City Guide: Istanbul
Istanbul is with no doubt one of the most interesting cities in Europe. However, on all my visits I didn’t have too much time to check out all areas so far. Nevertheless, I thought it’s time to write a city guide to sum up all the highlights Istanbul has to offer!
Visiting Istanbul has always been a great experience for me. Be it for work or short stop-overs, Istanbul is always an interesting place to visit for many reasons. In this city guide I’ll try help you get an overview of what you should see for sure. While there are many more places worth seeing, I’ll try to concentrate on those that I found particularly interesting. I’m looking forward to reading your comments about other places one should see in the city!
Sultanahmet or the Old Town of Istanbul
If there is one particular area in Istanbul, which is truly outstanding, then it is Sultanahmet. The Old Town of Istanbul is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sights and the best place to visit if you are short on time.
Not only is there the amazing Sultanahmet Square, which is surrounded by sights, but there is also The Grand Bazaar only a few steps away. First of all, I’d recommend just stumbling around Sultanahmet for a while to get a feeling of the history of the place.
I’m sure you’ll love the area with its historic and stunning architecture.
Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace
When people are speaking of Istanbul, they definitely mention the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
The two most famous mosques in the city and maybe all over the world are not only incredibly big and great for taking pictures, but you may also enter and get a feeling for the religion sorrounding these incredible buildings.
Yet, only focusing on the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque (I’m definitely not doing those justice with just spending a few words on them) would be a mistake as there are several other interesting buildings around the Sultanahmet Square, including the Prince Tomb and the Sultan Ahmet III. Fountain.
Some might say that one of the real highlights in the area is the Topkapi Palace. It is located a few hundred meters away from the Sultanahmet Square and is surrounded by a beautiful park. The whole area feels different than the rest of the Old Town, especially as it’s more crowded by tourists.
As I didn’t have time to look inside, I won’t share too many details. Yet, I was told that visiting the Topkapi Palace is well worth it. As I said, planning a full day for exploring the Sultanahmet Area is well worth it!
Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul
My personal favorite in whole Istanbul actually is the Dolmabahce Palace. It is less famous than for example the Blue Mosque, but the whole flair of the area is incredibly. The beautiful Dolmabahce Clock Tower leads you the way, while you’ll always see the Dolmabahce Mosque in the distance.
Yet, the real highlight is the Dolmabahce Palace, which is one of the most fascinating landmarks in the world, in my opinion.
Beautifully located on the Bosphorus, the whole Palace could hardly be any more beautiful. Most of the buildings are white, but still look like they were recently built.
You obviously see that the Dolmabahce Palace is used for state events till today. Something else worth noting is that the gardens of the Dolmabahce Palace Istanbul are a highlight for themselves.
Not only are there interesting statues and fountains, but also very beautiful flowers. All in all, just an amazing experience I’d definitely recommend when visiting Istanbul.
The Bosphorus in Istanbul
Speaking of a brilliant location, there is one last thing I would like to mention particularly: The Bosphorus. You can pretty much see it from every point in Istanbul, but it is the most incredible being seen from the Bosphorus Bridge.
While you might think that it looks like a river, the Bosphorus is in fact incredibly large and famous for a reason. If you want to enjoy you won’t forget, definitely cross the Bosphorus Bridge.
Did you know? When crossing the Bosphorus you are officially in Asia! Just by the bridge, you can also visit the Beylerbeyi Palace, which looks truly fascinating.
Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to visit it yet.
Other interesting areas in Istanbul
Honestly, this city guide could be way more extensive and there are good reasons to visit Istanbul for way longer than a one or two days. For example, I loved the calm of the Yildiz Park.
On the other hand, I enjoyed the modern and lively Besiktas very much as well.
Then there is the Golden Horn, which is a residential area, which reminds me of Western Europe very much.
If you are looking for a great view point, the Galata Tower where you have to go. This is a list I could go on with forever. Thus, I’ll stop here and leave it to you to add special areas you love in Istanbul!
Overall impressions of Istanbul
Currently, there is a lot of discussion concerning safety in Istanbul and Turkey in general. I understand everyone who decides not to visit, on the other hand you are missing out on something. Istanbul is an incredible city, maybe the most beautiful in whole Europe along with Paris, London and the likes. There are so many more areas to explore, which is why I’ll definitely return rather sooner than later!
Have you been to Istanbul? What do you like most about the city?