Istanbul is the biggest city in the Turkey, and its economic, cultural and historical heart. With its ancient yet vivid culture and its attractions, Istanbul is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
If you are planning to visit this wonderful metropolis, here are my top 10 experiences you should not miss.
1. Marvel at Hagia Sophia
A popular tourist spot, Hagia Sophia is an architectural wonder built between 531 and 537 A.D. Once inside the monument, catch a glimpse of the heaven itself on the grand domes and ancient mosaics in its interior. The building is a symbol of the city’s eclectic history. You will find glorious decorations of Christian mosaics with Islamic calligraphy. A visit to this art is a must-have experience.
2. Go Underground at the Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern is an unexpected romantic attraction. It is an underground system of water cisterns that run throughout the city. Most of the columns of the basilica are ruins of Roman relics, used as rubble by Byzantine builders. Check out the inverted head of Medusa used as a column base, and the wish-granting column.
3. Shop at the Grand Bazaar
Go on a shopping spree in the Grand Bazaar with more than 3000 shops to visit in an area covering 61 streets! There are streets that specialize in different products like silverware, carpets, ceramics and spices. With all its eye-catching glitter, the bazaar is sure to burn a hole in your pocket.
4. Take a Stroll Down Galata Bridge
Instead of riding across the bridge in your car, take a stroll down the bridge to marvel at the hustle and bustle of the city. See the vendors, the locals fishing and the passenger boats below.
5. Enjoy the Turkish Nightlife
Istanbul is a vibrant and modern city. As so, it has many pubs, restaurants, cafes and clubs worth discovering. Visit the Taksim Square to dine at the famous hotels and restaurants like Ceylan International and Grand Hyatt. Head towards Ortakoy around midnight for a guaranteed good time.
6. Grab a Turkish Delight
The Turkish delight or ‘lokum’ is a famous gummy treat you must try. The Hafiz Mustafa serve the lokum in different flavors like rose, cinnamon, lemon, and kiwi.
7. Visit the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is a monument of striking beauty. Its six minarets and blue dome have decorations that are most appealing to the eye. A time in the tranquility and serenity of the mosque is definitely a memorable experience to have in Istanbul.
8. Enjoy a Bath at a Hamam
Relax like a sultan in a Turkish bathhouse. The full experience includes a spa-like treatment with body massage and scrub. Among the many hamams, the Ayasofa Hurrem and the Sultan Hamam stand out for their royal massage and glistening marbled interior.
9. City View from Galata Tower
Behold Istanbul’s skyline from the top of Galata Tower in Beyoglu. The tower offers a unique panoramic view of the city and its many attractions. This is a great way to experience Istanbul; the landscape begs to be contemplated from above.
10. Visit Topkapi Palace
This palace is home to generations of sultans who lived in the luxury of lush green courtyards and kiosks. The palace overlooks the Sea of Marmara and offers breathtaking views of the Bosporus and the Golden Horn. This palace is an absolute must-see.
Ruby Andrew lives in Bristol, UK and is an avid reader and guest blogger on her chosen areas of interest. She is currently writing on behalf of turkey visas.
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