One of the things that continually amazes me about Turkey is its ability to leapfrog over many of the challenges that traditionally the "West" has had to grapple with. Turkey seems to be a caldron of budding (and more recently, established) entrepreneurship, and all things organic, natural, vegetarian, healthy, and environmentally sound are being incorporated into the way hotels and restaurants do business. Indeed, Istanbul's iconic building, the Atatürk Cultural Center, is undergoing a massive modernization project that will make it a model for environmentally friendly restoration projects.

Elsewhere in Istanbul and around the countryside -- even in the heartland where "natural" is assumed -- organic is the new buzzword, and establishments that are thinking about these issues are certainly letting the public know. One standout is the Five Boutique Hotel, the first entirely organic hotel in Turkey.

Istanbul has two organic outdoor markets, the Ekolojik Halk Pazari in Sisli, which was started in 2008 by the environmental group Bugday ( and City Farm in the Istinye Park shopping center (a noticeably higher-income area). The new Macrocenter grocery store brings all things wholesome under one roof with, at last count, nine locations in Istanbul alone. In addition, Istanbul now has dozens of specialized grocers, shops selling all-natural products, and eateries serving only "whole" foods. For chemical-free produce at open markets, look for fruit and vegetables designated as bahçemden ("from my garden").

Many of Turkey's vehicles still run on diesel fuel, although kürsünsüz (unleaded) is also pervasive. The newer green city buses are also considered ekolojik, while the new hybrid Metrobuses reduce both energy consumption and travel time in Istanbul.

Throughout this guide, I've tried to highlight establishments with practices that are good for the planet.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.