Istanbul, Turkey’s Don’t Miss Highlights

An aerial view of Istanbul, Turkey shows the magnificent Hagia Sofia.
An aerial view of Istanbul, Turkey shows the magnificent Hagia Sofia.

Highlights of Istanbul, Turkey

A watchmaker repairing a watch in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. Max Hartshorne photo.
A watchmaker repairing a watch in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Max Hartshorne photo.

By Max Hartshorne
GoNOMAD Editor

It’s the only city that is located on two continents. Istanbul attracts many tourists to visit this exciting city all year long.

It is the only city where you can go from Europe to Asia in just under 15 minutes. Istanbul has been the capital of Great Empires such as the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Therefore, Istanbul has a great history and many places waiting for you to discover.

It is possible to find all kinds of things in Istanbul; historical places, all kinds of foods, all manner of activities, shopping places, great scenery, and much more.

An International Hub

Istanbul is located in the middle of the world so it’s an international hub. It is very easy to access because of two major airports in Istanbul, Istanbul New Airport which is located on the European side of the city, and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport which is on the Asian side of the city.

From both of the airports, there are shuttle buses available to every part of the city.

Istanbul is an enormous city with over 16 million inhabitants; therefore, it offers all kinds of things so no matter what you like and what you enjoy doing, you will find it in Istanbul.

Things To Do In Istanbul

Hagia Sofia istanbul
Hagia Sofia Istanbul

Walking on Istiklal Street: Istiklal Street is located on Taksim and it is one of the main tourist attractions of the city. The street only allows pedestrians and there are many shops available on Istiklal Street for shopping. Don’t forget if you walk until the end of the street starting from Taksim, you’ll end up in the magnificent Galata Tower.

Maiden Tower, Istanbul.
Maiden Tower, Istanbul.

Drinking a Tea Next To Maiden Tower: If you want to get local, you have to enjoy this moment just like the Turkish people do.

Maiden Tower is located on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus and there are cafes available on the coastline. Drinking tea and cracking seeds looking at the Maiden Tower by night will totally relax you and take away your tiredness.

Taking the Ferry Intercontinental: No matter where you are in the city, just hop on the ferry and go to the other side of the city and other continent.

Enjoy the view while you are on the ferry, feed the seagulls with pretzels, and don’t forget to enjoy this moment while you’re sipping your tea.

Get Local: Turkish people are friendly, they are hospitable, and they would love to help you, don’t be shy to talk with Turkish people and spend time with them. English is widely spoken in Istanbul.

You cannot visit Istanbul Without Seeing These Places:

Istanbul
Istanbul from the air.

Sultanahmet Square: It’s impossible to not think about Sultanahmet Square when you think about Istanbul. It is located on the historic peninsula of Istanbul. You have to spend at least two full days to be able to visit all the most important places that you should visit. Just in the Square, you can find the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.

The Blue Mosque was completed in 1616 and it’s one of the main locations of Istanbul, it is impossible to not be impressed by this building.

Hagia Sophia was built back in 537 by the Byzantines and it was used as a Church until the Ottomans conquered Istanbul in 1453. After the Ottomans took over Constantine, it was transformed into a Mosque and it’s used as a museum nowadays. It is amazing how you can see the mixture of the two religions in this 1500-year-old building.

Topkapi Palace Museum Istanbul
Topkapi Palace Museum Istanbul

Topkapi Palace was the heart of the Ottoman Empire. It was the Emperor’s palace.  It’s a must-visit place to see the history behind the great Ottoman Empire and its control center. Check out the impressive collection of weapons in the museum here.

Prince Islands: These Islands are located within an hour ferry ride from Istanbul. You have to make sure to spend one full day here. It’s possible to go swimming and also rent bikes to go around the island and catch some spectacular views when you are on top.

Prince Island, near Istanbul, is a great day trip.
Prince Island, near Istanbul, is a great day trip.

Grand Bazaar: It is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. Hosting over 4000 shops and more than 300,000 visitors daily, it’s a must-see place in Istanbul.

Most Delicious Foods In Istanbul

Due to Istanbul being a metropolitan city, you can find any kind of food in Istanbul you can imagine. 

Baklava: This delicious Turkish dessert is made out of pistachios, filo pastry, butter, and syrup. It is impossible to find this taste anywhere else in the world. The most famous place to try it in Istanbul is Karakoy Gulluoglu.

Fish and Bread: This famous Turkish traditional food is a great experience for anybody who tries it. There are floating  boat restaurants in Eminonu and they are constantly making fish and bread so it is fresh and delicious.

Lamb kababs are a specialty in Istanbul, Turkey.
Lamb kababs are a specialty in Istanbul, Turkey.

Kebab: Welcome to the homeland of Kebab. In Istanbul, you can find hundreds of kinds of kebab and it’s guaranteed that your taste buds never experienced something like that before.

So Much More in Istanbul to Enjoy

In this story, you saw a few of the reasons out of thousands to visit Istanbul. Don’t think that what you can experience is limited to what’s written here because since the first minute you arrive in Istanbul it will start to amaze you.

Vendors in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, Turkey. Max Hartshorne photos.
Vendors in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, Turkey. Max Hartshorne photos.

You will be able to eat amazing food here, relive the history that’s been made thousands of years ago, feel the breeze of the Bosphorus Sea while you are crossing continents, and enjoy the views.  

Here is a useful website to make your way around Istanbul.

Istanbul Local Tour Guide

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