It's not often you can use the the word “village” when describing parts of a city with a population of 14 million people, but that's just what you get with Arnavutköy. If you manage to negotiate the traffic around Taksim and head up the coast (on the European side) you’ll likely make you way to / through Arnavutköy. This was our base for a better part of the first 2 years of our time in Turkey, so granted we might be biased but it is a really unique part of the city nonetheless.
Literally translating to “Albanian Village” it's known for its classic Ottoman era wooden house architecture, quaint back streets, abundance of fish restaurants and more recently contemporary bars & coffee shops. Once home to a large Greek population, over the years Jewish and Armenian communities have also called Arnavutköy home which means that it's probably one of the few (if only) areas in Istanbul which had a Greek Orthodox Church, Synagogue and Mosque all in close proximity.
Should you find yourself in Arnavutköy here are a few places to get you started, road tested and approved for chaotic toddlers also ;)
ice cream: Girandola