Istanbul

How to start?

Istanbul has more than 30 districts, so it’s impossible to see everywhere in one week, however the interesting zones are very close one each other. Beyoğlu, Bazar & Sultanahmet are the most important and it will be enough for seven days if you want to be like a real tourist in Istanbul.

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Istanbul’s top 10

1. Beyoğlu Local Market

We woke up on Sunday morning and we found a market in our hotel’ street. It was 9 o’clock in the morning and there weren’t so much people in the street. We came back in the afternoon and we found a huge local market where everybody was shouting for selling their stuff, food, clothes or whatever. Really amazing, and authentic moment in Istanbul. The market is from Kurdela Sk to Serdar Ömerpa. See the map below.

Price: FREE

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2. Galata Tower sunset

My friend Jordi Compte aka Totti and other funny nicknames, recommends me to see the sunset from the Galata Tower. Good advice and take it to the top.

Price: 13 Turkish L. (7US$).

3. Blue Mosque (Sultanahmed Camii)

This mosque is amazing. It’s one of the biggest mosques I have ever seen. It’s a must if you are in Istanbul. Price: FREE

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4. Bosphorus with ferry - one day trip

Another friend of mine, called J.Casadesús AKA Casa and other funny nicknames, recommends me a tour with a ferry going from Eminönü to Saryer through the Bosphorus river. Saryer is a small town where you can find good fish. After having a typicall lunch in Saryer  (see eating section below) we went to Rumeli Kavağı, another small village close to Saryer.  Only 5 minutes by public bus. In the road to Saryer you can see the Ortaköy mosque. This is a mosque sorrounded by the river. In october of 2013 it was close, so we couldn’t go inside, but you can walk around the mosque and eat a typical potato fast turkish food. It’s like a sandwich with a potato instead bread.

Price: The ferry costs 25 Turkish lira (roundtrip/return) See this link to check the timetable.

5. Santa Sophia

From my point of view it isn’t worth it to pay for go inside. The Blue Mosque is better and it’s free. However, it’s an amazing building. Price: 20 Turkish lira (10$).

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6. Taksim

This square isn’t special and I’m sure that you can see many squares like this in Europe. It’s a huge square where you can find a luxurious Hotel called Marmara with an amazing views where you can see the sunset. Trick: Go inside to the Marmara Hotel and the last floor there is a bar. Take the picture and go back to Taksim square. If you are willing to spend money you can enjoy a caffe while you are viewing the turkish sunset from your seat.

Price: FREE or an expensive Marmara’s drink.

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7. Beyoğlu night

Tarlabasi Blv is the street which separates the rich part with the poor part in Beyoglu.  Between this street and Istiklal cad you can find a lot of bars and restaurants. Perfect place for going out during the weekend or whenever. There is party everyday in Istanbul. Price: FREE

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8. Istiklal cad

The commercial street. Good for shopping or finding a touristic restaurant in Istanbul. Price: FREE.

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9. Gran bazar

If you want to buy a souvenir from Istanbul this is the place to go. You’ll find everything and you’ll have to bargain to have a good price. Moreover, here we found the best place to change euro to turkish lira.

Price: Entrance is free.

10. Smoking narguile

We were looking for a place in Beyoğlu, but we didn’t like it at all. Finally we found a touristic, but really nice place near the Gran Bazar. I recommend you to go there and smoke a narguile.

Price: 18 Turkish lira for each narguile. (9$US).

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You must know

  • People with a spanish passport must pay 15€ for a VISA in the airport. We took a queue in immigration control and after waiting 30 minutes they told us that we had to go to buy a Visa and do the queue again… If you’re french there is no problem. This was from Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (Asia airport), we flought with Pegasus Airlines. I don’t know if you need a VISA from european airport Atatürk International Airport

Eating

Everybody knows that Kebab is the most typical food, but turkish people have other kind of delicious food. These are my recommendations:

  • Turkish pizza. I love it. We were in one of the touristic restaurants in Istiklal cad. Price: 15 Turkish lira.

  • Fish sandwich in Eminönü. You’ll find different boats selling fish sandwich. You can see cooking fish in the boat, It’s like a turkish hamburger. Price: 7 turkish lira each sandwich. (3,5US)

  • Ortaköy potato.  As I explained in the Bosphorus ferry trip you can find this typical potatoes near the Ortaköy mosque.
  • Döner Kebab Sticks. I don’t know the real name of this food, but we found a man who was selling in the street this kind of Döner Kebab 100 meters from our hotel. They put the meat of the sticks (chicken or beef) with the typical pita bread. Mixed with different vegetables (lettuce, tomato, carrots) and with a spicy sauce. Delicious. Price: Only for 4 Turkish lira. (2$US).
  • MEŞHUR SARIYER BÖREKÇİSİ. In this baker from Sariyer you can buy different salty pie. We tried the spinach pie, but the meat pie was the best without doubt. While they are cutting the pie the make different rhythms like if they were playing the drums. See more

Sleeping

We found a hostel in Airbnb called guest house in Beyoglu. The room was fine, but the pictures that you can see in the web are quite different. May be three years ago it was like this, but know they don’t clean the kitchen and neither the living room and all seems older than you see in the website. The district wasn’t a touristic zone, so sometimes we felt awkward while we were walking around the hotel. Another problem that we found in this hotel is that we had troubles for finding the place. We didn’t know the number and nobody knew were was this street. So be careful if you want to find this hotel. Be sure that you have the telephone number of Tarik to find the place, otherwise you’ll became crazy looking for the street. However, it was close to the Taksim square. Only 10 minutes walking and one street to the Sunday typical market.

Price: Double room – two people 40€/night

Istanbul’s fares

Some prices that you would like to know if you’re planning to go to this city:

  • 20 Turkish lira is the price of the transport from Atatürk International Airport to Taksim by bus.
  • 8 Turkish lira is the price of the public transport card in Istanbul.
  • 5 Turkish lira is the price of a beer in Beyoglu bar.
  • 10 Turkish lira is the price of touristic Kebab + drink.

Worst from Istanbul

  • Transport is expensive: You must pay each time that you change between a bus or metro, there isn’t connection between the different lines and you pay every time. Otherwise you have to buy a card which costs 9 turkish lira (4,5$).