Sahlep – the winterful, wonderful street beverage of Istanbul

The magnificent Blue Mosque

There is something indescribably “Istanbul-ish” about a warm, soothing cup of sahlep as you walk around in the cool, brusque Fall and Winter air of Sultanahmet (in the Old City) any evening between November and January.

Hagia Sofia with its generations of history

The refreshing evenings in the Old City side of Istanbul during this cooler time of year, capture an ambiance that’s definitely not in existence during the sultry summer months.

Street tea vendors at night – Istanbul

During the winter, if you go out later in the day, when the crowds have quieted down, you’ll find a different, quieter city, when there’s only you and a few other souls walking around, watching the multi-coloured dancing waters of the fountain in the Center of Sultanahmet Meydani (Square), which mystically contrasts the serenity and stately grandeur of the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.

Sultanahmet Square
Sultanahmet Meydani with Hagia Sofia as the backdrop.

To add to your winter delight on the dark streets of Istanbul, if you’ve never had the wondrous experience of drinking hot sahlep on a cold night, the sensation would feel similar to this: on a horse-drawn sleighride in the crisp winter air, enjoying a nice ‘perfectly warmed’ cup of hot chocolate.

Sahlep is similar in consistency to hot chocolate, unlike warm milk chocolate, it would be akin to a cup of warm, white chocolate drink. That is sahlep! Delicious and topped with just a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg, and some crumbled pistachios to slightly enhance the flavour. Yum! Try it! You’ll like it!

The Blue Mosque – Istanbul
Sahlep and Turkish tea vendors at night in Istanbul

These types of intimate and enriching but local, cultural experiences are what we like to share with our guests when we go to Istanbul, either on a group itinerary, or privately. Let us share our love of Istanbul with you!

Blue Mosque/Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: SultanAhmet Camii)
Sahlep! Take a walk around Istanbul this winter and experience it for yourself!