I love exploring a country for the first time. When I found out I was going to Turkey I spent so much time planning an itinerary, only to realise that two and a half days in Istanbul could barely get me half-way through the city. Especially for someone like Sadia and I who loves to just wander around, accidentally stumble across every sweet shop that offers free tasters, and befriend locals who will seat you down at a table, serve you Turkish tea and literally talk for hours. People of Istanbul are so kind and welcoming!
Anyway, there's a lot of pictures coming up so I'll try to keep it brief with the captions. I hope this post will inspire you to visit Istanbul one day if you haven't already been - and to never let fear stop you from exploring this very beautiful world we live in.
One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world located in the heart of Istanbul Old City. Grand Bazaar felt like a big maze. It has more than 4000 shops inside it and attracts up to 400,000 visitors, daily! Everything from Turkish tea, spices, lamps and carpets - you're sure to find it here in thousands different varieties.
Lunch with a view? A few hundred meters from Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque is Seven Hills Restaurant, perhaps the best place (for Instagrammers that is) to have a cuppa.
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmet Mosque is the most famous mosque in Istanbul. As beautiful as it is, I personally think it's an unfortunate imbalance between religion and a tourist attraction. With so many people and so much noise all around it lost a bit of its spiritualness, but that's just my opinion.
A large museum which was once home of the sultans and harems of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. Gorgeous architecture!
My biggest recommendation if you're in Istanbul is to take a Bosphorus Cruise. I love everything about the sea, but what is so special about this is that you're cruising between two continents, both Asia and Europe. Meanwhile you're passing through unique waterfront palaces and mosques on either side in close-up views. The cruises varies in duration, but we took one that lasted about two hours which was more than good enough. It's cheap too, shouldn't cost more than 5 Lira. Just make sure to buy tickets at the official ticket offices by the dock and not through tourist booths. They're usually ten times more expensive.
So where do you get the best views of Istanbul, you ask? Galata Tower, just before sunset. You're welcome.
If you enjoy smoking shisha (which I personally don't however), LuLu Hookah Lounge is a really cool place to go at any time of day. Just wanted to put it out there anyway! It has good views, good food and tasty drinks - i.e. mocktails and smoothies for people like us.
Asian Side of istanbul
Located east of Bosphorus and geographically on the Asian mainland. Easy access with either metro (that goes under water) or a five minute boat trip across the waterway. We didn't have much time to explore this side of the city unfortunately other than a quick drink before heading off to Nurs-et. Definetly a place I would've loved to explore more of though.
Nurs-et Steakhouse Etiler
Saving the best for last: dinner at Nurs-et Steakhouse, famously known as #saltbae. We had to take a 45 minutes bus ride to get here from our hotel, but it was well worth it. The steak was amazing and the baklava (famous Turkish dessert), oh my days... the baklava was so good I shed a tear of joy. I can only recommend this place to everyone, or at least to all the steak-lovers out there. Our last evening in Istanbul was made complete.
So, that was my recap from Istanbul! I hope you enjoyed the photos. Since I've been so busy with exams these past couple of weeks I didn't have time to make separate posts, but something is better than nothing, right? Anyway, next month I'm going to Brussels with my boyfriend, which I'm really excited about. I have never been in Belgium before so I can't wait to see what it has to offer. Shortly after, a big celebration in London awaits! Stay tuned. xx