I’ve just finished the summer with a trip to Turkey, so here are my tips on how to enjoy Istanbul and the rest of the country…
Must-sees in Istanbul:
- The Blue Mosque – Located in the centre of Old Istanbul, The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is hard to miss. While the 6 minarets dominate the skyline, the interior is equally as impressive, with the blue and green tiling giving it the title the Blue Mosque.
- A boat tour of the Bosporus gives an amazing view of Istanbul and all its sites can be seen from the river. A sunset trip is particularly magical.
- The Grand Bazaar – This indoor market is one of the oldest and largest in the world. You will be able to find some great gems, but don’t forget to haggle!
- Topkapi Palace – Home to the Ottoman Sultans for about 400 years, the palace is a massive Turkish landmark and definitely deserves a visit. If funds are running low, you can chill out in the first courtyard just outside the Gate of Salutation, just as the Turkish general public did hundreds of years ago.
- Hagia Sophia – The originally Christian church, built in 537, boasts fantastically preserved mosaics, as well as all of the features of an Islamic mosque, which were added following its conversion in 1453.
Other Must-sees in Turkey:
- Cappadocia – The rock formations in the region of Cappadocia are so impressive. Take a hot air balloon ride over the landscape at sunrise or quad bike round the dusty countryside, before hitting the traditional Turkish baths.
- 12 islands of Fethiye – although the town isn’t that beautiful, the blue lagoon status of the sea makes a boat trip a perfect way to spend a relaxing day.
- Ephesus and Troy – once seeing Ephesus, which is impeccably excavated, you may be disappointed by the lack of remains in Troy. (Blame the “archaeologist” Heinrich Schliemann who is said to have ruined excavation in his quest to find the treasure of Priam). Nevertheless, the famous tale of the Trojan War makes the site as equally as important as Ephesus.
- Hierapolis– not only does the Greek city boast extremely well preserved ruins, including the impressive amphitheatre, but the city also has natural hot springs fro visitors to bathe in.
- This may be obvious, but set a price with the driver before you get in a taxi, otherwise they will rip you off!
- Stay clear of the food street vendors – speaking from experience, the kebabs tend to make people ill!