Chaotic, beautiful, overwhelming, inspiring, vibrant, exasperating, familiar, alien. Istanbul is all these things, and more. Spanning across two continents and standing at the crossroads of the East and West, it really is a city like no other.
With the sparkling waters of the Bosphorus dividing the East from the West, minarets and skyscrapers dominating the skyline and relics of the past drawing breath right alongside overt modernity, it’s undeniably a city of rich contrasts. The true glories of Istanbul, however, are a little more subtle. The flurry of friendly faces, the incredible food, the vibrant sidewalks and the thriving marketplaces guaranteed to overwhelm the senses are what truly make the magic of Istanbul.
With so much to see and do in this vibrant city, I’ve narrowed down the list to just nine of my top must-dos when visiting Istanbul. Sample all of the incredible things the city has to offer with this list!
1// Discover the exquisite Blue Mosque
Undeniably one of the most incredible buildings I’ve ever entered, the Blue Mosque wows from the get go. With its iconic six minarets and exquisite interior detailing that includes over 20 000 blue tiles, the Blue Mosque is a true sight to behold.
2// Overwhelm your senses in the Grand Bazaar
Get lost in the maze that is the Grand Bazaar and prepare to go into sensory overload. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the insistent sellers! It’s an experience to say the least, and one every visitor to Istanbul should seek.
3// Explore the beautiful Hagia Sophia
Originally a cathedral, then a mosque, now a museum, the Hagia Sophia dominates the Istanbul skyline with it’s giant domes and four minarets. It’s fascinating history and intricate mosiacs make it a must-visit on any Istanbul itinerary.
4// Sample some delicious Turkish street food
Street food is as plentiful as it is delicious in Istanbul. Try the loaded baked potatoes, freshly baked Simit and if you can walk past a cart with sweet cobs of corn charring on the grill, you’re a stronger person than I!
5// Learn about the ancient Turkish art of carpet weaving
It’s fascinating to learn about this ancient art and don’t worry, you don’t have to buy one!
6// Sip Apple tea with a shop owner
Turkish apple tea is quite possibly the most delicious tea I’ve ever tried. Kind of like warmed apple juice, it is a big part of Turkish hospitality so be sure to sample a brew while in Istanbul.
7// Cruise between two continents on the Bosphorus Strait
To appreciate just how unique Istanbul’s position is, a cruise along the Bosphorus is a must. You can catch a ferry and visualise just how enormous the city really is, and then face the other way and realise it’s actually twice as big!
8// Try all the Turkish Delight you can stomach!
When in Istanbul!
9// Witness at least one stunning sunset
Witnessing the light fade over this magical city is an absolute must. No matter where you are, be sure to stop and take it in.
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