Istanbul, the city of culture. For me is it the most beautiful city in the world. In this article, I will tell you what to do in Istanbul. These are the best places in Istanbul to visit in this beautiful city:
When you think of hotspots in Istanbul, Taksim is one of the first places that will come in your mind. It is also the center when it comes to transportation. There are 2 metro lines, 1 funicular line, multiple bus stops and taxi stands at Taksim Square which makes it very easy to reach. Even if you are in the middle of nowhere, you will eventually end up in Taksim Square. It is also the starting point of the most famous street in Istanbul which is ”Istiklal Street”. This street is very famous for the number of shops as well as the nightlife there so make sure you go out. The main street has a lot of alleys where there are a lot of bars and clubs to have a nice drink. This wonderful street has also a tramway going through it and many street artists that are performing with their unique instrument. Do not forget to buy roasted chestnuts that they are selling on the street. As you are walking through this street, you will pass the ”Galata kulesi”. This tower used to be a prison during the time of the Ottoman empire but today it is the place with the best panoramic view in Istanbul. Back to our walk on Istiklal Street. This street is so long that it passes a few neighborhoods like Beyoglu and Sishane, but it eventually ends up at our next destination on our list, Karakoy!
Where Istiklal Street ends, starts Karakoy. This neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Istanbul and the location is very interesting. Karakoy is in the corner where the Golden Horn (Halic river) meets the Bosporus.
Fun fact: the Halic river is being called the Golden Horn because it has the shape of a horn and when the sun shines, there is a golden-yellow light blazing over it which gives this river the nickname ”Golden Horn”.
Because of the interesting location of this neighborhood, there is a nice view of Istanbul which you will most certainly fall in love with. Just before the bridge, you can go to the Karakoy shore and if you follow that shore you go into a street that is the ultimate place for your ”influencer pictures”. It has these streets with the umbrella’s, nice decorations on the walls and many more things to take a great picture. If you get tired of all the pictures you can always go to one of the many bars in Karakoy to have a drink.
The Galata-bridge that starts in Karakoy and ends in Eminonu, is one bridge-walk you will never forget. You have full sight of the Golden Horn as well as both sides of Istanbul. The fish restaurants on this bridge also add a different Turkish vibe to your trip. At the end of this bridge is Eminonu and Eminonu is known for its fish sandwiches. These fish sandwiches are being cooked on a boat and served very fast and make sure you buy wet napkins as well because it is going to get messy.
After a nice fish sandwich, the Eminonu-trip starts. This is the most historical place of this city because this is the place where the Ottoman sultan was fighting over with the Roman Empire.
Fun fact: The Ottoman empire tried 28 times to conquer Constantinople/Byzantium (previous Istanbul) before they managed to break the walls in 1453. Some of the old buildings of that Roman time, as well as the people of non-Muslim religions, were being protected by the Ottoman sultans.
In Eminonu you will feel like you are in a real-life version of Aladdin because of how the shops look. Especially at your visit to the Egyptian Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. These were the biggest shopping centers of the 15th and 16th centuries. Very close to these bazaars there is the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace. These two mosques are across each other but only Sultan Ahmet mosque is functioning as a mosque. The Hagia Sophia has become a museum because it used to be a church before it became a mosque. At Topkapi Palace, you will take a look at the home of the Sultans because that palace was the place where they were living.
After the historical trip, there is more of a vintage trip since we will take a look in the neighborhood next to Eminonu called ”Balat”. Balat is a neighborhood that is known for the old way of building houses. The houses here are in various colors and there is very interesting architecture involved. It seems like this neighborhood is still living in the ’80s because there are a lot of antique shops. At these antique shops, you can take a look at how they sell their product because they sell it by auctioning it. The person who bids the highest wins!
In this neighborhood, you have to get a fresh drink that they sell on the streets of Balat. They have pomegranate juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, apple juice, all of them are being squeezed served according to your order. There are also these cute cafes that have a vintage theme and very good coffee. So Balat is a place that you have to visit as well when you go to Istanbul.
We are going from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side of Istanbul. When you get off the boat that brings you from the European side to the Asian side, you will immediately notice the difference that you have come to a much calmer district of Istanbul. In this area of Istanbul, there are living more local Turkish people while on the European side there are more tourists, internationals, and students. The fact that it is much calmer does not mean that Kadikoy is not an exciting part of Istanbul, in fact, Kadikoy is more exciting than you might expect. The streets are way smaller which gives a closer feeling towards people in Kadikoy. The way of going out is also more in a Turkish way because there are terraces where you can drink Turkish raki and have meze. Next to that, you can go to the Caddebostan sahili to have the best walk on the shore with the best view on the Islands of Istanbul.
From the southern side of the Asian side of Istanbul, we go to the Northern side of the Asian side of Istanbul. Here we can find the biggest mosque in Turkey. This mosque was finished in 2019 so the architecture of this mosque is very impressive. The use of marble, the details of using nature, the location, everything is perfect for this mosque. It is a place that needs to be visited before going further with your journey to other destinations in the world. This way you can have more appreciation for the work of art in architecture around the world.
A bit further from the Camlica mosque, there is the ”Camlica tepesi” which is translated to the ”Camlica top”. It is on a big hill which has been made to look at Istanbul. You will be on the highest point of Istanbul so when you look towards the European side you can see all the beautiful parts of Istanbul in one picture. It is like you are floating above Istanbul.
While we are floating above Istanbul, we can land in Uskudar. Uskudar is known for its shore and the cute shops. The shops are selling very fresh products like fish, vegetables, dessert and much more but the way they are selling it is very traditional for the Turkish culture. The owners of the shops are telling persuading you to take a look inside in a friendly and funny way.
After a bit of shopping, it is time to take a walk on the shore. The shore is so close to the water that you can touch the water. The view, on the other hand, is very beautiful especially when you can look at the sunset. The sun is reflecting on the water and it feels like a dream. While walking you can see the ”Kiz Kulesi” which is a house built on the water. You go on it with a boat.
Fun fact: The story of the Kiz Kulesi is that there was a witch that predicted that the daughter of a king would die on her 18th birthday. The king made the Kiz Kulesi to protect her from everything on land. The princess eventually turned 18 and died because of a present on her 18th birthday. There was a snake in a basket of grapes that bit her. So, the witch turned out to be right.
At last, we have come to Besiktas. The location of Besiktas is the very center because from here you can go to a lot of places. Dolmabahce sarayi is very close to Besiktas. This palace has wonderful architecture and the positioning of the palace is also great. It is worth to take a look.
On the opposite side of Besiktas, we can find Ortakoy which has a beautiful mosque that is looking at the big Bosphorus bridge. You cannot leave Istanbul without taking a picture at this place.
When we go to the center of Besiktas we can see a lot of shops and a bar which you can have a good time. At the bars, you can have a cold beer or at some other places, you can have some raki balik which is raki and fish. It is a very good place to have a good time to make some memories with your friend.
This city is a mix of history, culture, and modern lifestyle. These are the best places in Istanbul and each place has a different story. Istanbul is a very big city and it takes time to see everything because the long distance between the places. So, I recommend following the order that I explained above, take your time and be a part of this story.
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