With remnant of its illustrious past juxtaposing with modern day life, Istanbul is a wonderful and exciting place to explore. Whether you have a few hours or a couple days to spare in this intoxicating city, there is plenty to see and do to make your stay truly memorable explains Eric White.
What to Do
Istanbul’s many mosques are a must-see for any visitor to the city. Not only are these structures incredibly huge and beautiful, but they also hold a historical significance older than anything we have here in the United States. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly known as The Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia are the two best known of the city’s thousands of mosques. The Blue Mosque today keeps its doors open as a place of prayer, whereas Hagia Sophia has been a museum since the 1930s! Those visiting Istanbul who are eager to do some shopping will also enjoy the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets anywhere on earth. While you won’t be able to find any money saving coupons for the Grand Bazaar, it’s a great place to get souvenirs at a bargain!
One of the most fun ways to take in the city is to cruise around on the Bosphorus Strait and visit landmarks like the Dolmabahce Palace for a different perspective. The Dolmabahce Palace cost a whopping 35 tons of gold to build and itself features more gold and crystal than you or I will ever hold! Of course, to see all the gold and crystal you’ll have to get out of your boat and with a Dolmabahce Palace tour.
What to Eat
Turkish cuisine is in fact very similar to that of Greece. For religious purposes, pork is never on the menu but there’s always plenty of lamb to go around! One of the best dishes in Istanbul is Kofte, minced lamb meatballs seasoned with local herbs. Try a Kofte Kebab from one of Istanbul’s friendly street vendors.
What to Drink
Coffee lovers are in for a treat upon visiting Istanbul. While the coffee you drink in this Turkish city is delicious, be prepared for a huge difference! Turkish coffee is strong and at the end, cups are left with a thick, sludgy layer of grounds, a natural tribute to the coffee’s authenticity and deliciousness. If you don’t enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee on your first try, don’t worry. Turkish coffee is very much an acquired taste for westerners.
Istanbul is a city full of history and wonderment, but there’s also much to see in Turkey’s interior. Leave Istanbul for a day or two and visit Cappadocia, a city unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Set in Turkey’s dry desert, Cappadocia is literally a city carved into stone. Homes, restaurants and hotels alike are found deep in the bowels of the rocky formations of Cappadocia, kept cool by the stone walls. For a truly unique Cappadocia experience, lift off in a hot air balloon and soak in the sights from hundreds of feet in the air!
Eric White graduated Ohio University with a degree in Advertising and has contributed writing on electronics, social media and travel to various online publications such as Crowdtap and Amtrak. Eric currently spends his work days managing social media and marketing duties for DayFire, an upcoming smartphone app from ZipfWorks.