Istanbul is known to be a city of two continents, at the collision point between continental Europe and Asia. It is a city unlike other, and this article is about the six must-do things when visiting Istanbul.
Take a short venture outside the city center to the funky and colorful art district of Balat. Famous for its colorful steps and building, it’s quirky and fun. Balat is a great place to stretch your legs and go for a stroll. Walk the hipster streets, check out the vintage shops, and stop to grab a coffee or a refreshing cocktail. If you wish to escape the madness of the old city without going too far, Balat is the perfect place.
Haggia Sofia/ Blue Mosque
The Haggia Sofia and Blue Mosque are the most famous buildings in the whole of Istanbul. Built in 500 A.D, the Haggia Sofia was and still is a Modern architectural wonder. First a church, then a mosque, it is now a museum you can visit. Marvel at the dome ceiling and view the frescoes. Across the way, the Blue Mosque is probably the most famous mosque in the whole city. The outside façade and courtyard are magnificent, and the inside is worth a peek, but a strict dress code is required to get inside.
Why bath yourself when you can get someone to do it for you? Go to a traditional Turkish bath. Those baths are a mix between a sauna and a deep body scrub. Sweat out all your toxins while lying on a marble slab, and get ready to be scrubbed by someone you just met.
Turkish Ice cream
There isn’t any excuse for not getting some ice cream. Turkish ice cream is unique because it’s way thicker than the usual ice cream you are used to, and tastes incredibly great.
Go to the Grand Bazaar and open-air market, walk around and explore. The markets in Istanbul are indoor, outdoor, and seem to go on forever. They sell everything you can imagine; food, shoes, pots and pans, jewelry, and nearly everything else. If you are the kind of person who likes to haggle, Istanbul markets are a bargainer’s paradise because all the prices are negotiable.
Go to Asia
Take the ferries to visit the quarters of the Bosphorus, the Asian side of Istanbul, and Prince islands. The Bosphorus cruise is an absolute must. You will revel at the beauties of this ancient waterway, which offers breathtaking views of historical monuments and some masterpieces of classical public and military architecture.
Spring (from April to May) and fall (from September to October) are the high peak seasons to visit Istanbul as the weather is temperate around those times.