Istanbul, although it is not Turkey’s capital, is one of the busiest and most multifaceted cities we have been so far. We liked the historic districts, the big and smaller mosques, the lively bazaars and the young and modern corners. We enjoyed the time with our couchsurfing host Aziz, his great breakfast and the cai at his friend’s cafe.
Thanks to Aziz’ timing plan, we could explore almost every must-see site of Istanbul during our four day stay there.
We never felt unsafe although we noticed the lack of foreign tourists and the presence of police everywhere.
In this post, we sum up all the places we have visited and which are worth to recommend in our opinion.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have something to add or any further question.
Starting the sightseeing in MINIATÜRK
We started our first day in the nice open air museum called “MINIATÜRK” in the district of Beyoglu. Here, you can explore all the famous and important places in Turkey. All the sites are built in a miniature version, some include an audio guide comment. One sector is especially for Istanbul. It gives a nice overview what to expect in your travel through Turkey. We also used the visit to plan our upcoming weeks with adding every interesting site to our itinerary. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit one from our list. See more about the reason in our post about our change of plans a few days later.
To the city center
From MINIATÜRK you can take a bus to the Galata bridge. There, you have a great view to the Bosporus and the city center. Walk across the bridge to find the New Mosque (Yeni Cami). In walking distance, you can visit all the well known sites of Istanbul.
During two days, we enjoyed the well explained exhibits in the Archaeological Museum, the colorful sweets at the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı), the silence in the Topkapi Palace (especially in the Harem there) and the impressive buildings of the Süleyamniye Mosque, the Aya Sophia and the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Cami). We walked along the Sultan Ahmet place and visited the Egyptian or Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı).
Modernity north of the city center
Another day brought us to the districts of Karaköy and Beyoglu. Here, you can really feel the other face of the city. No head scarf but many art galleries, cafes and arty shops fill the streets. The people are young, the walls are painted colorful and the atmosphere is relaxed.
You can take the cable car from the Galata bridge up to the shopping street Tarlabasi Boulevard. Walk down to the Galata Tower, then up again and head to the Taksim Square next to the Gezi Park where the recent demonstrations took place.
The finish with a boat tour
The last day, we relaxed our legs and took a boat. During two hours, we explored the Bosporus and got a new view to the city and its great buildings. It is a good opportunity to enjoy a fish bread fresh from the harbor. You can not miss the stalls that sell these delicious snacks.
Have you been to Istanbul? What did you like the most? Or do you have further questions? Leave a comment!
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