My husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary with a trip to Istanbul. Istanbul is very exciting and exotic and I found it interesting as it’s a city on 2 continents – Europe and Asia. And who can say no to Turkish food?
There are many things to do in Istanbul. I would really recommend the summertime to visit as there are many boat trips that looked so nice to take, but we were unable to do that when we went in the early spring.
Things to do
The spice market and bazaar should obviously be on the list. Be ready to get lost, though. It’s a huge and confusing place, but fun to look around.
The shopping street (İstiklal Avenue) between Tunel and Taksim square is busy, full of shops, restaurants and Starbucks. Try one of the side streets to find more authentic restaurants.
The Asian side of Istanbul is also very nice to explore along with a walk across the Galata Bridge. The Galata Bridge also has a few fast food places and occasionally a carnival underneath:
And of course the Blue Mosque is very beautiful and open for tours. You can visit free of charge, just check the info on the webpage. You will need to take off your shoes before you go inside. It’s very beautiful and worth a visit:
The other popular Mosque to visit is the Hagia Sofia (Ayasofya). I hear it is also very beautiful and very old, but we could not afford to visit it that day. That one costs for a tour. Beautiful for pictures on the outside though if you can’t afford to go in:
In my opinion, the food in Turkey is excellent! We often order a meze plate at home on Fridays, so it was a treat to actually go to Turkey and sample the real thing. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have any specific restaurants to recommend, although our hotel restaurant, Armada Terrace was very nice and had an open roof and outdoor dining in the summer with a view of the sea. The hotel and restaurant are very nice but I cannot say the same for the neighborhood that surrounds it. However, if it’s summertime, it would be an excellent place to check out. You can’t beat the views – the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque on one side and the sea on the other side.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Armada Hotel in Istanbul. This is a 4 star hotel. Very nice. Clean rooms, excellent restauarant and great views. There is a wonderful terrace on top of the hotel, the breakfasts are amazing and the rooms are clean and modern.
However, many parts of the surrounding neighborhood are very run down. If you choose to stay here, find a good lighted walking path. Some areas are touristy and nice and then you will turn to a street where there are abandoned houses. It is very close to Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque and very close to the water, which is probably very nice in the summertime.
If you are looking for other places to stay in Istanbul, I would recommend the Asian side of the city or around Taksim square, which is a very modern and touristy area, so if that’s not what you want, then you may want to try something else.