Istanbul is a charming and fascinating city that constitutes the cultural and economic core of Turkey and combines the prestige and splendor of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires altogether. If you are planning to visit Istanbul, book your accommodation early, you can find great deals here. Keep reading to know how to make the most of your holiday in this magical city.
1. Visit the Old Town
The historical centre of the city is full of attractions and it is usually the most visited part of Istanbul. Sultanahmet, also known as the Old Town, is one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods. Visit the Hagia Sophia, once a Christian church, one of the most incredible buildings in the world for its size and age, which was used as a model for many other mosques including the Blue Mosque, that is situated in front of it.
It is said that the Sultan Ahmet I ordered to build it to contrast the beauty of the Hagia Sophia and it is today one of the most visited mosques in Istanbul. The Byzantine Hyppodrome was built by the Romans in 203 AD and there is not much left of it today, especially after the fourth crusade, but it is still a very important and interesting archeological site in Turkey, along with the Basilica Cistern, the largest underground reservoir of the city, that once supplied water to the Great Palace of Constantinople.
2. Shop at Bazaars
Istanbul is not only famous for its mosques and historical monuments, but also for its beautiful and colorful bazaars. Visiting a bazaar is a magical experience that every tourist should experience as it is like immersing oneself in the life people lived centuries ago.
The Grand Bazaar is a labyrinth of stores in which tourists can test their bargaining skills in order to buy handmade scarves, lamps, dishes and cutlery, and other high quality products. In the Spice Bazaar, instead, there are eighty six shops that sell different kind of herbs, spices, and teas, as well as fresh and preserved food like olives, cheese, fruits and other Turkish delights.
3. Go on a Cruise
One of the things you cannot miss on your visit to Istanbul is a cruise along the Bosphorus, the strait that separates the Asian and European parts of the city, and that connects the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea. The cruise allows its passengers to see the finest and most beautiful monuments of Istanbul, and there are many options available, such as the public ferry or private tours on modern boats, at different prices and times, to suit everyone’s needs.
4. Do Like the Locals
Last but not least, nargile smoking is something definitely worth trying when visiting Istanbul. There are many cafes around the city where you can experience this old tradition, especially in the area of the Galata Bridge or in Sultanahmet. Nargile smoking has been considered as a way to relax and meet new people. The tobacco, which is usually mixed with fruit and molasses, is heated by hot coals and then filtered and smoked through a hosepipe of different shapes and sizes.