Istanbul, Turkey has always been a city I wanted to visit. It’s been on my bucket list for a long time. Ironically, every time I want to visit, events beyond my control prevent me from doing so. This is to show you all why Istanbul should be on your list. At least it gives you a reason to visit this historic city again.
So here are the top 10 things to do in Istanbul!
1) Visit the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) and the Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia
Probably one of the most famous things to do in Istanbul. The Blue Mosque and the Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia are world-famous landmarks. The story behind these buildings is so rich. The Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia was once the largest church in the Eastern Roman Empire. The Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia, built by the Roman Emperor Justinian the Great, was a central center in the history of the city. From the Romans to the takeover by the Ottomans, Hagia Sophia stood beautifully. It was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans in 1453. In 1935 the Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum, only to become a mosque again this year. Take a stroll through history where Islam and Christianity are deeply rooted in one building.
Now the Blue Mosque should not be ignored. It was built by Sultan Ahmet I to restore Ottoman power. The beauty of the blue is hard to beat. Not far from Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, it is a must see when visiting Istanbul. Be impressed by the blue tiles and architecture.
2) Try two continents
Where east meets west. Taste Asia and Europe while sipping Turkish coffee. From what friends have told me, Turkey is surprisingly European. Most expected it to be more Middle Eastern or Arab in nature. However, they learned that it was a mixture of the two continents. Wherever cultures mix, the food is usually fantastic. Turkey definitely proves this statement to be correct. I ate Turkish food in New York City. However, all of my friends who have been to Turkey have told me that there is a difference. It’s like Italian food in Italy versus pizza hut. There is just no comparison. Try Etli ekmek, a Turkish pizza dish with beer. Yes, a beer in a predominantly Muslim country. There are plenty of bars in Istanbul. You can have shish kebab with Middle Eastern spices that go well with anything in the Arab world. If you want something a little more European, Çiğ is the Turkish version of tartar steak. Turkey has a mix of two beautiful continents and shows it off in her kitchen. A food tour is definitely one of the things to do in Istanbul.
3) Explore the less touristy Ortaköy district
Ortaköy is a district in Istanbul that is not easy to get to. Unless you know this area. You need to take a bus or ferry from the Kabatas tram stop. At night you may need to use a taxi to get on or off this area. Might be difficult to find this neighborhood. It’s worth the effort, however. During the day, you have a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus Bridge while sipping a Turkish coffee. At night this is the club hub. At night you have a nice view of the bridge while listening to music from the night clubs. If you land here you need to know this. It becomes something of the hipster and yuppie area. So everything gets more expensive over time.
4) Cross the Bosphorus Bridge
The bridge that connects two continents. Its beauty is breathtaking and will leave you in awe. Unfortunately, you are no longer allowed to cross the bridge. You have to drive or take a cruise. However, that shouldn’t stop you from seeing this bridge in person. You will literally be in another continent when you cross it. This should definitely be on your list of things to do in Istanbul.
5) Visit the many museums of Instanbul
Instanbul is blessed to be a city with so much history. Everywhere you turn, a 1000-year history is waiting to be found. You can stop by the Topkapi Palace Museum (Topkapi Sarayi Müzesi). It was once the home of the Ottoman sultans. For only about $ 11, you can see how the sultans lived. You can also visit the Archaeological Museums in Istanbul. It has many artifacts such as Islamic coins and a 1st century tomb. It is really worth the trip if you are into history.
6) visit the basilica cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)
When in Istanbul you must visit this landmark. The Basilica Cistern is Istanbul’s largest surviving Byzantine cistern. For those who don’t know, a cistern is a place where rainwater is collected. This cistern once supplied the Great Palace of Constantinople with water. The Great Place was once home to many emperors for hundreds of years. There are statues of Medusa’s head lurking around. I am sure it has to be a scary place to visit at night. Imagine walking through here at midnight on Halloween. Tours can be very expensive. Pay attention to the prices. It can range from $ 40 to around $ 600!
7) Visit the Dolmabahçe Palace
This beautiful building is located near the Bosphorus Bridge. His mix of styles is the ultimate symbol of Istanbul history. It was built in the 19th century for the last Ottoman sultan. The architecture of the building is mixed with Arabic and European designs. The ticket lines are long here and the ticket booths close early. So it is best to visit earlier in the day.
8) Check out the Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi).
For breathtaking views of the city, you must stop by the Galata Tower. Once upon a time there was a prison. However, it was restored in the 1960s. They added an observation deck which made this tower a tourist hot stop. There is also a night club and restaurant at the top of the tower. In case you haven’t noticed, Istanbul has a strong nightlife scene. If you are into that kind of thing.
9) take a stroll in the Grand Bazaar (Kapaliçarsi)
A visit to Istanbul isn’t complete without stopping by the Grand Bazaar. Get an idea of the Middle East as you stroll through the many shops of the Grand Bazaar. I have been to a few bazaars during my travels. It’s always full of life and energy. Kind of reminds me of the Wall Street movies. From carpets to random artifacts, you can find almost everything here. From what friends and many other people say, this bazaar isn’t intrusive like those in the Middle East. In my past trips, one of the workers followed you a little and told you all the offers. This is not the case here in Istanbul. The dealers are friendly. However, don’t let that fool you. You still want to get as much money out of your pockets as possible. So be ready to negotiate if you have anything to buy. There are also two Turkish bathhouses here. Really worth the trip!
10) Take a coffee and tea tour
Turkish coffee is known worldwide. If your a coffee person it would be a shame not to take a coffee sip tour. There are many tour companies that can take you to the best coffee shops in Istanbul. You can learn to make Turkish coffee! It’s definitely worth the tour fee. Many coffee tour companies also offer tea tours. For those who don’t know, Turkish tea is pretty good. They add sugar. It is similar to the teas of North Africa. Note that they were once part of the Ottoman Empire. A coffee and tea tour should be on your list of things to do in Istanbul.
Thanks for reading! Stay safe everyone! Wash your hands Much love!
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