20. October 2018
If you’re a history buff, an admirer of architecture, or just a lover of a good bargain at the markets, then Istanbul is the city for you! Keep reading and I’ll tell you the must-dos in the Turkish capital.
For my second trip to Istanbul, I decided to see what it would be like in Summer, the premiere time for European travel. The city is most definitely alive with tourists, but you can definitely tell that locals are enjoying their summer vacations away from the hustle and bustle of the city scene.
Make sure to watch my Istanbul vlog to get a real insight into this beautiful city! Click here to watch
One of the things that you can’t help but admire is the city’s efforts to keep the history of Constantinople alive! The pristine upkeep of architecture and the abundance of information for tourists means that your time here is a relaxing holiday and a history lessons at the same time.
While my recommendations may seem cliché, they are very much must-dos. A visit to Istanbul isn’t truly a visit if you don’t admire the interior architecture of one of the city’s main mosques or see the embrace of all religions and society at the Hagia Sophia.
Where did I stay? We were on a tight budget but managed to find this delightful hotel in Sultanahmet, right next to Topkapi Palace. Interested in a hotel? Check out our affiliate partners, Booking.com for this hotel.
While the Blue Mosque is the tourist classic, the mosque that you most definitely want to make time for is the Süleymaniye Mosque. Here you will also find the octagonal tombs of the Sultan Süleyman and his wife Haseki Hürrem Sultan and a spectacular view overlooking the Bosphorus channel.
Some might enjoy Topkapi palace to lush over the gorgeous interiors of the vast number of rooms and ornaments that made life as a Sultan more than appealing, but I would suggest that if you were short on time to skip it for the Dolmabahce Palace which is beyond opulent and impresses with its beauty and let’s not forget those Instagram worthy Gates.
But nothing is quite like the Hagia Sophia – an architectural marvel that was fought over for centuries between different groups and religions and now is a symbol of unity. Make sure to climb up to the second floor to have a spectacular overview of the ground floor and gaze at the building’s enormity. Keep an eye out for the resident kitty, Gli, who likes to nap near the main podium.
Istiklal Caddesi and the Grand Bazaar will fill your time up for shopping but make sure to take a day out on the water and have a boat tour down to the Black Sea, you can even brag that you spent a bit of time on the Asian continent.
Interested in the boat tour? Click here for the same one I went on! It was fabulous!
Now, while you might want to immerse yourself in Turkish culture and gastronomy, it’ll hard for you to find a coffee that matches your Nespresso machine at home. But, there is one café in the old quarter that I need to shout out – Poika Café. If your caffeine fix isn’t being satisfied with the Turkish stuff, go and grab yourself a latté at the cutest little spot near the Blue Mosque. Or if you prefer a stronger drink for the nighttime, check out 5 cocktails and more.
For your taste buds, make sure to try the infamous Turkish delight (and take a few boxes home with you) and if you ask around, have a go at the dried figs that they sell in spectacularly designed metal boxes. Apple tea is a fan favourite (green apple is my choice!) and rice pudding will make your taste buds go into overdrive.
Istanbul is a spectacular destination all year round. After visiting both in Summer and Winter, I would suggest visiting in winter as the summer heat and concrete make it a sweaty affair – though, the breeze from the Bosphorus will help cool you down. Always wear sunscreen and make sure you bring comfy shoes because long days of walking are inevitable.
How did I get there? I got a great deal using eDreams and flew with Pegasus airlines. Have a look at how you can get to Istanbul from your city.