Things to do: Must-have experiences in Istanbul

Published on : Tuesday, September 28, 2021

This is a definitive and unmissable guide to all essential sights, places, sight-seeing and shopping in Istanbul.  This Turkish city fascinates global visitors and locals for its vibrancy and variety. May it be in arts, architecture, culture, eating and drinking, shopping or sports there is always something new in Istanbul for everyone and every taste.

See the two faces of Istanbul from cruise

Cruising on the waters of the Bosphorous offers the best views of the Asian and European side of Istanbul with the long queue of the beautiful medieval palaces, towers, wooden villas and bridges. The pickup point is from Sultanahmet. This boat trip offers a round trip of 1.5 hours long to cover the attractions like Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, Ciragan Palace and Rumeli Fortress. The grand Bosphorus Bridge is no doubt a cynosure as it connects Europe and Asia. It is advisable to take a ferry to see the full view of the bridge. The trip from the Sea of Marmara during dawn to the Black Sea at dusk will certainly make you speechless as you see the grandiose of the Old City’s architectures.

Lost yourself in the Bazaar District

Stroll through the historic Grand Bazaar located in the heart of the old city. Formerly an old warehouse built by order of Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, now this is converted into a Kapalıçarşı (covered market) with more than 4000 shops selling the colourful chandeliers, old artwork, home decors, antique jewelleries, gold bracelets, traditional Turkish furniture, leather goods and casual clothes. Next, walk to the Spice Market (Mısır Çarşısı), where you will be pulled in by the strong odour of cinnamon and clove. Built-in 1660, this market even now is the paradise of global spice trade, with plenty of spice merchants selling spices, sweets, dried goods, teas and coffees. Buy the exclusive Uşak carpets from Çınar Halı, where you find the highest and the finest quality of carpets.

Walk and dine-in at İstiklal Caddesi

If you like to swim in the cobblestone lanes to feel the true Turkish culture, walk through İstiklal Caddesi. Explore here and see the unexpected conglomeration of churches of Byzantine times, mosques of Ottoman times, best hamams, cheap and expensive hotels and the cafes & bistros of modern Turkey. This part in Istanbul beats every times with old-fashioned shops and various fast food shops serving authentic and cheap Turkish street foods like stuffed mussels, simits and pilaf.

Taste the best Turkish dishes

Spend your days in Istanbul’s Old City and have a taste-test with the freshest, fastest and most delicious Turkish foods. The lokum (Turkish Delight) in the decorated boxes will be the best gift from Turkey. You find the best Turkish delights like Atom Cezerye, Mebrume, Medine Hurma and many others in the Spice Market. Also it is worth to stay in a long waiting row to taste kebap (grilled meat, onion and parsley wrapped in bread) and ayran (soft drink made up of yoghurt and salt) as an accompaniment. Taste Turkey’s most famous dessert baklava and Turkish coffee or a shot of apple tea from any shop of Grand Bazaar which will make you sweet crazy.

Discover the best hamams

Delve into the world-famous hammams (Turkish bath) to wash out all the city dust with a unique mix of tradition, history and architecture. Here most of the medieval mosques include a Hamam which are dotted in the Old City streets.

Experience the royal mystery at the night pubs

Feel the passion and charm of partying in Istanbul as the locals enjoy the night party in the dazzling capital’s pubs with hot and cold mezze (small plates of seafood and vegetable appetizers popular in Turkey and Balkans) or kebabs along with the live fasıl (folk) music.

Feel free from modern life at Cappadocia

If you want to be free from the four-walled city structure, go to Cappadocia and see the Bronze Age civilisation in the midst of the hills. The mesmerising topography and the cavern architecture in the countryside will fascinate you for hot air ballooning to see the bird eye view or for staying in the cave hotels, that will take you to a past life.

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