My traveling sister Ilze and I spent 4 days in Istanbul in September 2014. We are the kind of travellers who prefer to wander the streets without a plan. We feel that our unplanned ways allow us to discover new things.
Istanbul is a beautiful city with a lot of culture. It is one of the few cities I have visited where I couldn’t stop taking pictures. It’s seriously a vibrant place.
The suggestions below are based on our discoveries. Happy Traveling!
Accommodation: We stayed at the Hotel Ada Karakoy and I can’t recommend them enough. They realised my birthday was two days after our arrival to Istanbul and they decorated our room with balloons and cake. Talk about amazing hospitality and attention to clients. The location is also perfect to visit the Mosques, Galata Bridge and the Bazaars.
Food & Drinks: We only went to one restaurant during our visit and I’m afraid I don’t remember the name. Otherwise we would eat on the street or get filled up from Turkish sweets and coffee. Don’t underestimate the little espresso cups. Turkish Coffee is STRONG. The fish sandwiches on the street were the best. It’s fresh fish caught from the day. Don’t be afraid to try food from the street.. it really is sometimes the best. 🙂
Things to Do: When in Turkey, go visit a Turkish Hammam. It is really a unique experience. We went to Çemberlitaş Hamamı a very old and historical bath with beautiful architecture. Once inside you feel like you traveled back in time 200 years.
The Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar are definitely a must see. I personally preferred the Egyptian Bazaar as it felt less touristic than the Grand Bazaar. The Egyptian Bazaar is also where I bought my Turkish rugs and spices. You can find everything and anything in those markets. I wish I would have boughten more spices as their mixes are full of unique flavours.
We also took a Bosphorus Cruise across to the Asian part of Turkey. We opted for the “half day cruise” which was a bit too long for us – next time I think I will choose the speed boat tour. For more information on the Bosphorus Cruises check out the Turkey Travel Planner website.
We got to experience prayer time in The Yeni Cami – translating to “New Mosque.” The men and women are separated and women must have their head and legs covered. If you have the time, I would definitely recommend witnessing this religious tradition.
My favourite place of all was definitely the Galata Bridge. It’s a bridge of history and life that crosses the Golden Horne. The bridge is full of fisherman throughout the day with music playing and families hanging around. Below the bridge are a lot of restaurants with a view on the Bosphorus Strait. Really lovely for sunset.
Day or night. Life doesn’t stop in Istanbul. I found the Turkish culture to be vibrating with colour and life.