Weekend in Turkey: must do things in Istanbul
Istanbul is a great place to come for two or three day trip, where the number of sites per square meter is one of the greatest in Europe. It is impossible to see all the sites of former Constantinople in a weekend, the chief commercial, industrial and cultural city of Turkey. So, i will try to describe below the city’s best parks and views, cafes and restaurants where to stay and what to see.
Stay in the heart of Istanbul’s modern life
For those who enjoy shopping and active nightlife will find ideal place to stay in Taksim or Beyouglu districts. Famous Galata tower, Taksim square and Istiklal street are here with 24 hours open cafes, music and karaoke bars, as well as fashion boutiques, art galleries and antique shops. Plenty of inexpensive small hotels, apartments and well-known 5 star properties are here to make your stay great in Istanbul.
Explore the Asian part of Istanbul
The European and Asian parts of Istanbul are divided by the Bosphorus. Most attractions are located in the European part of the city, but in the Asian part you can spend time away from the tourist crowds, visit authentic markets, find excellent fish restaurants and walk through narrow streets along the lovely beaches.
To get there you can sail on the tourist boats that start from Galata bridge and passes by the famous Bosphorus bridge, Dolmabahce Palace, Rumelihisari fort and largest fish market. All tourist boats have several stops during 2 hours route and the final is Anadolu Kava village, where the Black Sea meets the sea of Marmara. Instead of a long route, alternatively, the most economical option is to take a passenger ferry to the Asian side and come back. But i recommend the first one to take a lot of Istanbul panorama pictures and receive the great memories.
Taste a variety of street food
For those who are on a diet it be might a challenge as Istanbul offers many fragrant and tasty treats from all the corners. The variety of offerings includes seafood, cakes, chestnuts, meats, sweets and popular turkish ice cream, as well as fresh juices, which are sold everywhere. Kebab is always a fresh and savory option, with one of the best in Kasap Osman cafe, which The Guardian newspaper included on its list of best kebabs in the city. For the desert you can treat yourself with sweet baklava staffed with pistachio, traditional turkish delight or “dondurma”- a local ice-cream with orchid extract. The perfect match for the deserts is traditional turkish coffee or tea.
Take the Hagia Sophia excursion tour
For a long years this one of the most popular world’s saint places was a home to pagan temple of Artemis, until Emperor Constantine replaced the temple with a small church in honour of St. Sophia. According to the legend, in the sixth century AD the Emperor Justinian had a dream when an angel came to him with a plan of a new grand church building. The construction of the most beautiful church in Asia was lasted for five years, and it cost was very expensive that exceeded all the fruits of the empire during this period. In the middle of the fifteenth century, the troops of Sultan Mehmed II captured Constantinople, after this the church of St. Sophia became a Muslim mosque. The cross was replaced by the golden crescent that stood until 1935, when it was decided to turn this location into a museum.
Barter on Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest markets in the world (in Turkish it is called Kapali Bazaar). Famed for its mountains of carpets and rugs, arrays of colored lamps and immense scattering of authentic Turkish souvenirs, this incredible market is worth seeing. Bargaining is possible, but purchases can still be expensive, so buying something here may not always be worth the haggle.
Spend a time in Gülhane Park
For a long time this huge park at Topkapi Palace was not properly cared for, so it was closed in 2001 for a two-year reconstruction, during which landscape architects and gardeners busied themselves with beautifying the park. Located on a gentle slope, the park today is a cosy place with benches, fountains, pedestrian bridges and corridors of plane trees.
Feast on seafood
Istanbul has several fish markets and a lot more fish restaurants. The most touristic are near the Galata Bridge, which offers spectacular views of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus. Be sure to try one of the city’s most popular street foods, balik ekmek (fish kebab), a roll stacked with salad and fried fish. For the best fish restaurants, get away from the city centre and look towards the shores of the Bosphorus, for example in the Bebek neighbourhood, where a variety of terraces just above the water offer the freshest fish.
Make a wish in front of Medusa in cistern
In ancient Turkey drinking water was stored in tanks and transported to homes in cisterns. 40 of these tanks can still be found in the city today. The most famous of them is Yerebatan Saray or “underground palace”, is situated next to the church of Hagia Sophia. The descent into the large cistern begins in a small brick house and the cistern itself is very cool and damp place, with water dripping from its walls and ceiling. Spotlights illuminate 336 support columns, with blocks on each that depict the head of Medusa, crowned with snakes instead of hair. The Cistern itself has several beliefs that a very popular among the tourists. For example, the pool of desires, where most travelers throw coins and make their wishes.
Take a tram
Modern Istanbul tram is a perfect transport to see all chief attractions of the city. It starts from Kabatash district and passes by the Golden Horn. One of the special treats can be to take a ride in so-called “nostalgic tram” that can be found in the center (from Taksim square down to Istiklal) and in Asian part also.