Our Top Reasons to Visit Istanbul, Part 2

Our Top Reasons to VIsitThere is so much to see in Istanbul I could not contain this article to just one post.  So here is our second set of reasons to visit Istanbul and make sure to check out Part 1 if you have not read it yet!

Topkapi palace

Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace

Topkapi palace is an overwhelmingly ornate maze of palatial buildings and stunning views of the Bosporus. Alex and I spent half a day here and can confidently say that we probably saw less than half of the palace. Topkapi palace was the main ottoman palace for the Sultans from 1465 to 1865 and some of the most important sultans of the ottoman age resided here including Sultan Mehmed II, who began construction of the palace.  For me the most interesting part of the palace was exploring the Harem, which does cost extra but it is worth it.  The Harem was perhaps the most intricate and beautiful section of the palace however as you are walking around you are reminded that this was really a whole world for them.  Only the Sultan was allowed to enter the Harem.

The Haram is beautifully decorated but it was still kept the women of the Sultan's behind walls.
The Haram is beautifully decorated but it was still kept the women of the Sultan’s behind walls.

 

Ferry to Asia

View of the iconic mosque from the Asia side of Istanbul
View of the iconic mosque from the Asia side of Istanbul

Visiting the Asia side of Istanbul is definitely an experience and a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  The Asia side of Istanbul is definitely worth checking out even if just for the Ferry ride across the Bosphorus.  You will get amazing panorama views of Istanbul and also appreciate how much the city’s life is focused on the waterways.  The waterways are really one of the main reasons that Istanbul has always been such an important city and the site of so many great empires.  It is no surprise that Istanbul became the capital of the Roman Empire after Rome because of how strategic its location is.

It is a little quieter on the Asia side of the Bosphorus but it is sometimes nice to get away from the center of the city
It is a little quieter on the Asia side of the Bosphorus but it is sometimes nice to get away from the center of the city

The Asian side of Istanbul is much quieter and subdued than the European side but it is nice to see how the actual citizens of Istanbul live, from the quiet and peaceful mosques to the grocery stores and food stands that line the streets.  One of my favorite moments in Istanbul was simply sitting in a park on the Asian side of Istanbul, soaking up the sun and eating a delicious cheese pastry called Borek and roast chicken.  Who needs restaurants?

 

Spice bazaar

Spices at the Spice Bazaar
Spices at the Spice Bazaar

The Spice Bazaar is a must see while in Istanbul, for one it smells amazing, and I found it much more interesting than the Grand Bazaar.  The mounds of spices are gorgeous and bright, all colors of the rainbows, and besides spices you also have tea and turkish delight.  If you travel for food definitely stop in at the Spice Bazaar.  Food is such an integral part of Turkish culture that you would be missing out on a piece of the city if you do not stop at the Spice Bazaar.  You can see locals mingling with tourists taking photos (AKA me) as they go about their business of shopping for their families.

Local Honey at the Spice Bazaar
Local Honey at the Spice Bazaar

 

Sultanahmet

Exploring Sultanahmet
Exploring Sultanahmet

Sultanahmet is the old city of Istanbul found just south of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. It is a great little district filled with old building, twisting streets, kabob man and great restaurants. A lot of hostels are located in sultanahmet and are very reasonable and centrally located too, although on the downside of this the area can be a bit touristy. It is a great neighborhood to explore though and I am so glad that we ended up staying here. Our some of our best meals in Istanbul were in sultanahemet: kabob man, this amazing seafood restaurant and a restaurant called Doy-Doy, which has great cheap and delicious kabobs and pide or Turkish style pizzas.

Streets of Sultanahemet
Streets of Sultanahemet

Apple tea

Apple Tea at an Ottoman Restaurant
Apple Tea at an Ottoman Restaurant

Last but certainly not least is Apple Tea. It may seem strange to see tea as a reason to visit Istanbul but Apple Tea is everywhere in Istanbul. Apple tea seems to be the drink of choice in Istanbul where it is consumed before, during and after a meal, with hookah, and alone. Any occasion can call for apple tea. I don’t think I will ever drink apple tea again without thinking of Istanbul and the mornings drinking it and Turkish coffee while enjoying the view of the Bosporus or in the afternoon taking time to smoke some hookah and drink tea.

A little hookha and a little apple tea makes for a perfect afternoon in Istanbul
A little hookha and a little apple tea makes for a perfect afternoon in Istanbul
He is a pro
He is a pro

Istanbul is a wonderful city and a city that has capture my imagination since I first read about it. It is one of those cities that lived up to the hype and is worth exploring. I cannot wait to return here to experience again it’s beautiful mosques, the Hagia Sofia, the basilica cistern and of course it’s amazing food and apple tea. If you have a chance to visit Istanbul do not hesitate; you will fall in love with this beautiful city!

If you liked this article check out our other articles on Istanbul:

A Glimpse of Istanbyl Turkish Glass Lamps
A Glimpse of Istanbul
Turkish Glass Lamps
Never Ending Columns at My Favorite Underground Site
Never Ending Columns at My Favorite Underground Site

 

18 thoughts on “Our Top Reasons to Visit Istanbul, Part 2

  1. Aaaah Istanbul! Like you I spent a lot of time drinking apple tea, in tiny little cafes or sitting outside just soaking up this amazing city, everyone must go! The Topkapi palace is enriched with sights and views and the Hareem is absolutely worth the extra cost and a bit of queuing. I visited on my own with my DK guidebook and loved it! It is easy to get around on public transport as well, a great city for exploring.

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  2. Do we need reasons to visit Istanbul? It’s one of my favourite cities ever and I could add a place or two to this list… there’s a great Art Nouveau palace on the Asian shore, and the tram to Taksim square are two of my favourite sights! Thanks for transporting me back to Istanbul!

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  3. I was in Istanbul one year ago TODAY! I loved the apple tea. I also walked across the Galata Bridge and got so “I AM SCREAMING INSIDE MY HEAD” over the excitement of standing on Asia. That feeling was so overwhelming that I booked my first actual trip to Asia and I leave in 49 hours!

    Istanbul is a truly beautiful city and unlike anything I had seen before.

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  4. I have only been to Turkey once and, to be honest, was left rather disappointed. I would like to go back, though, and visit Istanbul. I’m sure it would give me a very different perspective.

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