I’ve traveled to Istanbul several times and would like to share my experiences and related tips.
Istanbul has a number of attractions, with plenty to see from the Renaissance to the Ottoman period to the modern era.
This is a huge 365 ° panorama image, which has been processed into a dome. You enter this dome and find yourself in the conquest of Istanbul. According to the staff there, the guns and bullets that are there are still from that time and you get an audio guide, which explains everything you see there before you in more detail.
If you are interested in architectural works you can admire the Valens aqueduct here.
The construction of the aqueduct was begun under Emperor Constantine the Great, during his reign from 306 to 337 and completed in 378 under Emperor Valens. Hence the name Valens aqueduct.
This mosque was deliberately built on one of the most beautiful hills in Istanbul. From there you have the view of the Bosphorus, the Marmara Sea up to the districts Üsküdar and Eyyüp.
This mosque is an architectural masterpiece. If I started writing about it now it would go beyond the scope. That’s why I only want to go into one of a hundred masterpieces of this mosque. The acoustics. The architect has built the mosque so that no microphone is needed. The materials he has selected for the walls are transmitting human voices.
In the following video you will see a reporter who does not wear a microphone. She is 15 meters away from the cameraman. When the cameraman holds the microphone on her, no voice is transmitted. But when the cameraman holds the microphone against the wall, her voice is miraculously transmitted through the wall.
In addition, it is also constructed so that even when a human being whispers in the Mihrāb, people in the last prayer series (60 meters away) can hear this whisper with ease.
When you visit this structure, please be aware that it was built in only seven years after the build-order was received.
This is probably the most notorious bazaar in Turkey. It is incredibly extensive (4000+ shops), beautiful to look at (500,000+ visitors daily) and walk through it (45,000sqm with 66 streets and 24 entry gates). But it is also incredibly stupid to shop in this bazaar.
If you want to buy souvenirs, books, textiles, or fake branded items, I would recommend you to go outside of the bazaar and buy outside. If you are right at the front entrance, you do not go in but to the left and then you follow the street.
The Sultanahmet Mosque is probably the most famous landmark of Istanbul and possibly Turkey. It is a gigantic structure built in the Ottoman period and completed just as the Süleymaniye Mosque in just seven years.
Hagia Sophia Mosque
The Hagia Sophia mosque was a church when Istanbul was conquered. After the conquest of Istanbul, it was empty for a long time until it was converted by the Sultan into a mosque.
It then served as a mosque for a long time. When Mustafa Kemal came to power in Turkey and established democracy in Turkey, one of the accomplishments he had in Turkey was that the Hagia Sophia mosque was turned into a museum. That’s why you’ll find both Islamic and Christian symbols when you visit.
The Cisterna Basilica is one of the most fascinating things I have seen. It did not surprise me because of its size but because of its durability. This cistern was built before the Ottoman period and is still so dense that the evaporated water drips from above.
The Galata tower was built in the Byzantine period and was renovated and restored after the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Empire several times. It is visible from almost all hotspots from istanbul and from the balcony you have a beautiful view of Istanbul.
A scientist from the Ottoman period (Hezarfen Ahmed Çelebi) launched a gliding flight from the Galata Tower in the 17th century. He flew over the Bosphorus, over the Leander Tower on the Asian side of Istanbul and landed there. So far on the historical aspect.
Eminönü / Galata Bridge
When speaking of Eminönü in İstanbul, one generally means the harbor district in Fatih. There is also the Galata Bridge, where you have the fish restaurants (not recommended) and can watch a lot of anglers above.
There you can take a very nice photo and especially that you can sit down directly on the shore and eat / drink there offers a good opportunity to recover from the hustle and bustle.
I can not recommend the seafood restaurants because I ate there once and got a double bill. When I asked what it meant. They told me that meant that the remainder (as much as the main bill) was calculated for the service.
This street is probably one of the most famous streets in Turkey. It is 1.4km long and filled with people around the clock.
The nightlife of Istanbul is also mostly active here and at night there are still so many people on this street. However, I would not recommend the nightlife in Turkey, because the bill is pumped up with fake games. If you go there at night to check it out, you should carry your cell phone and wallet with you so it can not be stolen.
The street istiklal caddesi ends to Taksim Square. The Taxim Square is effectively an organ of Istanbul. When I was there, I often saw the television reporters interviewing people.
There is also an area where different festivals are held time to time. Once I saw an event, where books for which there is no longer any use were sold for a lira. At that time, a lira did not even yield 20 cents.
If you have already arrived at Istiklal caddesi you should definitely take a look at Taksim Square. If you want to experience Istanbul’s nightlife, the best starting point would be the Taksim Square and from there you should go to İstiklal street.
As the name suggests, Miniaturk has miniatures from all over the world. You can view and photograph the reduced version of sights from all over the world.
It’s in a very large area and the number of miniatures is amazing. When I have never been there, I thought that the miniatures could not have such good quality. During my visit, however, I was pleasantly surprised.
You can also get there audio guides and if you stand in front of a miniature, you can enter the number and listen to what that is and what story that has.
The stay can really draw but that should not be a problem because there is a restaurant.
You should definitely buy and eat corn from the street vendors. These are mainly located at Sultanahmet Square and are relatively cheap to have.
But you should be more careful with the chestnuts. It has always happened that I bought chestnuts and these were bad. For safety, I always threw away the whole bag.
Due to the views and the fair prices, this hill is one of the places in Istanbul where I go at least once on each visit. The best time to visit is in the afternoon because at that time you can enjoy the view of Istanbul in the light of day and sit there comfortably.
There you can also order a shisha after dinner, but these places are closed at night. However, if you would go in the afternoon, you could sit there comfortably and then admire the beautiful view of Istanbul.
Maiden’s Tower Kız-Kulesi
If you have a female companion with you, the Maiden’s Tower is a must. Especially among the Turkish girls, the tower is a symbol of romance.
The story of the Maiden’s Tower is very common in Turkey. It’s about a father who learns from a fortune teller that his daughter will be killed by a snake bite. Then the father lets build the Maiden’s Tower and brings his daughter to live there. There is one person who brings her over a basket with food and one day a snake sneaks into the basket. Then the daughter is bitten by the snake and dies in the tower.
You can also eat in this tower. I ate there but I did not like it. The food was too salted and the wait staff was not nice. Me and my wife agreed that the food was one of the worst in istanbul.
Eat fish in Eminönü
If you are in İstanbul, you should definitely eat a fish sandwich in eminönü. I have eaten fish there many times and have never had a bad experience.
However, I have heard from friends and acquaintances that they ate rotten fish there and one has even told of a food poisoning. Personally, I’ve never experienced anything like this, nor have all the friends I brought to Istanbul either.
This is one of the most fascinating and at the same time one of the biggest museums I have ever visited. There you have the opportunity to admire goods, weapons, rooms and many other things from all over Islamic time. Amongst other things:
- Pots, plates and utensils from the Ottoman period.
- Research materials from the Ottoman period.
- Weapons and armor from and before the Ottoman era.
- Moses’ staff
- Footprint of the Prophet Muhammad (sav)
- Garments from and before the Ottoman period
(eg headscarf from the wife of the Prophet Mohammed (sav))
This palace was built in the Ottoman period and also served as a place where many important decisions were made. The architecture and the floor space are amazing visitors.
Noteworthy, on the other hand, is the remaining equipment of the palace: 14 tons of gold were used alone to gild the ceilings of the palace. The central hall (Muayede) is decorated by the largest chandelier in the world (750 bulbs). The palace houses today the largest collection of crystal chandeliers from Bohemia and Baccarat. Even the banister in one of the representative staircases contains crystal.
The founder of Modern Turkey (Mustafa Kemal) lived and died in this palace as well. The room where he died was kept as it was at the time of death and even the clock still shows the time of his death.
Museum of Islamic Engineering and Science
I discovered this museum by accident when I was walking through Gülhane Park in Istanbul. I went in and was again surprised by the Turkish history to the Ottoman time.
In this museum you can admire, as well as in Topkapi Palace, Ottoman science and technology. Although some devices are very simple for us, we need to think about the fact that these devices were built at a time when there was no electricity (Internet).
An Istanbul tour along the Bosphorus is recommended, but you should plan good weather and almost a whole day for it. These tours you can book at Sultanahmet Square, but you should note that the prices there (about 10 € – 15 €) sound overpriced according to my research.
I once looked on the internet and on the official website of the organization, which organized the tours, that the tour normally costs 4 €.
I wrote to them and asked where you can buy the tickets at these prices. Since my request has passed about a month and unfortunately they have not contacted me since.
Another thing I can recommend to you is to buy an Istanbulkart. This is a prepaid card that you can charge at a machine as you like. With this card you can then go by bus and train. Furthermore, you can also go to public toilets with the card, which are cleaned separately.
The price for an Istanbulkart is actually only 6tl (1 €). However, these are sold on the streets for outrageous 20tl. Do not be fooled and simply buy the ticket at points of sale mentioned on the official Istanbulkart website.