Istanbul is a city steeped in rich, immense history. The former capital of Turkey remains its most populous city. A famous tourist destination, the city straddles two continents with distinct cultural heritages.
One of the largest cities in the world, travel to Istanbul can be overwhelming because of the city’s vastness. Istanbul packages handle the minute details, but what are the must-see destinations once you’ve arrived?
Life’s a Beach
Aside from bridging Asia and Europe, Istanbul is nestled between two seas. The Black Sea is a short drive north, while the Sea of Marmara runs along the city’s coast. All told, there are over twenty beaches for tourists and residents to soak up the sun.
Several of Istanbul’s beaches can be found in a cluster on one of the four Princes’ Islands. The archipelago offers relaxing beaches and tranquillity away from the hum and drum of the busy metropolitan. The islands are reached by ferry.
6 Things You Must Do While in Istanbul
Visitors to Turkey would be remiss if they didn’t explore some of the country’s rich history and cultural experiences. Istanbul is much more than just sandy beaches. Here are 6 things to add to your itinerary when visiting Istanbul.
Have a cup of Turkish coffee.
Western countries may prefer coffee that brews almost instantly with a wide range of flavoured additives. However, a cup of Turkish coffee is a traditional delight that continues in Istanbul. The strong, savoury liquid is a staple and difficult to recreate, though you can try.
Browse the stalls at the Grand Bazaar.
The Grand Bazaar is a collection of over 5,000 shopping stalls spread out over 60 streets in the heart of Istanbul. Once a trading post for the early civilizations, it retains its allure.
Try the authentic local food.
The traditional foods of Turkey are spicy concoctions of meat and cheese. Baklava is a doughy dessert enjoyed around the world, but none so much as in Istanbul.
Visit the Blue Mosque.
Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque was built in the 17th century. It is still used as a place of worship. Visitors are welcome but should dress respectfully and observe cultural custom.
Relax with a Turkish Bath.
Similar to a sauna, a Turkish bath is a public bathing tradition popular in Istanbul. A steam bath is followed by massage and cleansing. The purpose is to relax and renew the mind and the body. But if you’d rather immerse yourself in sun and sand, Istanbul is full of luxurious beach resorts designed to pamper and delight visitors.
Marvel at the architecture of the Hagia Sophia.
The Hagia Sophia is a former place of worship that now functions as a museum. One of the most popular bucket-list entries, the dome can be seen for miles. The walls on the inside are lined with mosaics and calligraphy from a time long past.
Immerse Yourself in a New Culture
One travel mistake many people make is visiting popular structures and sights in a new city without taking in the culture. To truly appreciate what makes each city or country unique requires the visitor to immerse themselves in that location’s way of life, particularly through food and drink.
Istanbul offers a distinct opportunity to delve into centuries of history.