What’s up, everybody? We’re Ethan and Daniel, the GroepWilders and these are our Top 10 Things To Do in Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul is a fascinating place because it’s been home to three major civilizations: Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Nowadays it’s the bridge between Europe and Asia and it’s got more culture than we can fit in a Top 10 post guide travel. So let’s get started!
Number 1: The Hagia Sofia.
Start off with the building that tells the story of the city. Built as a church by the Byzantines, it was later converted into a mosque by the Ottomans who were so impressed by its intricate mosaics that they left them largely untouched.
Number 2: Mosques.
Just opposite the Hagia Sofia are the Blue Mosque, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and surely one of the most beautiful buildings on Earth. Even though Turkey is secular, Istanbul has over 3000 mosques. So make sure you check out some of the hidden gems but remember to dress accordingly: guys, wear pants, and women, cover shoulders and hair with a shawl.
Number 3: Topkapi Palace.
Next, head over to Topkapi Palace, the home of the Ottoman Sultans. Get a taste of the lavish light by strolling through its lush gardens, populate pavilions and, of course, the Sultan’s infamous harem. Don’t forget your camera, because this place is Instagram-gold!
Number 4: A Hammam.
If you really want to live like a Sultan, then you’ve got to experience a hammam, a traditional Turkish bath where you’ll be sudsed-up with a mop… “I can’t see, I got soap in my eye!” …mildly beaten, and then rubbed vigorously till you howl in pain… …or pleasure. AHHHHH!!! Options range from the cheap to the luxurious but either way it’s a Bucket List experience you will never forget. Two thumbs up!
Number 5: The Grand Bazaar.
Another Bucket List item is haggling in the Grand Bazaar one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It’s a great place to pick up stuff like rugs, lamps, and some pretty styling threads, like this shirt that I bought there over a year ago and it’s still nice…I like it!
Number 6: Street food.
Turkish cuisine ranks among the top in the world and Istanbul’s streets are a mezze of the nation’s best dishes. But don’t worry about hygiene – if the street vendor is busy, it means the food is fresh and delicious.
Number 7: Asia.
Istanbul is the only city in the world to span two continents so make sure you check out both sides of the Bosphorus. If you have a little bit of money you can take a dinner cruise to Asia or, if you’re on a budget, hop on a ferry for about a buck.
Number 8: Galata.
Back on the European side, climb up the Galata tower which was built in the Middle Ages by Italian merchants from Genoa one of the many European ports to establish permanent trading posts in Istanbul and whose influence can still be felt in the neighborhood’s bars and restaurants today.
Number 9: Keyif.
Wherever you go in Istanbul, make sure you spend an afternoon practicing the Turkish art of keyif: watching the world pass by with a tea and a narghile.
Number 10: Nightlife.
When the sun sets, you’ve got some options. From the devout whirling dervishes to the seductive belly dancers, or bar-hopping around Taksim Square in Galata with Istanbul’s young, hip crowd. So those are our tips on Istanbul.
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What are yours? Share your advice in the comment box below and if you haven’t seen our previous post from Istanbul, stay tuned, they’re coming right after this. As always, if you enjoyed this post, share it with your friends and follow our for more travel post every Tuesday.