|Istanbul - Turkey|
1) Where to stay
If you're traveling solo, it's best to stay near a crowded area whereas people are awake till late in the evening. A good place would be near Istiklal street, as it's also close to the metro / tram station; Beşiktaş is also quite a popular area and you can find plenty of hotels there. I've stayed in Stories Hotel twice before, the staff are very helpful and it has a great location. For work, I've stayed close to Zorlu center, a huge mall that has one of my favorite restaurants (see below).
|Room view from Raffles Istanbul|
2) Things to do
- Watch the Whirling Dervishes, you can check hodjapasha.com for schedule and tickets. There are also two other types of cultural dance shows there.
- Shopping in Grand Bazaar (you need to bargain a lot as they overprice things on purpose)
- Cultural / Historical and Food Walking Tours
3) Places to visit
You can do a lot in Istanbul (depending on duration). Even if you're only staying in Istanbul for 3 days, you can surely cover:
- The Blue Mosque
- Hagia Sophia, once a church later a mosque.
- Dolmabahçe sarayı
- Galata Tower (you can also go inside)
- Istiklal Street (shopping, food, old tram)
- Musicians Street (shopping, food, artifacts, souvenirs)
- Beşiktaş market
- Take the "sea bus / ferry" to Princes Island when the weather is pleasant.
|Adem Baba restaurant in Arnavutkoy area|
Asian side (chances are you'll be staying on the European side, so make sure you head to the asian side and see more places)
- Take the ferry to the Asian side
- A nice street full of nice vibe restaurants is Kuzguncuk
|Sunset from Princes Island|
4) What / Where to eat
- Eat at a Meyhane (bar / restaurant that serves mezze and raki)
- Manti (Similar to Ravioli with spiced minced meat on the inside, topped with tomato sauce and yogurt), similar to the Armenian Manti.
- Fish, specially around the area of Arnavutkoy as it's right by the sea and the fish is fresh. We went to this amazing small restaurant called "Adem Baba"
- Street Food: Pilaf (Rice with chickpeas), Oysters with spiced rice, Charcoal roasted Chestnuts (during winter), Turkish ice-cream, Kokoreç (I am not a fan of intestines as food, but if you are!)
- Beşiktaş area for plenty of old style restaurants
- You can browse more restaurants here: http://istanbuleats.com/
- If you pass by Zorlu Center, you must eat at Haci Abdullah (Ottoman cuisine).
|Head to the Asian side, take the metro to Kadakoy. Facing the stadium, there is Nur Manti for some Turkish style Manti|
5) What to drink
- Raki (similar to Lebanese Arak)
- Turkish Coffee
- Şalgam (Salty beverage)
- Ayran (liquid salty yogurt)
- Boza (Fermented bulgur drink)
- Salep (سحلب)
6) Useful Turkish expressionsHello = Merhaba
How are you = Nasılsınız
I'm fine = İyiyim
Thank you = Teşekkürler (ş = sh)
Please = Lütfen
Cheque please = Hisap Lütfen
I'm sorry = Özür dilerim
Excuse me = Affedersiniz
Two tea / coffee = İki tane çay/kahve
Where is Hagia Sofia = Hagia Sofia nerede?
If you want to escape the city and head to the country side, here's a road trip you can do to a couple of towns with beautiful sea access only 2 hours drive from Istanbul.