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Things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul has to be one of my favourite cities I’ve visited. There is literally so much to see and do in Istanbul, I visited this city for seven days with my family as there were nine of us on holiday.  However, I think staying 3-4 days is enough to cover all the main attractions and places as we managed to cover all the main areas of the city within a short space of time.

Although, looking back probably missed out on seeing a couple of small area’s as Istanbul is that huge to travel around. This city is divided into two Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus sea, where in Europe you will find all the modern cultural environment, shops, attractions and in Asia side you will find Turkish very own old traditional attractions and stores.

I loved exploring the city, even if you got lost wondering there were people so friendly willing to help you get back on the road by asking any questions and it is such a colourful vibrant place. By the time we left from the Ataturk Airport, we could see how clean and colourful the city really is.

Most importantly, allow yourself time to explore all the places you want either by having a list printed off or on your device with you at all times, so when you’re out each day you can tick off all the places you’ve visited. Making it less stressful of trying to remember each restaurant or attractions you wanted to see.

Capturing the stunning Blue Mosque viewsDay 1 in Istanbul

On our first day, we arrived in Istanbul pretty tired as our flight was very early morning from Heathrow with BA at 10 am. I arrived there via the tube pretty early 3/4 hours before the flight, therefore I just explored around the shops like Harrods and other major stores within terminal 5 before heading to check in.

As we boarded our flight, we managed to arrive in Istanbul 4:30 PM turkey time as there are two hours ahead of us in London, we stumbled across a huge queue of people in hundreds going through security. Coming out of airport check-in it literally took us two hours to get out as there were so many planes landed at the same time as us, which made the queue longer.

Ataturk Airport arrival filled with plenty of tourists together

Luckily I managed to book our transportation of 7 people ahead of time via istanbulairporttaxis.com. Who was quick to arrange our pick up to our hotel in Sirecki, once we arrived there at arrival terminal there had my name on display, from there on we got shown to our pick up vehicle.

Spotted and picked up by minibus to the hotel

The following day, we started off with our Turkish breakfast served from our hotel which was not too bad as we had plenty of cheese, jam, fruits, eggs, cereals and hot drinks to choose from. Thereon, we started off our tour of the city as we first covered all the nearby attractions likes of Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern and Gulhane Park were within our footsteps from where we stayed at. Then to end our day we took the boat across the Bosphorus sea to the Asia side to see ‘Maiden Tower’.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque)

The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, is one of Istanbul’s most iconic historical building and an essential part of Istanbul’s skyline with its six magnificent minarets.

This mosque is well known and posted online on social media by many tourist thousand times. The beautiful thing about this mosque is you get to hear the *Azaan*, call to prayers five times a day heard out loud. There do have a section for women to pray and the men’s at the front. However, during the prayer times, visitor are not allowed to go inside the main hall until the prayers are completed.

The stunning interior ceiling of the Blue Mosque!

Space where the Iman leads the prayers

Pillar at the Blue Mosque

A model displayed outside of the Blue Mosque

Beautifully designed Turkey flag just outside the Blue Mosque

Want to know some interesting facts about the Blue Mosque head over to Istanbul Tour Studio

https://istanbultourstudio.com/things-to-do/blue-mosque

Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia, which means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century A.D. It has two floors centred on a giant nave that has a great dome ceiling, along with smaller domes, towering above. For the best views to capture the interior designs of the museum is from the second floor. As you basically oversee the museum, which looks truly stunning from the top. However, one thing to note is that Hagia Sophia is not opened on Mondays.

Open daily between 09:00 – 17:00 except on Tuesdays. During the summer period, it has longer opening hours (until 19:00 usually) and might be open 7 days a week, depending on the high tourist request. Currently, the admission to the palace costs 40 TL for adults and another 25 TL to the Harem.

A view of the historical Hagia Sophia

Interior of Hagia Sophia

Astonishing interiors and art inside of Hagia Sophia

The way up to Hagia Sophia

Istanbul Tour Guide has provided some interesting facts and what you should not miss about the Hagia Sophia, which you check out below.

https://istanbultourstudio.com/things-to-do/saint-sophia-museum-istanbul

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern as you enter

Pathway at the Basilica Cistern

Medusa’s head at the Basilica Cistern

Topkapi Palace 

The Topkapi Palace is the biggest and one of the most popular sites to visit in Istanbul. It was built in between 1466 and 1478 by the Sultan Mehmet II on top of a hill on a small peninsula, dominating the Golden Horn to the north, the Sea of Marmara to the south, and the Bosphorus Strait to the northeast, with great views of the Asian side as well. The palace was the political centre of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries until they built Dolmabahce Palace by the waterside.

The opening hours during the summer period are 9 am to 4:45 pm. Your last chance to grab a ticket will be by 4 pm as the ticket office will be closed. Please note that the palace is closed on Tuesday, no matter what the season is. The ticket price cost 40 TL to enter here. If you also want to visit the Harem part, it’s another added 25 TL to enter. Unless you have a Museum pass it is valid to enter both.

Enter the world of Historical facts at Topkapi Palace

Scared items from the historic times
A sacred sword used during the old times of the prophets
Statue of the black stone from the holiest place in Saudi Arabia ‘Makkah’ (Mecca)

This palace is a must visit when visiting Istanbul, as there are so many historic Islāmic pieces to see and witness of our prophets including his clothing, swords and other historic items. You can easily spend up to three to four hours here, so make sure to take a map or have a list of everything you would like to cover.

Open daily between 09:00 – 17:00 except on Tuesdays. During the summer period, it has longer opening hours (until 19:00 usually) and might be open 7 days a week, depending on the high tourist ask. The museum shuts to visitors during the morning of the first day of religious holidays. Currently, the admission to the palace costs 40 TL for adults and another 25 TL to the Harem.

Topkapi Palace has some interesting facts and certain spots, which you do not want to miss out.

Head over to Istanbul Studio Tour to gain some interesting insight of Topkapi Palace.

https://istanbultourstudio.com/things-to-do/topkapi-palace

Maiden Tower

The Maiden Tower located off the coast of Salacak neighbourhood in Üsküdar district, at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus.

Adil Musa overseeing the Maiden Tower at the Asia Side of Istanbul

View from the boat of the Bosphorus sea

The Maiden Tower is a popular place known, it has a fantastic restaurant which offers 360-degree views of the Bosphorus and the old city, especially at night with the night lights. There are several shuttle boats going to the tower at certain times from Kabatas neighbourhood on the European side of Istanbul and from Salacak neighbourhood on the Asian side. You do need to pay to go across to the Maiden Tower, although as we were all tired on that day we just walked across the river and saw the Maiden Tower from the edge.

I did spot people shooting balloons as one of their activities as there floating around the river, where people had a go with a gun aiming to pop as many balloons as possible.

If you are visiting the Maiden Tower are shut down on Mondays.

I have uploaded a Turkey travel vlog below from my day one visit. I’ll be uploading more parts very soon till then enjoy!

Thanks for reading my blog post. I hope you all have benefited and now know where to visit when touring Istanbul. I shall upload the next part very soon.

Feel free to leave your comments below, what you think of Istanbul and what you like to see in my next blog post.

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