Istanbul is the city where East meets west, but also where world heritage culture and charming bazaars meet new hip galleries, bars, and restaurants. During a visit here, it is also largely mandatory to be pampered on one of the city’s hamam. In short, here there is everything for all senses. All this only about three and a half hours of thereby from Europe. The perfect choice for a long weekend!
Turkey’s largest city Istanbul is located on the Bosporus, right on the border between Europe and Asia. The Bosporus is the Strait that divides the city into two parts, one European and one Asian. A majority of the population, about 60%, live on the European side of the Strait while the remaining 40% live on the Asian. It is on the European side that most historical and cultural sites are located and also this one that most tourists visit.
Please click here for activity guide in Istanbul.
Shopping in Istanbul’s bazaars is another activity one should not miss. The most famous is the Great Bazaar which is a seemingly endless maze with over 70 alleys and streets under one roof. There are supposed to be over 4,000 stores and here you buy jewelry, carpets, bags, glass lamps, polyethylene, tea and much more. The bargain is a must because prices here are often higher than in shops in less touristic areas. If you do not want to bargain and trade, it is enough to flan around and absorbs all the impressions. One tip is to kindly but firmly reject the salesmen’s all sorts of tricks to get you to stop at just their little shop.
Spices, captured and classic “Turkish delight” are best purchased in the Spice Bazaar. Even here it does not hurt to bargain. Both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar, or the Egyptian Bazaar as it really is called, are located in the Old City of Istanbul, in the European part.
If you want to shop in shops or just stroll along with cafés and restaurants, Istiklal Caddesi in the more modern Beyoglu district is a good choice. There are also smaller and charming alleys to explore.
Click here to go to Popular Shopping Districts in Istanbul.
Boat ride on Bosporus
If you want to change the bargaining and congestion in the bazaars or shopping in Beyoglu for something less touristy, you can take the opportunity to jump on one of the regular ferries crossing the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia. Here you can enjoy Istanbul’s beautiful silhouettes from the water. If you are really lucky, you can also see dolphins that sometimes appear in the Strait. Tickets are bought in the form of a ballet in vending machines that stands at the different ferry camps. A good place to start on the European side is near the Galata Bridge. A trip from here to Üsküdar on the Asian side takes about a quarter of an hour.