Istanbul

Istanbul, The bridge between Asia and Europe

Currency: Turkish Lira

Language: Turkish

Tax Refund: Have to be done when leaving Turkey, important to not that Turkey is not part of EU (2016)

Attractions

Hagia Sophia

Dating from the sixth century, it was originally a basilica constructed for the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. A masterwork of Roman engineering, the huge 30 m diameter dome covers what was for over 1000 years the largest enclosed space in the world. The church was looted by the fourth Crusaders in 1204, and became a mosque in the 15th century when The Ottomans conquered the city. It was converted into a museum in 1935. Don’t miss the excellent mosaics, including those in the gallery, reached by a stone ramp to the left of the entrance. Open from Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm, the entrance fee is 30 TL.

Topkapi Palace

The imperial enclave of the Ottoman emperors for four centuries. Lavishly decorated, with four counts of increasing grandeur. In the second court of the entrance to the Harem and the State Treasury, housing a weaponry display. The third court has the Imperial Treasury. Both Islamic and Christian relics, rugs, porcelain. The views from the Fourth Court over the Bosphorus are spectacular. You can also see Prophet Mohammed’s belongings. Open from 9am to 4.45pm every day except Tuesday.

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)

Open from 9am to 9pm it is still a working mosque, the entrance is free. Modest dressing is recommended, legs have to be covered. Women need to wear headscarves.

Galata Tower

It was built by the Genoese on the city walls of Galata, then a western (Genoese/Venetian) stronghold beside eastern (Byzantine/Ottoman) Constantinople. Ride an elevator to the top then walk the parapet for a 360 degree view of Istanbul, including the entire Sultanahmet peninsula: crowned by Topkapı Palace, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. A beautiful spot worthy of a lot of pictures. Also houses a restaurant. Tickets cost 12 TL 

Bosphorus Cruise

Daily at 1430, depart Eminonu port and return there. The whole tour takes around 2 hours and cost 12 Euro. Tickets can be bought at the port, recommended buying a day earlier. The starting point will be at the old city side of Galata Bridge. It is important to only take ferries from SEHIR HATLAR, it is located on the left hand side after coming off the Galata Bridge.

Shopping

Grand Bazaar

Istanbul’s grand old bazaar with an estimated 4400 shops lined along covered walkways. It is said to be the world’s oldest shopping mall, covers several blocks and features a labyrinth of side streets to keep you lost for the better part of a day. The shops are organized around their wares, e.g. the silver jewellers are clustered together, the carpet shops are clustered elsewhere and the shoe shops are bunched together somewhere else. Parts of it now are rather touristy but with the vast selection you’ll find what you’re looking for and it’s one of Istanbul’s character pieces. Open from 9am to 7pm and closed on Sunday. 

Istiklal Street

The main street leading down from Taksim Square, it is lined up with plenty of shops on both sides. A good place to look for Turkish delights.

Restaurants

Galata Bridge

There are many stalls selling streets foods on the lower level of the bridge. Favourites includes Fish Sandwich.

Esmer Chef Café (Old City Side)

Ankara Cd No: 225, Sirkeci, İstanbul, Turkey

Located near McDonalds and Burger King, opposite the tram stop. They serve traditional Turkish food and a good selection of pasta and pizzas however the atmosphere is what makes this place unique. It’s an open concept place and you can see the cook prepare your food, generous portions for TL10-15 open from 9am to 11pm.  

Karakoy Gulluoglu

Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mh. Mumhane Cd. 34425 Beyoğlu İstanbul, Turkey

A well-known café and dessert store where they are famous for their Baklava. They have many flavours and it can’t be missed while visiting Istanbul, recommended to try the Baklava with ice cream. Open from 7am to 11pm on weekdays and from 8am on weekends.

Balkon Restaurant & Bar

Asmalı Mescit Mh, Tünel Meydani No: 6, 34430 İstanbul, Turkey

A fusion of east and west, this restaurant is a good place to get another perspective on Istanbul. With music and cocktails, it is a good place to relax the night away and enjoy the view. Open from 1030 till late.

 Antiocha Concept

Asmalımescit Mah. General Yazgan Sok. No: 3, Beyoglu

Within walking distance of taksim square, this small but good restaurant serves the delights of southern turkey with the famous being their doner and kebabs. Prices average around 10TL, open from 10am to 11pm, closed on Sundays. 

Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebabi

Ankara Cad. /hoca Paşa Sk 3/A Sirkeci

Located near Topkapi palace it is a famous place for kebabs, meats are cooked over a wood fire. Open from Mon to Sat from 11am to 7.30pm.

Atelier Real Food

Ritz Carlton Hotel Istanbul

The signature restaurant of the hotel, with views of the Bosphorus and the city of Istanbul. The signature Sunday Roast Brunch cost 111 TL and it is a meal not to be missed. Available every weekend from 1200 till 1500. 

360 Istanbul

Istiklal Street, Mısır Apartment, 8th Floor No: 163 Beyoglu

Can be walked from Taksim square along Iskital past the Galatasaray School until you see the St Antonie Cathedral the restaurant is in the building before the church. A good restaurant with excellent views and prices to match given Istanbul standards. Reservation is highly recommended.

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