Unfortunately, in recent years the popularity of Turkey as travel destination has taken a step back. With the strange politic actions of the president and the terror attacks most people are avoiding the country. This is a real shame because when we visited the place in 2011 we were fascinated. The people were super friendly and helpful, Istanbul had an amazing cultural vibe and the countryside has a vast variety of sights to explore.
Located between the continents of Europe and Asia, this city is a real melting pot of cultures. You see young girls in traditional clothes walking right next to their friends dressed in western European style. You have foreigners drinking beer in a pub right next to a customary tea house where locals play backgammon. We were lucky to have the chance to stay with family on the Asian side where we could explore the less touristy areas. We joined people dancing to traditional music in a little festival. Enjoyed the local cuisine and joined the locals for tea and games. When we wanted to cross to the European side we just had to jump on a ferry. Highlights of Istanbul:
Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque
These two sights are an absolute must when visiting Istanbul. The Hagia Sofia began as a Byzantine Church, then became a mosque and is now a museum. Other than the Sultan Ahmed it impresses more with its size than with beautiful colors. The Blue Mosque, with its impressive tiles, is one of the most impressive religious buildings I have seen in my life.
Existing in almost unchanged form since the 17th century it is a favorite spot for tourists. The market has almost 4.000 stores, restaurants, and cafes. So if you are looking for a traditional rug, some local tea or a variety of spices you don´t get at home, you will surely find what you are looking for. It’s also a great opportunity to use your negotiating skills!
Normally you walk past it anyway so you might as well climb this century-old structure for an amazing view over the Bosphorus and Istanbul.
The main shopping street of Istanbul running for 1.4 km through the Beyoglu District. During the day, you can walk along strolling tourists and hurrying locals. In the evening, you have the choice between a variety of traditional or western restaurants and bars with live music.
This water reservoir is 70 meters wide and 140 meters long and can hold up to 100.000 tons of water. One of the fascinating features of the cistern is the Roman Era Medusa head sculptures supporting two of the columns. The source of these works of art is unknown.