Tuzla… Located on the Asian side of Istanbul – the headland on the coast of the Marmara Sea, at the eastern limit of the city. This small town is definitely a hidden gem.
First things first, after the 2 hour drive from Atatürk Airport I was famished. I stopped at Balık Meze Çeşitleri for a bite. It’s an amazing fish restaurant that doesn’t have a standard menu, they make a different lunch and dinner everyday and everyone is served the same meal. Waiters walk around with bowls of food and add to your plate as you eat. This was a really different experience for me as I’m not used to such. I had fish soup as a starter and a yummy salad and different types of fishes as a main and some type of banana bread and ice cream for dessert.
After stuffing my face it was time to explore. It’s was -2°C by the way 🙁
For all things shopping, Viaport AVM is the place to go. The open-air concept shopping mall has 188 stores, a 5D cinema, ice skating area, go-carting, bowling and an amusement park. I was lucky enough to watch a performance by amazing figure skaters at the ViaPort Ice Park. The show was free and a lot of people were in attendance. It was amazing!
You can also opt for Kadikoy Bağdat Street which is about 45 minutes away from Tuzla. Bağdat Street is approximately 14km long with department stores, boutiques, restaurants, pubs and cafés. It’s a great place to meet young English speaking people. I went to Polo Garage and got a beautiful scarf for only 70 Turkish Lira.
**Honestly ViaPort Mall & Kadikoy have the same stores. Driving to Kadikoy isn’t really worth it as you’ll be stuck in traffic when going there and traffic when returning.
There are 3 main universities in Tuzla:
Sabancı University, Piri Reis University (Marine University) and ITU Maritime Faculty. I spoke to a few people and most agreed that the best place to hang out at is The North Shield Pub Tuzla Viaport Marina.
The service was really great, they make amazing cocktails 1 beer is 20TL (7usd) and they have a valet parking service. One interesting thing I noticed is that even old people go to these pubs. Imagine seeing a 60+ old looking lady and her husband at a pub at 2am.
I had an amazing time in the quiet town of Tuzla. I would definitely go back.