or to sightsee, it's easy to hop on the tram and take it just a few stops, without ever having to get in a taxi and crawl through traffic. 

 

Must see sights in Sultanahmet

  • The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar
  • Rüstem Pasta Mosque - which is right at the start of the Spice Bazaar
  • The Basilica Cistern
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Topkapı Palace - and yes go to the harem
  • Arasta Bazaar 

The Spice Bazaar
Shopping for lanterns in Istanbul
The magical Basilica Cistern
The domes of the Hagia Sophia
At our framers in Istanbul working on gilded frames for the hand painted maps we bought at the Arasta Bazaar
Beautiful silk suzani pillows we source in Istanbul
Hand painted Iznik plates we sourced on the trip
Gorgeous Cukurcuma - it looks almost like a Disney set for adults!  That light on those lovely old streets!

Our favorite town on the Mediterranean Sea - Kaş

A summer trip to Turkey should definitley include a trip to the Mediterranean Sea.  There are dozens of charming towns dotted along the drive from Antalya to Dalaman - the two airports that serve the area - but our favorite is Kaş.

We have been lucky enough to visit this darling seaside village numerous times.  In the past we have rented villas with sea views, which is lovely - but this time we think we actually found the most idyllic spot.  We got a few rooms at the Tamara Hotel and decided unanimously it's our new favorite.  It has perfect swim platforms right above the turquoise waters, great service, and a pretty little restaurant with fresh fish.

We took a beautiful full day boat trip along the coast and peeped ancient Roman ruins along the way.  We were served a delicious lunch and happily dove from the boat again and again in the pristine sea.

The city itself has a sweet center with cobbled streets, little gift shops and restaurants brimming with happy travellers.

Our first glimpse of the Tamara Hotel in Kaş
Shade umbrellas along the Mediterranean Sea
Views of ancient ruins on our boat trip on the Mediterranean
The glorious Mediterranean Sea
Our boys at the Antiphellus Theatre - a 1st century BCE Hellenistic amphitheatre in Kaş
We did not want to leave Kaş!

Cappadocia

Any trip to Turkey - especially for your first visit - should include Cappadocia.  This ancient area of central Anatolia is riddled with caves, studded with fairy chimney rock formations, and is draped with dramatic hills and valleys.  Hiking the canyons and discovering the millenia-old habitations of layered civilizations is a must.

We stay in a charming pension - La Maison du Şişik, the Kilim Pension.  It is rustic but real, with a stunning view of some of the lovliest sights in the center of Uçhisar.  The wonderful owners can help arrange a guide for hiking the valleys. 

Our lounge view in Cappadocia
Gorgeous Cappadocia
Cappadocia views
Ancient caves of Cappadocia
Balloons at dawn in Cappadocia
Hey that's me in Cappadocia!

Konya - Famous for Rumi, and Sufism - and textiles!

We ended our trip with a few days of intense work at our favorite rug dealer in Turkey.  Here we look through thousands of vintage kilims and carpets to make hundreds of pillows, ottomans and end of bed benches.

Konya is famous for the tomb of Celaleddin Rumi, the 13th century mystic.  There are numerous sights to visit related to Sufism and the Whirling Dervishes.   

Arriving in Konya and back to work buying kilims and carpets!
Some of the small carpets we buy for throw rugs - these are originally bag fronts
Our daughter whiling away time at our rug dealer in Konya

Turkey - a love story

We can't wait to get back to Istanbul this September.  While we can't take the whole family this year, we will be back for work this autumn to find more fabulous things and visit our dear friends.

Cats of Istanbul

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