Beautiful and sometimes frightening, Istanbul is Europe biggest city (almost 14 bilions inhabitants) easy and fast to reach with the Turkish Airlines, one of the growing Airlines company in Europe and in the world.
Istanbul is divided in two parts from the Bosphorus, the European and Asiatic ones, linked by two huge bridges (the “Bridge on Bosphorus” and the bridge Fatih Sultan Mehmet” also called second bridge on Boshporus) and this division represent the border between Europe and Asia, very fascinating thing.
Since it is very big, there are several areas to stay, the main are Sultanahmet, Besiktas and Beyoglu. I personally suggest an hotel close to Istiklal Caddesi, the road leading to Taksim, one of the cities’ main squares; it is a central area and very convenient to go around.
For those who don’t want to have breakfast in the hotel, we recommend to go in one of the “Mado” (there is a very good one on Istiklal Caddesi) and to try in particular the “Karisik Meyveli Wattle“.
The area of Karakoy is very interesting, there are many nice bars; in particular we recommend the “Karabatak“, whose outdoor tables are located under a nice pergola covered by vine’s leaves.
Very close there is the Istanbul Modern Museum.
Many places to see, almost all place of cult (common thing in the islamic places), the Blue Mosque (in turkish “Sultanahmet camii” or “Sultan Ahmet camii“), Santa Sofia Basil (in turkish “Aya Sofya“), the Mosque of Solimano, San Salvatore in Chora Church and many others; not to be missed by the way a visit to Topkapi Palace and its gardens and to the underground cistern. Of course very long lines to enter the city’s main attractions; we recommend against the tide hours and days.
Chapter apart the two bazaars; according to me, much more original and suggestive is the very colored Spices Bazaar, than the more famous Gran Bazaar, quite repetitive..
Concerning the hammam, according to me, they are a little bit overvalued, the most famous ones, -as the Tarihi Galatasaray Hamami – have became too much touristic, losing their authentic spirit. Better to go in a not popular one, but in this case you risk a bad hygiene. It is a good way to enter in the turkish culture.
For those who want to see the city from above there is the Galata Tower, whose neighborhood is linked to Eminönü (and the area of Sultanahmet) from the pedestrian namesake bridge.
In the end for those who want to taste” the Bosphorus, very recommended is the boat tour that can go until few miles distance from the Black Sea; I must say that, the one lasting two hours is excessive especially for who has not very much time.
Concerning the hotels, restaurants and bars there are several, Instabul is very accommodating. The night life is crazy and there are a lot of very nice clubs. The restaurants can be divided as following:
- Those directly on the Bosphorus, as the Feriyeand in general all those on Besiktas Caddesi and its continuation Ciragan Caddesi ( the Four Season, Kempinsky and Shangri – la street, five star hotels where you can also have dinner)
- Those located in the heart of Ulus Park (the wonderful Ulus 29but also the Sunset), dominating the Bosphorus from above with the Asiatic part in front
- Those located on beautiful terraces (as the famous “360”, “Nicole” or “Mama Shelter”), perfect to admire all Istanbul.
In details also some restaurants and clubs’ names
- Restaurant/Disco Club: Reina
- Restaurant/Disco Club: Ulus 29
- Characteristic resturant:Tatseven (Gazi Mustafa Kemal Paşa Cd. No:30), perfect for the boat tours, being the boarding point very close)
- Hotel: Richmond
In the end the usual advice: to walk and stroll around is the best way to know a city, also because transportation and taxi in particular (necessary for long distances) are very bad.