Some of our favourite places to see whilst exploring Istanbul:
YEREBATAN CISTERN – Still fabulous and a must do. Make sure you see the famous Medusa Head.
HAGHIA SOPHIA – This beautiful 6th Century Byzantine Church is now a museum. Walk around the upper level for best viewing of the exquisite frescoes.
EGYPTIAN SPICE MARKET – Needs to be on every itinerary, much smaller and relaxed than the Grand Bazaar. The best place to buy scrumptious dried apricots and exquisite pomegranate tea. Do visit the nearby little Rustem Pasha Mosque and view the gorgeous red and blue tiling.
GRAND BAZAAR – For the brave!! Can be very full on, best at the end of the day and expect to get lost. The antique maritime section is excellent.
THE GARDENS BETWEEN BLUE MOSQUE AND HAGHIA SOPHIA – Lie on the grass, watch the world go by and admire the blue skyline with all the minarets.
BOSPHOROUS CRUISE – Only 90 mins but excellent to see the Europe/Asia differences, especially the gorgeous wooden houses (very Vietnamese like).
EAT – Scrummy fresh bread, delicious eggplant tomato dishes, tasty chicken and lamb stews. Lots of watermelon and juicy cherries for dessert.
THE DOLMABACHE PALACE GUARDS – stand beside these giant men that guard the palace. Get here early if you intend visiting inside the palace.The 19th C Selamlik chambers inside are the highlight.
THE BLUE MOSQUE – Definitely a highlight – marvel at the exquisite tiling with the endless range of blue.
KARAKOY FISH MARKET – You probably don’t want to buy the fish – but there are heaps of street sellers serving all sorts of goodies. Deep fried anchovies are popular or try a mackerel sandwich – fresh fillet of mackerel, mixed herbs, chilli flakes, crispy salad, the juice of a wedge of lemon, all served between fresh Turkish bread. Not too bready, not too fishy – and just 3 Lira.
FAVOURITE MUSEUMS – The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum – originally built as the Palace of Ibrahim Pasha in 1524 has very fine examples of Islamic Calligraphy, tiles and carpets. The Naval Museum – near the Dolmabache Palace demonstrates how wealthy the Turkish navy was with plenty of models, guns, cannons and various warfare items on display. The Rahmi Koç Museum is the first major museum in Turkey dedicated to the history of Transport, Industry and Communications. Housed in magnificent buildings – themselves prime examples of industrial archaeology – on the shore of the historic Golden Horn, the collection contains thousands of items from gramophone needles to full size ships and aircraft.