If you love history, architecture, food, vibrant culture or any and all of the above, Istanbul is your perfect destination. This diverse city is the only one in the world to span two continents, and its culture shows it. Here, you’ll experience the present beauty of Islamic culture contrasted with the city’s history of Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman empires. So while you’re spending time in this unique city, make sure to check these 5 things off your list:
Take a Ferry Ride
One of the best ways to really experience Istanbul is by floating down the river Bosphorus. You can hop on any number of ferries and boats taking off from the center of town, and heading up the river. You’ll pass gorgeous palaces, fortresses, traditional wooden Ottoman houses and massive suspension bridges, then set foot on the Asian side of the river.
Shop at the Markets
Istanbul is known for its buzzing bazaars, so don’t miss the chance to shop like a local amidst the chaos! The Grand Bazaar is a full experience in itself, a vibrant, colorful and often overwhelming scene of tourists, locals, vendors, animals and all kinds of sights, sounds and smells. Bargaining is a must here, so don’t take any prices for face value.
Visit the Mosques
Istanbul is an Islamic city packed with incredible mosques that welcome hundreds of worshipers each day. Whether or not you’re interested in history and religion, visiting the mosques is a sure way to immerse in the culture of Istanbul. If you’re a woman, you’ll need to don a head scarf out of respect for the Islamic customs. Most mosques will provide scarves at the front door for this purpose.
Sample the Foods
Turkish food is flavorful, spicy and very diverse. Since the country spans Europe and Asia, its cuisine takes on influences from many surrounding countries. It’s quite heavy on the meat, so perfect if you love meatballs and kebabs, but vegetarians will also find their fill of stuffed grape leaves, salads and other choices.
After a long day of sightseeing, it’s wonderful to indulge in some of the city’s pampering treatments. There are many Turkish baths throughout the city, often hidden in small alleyways but all ready to provide you a luxurious treatment. Or splurge on a nice hotel room and enjoy some fine wine while looking out over the city. You might even find yourself wanting to stay longer and invest in some Turkey property.
Go on a Walking Tour
While there is good public transportation in Istanbul, you can’t beat a walking tour for the chance to really experience the city on your own terms. It’s a large city divided into different districts, so pick a district for the day, open your map and set out to explore. This is the way you’ll discover the mosques, cafes and other sights off the beaten path, and get some exercise while you’re at it.