Istanbul

The gate between Europe and Asia for more than 1000 years.

Istanbul melds historic sites like the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque with vibrant nightlife in its Beyoğlu district.

4.4
out of 5

Istanbul, a city that spans two continents, is a unique blend of European and Asian influences, where the skyline is punctuated by minarets and modern architecture. Known for the historic Hagia Sophia, the vibrant Grand Bazaar, and the majestic Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul is a city where history is woven into the fabric of daily life. The Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace are testaments to the city's rich past, while its contemporary art scene and bustling street life showcase its ongoing cultural evolution.

Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace

Two of Istanbul's most significant historical landmarks are the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. The Hagia Sophia, once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum, offers insight into the city's layered history, with its striking domes and intricate mosaics. Nearby, Topkapi Palace provides a glimpse into the opulent lives of Ottoman sultans with its lavish courtyards and extensive collection of artifacts.

Traditional Turkish Cuisine

The cuisine in Istanbul is as diverse as its heritage. For a traditional culinary experience, visitors should try dishes like kebabs, baklava, and Turkish delight. Restaurants such as Ciya Sofrasi on the Asian side offer a variety of regional dishes, while the street food scene includes must-tries like simit (a sesame encrusted bread) and balık ekmek (fish sandwiches) found near the Galata Bridge.

Cultural Practices and Atmosphere

Experiencing a traditional Turkish bath or "hammam" is a cultural practice that has persisted through the centuries. Historical baths such as Çemberlitaş Hamamı provide an authentic experience. The daily call to prayer, echoing from the minarets, shapes the rhythm of daily life, while the energy of Istanbul's streets, from busy markets to quiet back alleys, reveals the true vibe of the city.

Bosphorus Strait and Natural Landscapes

A ferry ride on the Bosphorus Strait presents an excellent opportunity to view Istanbul's skyline from the water and appreciate its unique position between two continents. Outdoor enthusiasts might also enjoy visiting the Princes' Islands, a chain of nine small islands in the Sea of Marmara, where cars are banned and horse-drawn carriages are a common sight.

Budget Considerations in Istanbul

Istanbul can cater to various budgets. For example, accommodation ranges from affordable guesthouses to luxury hotels. Public transportation, including trams, buses, and ferries, is a cost-effective way to get around Istanbul. For those looking to shop, bargaining is expected in markets like the Grand Bazaar but not in fixed-price shops or malls.

Public Transportation in Istanbul

Navigating Istanbul is facilitated by a comprehensive public transportation network. The Istanbulkart is an all-access card for trams, metros, buses, and ferries. The Marmaray undersea rail line connects the European and Asian sides of the city. For short distances or to avoid traffic, consider using the "dolmuş" minibusses or taxis that are prevalent throughout Istanbul.

Average temperatures during the day in Istanbul.
July
29°
Aug
28°
Sep
25°
Oct
20°
Nov
16°
Dec
11°
Jan
9°
Feb
10°
Mar
12°
Apr
17°
May
22°
Jun
27°

What people say about Istanbul

4.4
People
4
Food
4
Spaces
4
Value
4
Safety
4

The city is beautiful but anyone travelling to Istanbul, be ready to get robbed! Especially in the restaurants, Bazar and taxi.

You go to a restaurant and see some good prices but at the end when they know you are a tourist, they will ask you for 2x or 3x of what they wrote on the menus. You go to Bazar and buy something, then you see it is in a very low quality. It happened to us buying Turkish tea but it was fake. We bought Baklava and the content inside was 1/2 of the box. There is no legal control on them.

The taxis!!! The taxi you get from the airport or to the airport goes around the city to increase the taximeter number and goes through the tolls intentionally to also get the tolls price from you.

Some of the historical places are very expensive that many tourists refuse to visit. For example Topkapi Palace. They charge you for visiting every building in the palace.

In total, it is disappointing that such a beautiful and historical city is in the wrong hands. I never recommend anybody to visit Istanbul.

5
3
4
5
5
5

Day Trip. Will re-visit

2
2
2
3
2
5

I recently spent a few days in Istanbul with my boyfriend, and i would like to share the following experience from our trip:

Avoid the posh/fancy/trendy bars, restaurants, and clubs if you want good service and want to strike up a conversation with locals. Keep things simple, because that is how Turkey and its people are.
When we went to some of the more expensive venues, the service was disappointing, cold, occasionally arrogant, and even unpleasant, whilst the treatment we had from the more simple restaurants was the greatest - it was obvious that they were delighted to serve us! We were offered free (excellent Turkish) coffee on one occasion when they could barely speak English, which was a small but thoughtful touch. My experience in instabul is quiet interesting and I would surely recommend the place to anyone who wishes to go for a vacation or holiday relaxation.

4
3
4
4
5
5

Something I did that was memorable was the following:

- Visit balat and get a coffee at naftalin caffe is a must
- Walk slightly uphill and visit the church of st mary of the mongols (aka Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church / Meryem Ana Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi)
- Then eat at the best shawarma place, local and hidden, made by the local grandpa who only speaks turkish in Fatih Draman at Fethiye CD. street (according to Maps) place called Borek & Pide Salonu.

4
4
4
5
5
4

I love the cats in Istanbul so much...

4
5
5
5
4
4

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