“If one had but single glance to give the world, one should glance on Istanbul” Alphonse De La Martine
Here is how to follow La Martine in 3 days
I think the best place to stay is in the Sultan Ahmet neighborhood by all the must-see attractions. Beside Dolmabahce you can walk everywhere.
Take a cab to Dolmabahce
Dolmabahce, that means filled garden, has, of course, a beautiful garden with gates that open to Bosporus. How crazy it is that you can see another continent, Asia, on the other side of the water. Take time to walk around the garden and admire the architecture of the palace. The Palace and the Harem can only be visited with a tour and no pictures can be taken. The last room of the Palace, Ceremonial Hall, with the chandelier that was offered by Queen Victoria is majestic.
From there head to Galata Tower. The tower situated on a hill will give you the perfect 360-degree view of the city. Don’t you feel like you conquered the beauty of a city when you get to view it form the above?
From the tower take the small streets, enjoy the small shops and cafes and head to Galata Bridge. Under the bridge, you have all the fish restaurants. During lunchtime, it smells like fresh fish … so tempting.
On the other side, you have the Bosphorus tours boats. It’s a 1h30 minute ride on the Bosporus. Take the boat and you will get to see Istanbul in the best way possible. You will pass by all the monuments. Especially if you don’t have to go to all the sites this is the best way to admire the architecture of that city.
Start the day by a walk at the Gulhane Park. The imperial park will lead you to Topkapi Palace and Museum. Topkapı Palace is part the Historic Areas of Istanbul, a group of sites in Istanbul that was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Enter the museum from the Imperial Gate. The back garden gives you a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus as it is overlooking the Golden Horn, where the Bosphorus Strait meets the Sea of Marmara. The Harem section of the museum is gorgeous. Topkapı Palace
After Topkapi, head to Hagia Sofia that Mosque that was a Cathedral before. You can see signs of both religions under one roof. It was a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal Basilica until 1453, later an Ottoman imperial Mosque until 1931, and now a museum.
On the other side, you can see the Blue Mosque. Its official name is The Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It has five main domes, six minarets, and eight secondary domes. Impressive.
Along the Blue Mosque, you have on one side the Hippodrome with the German Fountain, the Serpentine Column and the Obelisk of Thutmose III. Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social center of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire.
On the other side the Arasta Bazaar. It is a small bazaar that has great stores for souvenirs shopping especially if you love Swirling Darvish or evil eye objects.
Start your day at the Spice Bazaar. Enjoy the colorful alleys of that market. For shopping head to the Grand Bazaar where you can found anything you need, want or didn’t want. Wonder in the alleys, you will for sure found something to buy.
Finish your day at the Hamam for a relaxing afternoon. Enjoy the bath, the massage, and the Turkish coffee after it. One of the oldest one and most famous one is Cagaloglu Hamami by the Blue Mosque. It is truly a relaxing place.
If you have time:
- Visit the cistern
- Go to the Busy Taksim Square
- Go see a Sufi Dance Session
- Baklava from Hafiz Mustafa
- Turkish Coffee
- Try to drink Raki – 40% alcohol!
- Have Simit Bread