Coming up with a solid Istanbul itinerary is difficult because there are so many options of things to do there. Known as the ‘meeting place’ of East and West, there is something wonderfully magical about this city.
Over the centuries, its central location has made it a target for armies and attacks, from the Greeks and the Romans to the Venetians and the Ottomans, and many reminders of this and these attacks can be found across the city. The fact that this city is situated between two continents was not the only thing that made it a target for other nations; it was also the fact that it is said to be situated at the end of the famous ‘Silk Road’ linking Asia and Europe. This meant that many travellers from other countries travelled here, fell in love with the city, and chose to stay, which is why Istanbul is still, to this day, such a diverse place.
Some ancient cities are only famous for their past, but Istanbul is not one of them. Offering a lot more than simply history, this unique city has many sights and attractions within it, which is what has made it such a popular travel destination with tourists from across the globe.
Have we convinced you that Istanbul should be on your travel radar and that it is time to plan a visit? To find out more about planning a trip here, have a read of the travel guide below, which is packed full of interesting and insightful information that will make planning your trip that little bit easier.
Getting to Istanbul
The good news is that travelling to Istanbul does not have to be expensive. You can get cheap flights here from almost every European airport there is, so there is no need to worry about the cost. If you are travelling alone, you may want to book your trip as part of a group tour with other travellers, so that you aren’t travelling alone.
When booking your trip, make sure to consider everything needed, from your Istanbul airport transfer to your Turkish visa. Like with any trip, it pays to be prepared in advance, so that you are able to make sure that you have everything organised and under control.
Getting around in Istanbul
Wondering how you can travel around in Istanbul? There are various options to choose from, but one of the most popular of which is walking. When visiting this incredible city, most travellers choose to walk, because Istanbul is such a walkable city. Traffic is horrendous here, which is why walking is such a popular choice for getting around, especially as you can be stuck in the traffic for hours.
Taxis are, of course, also an option, but it’s just worth bearing the terrible traffic in mind. However, should you need to go somewhere that is not within walking distance, taxis are cheap and easy to catch. Just make sure to request the meter, as you get in your taxi. Otherwise, the price could be highly expensive.
Watch your pockets
Istanbul is home to some of the world’s best pickpockets, so ensure that you are always mindful of your surroundings and keep an eye on your valuables. The best way to protect yourself is to keep all valuables zipped securely into a bun bag, as that way you can see them at all times. Crowded places are the worst for pickpockets, so just keep that in mind when out and about exploring.
Enjoy the bazaar
If there is one thing that Istanbul is famous for, it is the bazaars. These are indoor markets that offer all manner of amazing items, from fresh herbs and spices to clothing and jewellery. The best two bazaars in Istanbul are the ‘Spice Bazaar’ and ‘Grand Bazaar’ – both are worth a visit while you are exploring the city. You will be amazing at how bright and colourful these markets are, and how wonderfully magical they feel.
Have a Turkish bath
Have you heard of Turkish bathhouses? Well, if you haven’t, you should have done – these giant wash houses offer a range of refreshing and relaxing spa-like treatments, along with a few extras. Men and women are separated for bathing, and you may be asked to remove your swimwear and go in naked. This can be strange as you are surrounded by lots of other men or women. However, it is all part of the experience. While you are enjoying the bathhouse, you will also be scrubbed clean by one of the bathhouse team. This may seem strange, but it’s an age-old Turkish tradition and one that every visitor to this magnificent city should experience.
Enjoy the rooftop bars
Istanbul’s rooftop bars aren’t something that every visitor knows about. The best place to spend a night out at is Istiklal because it has various bars on offer and is a fun place to spend an evening. While you are here, don’t forget to look up at the rooftop bars, as these are one of the best-hidden secrets of this place – they have the most amazing views.
Visit the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is the most famous landmark in Istanbul, making it a must visit attraction while you are here. The six minarets of this beautiful building dominate the skyline here – it is a key part of the local architecture. There is a dress code to be able to visit the mosque, and it is essential that you keep to it. Women must cover their heads, shoulders and legs, and men must cover their legs and shoulders – they cannot be wearing short sleeves or shorts – but they don’t need to cover their heads.
View the Underground Cistern
Right out of a movie, the Underground Cistern has to be seen to be believed. It is an incredible sight – an underground passageway filled with water. Built in 532 AD, this amazing attraction is incredibly old and is a big part of Istanbul’s culture and heritage.
Get a bus to the Black Sea
One of the world’s most famous oceans, the Black Sea is a must-see attraction while you are in Istanbul. You can choose to get a bus here. During peak season, the Black Sea has a selection of thriving shops and restaurants surrounding it, so there are plenty of places to relax while soaking up the sight of this amazing ocean. You can sunbathe on the beach, paddle in the sea’s cool waters, or do a little exploring while you are here – there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
Turkey is famous for its amazing Kebabs, and Istanbul is no different. Kebab here is a combination of meat and spices cooked in a clay pot along with spices and served on a fresh pita bread along with chips. It may not be the healthiest of meals, but while you are in Turkey, kebab is one dish that you have to try.
Istanbul really does have a lot to offer any traveler. This city has many different areas to it, and many different things to offer. That’s why, while you are there, it is worth taking the time to look around the whole city, soaking up the sights in every direction. Some of the best places that you will find will be situated up winding cobbled streets and back alleys, which is why choosing to walk to get around, is often a much better idea than taking a taxi.