The well-known frozen, dairy-based treat melting in your mouth is a type of ecstasy that can’t be explained. It’s a shame that the Turkish dondurma is frequently forgotten on the international stage, particularly considering you have both the slow-melting, chewy Maraş version as well as the exquisitely creative flavors of the Turkic gelato. From natural gum resins to a touch of wild orchids and flowers to the crunchy nutty flavors to the fruity sweet sensations, the varieties of ice cream Istanbul offers are endless.
Whether you are vegan, diabetic, or have other dietary requirements, you have nothing to worry about. The most – almost scandalously – tastiest ice-creams in Istanbul are listed below for you.
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Shall we begin with the stunning views of the sea, or shall we begin the ultimate luxury that is their sundaes? You can choose your own ice-cream combination, but the experts already have the classics prepared. Combined with the gorgeous decorations on the wall, the rich and creative flavors – like the mojito – will make you want to try everything on the menu. However appetizing it may all seem, you need to tread carefully to avoid brain freeze!
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2. Dondurmacı Yaşar Usta
For those wanting to experience Istanbul like the locals, this colorful shop is a hidden delight. Open until 2 am, you may stumble across students from the universities nearby. The reasonable price, paired with the intensity of the flavors, makes Yaşar Usta a must-visit for a late-night sweet snack.
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3. Cremeria Milano
Tucked away on a pedestrianized cobblestone alleyway, the Italian-esque design of Cremeria Milano is not too far from the streets in which it inhabits. You’ll feel like you’re in a charming European town. With its classic, rustic theme, you will be bowled over with just how ambitious they are with their flavors. Just as scrumptious as you would imagine from the Italian countryside, this is the place to take in picturesque views and that brilliant scent of the sea.
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4. Meşhur Dondurmacı Ali Usta
If you’re exploring the Asian side of Istanbul, you must pop in before you do anything else. With only a 20-minute walk from the Kadıköy docks, it would be an absolute shame to miss out. This is the place to re-energize yourself before you pop into the Barış Manço House/Museum. Alternatively, if you’re visiting with friends, you may wish to grab a cone or two to enjoy at the local Moda Park. If you don’t feel like walking, their sleek, futuristic design will remind you that this shop is the future of ice cream.
In particular, chocolate lovers will find their cravings completely satisfied with the chocolate flavor combined with the nut dip. However, if you’re still not sure, just ask the staff. The incredibly knowledgeable staff will give you a helping hand in relation to which flavors pair well with each other.
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A cozy shop that would fit well in Soho (NY or London), there is an air of youth in this attractive parlor. However, their target customers aren’t solely the young; it’s for those that have real love, if not a passion, for ice cream. Their origins are a Hollywood feel-good story: a ten-year-old kid waiting impatiently for the ice cream man/woman to arrive on a hot summer’s day. Fuelled by a passion for returning to nature and bringing a sense of health to dessert that’s constantly defamed, you can see the results.
This is the spot to try fanciful flavors like rose, saffron, lavender, and even chili chocolate cinnamon. We think the Mayans would approve. Moreover, with their vegan blends and their use of stevia, those on a diet will find something to enjoy here. No matter how many times you stop by, you’d be tempted to make just one more visit – if only to see the new flavors.
If Willy Wonka had an ice-cream factory, this would be it. Well… without the children being sucked into ice-cream tubes, that is.
This legendary location got its start in 1923. If the century-old methods of churning out charming tastes aren’t enough to convince you to pop in, perhaps the enchanting views will. If you need something to coat your stomach before the pleasure of that frozen cream hits it, you’ll find a menu that’s got you covered from breakfast to supper. Although it is on the pricey side, this upmarket, swanky restaurant is straight out of a film set. The romantic spot will have you feeling like the Cinderella figure falling in love with a handsome Turkish soap character or the classy yet mean mother-in-law.
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7. Vero Gelato
Whether you choose to head to the nearest park – filled with activities for your kids – or to stay in the colorful, pastel shop, you’ll notice that there is a little bit of magic in the air.
It’s not just the Italian owner who knows what she’s doing. Nor is it the fresh seasonal ingredients. This woman-led business is designed to make you feel like you might accidentally bump into a fairy or a nymph.
While the staff does speak English, the fat stray cat outside only speaks in cuddles. There are other dessert options for those that aren’t overly keen on ice cream. If you hate things that are too sweet, there are sugar-free versions too.
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8. Damla Dondurma
What you hold in your hands may look like a flower, but it’s actually a cone. Missing the touch of luxury and comfortable chairs (if you care), however, Damla Dondurma serves one of Istanbul’s best Turkish ice cream. This is where you go to roam the streets of Istanbul like a knowledgeable foodie. Whether you have it in a cone, cup, or in between the slices, you can opt for a small nut topping that’ll make significant differences to the taste.
There’s less variety in flavors here, but what they can do, they do really, really well. Further, they sell bottles of that fermented winter drink, boza, so if you want to feel like a local, pop by.
9. Mini Dondurma
Oh my, oh my. They say that good things come in small sizes and, in this instance, they would be right. Whatever happened to the type of ice cream that would be dipped in hot fudge sauce with a sprinkle of nuts? Nothing. It may have faded from the mainstream, but Mini Dondurma still has the party going on.
True to its name, this is a tiny spot in Bebek. The taste is such that you will have to wait in line, and it’s unlikely you’ll find somewhere to sit. That said, this is the perfect spot to pick up a small piece of heaven and to walk to the coastline or the nearby park. This is the opportunity to feel like a kid again!
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10. Gelateria Bonacci
Open until late at night, there is no obstacle that’ll keep you from the delights inside. With its sleek, modern design and an Italian-esque façade, this place takes the idea of creaminess to the next level. It’s not just in the ice-creams but in the coffees and hot chocolates.
A tourist-friendly spot, the staff do speak English and can offer fascinating recommendations. Although kid-friendly, the wood-clad design and the touch of plants here and there, give this spot a more refined vibe. One can imagine diluting the bitter taste of work with the sweet taste of the Italian-style gelato here.
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11. Icon Creamery Dondurma
A woman-led boutique ice-cream spot, this place certainly lives up to its name. They proudly display rows and rows of colors that’ll get your tongue twitching. With various flavors that occidental visitors may not have even heard of, this place is sure to hit that sweet tooth in such a way that you may never be satisfied with any other dessert. You may even struggle to describe the pure taste in each scoop. If joy had a physical form, it would be sold here. They do cater to various dietary requirements. If you’re fortunate, you may find a new flavor made from seasonal fruits.
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12. Lu Gelato
This cute, funky ice cream shop may be a trek from the usual touristic destinations, but it’s a trek worth made. Although there is a toy museum nearby, this is a star on its own. The glossy rows of ice cream have flavors that are suitable for diabetics, vegetarians, and vegans. Utilizing only premium quality goods, Lu Gelato prides itself on its use of the freshest fruits, nutritious nuts, and delicious milk from jersey cows. This artistic spot is the realization of their founder, Veysel Kılıç’s, years of training and experience. Further, they are raising the next generation of ice-cream makers here. With over a hundred flavors, this is one to watch out for.
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This is where you go for salep flavored Turkish ice cream originated in Kahramanmaraş. Although there are options of sugar-free flavors, most people flock here because they like their ice cream on the sweeter side.
As if the traditional Turkish ice creams weren’t enough to make your taste buds dance, this spot also has baklava, künefe, and waffles that will make any summer night genuinely magical. The chocolate ice cream is a must-try!
Mado is a famous ice cream brand in Turkey with branches throughout the country. It’s salep (wild orchid bulbs), and goat’s milk-based ice cream is so thick that you need a knife and fork to eat it.
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We’ve rounded up the best local ice cream shops in Istanbul for you to enjoy this summer. Hopefully, the above list of 13 delicious ice cream shops will help you find your new favorite flavor! If you happen to be visiting Turkey anytime soon, make sure to pack a cooler with some snacks and head on over to one of these sweet spots. Whether you prefer classic flavors like mastic flavored pistachio or cacao, or more exotic ones like tahini coffee or fig-date sorbet, there’s something here for everyone. You won’t regret it- we promise!
Remember–our food tours take place all year round, so don’t worry about missing out on all these delicious flavors when it’s cold outside. Book today for a fun way to spend an afternoon exploring one of Turkey’s most beautiful cities while indulging in its best sweet treat.
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