Istanbul has to be one of my favourite cities I’ve visited. There is literally so much to see and do in Istanbul, I visited this city for seven days with my family as there were nine of us on holiday. However, I think staying 3-4 days is enough to cover all the main attractions and places as we managed to cover all the main areas of the city within a short space of time.
Although, looking back probably missed out on seeing a couple of small area’s as Istanbul is that huge to travel around. This city is divided into two Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus sea, where in Europe you will find all the modern cultural environment, shops, attractions and in Asia side you will find Turkish very own old traditional attractions and stores.
I personally loved exploring the city, even if you got lost wandering there were people so friendly willing to help you get back on the road by asking any questions and it is such a colourful vibrant place. By the time we left from the Ataturk Airport, we could see how clean and colourful the city really is.
Most importantly, allow yourself time to explore all the places you want either by having a list printed off or on your device with you at all times, so when you’re out each day you can tick off all the places you’ve visited. Making it less stressful of trying to remember each restaurant or attractions you wanted to see.
Day 1 in Istanbul
On our first day, we arrived in Istanbul pretty tired as our flight was very early morning from Heathrow with BA at 10 am. I arrived there via the tube pretty early 3/4 hours before the flight, therefore I just explored around the shops like Harrods and other major stores within terminal 5 before heading to check in.
As we boarded our flight, we managed to arrive in Istanbul 4:30 PM turkey time as there are two hours ahead of us in London, we stumbled across a huge queue of people in hundreds going through security. Coming out of airport check in it literally took us two hours to get out as there were so many planes landed at the same time as us, which made the queue much longer.
Luckily I managed to book our transportation of 7 people ahead of time via istanbulairporttaxis.com. Who were quick to arrange our pick up to our hotel in Sirecki, once we arrived there at arrival terminal there had my name on display, from there on we got shown to our pick up vehicle.
The following day, we started off with our Turkish breakfast served from our hotel which was not too bad as we had plenty of cheese, jam, fruits, eggs, cereals and hot drinks to choose from. Thereon, we started off our tour of the city as we first covered all the nearby attractions likes of Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern and Gulhane Park were within our footsteps from where we stayed at. Then to end our day we took the boat across the Bosphorus sea to the Asia side to see ‘Maiden Tower’.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque)
The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, is one of Istanbul’s most iconic historical sights and an essential part of the city’s skyline with its six magnificent minarets.
This mosque is known to be captured and posted online on social media by many tourist thousand times on a daily basis. The beautiful thing about this mosque is you get to hear the *Azaan*, call to prayers five times a day heard out loud. There have a section for women to pray and the men’s at the front. However, during the prayer times visitor are not allowed to go inside the main hall until the prayers are finished.
The Hagia Sophia, which means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century A.D. It contains two floors centered on a giant nave that has a great dome ceiling, along with smaller domes, towering above.
For the best view to capture the interior designs of the museum can be captured from the second floor. As you basically oversee the whole museum, which looks truly stunning. However, one thing to note is that Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays.
The Topkapi Palace is the biggest and one of the most popular sites to visit in Istanbul. It was built in between 1466 and 1478 by the Sultan Mehmet II on top of a hill on a small peninsula, dominating the Golden Horn to the north, the Sea of Marmara to the south, and the Bosphorus Strait to the north east, with great views of the Asian side as well. The palace was the political center of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries until they built Dolmabahce Palace by the waterside.
This palace is a must visit when visiting Istanbul, as there are so many historic Islamic pieces to see and witness of our prophets including his clothes, swords etc.
Open daily between 09:00 – 17:00 except on Tuesdays. During the summer period, it has longer opening hours (until 19:00 usually) and might be open 7 days a week, depending on the high tourist request. The museum is closed to visitors in the morning of the first day of religious holidays. Currently, the admission to the palace costs 40 TL for adults and another 25 TL to the Harem.
The Maiden Tower is located off the coast of Salacak neighborhood in Üsküdar district, at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus.
The Maiden Tower is a popular place known, it has a fantastic restaurant which offers 360-degree views of the Bosphorus and the old city, especially at night with the night lights. There are several shuttle boats going to the tower at certain times from Kabatas neighborhood on the European side of Istanbul and from Salacak neighborhood on the Asian side. You do need to pay to go across to the Maiden Tower, although as we were all tired on that day we just walked across the river and saw the Maiden Tower from the edge.
I did spot people shooting balloons as one of their activities as there floated around the river, where people had a go with a gun to try and pop as many balloons as possible.
If you are visiting the Maiden Tower there are closed on Mondays.
I have uploaded a Turkey travel vlog below from my day one visit. I’ll be uploading more parts very soon till then enjoy!
Thanks for reading my blog post. I hope you all have benefited and now know where to visit when touring Istanbul. I shall upload the next part very soon.
Feel free to leave your comments below, what you think of Istanbul and what you like to see in my next blog post.
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