Awe-inspiring and larger than life, Istanbul is one of the best cities on the planet. A maze of wondrous architecture, hospitable people and home to heavenly food; it’s a city that can be visited over and over again.
Now, I just want you to get in my shoes and explore the city all by yourself. Let me tell you that Istanbul is in Europe, in case you’re already in the Middle East or in Asia. Spring season is the best time to escape from the daily chores of life and enjoy holidays in Istanbul. That’s May or June. Or else in Autumn between September and November.
Enveloped with Perfect Weather
The crowd is less and the weather is just perfect to get the ball rolling. You’ll be glad to know that the Tulip Festival is held in the month of April in Istanbul with uncountable bloomed tulips.
Reaching Istanbul is not a problem. Flights from the UK, or anywhere, arrive at Ataturk or Sabiha Gokcen Airport. By the way, Ataturk is much closer to the city centre and even to Sultanahmet or Taksim. From the airport, you could either board the metro or hire a taxi to reach Sultanahmet or Taksim as most of the hotels congregate there.
Duration of Stay
Doesn’t matter how long you need to stay, Istanbul is overwhelming. We stayed seven nights and wanted more. To enjoy the city to the fullest, I recommend three nights and take in most of the key sights. So, all set? Now, where do you go?
Sultanahmet is your starting point
You should start from Sultanahmet’s Top Tourist Attractions. Sultanahmet is home to some iconic attractions like Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern. If you’re visiting the city for the first time, these gems ‘should not be missed’.
Now, I didn’t mean to offend shoppers. All shopping fanatics must head towards The Grand and Egyptian Spice Bazaar. These are popular, enormous and one of the oldest bazaars in Istanbul, not far from Sultanahmet Square. It means you can buy Aladdin’s magic lamp for sure. But seriously, you can buy anything and everything at the Grand Bazaar.
Right from furniture, clothes, leather goods, carpets, souvenirs, things are all lined up. The Spice Bazaar smells amazing. Home to more than a hundred shops selling, tea, spice, dried fruits, buts and other Turkish delights. Make sure you carry some home.
I bet, you won’t be able to explore these two markets in a day, hence, take a break and allow your eyes to marvel at the iconic Galata Tower and the Dolmabahce Palace. These are the most stylish boulevard in the Istiklal neighbourhood. Well, you can eat, shop and blend into the pulsating nightlife. Make sure you spend an evening here to taste Istanbul’s nightlife.
Any photographers out here? A panoramic cruise of the Bosphorus is more than exciting. (Bosphorus is a natural waterway. It’s a continental boundary between Europe and Asia, and isolates Asian Turkey from European Turkey). The ferry company offers three thrilling cruises taking you all the way to Anadolu Kavagı just before the Black Sea. Halt and relish mouth-watering seafood by the waterways.
Istanbul is full of Byzantine architecture and an impressive mosaic work. Whether you visit a church or a mosque, every detail will spellbind you. I bet your Istanbul holiday trip will be worth it!
Visit the Asian District
Now again, if you are visiting Istanbul for the first time, get a taste of the Asian culture. It’s trendy, pleasing and full of life. Ciya Sofrasi and Walter’s Coffee Roastery is home to a patchwork of restaurants, bars, cafes and some enlivening neighbourhoods. If you can spare a day, the Asian side will grip you. Let me also inform you, the Kadıkoy Market is a food lover’s dream spot.
Your time in Istanbul won’t be fruitful, or complete if you do not visit one of the Turkish Bathhouse. There are numerous hammams and traditional bathhouses to choose from. Beginning from the budget to the lavish, from the oldest to the recent, you’ll be spoilt for choices.
If you are on a budget, do not look beyond Aga Hammel. Believe it or not, this bathhouse is over 560, and as a couple, we enjoyed getting friendly with other couples.
It’s October, and Turkey holidays package is available at best prices with special discounts. Whether you’re looking for a European city break or a family holiday to Istanbul, there are competitive holiday packages that can be booked easily.