Turkey Highlights: Istanbul

By on October 20, 2014

Istanbul is Turkey’s cultural and financial center. It is also the most populous city in the country. Istanbul is also a good place to discover Turkey’s history and religion. The city is a joy to explore and has plenty of amazing sights that will surely make your stay so memorable. Here are some of the things to do while here.

Try hamam.

This Turkish style bath is the ultimate spa-like treatment. This is one of the popular attractions in Istanbul. You can even amp up the experience by having a soothing massage and an invigorating body scrub.

Go to the Spice Bazaar.

If you are itching to shop for local goodies, head to the Spice Bazaar and get your fix. Here you can find all kinds of spices that are used in the country. You can even find a wide selection of nuts, local delicacies, and even popular Turkish drinks.

Ride a boat.

Among the popular attractions in Istanbul is Bosphorus. Discovering the city on foot can be both fun and a bit physically draining especially if you want to see a lot. By riding a boat, you can easily see a huge portion of Istanbul without exhausting your energy reserve. You can see the Maiden’s Tower, the many beautiful gardens, and the Dolmabahçe Palace to name a few.

Have a romantic meal at the Hamdi Restorant.

Popular for having the best view of the city, this is known for its 180o views that will allow you to gaze at the Galata Tower and Süleymaniye Mosque as you dine. The food they serve is delicious but at the same time, affordable.

Learn how to cook local dishes.

In Istanbul, one of the things that you can do is take cooking lessons. Challenge your palate and improve your cooking skills by learning how to make some of the best local dishes such as lahmacun, etli pilav, Mercimek.

Watch a belly-dancing show.

Belly dancing is a must see in Istanbul and is a huge part of the local culture. If you are interested to watch a live belly dancing show, you can check out the Hodjapasha Dance Theatre for some awesome performances.

Take a break at the Miniatürk.

This is a popular theme park in Istanbul and showcases miniature versions of different structures. Opened in 2003, this is a tourist magnet and is a good place where you can bring the whole family. There are 122 models on site. Among the featured structures are the Galata Tower, Medrese, Aspendos, and Hagia Sofia.

Stop by the Blue Mosque.

Your visit in Istanbul won’t be complete without visiting the Blue Mosque. During your visit, make sure that you are appropriately dressed as it is a sacred place.

Don’t miss the Emirgan Park.

Known as one of the biggest parks in the city, this is a good place to relax and take it slow after a long day of shopping and sightseeing. This is the venue of the yearly Tulip Festival so if your visit happens to be on spring time, make it a point to see that said event and see the colorful flowers. The park is a good family venue because of its cozy outdoor atmosphere. Here there’s plenty of greens and is a good spot to breathe some fresh air.

Experience the Turkish ultimate royal lifestyle at the Topkaki Palace.

This is a home to the Sultans of Ottoman and is the largest royal palace in the city. Aside from being the official home of the rulers, it was also an important venue for different kinds of events and stately functions. The courtyards of the palace will certainly impress you, as well as the numerous collections of different cultural treasures such as the famous porcelain collection. The arms collection is also an important attraction in the palace.

Make time for the city’s top museums.

No matter where you are in the world, museums are a must stop because they give a wealth of knowledge and are a great way to learn more about your destination. In Istanbul, you should definitely visit the trio of museums that can be found just near the Topkaki Palace. Spend some time at the Museum of Islamic Art, Museum of the Ancient Orient, and at the Archaeological Museum.

Buy some local sweets.

Lokum or Turkish delight is something that you should check out when you visit Istanbul. This is a local treat that has a gummy consistency. It comes in a variety of flavors. This confection is gelatinous and is easy to like. The rose flavor is among the most popular. Other variations such as cinnamon, apple, and mint are also yummy.

Check out local products at the Grand Bazaar.

A popular shopping place is the Grand Bazaar. This is a haven for avid shoppers. With over 3,000 shops, here you will surely be able to find all kinds of great buys. This can be found at Istanbul’s walled city and is the best place to test your skills at bargaining. Among the recommended items are leather goods, carpets, lamps, jewelry, scarves, and even some fragrances.

Cool down with a scoop of dondurma.

This is the local version of ice cream and is the best way to beat the heat. This is a yummy sweet treat and is popular among locals and tourists of all ages. They come in many different flavors and surprisingly, they don’t melt that easily which is good for such a warm place such as Turkey. The texture can be tough to the point that some people eat it with a fork. If you love a chewy ice cream, this is must try.

Watch football.

If you love this sport, rejoice that you are in Istanbul. This is a very well known and widely played sport here and the good news is that, there are many football clubs where you can watch games as you take a break from all the walking.

Be in awe of the Hagia Sophia.

This used to be a place of worship that was converted to a museum. It is without a doubt one of the finest architectural wonders in Istanbul. It’s worth a visit.

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