Once you touch down in Istanbul you have hit the edge of Europe in a city where East meets West (quite literally) with the separation of the two being the Bosphorus river. Old Istanbul is a mecca for exploring endless history and culture that is rooted deeply into each and every Turk you encounter. A city split across two continents (Europe & Asia) is bound to oose diversity Istanbul is the epitome of traditional culture meets modern world.
My top tips for visits in the city!
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is my favourite attraction in the city! It is believed to be one of the biggest markets in the world. There are over 3,000 shops and the Bazaar attracts somewhere between 250,000 – 400,000 visitors per day. Inside you can find anything, from haberdasheries to authentic eateries. Be sure to put a day aside and get lost in the wonders of the mall. As always in Turkey, prices are inflated & haggling is desired.
The Blue Mosque (as it is commonly known) was built between 1609 and 1616, making it an exceptional structure to view both from the outside and inside. While you will only need 30 minutes or so inside, the lines can also be excessively long. Turkish culture requires women to cover their shoulder and head’s when inside, take a scarf & dress accordingly.
Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey. Though a less celebrated attraction, a visit to the underground Basilica Cistern is an absolute must for visitors to Istanbul. In Turkish the name translates to “Sunken Palace”. Look out for the Medusa columns in the North West corner of the attraction.
Be sure to cross the Bosphorus river (for a very small fee) and take some time away from the busy and bustling city to enjoy the river which separates the European side of Istanbul from the Asian side. On board you can treat yourself to a traditional Turkish tea.
Tip: try to engage with the locals, as in every city, they are oracles of knowledge. During my trip I was lucky enough to meet students of Tepitope University who guided us around the sites and nightlife of their vibrant city!