3 days in Istanbul

May 2014

Istanbul is the largest and most populous city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. In its Old City you will find influences from the main empires that once ruled here. Contemplate the outstanding Hagia Sophia or get lost in the Grand Bazaar; this magical city where East meets West will captivate you from day one. 

WEATHER

The climate in Istanbul is a mixture of Mediterranean, humid subtropical and Oceanic. You can expect chilly and wet months from December to March; pleasant temperatures during April and March (around 20°C) and hot and dry weather from June to September.

We visited Istanbul in May and the weather was perfect! The days were sunny and warm and we only needed a light jacket during the evening.

 

TRANSPORT

There are two international airports in Istanbul; New Istanbul Airport on the European side of the city and Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Kurtkoy on the Asian side. We flied to Ataturk Airport which now is closed to commercial passenger flights since April 2019.

 

To go from New Istanbul Airport to the city centre you can take a taxi which will cost you around £26/30€ ( 200 TL) and will take around 45 to 60 minutes. You will find taxis outside the terminal, just in front of the Arrivals Hall. Remember to use the official taxis and ask the driver to switch on the metre to avoid surprises. Never take a ride from the hustlers inside the airport terminal. 

Another option is to take a bus that will cost around 5€ and the journey will be between 60 to 90 minutes.

If you are thinking to use the public transport quite often during your stay in this city, then it will be convenient for you to get an Istanbul Kart. You can purchase this card at the airport (10 TL) and then you can top it up with the amount that you want. The Istanbul Kart can be used by multiple travellers and on different types of transportation (buses, trams, ferries, metro). 

PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO

Day 1​

  • You can start your day visiting the Topkapi Palace, a large museum that once served as the main residence of the Ottoman sultans. Have a look at this website for information about opening times and prices Visiting Topkapi Palace.

  • Admire the architectural beauty of Hagia Sophia, a monument that was once a church, later a mosque and now a museum.

  • Pay a visit to the nearby Sultan Ahmed mosque, also known as The Blue Mosque.

  • Now it's time for some shopping at the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. I personally loved this place and I could spend hours here. Looking for the perfect souvenir? The Grand Bazaar is the answer. 

  • Go to the nearby Suleymaniye Mosque,  an ottoman imperial mosque based on the Third Hill of Istanbul.

Day 2

  • Take the ferry from Karakoy (Europe) to Kadikoy (Asia)Enjoy the relaxing ride and the views (especially on sunny days). Once in Asia you can wander around its streets, stop for a coffee or tea and get the "Asian feel". 

  • Back to the European side you can admire the panorama from Galata Tower, a medieval stone tower located in the Karakoy quarter of Istanbul.

  • Pay a visit to Dolmabahce Palace, one of the most fascinating buildings in Istanbul.

  • Head to Taksim Square where you will find the Republic Monument. Taksim is a great place for shopping and dining, and it has a busy nightlife. Get lost in its side streets with plenty of bars, antique shops and rooftop eateries. You can also take the old tram that goes up and down Istiklal Street. Don't miss Çiçek Pasajı, a historic passage (galleria) where you can find many Turkish taverns.  

  • See the technique that the vendors use to sell Turkish ice cream. 

  • You can end up your day having few drinks at one of the many bars that you will find under Galata Bridge. It is a lively place and you will get fabulous views of Istanbul from here. During the day this bridge is full of street food vendors, fishermen and locals so it's a great opportunity to experience true Turkish life.

Day 3

  • It's your last day in this wonderful city, so, why don't you go to Pierre Loti Hill and enjoy a tea or a coffee at one of the rustic tea houses while you get the best view of the Golden Horn? To reach the top of the hill you can take the cable car from Eyüp port. 

  • Once you are in this part of Istanbul I recommend to visit the peaceful and beautiful Eyüp Sultan Mosque.

  • Are you brave enough to try a local Turkish bath? Some people that have experienced them say that the masseuses are a bit rough. If you prefer something more gentle, you can always pay extra for a luxury experience at Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam. Check their website Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam  for information about treatments and prices.

  • If you are after some spices visit the Spice Bazaar (in Turkish Mısır Çarşısı). In this famous and colourful shopping complex you can find spices, Turkish delights, caviar  and more. 

  • Nearby the Spice Bazaar you will find the New Mosque, an Ottoman imperial mosque situated on the Golden horn.

  • Experience the busy nightlife at one of the many bars and restaurants that you will find around Taksim Square.

Notes: 

  • You can get a Visa on arrival to the country or you could apply for it on this website Turkish Visa

  • When visiting mosques you need to dress appropriately and cover certain parts of your body. Women should cover their hair, arms and legs; and men need to wear long trousers. 

FOOD AND DRINK

In terms of gastronomy, you are in for a treat in Istanbul as the local food is delicious! Here I mention some dishes that you don't want to miss:

  • Meze: It can be described as appetizers or small dishes that are perfect to share. Some meze that you can try: muhammara (it's a dip made from red pepper paste, walnuts, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses) or köpoğlu (fried eggplant cubes with a yogurt and tomato sauce).

  • Kebap (or kebab): Made from beef, lamb or chicken; The most popular is the Şiş Kebab (marinated lamb or beef cooked on a skewer called shish).

  • Balık Ekmek: Sandwich made with fried or grilled fish, onions and salad. 

  • Izgara Balık: Fresh grilled fish. You will find different varieties of fish depending on the season. 

  • Pide: Delicious baked dough that has a boat shape and can be filled with different ingredients like spinach, minced meat, eggs, etc.

  • Baklava: Dessert that is made with layers of pastry filled with nuts and honey. 

  • Turkish delight: jelly cubes with different flavours and with sugar icing on top.

Don't forget to try the Turkish tea and coffee. 

WHERE TO STAY

This time we used airbnb and we booked an apartment. Unfortunately, as we visited Istanbul in 2014, the apartment is no longer available. It was located in the Beyoğlu district (the European side of the city), within walking distance to Taksim square and conveniently located to visit the main attractions. 

Have a look at this link Airbnb to find your perfect accomodation.

BUDGET

The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TL). I would suggest a budget of around £150-£200 for 3 days, as you may want to do some shopping. This will exclude flights and accommodation.

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About Me

My name is Barbara, I am Spanish , and I am a receptionist working in London. I have a Tourism Management degree and I'm passionate about everything related to travel. Whenever I have the opportunity, I pack my stuff and I go to see the world!

I am a lover of food and beer. When I am on holidays I like to discover the city that I am visiting but I also like to have time to enjoy a good meal or drinks with my travel companions. This way there is a balance because holidays are not just about discovering new places but also to relax and have fun!

The idea of this blog came to me very naturally, partly from my fascination with travel and simply because I enjoy helping my family and friends to plan their holidays.

I hope that you not only find enjoyment from my site but also valuable information concerning different destinations, places to visit, where to stay during your trips along with transport advice, etc.

If you have any questions regarding the info that I have provided, please feel free to contact me, I look forward to hearing from you!

Contact: mecollectingexperiences@gmail.com

 

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