İstanbul’s palaces offer a calm, quiet and beautiful atmosphere and the cafés’ prices are reasonable. Unfortunately, most of the cafés close at 5 p.m. Only Küçüksu Kasrı in Beykoz is open in the evenings. Who has the opportunity to drink tea beneath century-old trees, among ponds adorned with water lilies and fountains, where the leaves rustle and the scent of roses is worthy of the sultans? We say this opportunity is available to everyone in İstanbul. … All right, but where? Once upon a time, the sultans explored and strolled around the palaces, spacious pavilions and lush gardens. Some do not dare enter the palaces’ cafés during their visit, thinking that they must be expensive when in all actuality they are surprisingly affordable. Yes, the prices are reasonable. Moreover, nowhere else in İstanbul will one find such peace of mind, though some places may appear to. We went and saw this, one of us drinking lemonade, the other having tea. Here we relaxed like sultans.
The three cafes of Dolmabahçe
Dolmabahçe Palace has three cafes. The Clock Tower can be found immediately inside the entrance to the palace. It is unbelievably quiet and a good place to read a book, especially during the late afternoon prayer. The other cafes are located in the inner courtyards of the palace. They serve food until 5 p.m., but are closed on Mondays and Thursdays. The Concubines Cafe overlooks the concubines’ dormitories. The Aviary Cafe is located in the coolest part of the palace. Here, amid the huge pool of blooming water lilies, people forget it is summer. Do not be surprised if your eyes fall upon strutting peacocks while sipping your tea. Since the time of Sultan Abdülhamit, peacocks, silver pheasants and chickens have been raised on this side of the garden.
At least knowing Maslak Kasrı
Of all the cafes in the palace, Maslak Kasrı is the name you are most likely to have heard of. Thought to be a home for the military for many years, this place filled with colorful roses does not seem to fit its soaring-skyscraper surroundings. This garden, where century-old trees dance in the wind and you only feel the sun’s rays when first entering, is now famous.
Never without Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace, located on the Anatolian side of the Bosporus, is adorned with Ottoman elegance. The very famous cafeé in the garden of the palace has been open since 1989. People desiring a view of the Bosporus Bridge can always be found here. The prices also increase interest in breakfast at the palace. Five cups of tea paired with 10 varying breakfast plates cost just TL 10. Meanwhile, entering the café costs TL 1, as is the case for all of the palace cafés, but this fee does not include the museum tour. Those who wish to explore the palace must pay another TL 5.
Ihlamur Kasrı, both close to the city and quiet
When leaving Beşiktaş for Nişantası, there is a palace cafeé that will make you say: “What is this? Did I die and go to heaven or what?” The garden of Ihlamur Kasrı was built for the sultans to relax. Everywhere you turn is lush and green. There is no other place in İstanbul where so many gingko trees can be found. Amongst the trees is a magnificent fountain where ducks can be seen bathing. You will normally not see many squirrels this close, adding flair to the café. But the most beautiful aspect of the venue is that it is both close to the city and quiet. The menu prices are the same as in other cafés. The only difference is that you can enjoy an open buffet here for TL 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekend mornings.