Exotic Istanbul, Turkey: top attractions, food, bazaars & tips – travel guide



A mysterious and sacred place. A magic city full of exotic charm, the crossroad of East and West… THIS IS TURKEY.
Once called Byzantium, New Rome, Constantinople. This city is full of myths about Roman Emperors, Crusaders and Sultans. No other place can vibrate your five senses, creating such a unique travel experience! Top 10 things to do in ISTANBUL.
#1 Top Monuments
HAGIA SOPHIA, a medieval wonder of architecture. It was famous for its massive dome. It was designed by the geometers Isidore and Anthemius, on the orders of the emperor Justinian I. The world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years. TL60 entrance fee.
BLUE MOSQUE. A fine sample of Ottoman architecture and art.
GALATA TOWER, built by the Genoese nearby an old Byzantine Tower, destroyed during the Sack of Constantinople by the Latin Crusaders in 1204. Offers 360 panoramic view! Ticket: TL 35.
KIZ KULESI (Maiden’s Tower also known as Leander’s Tower).
BASILICA CISTERN (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) is the most impressive of several ancient cisterns. Entrance: TL 20
TOPKAPI PALACE. The main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman Sultans. Ticket: TL 72
RUMELI HISAR CASTLE, medieval fortress, a popular museum and a venue for art festivals. Entry fee: TL 18. Enjoy a drink at the Castle’s cafe.
Dolmabahçe Palace, in Beşiktaş, was home to six Sultans and the presidential residence of Kemal Atatürk. Entry: TL 40
Ortaköy Mosque (Büyük Mecidiye Camii). Built in 1721 with a Baroque style.
The Hippodrome of Constantinople & the Valens Roman Aqueduct.
The Walls of Constantinople.
The Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate in Fener, the Chora Church Museum with the stunning frescoes and Aghios Fokas church in Ortaköy.
#2 Turkish Cuisine & street food. Turkey, a culinary heaven! All dishes & flavors will thrill you, so walk enough to burn the extra calories. Try Balik Ekmek fish sandwich at Eminonu. Simit, sesame bagel, grilled corn, fresh fruits are tempting visitors and tourists. Local desserts will make you loose your mind: Baklava, Künefe, Tavuk Göğsü, Helva, Revani, Tulumba, Kazandipi, Ekmek kadayıfı! Dondurma is the Turkish ice-cream with the fun way of serving! Kebab, köfte meatballs, döner, Yoğurtlu, dolma rice stuffed grape leaves, are a few of the marvelous traditional plates. Try also kumpir stuffed hot potato. Pide & lahmacun are delicious pies. For vegetarians, all salads are fresh and tasty. Drink ayran liquid yogurt with salt, number one digestive!
#3 Top Museums. Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Miniatürk Park, at Golden Horn. Santral Istanbul. Energy museum, library, cafe at Istanbul Bilgi University.
SALT Galata. Art space with gallery, cafe & library. Take a photo on the famous stairs nearby!
#4 Modern Istanbul. Magic city, so many faces! It’s modern aspect and luxuries are really what we see at the soap-operas. The skyscrapers look like 1000 minarets! From Taxim square begins Istiklal street, leading to Galata tower and the Tunnel train. Fashion stores, cafe and bars, terraces, restaurants, malls. Rich and stylish neighborhoods: Nişantaşı, Etiler, Levent, Şişli, Bebek and Arnavutköy. It unites two different worlds, like it does with 2 continents, Europe & Asia…The live performances in Istiklal are frequent!
#5 Istanbul Bazaars. The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.
Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı) or Egyptian Bazaar.
#6 Istanbul Hamams. A Turkish Bath is a place of public bathing & hygiene. It includes relaxation, body washing and massage. top hamams of the city: Cağaloğlu, Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan, Çemberlitaş, Çukurcuma
#7 Dervish, Sufi and Oriental Dance shows. Experience the dance shows & let the rhythm reveal you the secrets of the East
#8 Day trip to Adalar. The Princes’ Islands are Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada. Büyükada or Prinkipos is the most popular. The phaeton horse carriage is a must!
#9 Bosphorus Cruise: Bridges, castles, mosques, palaces, luxury mansions, vessels, beautiful nature and the feeling you cross the line between two continents! Istanbul is the Queen of the world’s cities!
#10 Asian coast. Kadıköy, the cosmopolitan Bağdat avenue, Caddebostan, Fenerbahçe, Üsküdar, Kandilli İskelesi. Take the Marmaray subway train or shuttle boats.
USEFUL TIPS
EXPLORE the graffiti and colorful spots of Istanbul & take selfies! Many locals don’t speak english. Try to learn the basic Turkish phrases. Walk as much as you can: Aromas, music, oriental sensation. Do it like the Turks! Enjoy Turkish coffee and Çay. Istanbul is a safe place, but most of the times is really crowded.
WHERE TO EAT. RESTAURANTS: Tarihi Köftecisi Selim Usta, Midpoint, Nola Galata, Chez Moi
CAFE: House cafe, Cafe Ara, Patisserie Gulluoglu
ACCOMMODATION: The Marmara Pera, Rixos Pera, Novotel Bosphorus, Shangri-La, Grand Hyatt. Radisson Blu Pera, House Hotel Karaköy, CVK Park, Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Nevv Bosphorus
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