Hello everyone and Adha Mubarak to all those celebrating it! During this eid, people in my country (Lebanon) usually tend to place Istanbul on their go to list since it’s very close and it doesn’t require a visa. I have been to Istanbul 2 times, in 2010 and 2012, and I have luckily tried almost everything that needs to be done in this beautiful city, that’s why I am giving you few tips. Whether you are planning to visit it during this eid, or any other time during the year, this post might come in handy especially if you are a first timer!
Top 10 things to do in Istanbul:
1- Tea + Simit
This should certainly be the first thing you consume right after you land! They have the best tea almost everywhere you go! You can also spot carts selling something that looks like bagels, it is simit and you surely won’t regret tasting it.
2- Topkapi Palace
This palace was the residence for the Ottoman sultans for a very long time and it is now turned into a beautiful museum that contains the sultans’ personal belongings and jewelry. We were also able to see some important Muslim relics like Prophet Muhammed’s sword, but I am not really sure about that!
3- Hagia Sophia + Blue Mosque
Both are a very important part of the Turkish history and it’s very important for any tourist to visit both places to learn more about Turkey’s history. You can visit them both in 1 day, but be sure not to wear shorts or a skirt (if you do they will give you something to cover up)
4- Grand Bazaar
This bazaar just like the name says is HUGE! You can find anything there from carpets to jewelry to bags and spices! You can literally walk there for an entire day without even noticing! If you have bargaining as a hobby, that’s your place to be!
5- Bosphorus Bridge
Istanbul is very famous for this bridge since it links Asia to Europe so make sure while you’re there to go on a boat trip during the day or the night for spectacular views!
6- Istiklal Caddesi(Street)
This is probably the busiest street in Istanbul! It’s very beautiful with many restaurants,shops, and pubs surrounding it from left and right. My advice is for you to book a hotel that’s close to that area because the best nights are usually spent in the narrow lost streets that you discover on Istiklal Street.
7- Princess Island
This island is a must see! Take an early morning boat ride since it takes a few hours to reach there. I remember we stopped on 2 islands before reaching to Princess Island since the boat was dropping off a few passengers to different islands. This island is car free, you can walk around or use a bike. Make sure to go on a horse ride that will show you the entire island, and of course have some fish for lunch!
8- Dolmabache Palace
My favorite pictures of Istanbul are certainly the ones taken in this breathtaking palace! It has beautiful interiors and wide green gardens, and it is right on the sea! Such a beautiful place to visit but make sure you also get there early to avoid waiting in line for long hours
It is no secret that Istanbul is famous for its shopping! Many people go there just to shop so you can imagine what I am talking about. This city offers a wide range of local brands some cheap and some super expensive based on the quality of course. I found many local brands that offer beautiful clothes that are cheaper than Zara, Mango, etc.. Istanbul has many malls too, one of my favorites is called Istinye Park, it’s huge and offers a wide variety of brands and restaurants. It is located in Istinye which is a bit far from Istiklal street so make sure you take the metro since a cab might be a bit pricey!
10- Final Tips
People in Istanbul are not very fluent with English so you have to use A LOT of hand gestures! They use the Turkish lira as a currency so try to exchange your money to TL to avoid any rejections of euros or dollars. The food in Turkey is not the best, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t taste it, there are certainly many hidden gems around the city. Check your hotel on Trip Advisor before booking and some restaurants as well. My final tip for you is to try to enjoy this beautiful city to the fullest, and I am sure you will feel part of your soul will be connected to this city forever just like I feel!
Are you planning to visit Istanbul soon?