The Jewel of the Bosphorus: Istanbul

January 1, 2021
Fountain blue and white

Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated with Istanbul.

I was fortunate enough to travel through Turkey many times over a span of a number of years.  Exploring the south, the Europe side and the Asian side. Istanbul is a bustling

Let me share a few of my favourite things.

Nestled between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a city that effortlessly weaves together a rich tapestry of history, culture, and modernity. Boasting a fascinating blend of ancient landmarks, vibrant markets, and a thriving contemporary scene. Istanbul is a destination that beckons Travellers from around the globe.  I would like to take you to a few of my favourite places to visit!

Join me through the enchanting streets of Istanbul, exploring its iconic attractions. Coupled with, savouring its culinary delights. All while, embracing the unique experiences that this city has to offer.

The Historic Heart: Sultanahmet

Firstly, let’s begin by exploring the heart of Istanbul.  Sultanahmet. This district is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. Marvel at the intricate architecture of the Hagia Sophia, a former cathedral turned mosque turned museum, and be captivated by the stunning blue tiles of the Blue Mosque.  Remember to be mindful when visiting the Mosques, it’s an Islamic country.  Please make sure you are dressed modestly.  Covering your legs and arms.

Blue Mosque

Bosphorus Cruise:

Secondly, the Bosphorus Strait, divides the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.  I would highly recommend you catch a cruise early morning for the day.  Don’t take a tourist boat, hop on a local transport cruise that will take you all the way along the coast.  Get the best seats in the boat. Order tea or eat the most delicious simit (large Pretzel)

I encourage you to stop off at one of the sea villages for a seafood lunch. This ride along the waterway, gives you panoramic views of palaces, historic buildings, and modern developments. Truly, the cruise provides a unique perspective of the city. Uniquely, allowing you to witness the meeting of two continents while enjoying the gentle breeze from the sea.

Istanbul Turkey

Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar:

For a true taste of Istanbul’s vibrant culture, head to the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar. The Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar.  Certainly, is a sensory delight, filled with the aroma of exotic spices, herbs, and teas. Meanwhile, the Grand Bazaar is a labyrinthine marketplace where you can get Turkish carpets, ceramics, jewellery, and more.

You must come well equipped to this market.  Get ready to bargain, get ready to be charmed into buying things you never wanted to buy ever.  I highly recommend you wear comfortable shoes.  Remember, to keep hydrated in the summer.  It’s important to note, you should set a day aside. Both bazaars offer a chance to experience the lively atmosphere of traditional Turkish markets.

Culinary Delights:

I have travelled to many amazing destinations and have to say, Istanbul is one of the best foodie travels for me.  Indulge in a traditional Turkish breakfast with simit (sesame-crusted bread), olives, and cheese. Savor the rich flavours of kebabs, mezes, and baklava. Don’t forget to try a cup of Turkish tea or coffee at a local café, immersing yourself in the social fabric of the city. I would highly recommend you stick to the local places; they made the best food.  I suggest stay clear of the expensive restaurants.  Street food is gob smacking delicious!

Turkish Desert Baklava

Modern Istanbul:

Finally, Istanbul is deeply rooted in its history, the city has embraced modernity with open arms. Especially, exploring the trendy neighbourhoods of Beyoglu and Karakoy. Where hip cafes, boutiques, and art galleries abound. I would suggest you go early evening and have a few drinks.  The nightlife is pretty epic!  Not to mention, you can get a kebab, anywhere at midnight.

In fact, one of my personal favourites, the Istanbul Modern Art Museum where you find contemporary Turkish art.  From, there you can take a stroll along Istiklal Avenue. Obviously, a street filled with shops, restaurants, and street performers.

Personally, Istanbul will always have a special part of my heart.  For so many reasons. However, also experienced such highs and lows in my life. Made friends with all the street cats and was almost attacked by a pack of dogs at night. All in all, a beautiful city.

To conclude, as you explore the city’s streets and soak in its unique ambiance.  Without a doubt, you’ll discover why Istanbul truly deserves its status as the jewel of the Bosphorus.

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